Mapping a customer journey can be a challenging process, as there can be a large number of intersection points that need to be considered. It is, also, likely that no two customer journeys will be the same. Furthermore, the journeys will be entirely different between someone visiting your site for researching a product only versus actually buying something. Their interaction with the website would not be the same.
Thus, a major point of consideration before creating your customer journey map is to determine where the person is coming from. In addition, before you begin the customer journey mapping the process, you need to determine a number of other factors to ensure that the process is as productive as possible and provides the results that you’re seeking. I’ve taken the liberty to outline 5 major points which I consider to be crucial to consider as you’re working on this exercise.
- Establish Goals and Objectives
Before you start trying to map the process, you need to determine what are your goals and objectives. From an overall perspective, aren’t your goals and objectives really all about transforming the end-to-end, buying experience for the products and/or services you offer?
Some points you might consider in conjunction with this are:
- What are the goals of the website? Is it for driving foot traffic, a source of product/problem solving knowledge and then for them to buy something? This clearly needs to be understood.
- What are you going to do with the customer journey map?
- Why is a customer journey map even necessary?
- How will the map help create a best-in-class customer experience leading to higher revenue growth?
- No user journey is EVER going to be the same.
- Define the Target Audience and Market
Trying to accommodate each and every customer within a map is foolish. You might be focusing in on the wrong customers and creating maps that have no relevancy to the success of your overall business and in improving customer satisfaction and engagement.
Therefore, it is imperative that you define your target audience from the start. Focus on our largest and most profitable customers from the outset. Segment as much as possible and create maps for the most important segments for your business.
- Conduct an Audit
An audit will help you determine what your typical customer journey looks like right now for the segmented pool of target customers that you’ve identified. There might be some difficulty in so doing, as even within a particular segment, everyone is different. Ellen Valentine of Data-Driven Marketing did a nice job of explaining this in a blog post on Click Z . You need to recognize the differences and consider these as you’re constructing your model(s).
As part of this process, assemble a cross-functional team of people and start analyzing the current situation. Get out the whiteboards, colored Post-It Notes, or whatever you normally utilize and start summarizing the audit findings. If you’ve already employed web based tracking tags, retrieve and compile the data you have associated with the “key” customers you’ve identified and utilize it to make a determination as to what are the key “touch points” in the journey associated with these consumers. There will probably be similarities in the behavior of some that will help with you find out points. Rank order the tags based on the number of interactions, drop offs, and other criteria.
Work backwards to ensure that you capture each point and the customer benefits and functional requirements of each one. Don’t try to do too much. Remember the old 80/20 rule? Like anything else, there is a point of diminishing return on trying to incorporate everything.
Focus in on the junctures that you feel are most critical to the success of your business. Concentrate on the existing success points, as there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. You simply want to see what can be done to improve the customer experience.
As part of this process, you should consider conducting a SWOT analysis of each key intersection point based on the rank order criteria used. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats at each point? How can you enhance the experience? Do you have any feel for what your competitor’s might be doing?
Make sure that you take into consideration all of the activities post sale. How do you currently stay in touch with the customer? How do you ensure that any cognitive dissonance issues are resolved? How do you currently create a brand ambassador out of this customer? These are things that are so highly overlooked. There is so much focus on customer acquisition for so many and not enough focus on the nurturing of existing customers. This is where the majority of your profits are going to be realized at very little cost compared to acquiring a new one.
- Construct a Preliminary Map
Based on what you’ve learned from the audit, you want to take your findings and construct a preliminary map. You might consider using a tool such as the IBM Journey Designer as part of this process to expedite and enhance the process.
Once compiled, you’ll want to see what the preliminary customer journey map(s) look like for your target customers. Have all of the major intersections been properly addressed? At this juncture, if at all possible, it might be wise to conduct a focus group of these customers and get their opinions regarding their behavior and what you might do to improve the customer journey and experience. You might discover some things that you had never thought about. Today, so many rely on technology only for decision making and leave out qualitative data and feedback that could be extremely useful.
Clearly document each and every aspect of this analysis. Have a strategy as to what is going to be done to improve things where there are perceived weaknesses. Use what you’ve compiled to facilitate personalized and streamlined customer journey campaigns to more effectively engage potential and existing customers and build stronger relationships through personalized content and other means.
- Finalize and Communicate the Customer Journey Map
The last step in the process should be the finalization of the map. Based on the preliminary map and observations from target customers and internal personnel, you’d then be in a position to finalize the map. All of the major intersections should now have been considered and the valued input you’ve received should enable you to create a very accurate map that truly depicts what is going on.
Once the map is complete, it should be clearly communicated to each and every department that is involved in the journey. They need to buy-in and own the map, as well. The marketing department can’t simply develop a map and let it gather dust. It needs to be something that becomes part of the overall business; a living document that is continually tested as to the alignment with the customer journey, reviewed and updated, as necessary. Are you most effectively addressing each and every point and encouraging engagement and conversion? These are key factors to consider.