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What Is A Customer Journey Map And How Is It Used In Marketing?

What Is A Customer Journey Map And How Is It Used In Marketing?

What Is A Customer Journey Map And Why Is It Important?

The origins of customer journey mapping can be traced back to 1981 when Jan Carlzon was appointed CEO of Scandinavian Airlines. As he was working to improve operations, he noticed that the bureaucracy within the organization was hampering many internal processes.  

To solve this problem, Jan developed a format that would empower customer-facing employees to make decisions quickly. He devised a framework known as moment mapping, a method used to identify the stages of the customer’s buying process. This framework helped the airline anticipate customer needs and improve their experience by providing the right offering at each moment.

The moment mapping framework has evolved since then to create more complex tools such as the customer journey map.

Starting Your Journey: The 4 Layers

A customer journey map is like the visual storytelling of a customer’s relationship and interaction with an organization. These four layers offer a starting point for creating a customer journey map.

Layer 1, Customer Life-Cycle

The customer life cycle describes the stages a customer passes through, from being aware of your business to becoming a customer. These stages differ depending on your industry and the type of product or service you offer. They can be as abstract as, “before, during and after” or have more elaborate descriptions: “awareness, research, comparison, purchase.”

Layer 2, Situations and Activities

This layer describes the situations and activities that take place within individual stages of the customer life cycle. Situations don’t involve a specific task but influence a decision, i.e., seeing a neighbor’s new Mercedes Benz. An activity after that situation would be going to the computer to look up the car model.

Layer 3, Customer Needs

Identifying customer needs requires you to have a deep understanding of your customer. This is because two customer types (personas) can go through the same journey yet have different needs. Two techniques are particularly useful in defining customer needs:

  • Design Thinking: This process is used to understand your customers so you can solve their problems by prioritizing their needs. It uses evidence of how customers actually engage with your product instead of how internal staff think they will engage with it. 
  • Value Proposition Canvas: This is a graphical framework to ensure a product or service is modeled around the customer’s values and needs.

Layer 4, Customer Experience

This layer describes how well the customer’s needs are met and is the culmination of all their experiences with your organization. Customers can have different experiences even if they follow the same journey.

The Journey Continues

These four layers offer a starting point for creating a customer journey map. Adding additional layers can extend This base version into more complex versions.

For example, a service blueprint can be created by adding two components to the customer journey map  – an on-stage component and a backstage component. 

TThe on-stage component contains all the layers that describe the actors delivering the service to the customer. The term “actor” describes anything/anyone that interacts with the customer, such as a website or employee. 

An example of a layer that falls under the on-stage component is touchpoints. A touchpoint is any point of contact between an organization and its customers or potential customers. Touchpoints are important because the organization controls them and can use them to influence the customer experience directly.

The backstage component includes everything that happens behind the scenes to deliver a product or service to the customer. These are the activities the customer doesn’t see. This is why layers in the backstage component are described as “below-the-line visibility” while the layers in the on-stage component are described as “above-the-line visibility.”  

Examples of layers in the backstage component include internal processes, IT systems, supply chain, etc.

The power of a customer journey map lies in its ability to drive customer-centric transformation and innovation by giving an “outside-looking-in” view into the organization.

One of the most powerful benefits of adopting the customer’s point-of-view is that it helps you craft personalized experiences. 52% of customers now expect personalized offers. Customer journey maps help to meet this demand by allowing you to hone in on the needs, experiences and behaviors of different personas in different stages of interaction with your company.

It’s important to remember, however, that customer journey mapping is not a stand-alone framework. It’s part of a larger ecosystem of tools and techniques used to improve a business’s internal processes and service delivery. These include service blueprinting, UX design, design thinking, etc.

What Makes A Good Customer Journey Map?

