Improving the Customer Experience through Customer Journey Mapping

Improving the Customer Experience through Customer Journey Mapping
Improving the Customer Experience through Customer Journey Mapping

With the evolution of Customer Experience Management (CEM) and availability of large volumes of data, customer service departments and marketers are increasingly focusing on achieving greater control over customer behavior to help them to provide stellar support.

No longer is it about customer satisfaction for just one product or service; the entire organization has to become customer-centric to improve brand loyalty, build customer experience strategy, implement personalized marketing, improve customization of product and service, optimize operations and production costs, reduce customer attrition and boost sales. A Customer Journey Map (CJM) has become a vital tool in enabling all these factors.

Most companies make an attempt to understand the customer journey through data gathered via various touchpoints. However, the challenge for such companies lies in making sense of the data to understand and benefit both the customer and the company. Data does not always show the harrowing and unnecessary experiences of the customer. Therefore, companies across the world are turning to customer journey mapping to understand the emotional behavior the customer displays while interacting with the company.

Impact of Customer Journey Mapping on Customer Experience

Broadly speaking, a customer journey map or CJM can be defined as an overview of the various steps and engagements points in the complete lifecycle view of a customer’s interactions with a product or service. The tool is often displayed as an infographic.

The importance of the CJM is:

  • Aims to improve customer satisfaction by delivering a smoother customer experience
  • Helps in predicting the success of the brand and possible customer behavior for similar products
  • Helps in identifying whether the company strategy is moving in the desired direction and highlights opportunities to outperform competition in customer satisfaction
  • An excellent tool to not only identify the gaps between customer expectations vis-à-vis the real experience that the company provides, but also a useful way to streamline and improve the entire product line and customer experience.
  • Helps the company update itself and adapt to evolving and emerging touchpoints such as social media
  • Helps to understand customer motivation, needs and feelings
  • Helps in identifying the time, length, breadth and depth of customer interactions and various company touchpoints
  • Identification of the owner(s) for various touchpoints and expected service from them
  • Evaluation and quality control that shows the importance of skill upgrading, manpower, technology, etc.
  • Understanding the customer behavior at both individual and group level to help predict outcomes for similar products or services
  • Drawing up and implementing a new customer experience strategy
  • Requirement to improve, strengthen, dilute or remove a particular owner based on impact he or she has on CEM
  • Optimize budget allocation  based on frequency and importance of a touchpoint or media in a CJM
  • Planning ad spend, content and communications strategy, and customizing those based on customer expectations

What to Plot in a CJM

Typically, a customer journey map consists of a graphical account of a customer journey, from pre-sales activities to post-sales interaction across various touchpoints of the company. It makes use of two important factors: customer journey and customer touchpoints. A customer journey often begins with elements including some sort of need, advertising or publicity, and then moves to appraisal, reviews and research, decision making, pricing purchase, after-sales interaction, future purchases or recommendations. [View a diagrammatic representation of the ‘New Customer Journey to Purchase’ here]

Each such element may be associated with one or more touchpoints such as email, online advertisement, visit to store, and call center interaction. However, identifying motivations, emotions and expectations of the customer is the key in this exercise. The longer the journey or the more touchpoints the company has, the greater the importance of plotting a customer journey map and analyzing it.

Usually, companies rely on data collected by touchpoints, such as stores and purchase forms. However website analytics and social media are becoming important sources of actionable data as well, and it is also important to set specific goals before data is collected for customer journey mapping.

Example

An insurance purchase may have the following customer journey map elements and touchpoints: online advertisement, customer provides details in an online form, sales calls, reviews and research, online chat and emails to clear doubts, online purchase, insurance through email and post, feedback, after sales customer service emails and calls, renewal reminder and support, reward or referral programs. Now breaking this into different parameters results in something like this:


Elements of CJM
Plotting the coordinates result in a customer path as follows:

Elements of CJM
Elements of CJM

As is evident, there is more than one touchpoint for some elements. Furthermore, plotting the dominant and decisive touchpoint results in this: Elements of CJM
In this example, it can be seen that postal correspondence and online advertisement are used less than website and social media. These are pointers for the company to optimize its investment in manpower, technology budget and training, for customer service through phone and email, and digital marketing.

To conclude, a customer journey map is an extremely useful tool for modern businesses. Customer journey mapping can help companies understand what the customer did at which stage and their possible actions before moving (or not moving) to the next stage. It also shows the motivating factor at each stage and whether it changed during the customer journey. It also shows possible barriers and disruptions at some touchpoints.

Going into details can lead to a complex set of touchpoints and a lengthy journey. Remember that customer journey maps are most useful when kept simple and as per a set goal. It should be a guiding compass used to benefit the customer experience and the company, rather than a complex mathematical function that cannot be fathomed by most in the organization.

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