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Introduction to Customer Journey Maps

When you hear the words “Customer Journey Map,” what comes to mind? If you’re like many of us you probably think “that sounds important, someone should get right on that,” while secretly hoping that someone isn’t you. You’ve probably heard the term, but you may be foggy on the details. It’s not technically complicated, however. The main ingredient is empathy, along with some fundamentals to ensure a strong foundation.

Journey Map - child holding map

At a high level, customer journey mapping is creating a visual representation of a customer’s experience with your brand. (Feel free to trot out that definition the next time it comes up in a meeting, but stick with us here if you’d like to know more.)

There's More Than One Path

Fun fact: I am a terrible chess player. I once devoted enough time to the game to where I could beat a distracted 8-year-old on a good day. My ineptitude could be traced to a simple fact: I would concoct rather elaborate strategies that relied on my opponent making very specific moves. Once they stepped outside those very narrow lanes I’d constructed, my fragile plan capsized. Many of our online strategies are constructed similarly. At least my end goal was specific and there was a path to success, although not a very probable one. Calling it “hopeful” would be overselling it, but all the steps were there.

How Do Your Goals Align with the Journey?

A strategy requires a goal. Think about your ecommerce website for a moment. Sure, you want to sell products, that’s easy. Do you have a newsletter sign-up? Do you offer a subscription model? A blog? How about a service portal? Financing? The list can get pretty long, and each one of those interactions has its own customer journey – whether you intentionally created one or not. You know the best way to identify them? Talk to your customers. If you don’t, you could end up with a strategy that closely resembles my style of chess. Your customers’ motivations and expectations will guide them, and your offering will either fit or it won’t. The unfortunate truth is that you may have the very best widget in the market, but if you make it too difficult to purchase, customers will go to your competitors. That empathy that I mentioned earlier? That’s what helps you understand your customers and deliver an experience that feels tailored to them.

Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping

  • Remove underperforming and ineffective touchpoints
  • Allows for better forecasting when contemplating improvements
  • Shifts your perspective to a customer-focused one
  • Assign ownership to different steps in the journey map to allow for proper accountability on your team
  • Word of mouth advertising – who doesn’t love to share a great experience with their friends and family?

The Map is Never Done

Like most worthwhile things in life, we get better the more we practice, and customer journey maps are no exception. They usually appear fairly simple, but as we talk with our internal team and our customers, we realize how complicated those journeys can be. Email marketing and social media campaigns can be important touchpoints, along with the blog on your website or even a call in to your service department. How do those pieces fit together? Most critically, how does your customer see those pieces fitting together? The better you can map these journeys, the better you can understand them and the more you can improve upon them.

Pinpoint Problem Areas

It’s likely that the data geek in your company has metrics that show exactly where the customers are dropping off the journey. How you respond to the problem is the challenge. The data may show where the problems exist, but they don’t necessarily show the “why.” I don’t need Google Analytics to tell me when my wife is irritated. However, if I don’t understand why, the likelihood of being able to affect a positive change in the situation is pretty much zero. Lucky for me she gives me second and third chances. How much patience do consumers have with poor online experiences in 2021?

I can’t promise a customer journey map will help your personal relationships, but your customers will thank you by purchasing more of your goods and services and being more engaged with your brand.

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