One of the best ways in which you can improve the customer experience is to look at the customer journey and create a map of user engagement. This map will tell you everything you need to know about how your customers interact with your brand. Not only that, but also what you can do to make that interaction more profitable. In today’s guide, we’ll talk about customer journey mapping, touching upon the following aspects:
- What does a customer journey represent?
- Why should you create a customer journey map?
- What are the stages of creating a customer journey map?
- What are some customer experience management strategies you can use?
The Customer Journey: A Comprehensive Guide
#Customer Journey Definition
Naturally, before talking about creating a customer journey map, we have to establish what we mean by customer journey. A customer journey refers to all the stages through which a customer goes when interacting with a certain company. It entails all the experiences the customer has, from his or her first encounter with the brand until the very last or the most recent one.
This sounds like a lot of work goes into mapping user engagement, which is true. However, a customer journey map will tell you everything there is to know about the interactions between your company and its customers. Understanding it means you’ll become aware of everything there is to improve.
#Benefits of Creating a Customer Journey Map
1. You’ll Get to Know Your Customers Better
Since a customer journey is all about putting the focus on the customer, it goes without saying that one of its most important benefits relates to the client as well. The whole point of looking at the customer’s experience is to get to know him or her better. Usually, business owners are used to thinking in terms of business operations, and less in terms of customer experience. This map helps them put themselves in the customer’s shoes and understand the feelings the customer has regarding the company. You’re basically empathizing with the clients, which will help you come up with ways to improve customer experience much more easily.
2. You’ll Fix the Customer Experience Issues Your Company Has
This next benefit is strongly related to the previous one. Understanding what you customers expect from their interaction with your company will let you know what you have to change. As great as your customer relationship management is, there’s always room for improvement. Not to mention the fact that mapping out the entire customer experience might help you uncover issues you weren’t even aware of. For instance, maybe a lot of clients have complained that the process of ordering products was a bit too complicated. In that case, you know that’s something you have to work on.
3. You’ll Be Able to Stand Out from the Crowd
Another extremely important benefit of creating a customer journey map is the fact that it can inspire you to come up with new and interesting ideas. These ideas can separate you from your competitors and prove to be an incredible advantage. Since this map looks at every stage of the customer experience, you will most likely find at least one area where you can apply an innovative concept or strategy. For example, a lot of people appreciate brands that make everything simple for them. Consequently, you should put in some extra work and effort so that they don’t have to.
4. You’ll Get a Clear Sense of Direction
What you should know about creating a customer journey map is that everything is done with a clear purpose in mind. It’s not only about finding out a couple of things about customer experience. It’s about these things helping you come up with a plan for the future of your company. So, if you feel like you need a new sense of direction, such a map could provide you with one. After devising the map, you should be aware of the steps you need to take next. Not only that, but you should also delegate different tasks to the people who will be in charge of them in the future.
5. You’ll Encourage Internal Cooperation
Mapping out user engagement can really bring your employees closer together. Usually, everyone does his or her job without being aware of what the people around them do. This should change if you really want to improve your customer service. Employees will learn to work as a team, they’ll get things done faster and more efficiently, they’ll be on the same page and have the same goals, and they’ll communicate to one another. If you want to break down organizational silos in your company, this is a perfect way to do so.
5 Main Stages of Creating a Customer Journey Map
1. Define the Customer Engagement Stages
There are 4 stages of customer engagement that should concern you. These are:
- Awareness. This stage involves looking for prospects and making them aware of your brand. At this point, anyone is a potential customer. This means your approach should be general. Remember you’re trying to appeal to extremely different segments of people, so you should try to find a strategy that applies to most. You’re not focusing on individual customers just yet, so you don’t need extremely concentrated strategies.
- Consideration. This is the stage when customers usually ask themselves why they should buy from your company. Naturally, in order to appeal to them, you have to provide them with an answer to this question. Try to differentiate your products from those of your competitors. Specific offers shouldn’t be your focus just yet. For now, simply make sure your products stand out in some way or another.
- Purchase. This is a critical stage in the customer journey, since the success of your business ultimately depends on it. This is the time when you should come up with specific offers, since customers are interested in finding out why they should purchase your products now. If a customer has reached this stage, that means he or she is already interested in your business. All you have to do is give them a reason to stay.