Customer journey mapping, like any other business process, has its own best practices. A good customer journey map is:

  • Crafted from the customer’s perspective: Customer journey maps are based on what the customer thinks, feels and experiences during interactions with your company. Creating an accurate customer journey requires you to remove your staff hat and imagine yourself as your own ideal customer.
  • Well-defined and comprehensive: They say that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is true in customer journey mapping. The scope of your mapping, the start and end points and all the personas need to be clearly defined so you don’t end up with an incomplete or never-ending customer journey.
  • Simple and organized: No matter the tool you choose when creating your customer journey map, the result should be something that everyone can read and understand easily. 
  • Well-researched: Heavy research is required on all fronts during journey mapping. You need to research your industry as a whole to find specific customer behavior trends. You must also conduct fact-finding activities such as surveys and interviews to get customer insights that would otherwise go unheard.
  • Measured against company goals: The point of drafting customer journey maps is to improve customer experience. And the point of improving customer experience is to improve company performance. Therefore, company KPIs should be measured in each customer journey stage to determine if the organization’s activities drive business results.
  • Dynamic: The customer journey map isn’t just a presentation item, it’s a dynamic reflection of current and future interactions between the customer and the organization. Therefore, it needs to be malleable.

Draft a Customer Journey Map: 6 Steps

  • Step 1: Define your business goals: Your customer’s actions play a big part in deciding whether or not you achieve your business goals. That’s why it’s essential to remember your goals during customer journey mapping so you can guide customers to perform actions that move the needle in your business.
  • Step 2: Align all departments and stakeholders:  As much as autonomy is beneficial among departments in an organization, alignment and collaboration are necessary to ensure a successful customer journey mapping. This cohesion is also important during the implementation of the customer journey map.
  • Step 3: Identify your buyer personas: Identifying the different types of customers your business serves is crucial in ensuring they all get satisfactory, personalized service.
  • Step 4: Identify the stages in your customer life cycle: Once you have your personas in mind, you need to perform more research to find out which stages they go through before, during and after they’re your customer. You can use general stages such as “awareness, consideration, decision,” or be more specific to your business.
  • Step 5: Define the situations and activities in each stage: The next step is to detail what your personas think, feel and experience during each stage. Additionally, note what action you’d like them to take to move them to the next stage and what you will do to motivate their action.
  • Step 6: Modify and improve: As your business landscape changes, modify your customer journey map to reflect new advancements and changes in customer behavior.

The Benefits Of A Customer Journey Map

Customer journey maps improve customer experience by giving you a deep understanding of your customer’s behavior. Better customer experience means happier customers ready to promote your brand to others. In fact, companies that do customer journey mapping successfully enjoy 24% more positive social media mentions and 3.5 times greater revenue from customer referrals. Here are some of the other benefits of having a customer journey map:

  • Identify missing touchpoints: By mapping the journey your ideal customer should take until making a transaction, you can identify where your customers are dropping off because the organization isn’t meeting their needs. Setting up these missing touchpoints and improving existing ones will likely increase your leads and customer retention.
  • Spot and fix operational inefficiencies within the organization: Missing or ineffective touchpoints can be due to internal problems, such as poor processes, conflicts, lack of expertise, etc. Journey mapping can help to discover such issues.
  • Nurture and maximize overall customer lifetime value: Improved customer experience means customers will stay with you longer and spend more money. 
  • Faster sales cycle:  Personalized customer experiences and customer-centric internal processes are the result of accurate customer journey mapping. When leads feel valued and catered to, they become customers faster.

Important Considerations

When mapping a new customer journey, start small and be pragmatic. You don’t need to create the ultimate customer journey map the first time. Start with the general concepts and slowly drill down to create a more detailed journey map. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid opinions and focus on facts. Opinions have their place in general strategy and planning, but when it comes to customer journey mapping, facts are king. Basing your customer strategy on hard research gives you a better chance of gauging the outcomes.
  • The customer journey map is organic and dynamic. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of tool. It needs to be updated regularly to ensure everyone is in the loop about your customers’ ever-changing behavior and preferences.

You can adapt it to map employee experience. While employees are often seen as actors, it’s sometimes helpful to view them as your organization’s customers. Their needs also need to be met to ensure the smooth running of the business. By adapting the customer journey map to evaluate employee experiences, you can create internal environments that suit every staff member.

It’s Time to Set Course With Your Own Customer Journey Map

Now that you know what a customer journey is, its benefits, as well as best practices, you can set out on the perpetual mission of improving your customers’ experience. OuterBox can help you achieve your goals with innovative solutions to boost your marketing performance.

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