When companies first began attempts to map the customer journey, it often involved a rudimentary arrangement of Post-it notes or other unsophisticated steps to chart the customer's end-to-end path to purchase or mission to resolve a product or service issue. Customer journey mapping efforts have become considerably more mature over the past year or two as decision-makers are placing greater focus on understanding the types of experiences customers want as a means of attracting and retaining customers. Progress on customer journey mapping has dovetailed with a recognition by organizational leaders to cater more effectively to customers' omnichannel and cross-channel behaviors.1to1 Media Staff Writer Anna Papachristos recently wrote a terrific article on the topic, pointing out how many brands are revisiting their customer journey mapping planning tactics.
For instance, writes Papachristos, companies are increasingly using journey mapping to place customers at the center of their initial planning processes to deliver more customer-centric experiences and to help increase engagement.
Brad Heidemann, CEO at Tahzoo, says companies are applying significantly more detail into the development of both customer journey maps and the creation of customer personas. "The initial work around developing (customer) personas was pretty anecdotal - here's 'Mary'. She shops between noon and five."
Today, says Heidemann, customer experience leaders are considerably more meticulous in their approach to developing customer personas and in mapping how customers are using various touchpoints in their cross-channel journeys. "People are recognizing that a journey map doesn't just illustrate where you as a customer fit on the support cycle but what channels you're on and how you're using those channels," says Heidemann.
Companies today are also putting a lot more effort into not only understanding which channels customers are using but also the needs and behaviors that are prompting customers to use different touchpoints as well as their perceptions about their experiences at different touchpoints. One of the benefits of gathering insights into customer attitudes about their experiences at different points along the journey is that they can enable decision-makers to identify and act on points of friction that are disrupting the customer experience. Customer journey mapping can also help to identify opportunities for turning mediocre experiences into amazing ones.
In addition, the use of customer journey maps can also help executives and managers to envision and plan for future customer experiences. For instance, the use of customer journey maps for key customer personas as well as direct customer feedback gathered by a travel company can help identify opportunities where customers want to use self-service tools to handle aspects of travel research or booking on their own. In this scenario, the deployment of tools can strengthen the customer experience while lowering support costs by deflecting the volume of calls coming into the contact center.
Moreover, the use of customer journey maps can allow decision-makers to identify touchpoints that can serve as important listening posts. For instance, customers often use chat tools to express how they feel about both positive and negative experiences they've had. Organizational leaders can draw off such feedback as well as changes in customer behaviors to update customer-facing processes.
Meanwhile, savvy companies are using visualization tools to help decision-makers to chart and understand how and why customers are using different touchpoints for research, sales, and support. These tools can be invaluable for training customer-facing employees and educating them on how to respond to different situations.
For organizations that aren't currently making use of customer journey maps, it's definitely worth considering. One of the greatest benefits for those companies that are diagramming the customer journey and then attempting to align the types of experiences that customers want with their organization's activities is that it is encouraging many of these companies to become more customer-centric.