- Post-Purchase. This final stage is quite challenging, so you have to pay extra attention to it. It goes as far as 9 months after the customer made a purchase. Its aim is to see what would appeal to this customer now. Your purpose is to keep past customers engaged, even if they might not be interested in buying something at the moment. A great strategy would be to send newsletters with information you think the client might enjoy reading.
2. Understand the Customers’ Goals
In order to make sure you have a deep understanding of what your customers are expecting from you, it’s not enough to just go through the stages above. You also have to be aware of what the goals of the customers are in each of the stages. Think about what the clients want to achieve every step of the way. This will allow you to check whether you’re helping them achieve it or you need to put in some extra work. Survey answers, interview transcripts, feedback, and customer service emails are great resources for understanding customer goals.
3. Find Touchpoints
Touchpoints are those places on your website where customers engage with you and where you can help them achieve their goals. The best way to find these touch points is to use Google Analytics. More specifically, take a look at the behavior flow report and the goal flow report. The first one shows the behavior of the people visiting your website, more precisely how they move from one section to the next. The second one shows whether clients are reaching their goal when visiting your website or they tend to leave the website before that happens.
4. Check If Customers Are Reaching Their Goals
Using all the information you’ve gathered until now, you have to determine whether or not it’s easy for your clients to get what they want. Check for any roadblocks, for people changing their mind in the middle of the buying process, and for other such issues that might affect your company’s success. This step entails a detailed analysis of your customers’ actions every step of the way.
5. Change Whatever Doesn’t Work
Finally, the last step to creating a customer journey map entails changing whatever you feel is not beneficial for your company’s customer service. Divide the issues according to their type and importance and decide who in your company will be in charge of solving each of them. This step might take some time, since you’re not only analyzing data but actually changing your strategy. Even so, it will eventually increase user engagement and help you develop your business.
5 Customer Experience Management Strategies to Keep in Mind
1. Come Up with Solutions Fast
There’s nothing worse than keeping a customer waiting for a long time. Especially nowadays, when clients have a wide range of options for whatever service or product they’re looking for, not being prompt can cost you important customers. No one will wait around for you to deliver your products or find a solution to a certain problem. They’ll simply look for another brand and forget all about yours. If you want to prevent this from happening, you should never keep them waiting for too long. Even if it takes you a while to fix the problem, let them know they’ve been heard and you’re doing the best you can to help them achieve their goal.
2. Hire the Right People
Customer experience isn’t just about the customer, it’s also about the employee. Since the employees are those who interact with customers, you have to pay attention when you hire them. It goes without saying that they should be qualified for the job and able to communicate with people. But there are other things you have to look for in an employee as well. You need people who truly believe in your brand and the work you do. If they’re passionate about it, potential customers will sense that. As a result, they will be more excited about becoming your clients. Not to mention the fact that a passionate employee is also going to be a loyal one.
3. Show the People Behind the Brand
Most customers like to deal with people when they purchase something from a company. The don’t like the impersonality of dealing with a brand. Which is why you have to think of ways of showing people the faces behind the brand. This is a great way to also show how united your team is. For instance, you could use social media to present the team, share pictures from company retreats, and so on. Not only that, but you should also struggle to personalize customer experience. This will show people they’re not talking to a machine, but to an actual human being.
4. Constantly Ask for Feedback
What better way to find out what customers like and dislike about your brand than to ask them directly? Don’t wait for too long until you do so, because you want the experience to be fresh in their minds. Their feedback won’t only provide you with vital information regarding how you can improve your customer experience, but also show clients you care about their journey.
5. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Nowadays, technology advancements allow us to map out the customer journey in its entirety. You can use technology to look for data, to analyze said data, and to process it as well. Moreover, technology can help your brand become more visible. There are many ways in which you can accomplish that. Try to open a company blog, create accounts on the most important social media platforms, try cross-promotion, and so on.
Summing It All Up
Mapping out the customer journey from its very first stages until the post-purchase stage can be a real challenge for many businesses. Still, if you follow the guide above, you’ll be able to anticipate any issues that might appear and find creative ways of dealing with them. Remember that user engagement should be one of the pillars of your business.