A customer's impression of a brand is formed not by any discrete experience, but by the sum of all interactions that customer has with the brand. Those interactions might include:
- The emotional reaction to seeing mention of a brand in an online review or an ad
- The experience of using the brand's website to choose and make a purchase
- The efficiency of the delivery process and then the quality of the product once in the customer's hands
The impression formed includes the emotions, feelings and perceptions — not merely the facts.
A Customer Journey Map represents the steps that a customer takes whilst interacting with a brand. At each step we document not just what a customer does, but also how they feel. The customer journey map is a visualisation of how a customer interacts with the brand from the moment of perceiving a need all the way through to fulfilling that need. It's unapologetically customer-focussed — it's the customer's experience we're interested in, not the brands.
🏁 Getting started
Any attempt to redesign the way that a brand communicates with customers must first start with building an understanding of the status-quo, which a Customer Journey Map can be a key part of. Only once we've built that understanding, with all its imperfections and frustrations, can we start to think about how changes can be made.
👨👩👧👦 Include customers
The formation of a good Customer Journey Map should include interviewing actual customers. Those customers frequently bring perspectives that are otherwise invisible and can help especially with bringing the "feeling" part of the Customer Journey Map alive. Feelings are an important aspect of the mapping exercise, because in the normal day-to-day of business we tend to focus more on empirical evidence — a Customer Journey Mapping exercise is the excuse we need to listen to and understand emotions as well as numbers.
🧑💼 Include employees
Another invaluable source of insights are the people lower down the brand's organisation, who spend their days solving problems for customers. It's often the case that they know inside-out how things actually work, rather than how they perhaps ought to work.
People often think that the opinions of senior stakeholders are important, but in our experience the little people are where the real nuggets of insight lie. They might not always be listened to, so a Customer Journey Mapping exercise is a good excuse to talk to them and amplify their voices.
🔢 Don't forget the numbers
Frequently overlooked in Customer Journey Mapping is data to support the journey. What proportion of website visitors place an order, which channels do customers raise support issues over, how many returns does the brand get? The data that answers such questions can start to tell a story, founded in facts, about the current customer experience.
Perhaps you have some form of customer feedback programme, where you get formalised scores that tell you what your customers think of your service? Many of our clients are using NPS, which gives a standardised score that allows you to compare your organisation against others.
Any customer feedback data is invaluable to a Customer Journey Mapping process, because it helps to shed light on how real people experience your brand, how they feel about it and where it might perhaps have room for improvement.
Supporting the Customer Journey Map is the definition of Personas.
Personas are definitions of typical representative customers, eg “Jane is a 23 year-old graduate...”
Through Personas, we can bring alive the emotions and feelings that underpin the Journey Map.
Personas can also bring needed attention to how different types of customers might have different needs and experiences.
For example, a university undertaking a Customer Journey Mapping exercise might define one Persona to represent a UK A-level student starting university and another to represent a Chinese international student coming to the UK for the first time. It’s quite possible that these two Personas will have different needs and emotional responses. Focussing on different Personas brings these differences alive.
🤔 Design Thinking
Often associated with Customer Journey Mapping is Design Thinking, a broader process of examining problems and encouraging creativity in their solutions.
Design Thinking exercises start with an “Empathise” or “Understand” stage. Customer Journey Mapping can be a key part of that, building invaluable insights into how things currently work, the problems and frustrations that may exist and the data that supports any conclusions.
⚡️ Digital Collaboration
Customer Journey Mapping has traditionally been performed by brainstorming in a very physical manner — with big physical diagrams stuck to the walls of conference rooms and plastered with post-it notes. The process itself includes groups of people clustered around the diagram discussing, drawing and attaching even more post-it notes over a period of days or sometimes weeks. As great fun as this can be, it's not very Covid-safe!
Today, the COVID-19 situation means we perform the process entirely online. Luckily, we have excellent online tools like Mural that allow us to build diagrams collaboratively, but without needing to meet physically. Today, Customer Journey Mapping can be very efficiently and effectively performed in a purely digital and remote manner, with no compromises.
Once the as-is Customer Journey Map has been created, it's time to rethink the customer experience. All the information, feelings and experiences collected will help to identify the points of friction that need to be improved. And, of course, re-thinking in today's world means re-thinking digitally. The role of messaging, automation and video technologies are big questions that every organisation is grappling with. The Customer Journey Map is a great backdrop to working out the answers to these questions.
Creative thinking can really be set free once we understand what is driving customer's behaviours and how they feel about today's service.
For example a high-end retail brand, on realising that some of their customers are likely to be nervous about physical shopping for some time to come, might choose to think about remote personal shopping — using online video technology to show items on a 1:1 basis with prospective customers. But as they think about how that experience might work, they might come to realise that for busy customers, such a remote service might have value above and beyond current Covid concerns. The Customer Journey Mapping might be therefore be the spark that completely reinvents the customer experience. Now there's a thought!
ℹ️ Can we help?
At Humanise.AI we're experts in both building a Customer Journey Map, but also in re-thinking and automating the journey for the digital era. Our PlatformOne product includes a Journey component specifically for this task.
To find out more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org