Customers expect their needs to be satisfied every time they engage with a brand. If an organization fails to deliver at any moment, it could trigger the end of the relationship. Of course, it is quid pro quo. Satisfied customers demonstrate greater brand loyalty. For example, organizations that prioritize customer experience transformation achieve an average annual revenue growth rate of 15% over other companies. However, designing world-class customer engagements that foster long-term relationships is not easy. It requires organizations to undergo a transformation process that begins with customer journey mapping.
What Is Customer Journey Mapping?
In its simplest form, a customer journey map can be sketched by hand or with Post-It notes. The process should identify the steps customers go through on the path to purchase. It might be the steps you take when choosing a new health plan. Or, when you buy a new car. Every user journey is different based on their preferences and intent. Consumer behaviors evolve rapidly and new touch points (voice, email, chat, social media) keep emerging that offer different avenues of interaction. As a result, user experience maps have become more complex to understand.
In turn, companies are turning to more strategic approaches to improve their customer experience. The art of creating a better user experience requires insights. That starts with understanding past behavioral patterns and motivations to purchase. The most accurate way to understand your customer is to scrape customer behavioral data and leverage advanced analytics tools, such as Google Analytics. This will allow you to map every engagement from the first point of contact to subsequent repeat engagements—a process known as customer engagement management.
Building a Customer Journey Map
To build a customer journey map, you first need to identify five key factors:
Touch points: Customer touch points refer to the moments where consumers interact with your brand. For example, the first touch point might be clicking on a social media ad. The follow-up interactions may include marketing emails containing high-value content, like whitepapers or reports.
Actions your customer will take: What are your customers doing before and after they purchase your business’s product or service? These actions may not even involve your brand. For example, a customer may have searched for the top services in your industry or read about a product from one of your business competitors.
High points: Journey mapping forces you to get into the mind of your customers and identify how they feel at every point of their interaction with your brand. You’ll discover what outcomes make your customers feel satisfied with their overall experience.
Low points: Low points or pain points refer to places of friction where the customer becomes frustrated with their experience. Identifying these bottlenecks or potential areas of improvement is critical to optimizing the overall customer experience.
Gaps in the user journey: You may discover that your customers have needs that your journey does not currently provide. For instance, a customer might go directly to your blog for tips to resolve specific pain points but find they are left disappointed.
When paired with well-researched buyer personas–cards that describe your core customers’ backgrounds, motivations, needs, and behavioral preferences–mapping the customer journey enables you to step into the shoes of your customer. It is only when you have walked in your customers’ shoes that you can design a better customer journey.
Watch the video below to see how Sutherland Labs approaches Customer Journey Mapping.
Designing an Empathetic Customer Experience
Designing a better customer experience requires an empathetic frame of mind. You need to be able to understand a user’s intent at every single touch point in their journey. This will allow you to develop accurate customer personas that enable you to foresee the next action your customer might take. The art to delivering this frictionless customer experience is ingrained in design thinking. Designers should focus on engineering new processes to improve the low points and emphasize the high points within the user journey.
Here are three examples of how you can transform the customer experience:
1. Removing customer low points with the help of AI
Customer low points tend to be connected to high-effort interactions. Customers get frustrated when they have to switch channels, are transferred between departments, or when they have to repeat information. In fact, Gartner found that “96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction became more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.”
The bottom line is that customers want quick and easy answers. AI solutions, like chatbots or a virtual personal assistant, are being introduced to provide customers with just that: real-time answers. One of the benefits of chatbots is their ability to quickly triage customer service questions without a wait time, or rapidly connect them to the correct representative. This is just one option to help remove some of the low points from the customer journey.
2. Increasing the high points with a personalized customer experience
The desire for personalized experiences is now an absolute expectation. While consumers expect their privacy to be protected, they also crave relevant information. Epsilon found that 90% of consumers want more personalized experiences with brands. Meanwhile, 80% would reward brands for providing just that, saying they would be more inclined to do business with a company that provides a personalized customer experience.
You needn’t look hard for evidence of the growing personalization trend. Two-thirds of consumers expect their favorite brands to know why they purchased a product or service, and 52% want companies to know their level of satisfaction, according to Deloitte’s ‘Dynamics of Customer Loyalty’ report. The key to providing these rich experiences is collecting and activating customer data. It is no surprise then that Gartner predicts more than 40% of all data analytics projects will be based around customer experience by 2020.
3. Closing the gaps with an omnichannel approach
The modern customer expects to be engaged on every channel. In fact, omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of customers, compared to a 33% retention rate for those without omnichannel solutions, according to Invesp. For that reason, many organizations are undergoing customer engagement transformations by implementing omnichannel strategies.
With the right customer experience management solutions, customer engagement transformation is not as complicated as it may seem. For example, existing channels, like social media and email, can be leveraged to effectively enhance customer satisfaction. These channels are extremely effective at simplifying points of tension in the customer journey, mitigating customer frustrations, and providing a more supportive overall customer experience.
Customer journey mapping is a tangible first step for any business beginning a customer experience transformation journey. By understanding every step in a buyer’s journey, you can unlock opportunities to innovate and drive valuable customer outcomes for your business.