Customer journeys and experience maps complement each other. They are almost the same thing. The main difference is that customer experience maps are focused on the customer’s side of seeing things.
And the journey map focuses on the unique touchpoints that a customer has with your business and brand. It encapsulates both the front-end and back-end dynamics. The next two sections of this blog will go into a little more detail on the above concepts.
What is a Customer Journey?
Before we dive into what customer journey mapping is, you need to first understand what a customer journey is. Identifying and understanding your customer’s journey is like closing a loop and seeing improvement opportunities for yourself.
As the name implies, a customer journey is the series of steps and unique interactions undertaken by a customer and potential customer, in their journey to either buying from you, or to becoming a customer of your business and brand.
In simple terms, a customer journey pinpoints the customer’s progression from identifying they have a problem, and need a solution, right through to the process of buying and after sales care.
The Importance of a Customer Journey
Understanding the customer’s journey is an important marketing tactic. It establishes the connection between a target market customer (customer and potential customer), and their decision to become a customer of the business and brand.
The more effective your marketing team can comprehend and strategize this journey, the more success they will be in attracting return customers as well as potential target customers. Then your business will successfully gain and keep your customers coming back.
This marketing strategy will also be more effective in meeting the customer’s needs and wants. Resulting in an outstanding customer experience. This then has a domino effect, on keeping your customers more than happy, which results in a decrease of your churn rate and an increase in profits.
There is no set way or formula for designing a customer journey, as each one is uniquely based on the business and brand.
How to Identify Your Customer Journey
Different products and services often have a longer or shorter customer journey timeline. In other words, depending on product or service, your customer may either take a longer or shorter time to buy from you. Take someone buying a car for the first time as an example.
A customer buying their first car would have years of experience in seeing different cars, seeing promotional campaigns and product placement, being involved in discussions regarding motor vehicles, using the family car, etc.
This means that by the time they decide to buy their car, they have accumulated a lot of knowledge and formed attitudes regarding different car brands. Some brands being well suited for them. And some brands not suited. This mental decision means they have already ruled out a few different brands. As well as zoomed in on the ones they see as potentials.
Which is why you need to fully understand the overall customer journey. As it is important to consider the active purchase phase, as well as the accumulated knowledge and attitudes before they identify their needs/wants and final buying decision.
By limiting the view of the customer journey to the customer’s active decision phase only, it is often too late to ensure that the brand will sit in the customer’s evoked (consideration) brand set. More commonly known as mind-share.
Below is an example of one way to go about identifying unique your customer’s journey.
- Your different marketing channels, such as how your business and brand’s advertising and marketing reaches your customer
- Consider how your customer moves from potential customer, right through to the decision making and final purchasing process
- Identify the different processes and touchpoints that the customer moves through
- Highlight the direct and indirect touchpoints
- Identify the details within each of the above steps (direct and indirect).
- Focus and identify the unique touchpoints in the customer care and after sales process
The above section should give you a better idea of what a customer journey is and how you should design your marketing strategy around it.
Get more ideas on different customer touchpoints by checking out my blog on Examples of Unique Touchpoints as a great example.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
As previously mentioned, the difference between customer journeys and mapping, is that the customer experience maps focus on the customer’s side of seeing things, and how they feel at each interaction (touchpoint). Customer mapping is the details that take place between the different touchpoints withing the customer’s journey.
Whereas the customer journey focuses on the unique overall touchpoints that a customer has with your business and brand.
Mapping your journey helps in identifying the touchpoints, and to design a realistic customer journey. Once you do that, your way to improving things become better and more transparent.
Customer journey mapping is a visual technique designed to show the detailed steps taken and sources of information accessed by the customer in their progression to becoming a customer of the brand, that is, the customer’s journey as mentioned earlier.
The Importance of a Customer Journey Map
Every consumer touchpoint has its own unique role. The map helps you to evaluate their experience and make improvements at each one.
Understanding the customer’s journey is important because it is the link (or bridge) between a customer (initially as a non-customer of the brand) and their decision to become a first-time buyer (customer). In other words, the better you understand this process (or journey) the better you can strategize to entice and secure future first-time and return customers.
Also remember, if the customer journey is exceptional to the customer in the early encounters (phases) with your business and brand, the more likely they are to be a loyal ongoing customer.
How to Identify Your Customer Journey Map
Remember that the journey map should focus on the unique touchpoints that a customer has with your business and brand. It is the small details that make a difference. The customer journey map encapsulates both the front-end and back-end dynamics of your customer’s overall experience.
And if you get this formula right, then you win customers for life. In most cases it is about building relationships.
Your customer journey map should:
- Highlight how your brand reaches a customer’s consideration (evoked) set (before, during, and post purchase)
- Detail how the customer moves through the before, during and buying decision process
- Show how your customer progresses through consumption and/or use of the product or service
According to research and statistics, the successful businesses are those who create a customer focused culture internally. These businesses have special change programs, that train and set this process in place.
The most important thing when creating your customer journey map, is to be able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Ask yourself how you might be feeling and how you would want to be treated at each individual touchpoint phase.
This exercise should be done on all levels of your business. Get your leaders involved first, and then this will have a trickle down positive effect on the rest of the employees. Customer centric businesses have been rated as on of the top businesses to work at, this is due to them considering and having empathy for others. They recognize the importance and value in not only the customer, but in their team mates as well. Thus creating a customer focused culture.
Benefits of Mapping Your Customer Journey
The main benefits of mapping your customer’s journey are:
- Return on investment (ROI)
- Reduced customer service costs
- Improvement in sales
An Aberdeen Group research paper found that companies with a formal customer journey program experience year over year growth.
- Massive return of investment
- Faster sales cycles
- Increased cross and up-sell revenue
- Improvement in customer service costs
- Increased revenue from customer referrals
The business benefits of optimizing the customer journey are clear, as the same study by Aberdeen Group found that a tiny percentage of businesses have a process to map out the customer journey, resulting in a huge opportunity for any business who maps out their customer journey to get results. This will ensuring you obtain and keep that competitive edge.