Getting into the minds of your customers has long been the ultimate goal of business owners, but as any marketing professional knows, that’s a challenging prospect, and a continually moving target. Once you think you’ve got their every want and need accounted for, new technology, preferences, and buying trends emerge.
You may wonder why a customer spends so long browsing your selection and adding products to their cart just to close the tab, or why it’s taking your customer’s several steps to get from point A to point B when it should only take one, a step which you’re UX manager has assured you are clearly established and vetted.
Defining customer needs, problems, and interactions with your company may seem overwhelming and at times. However, understanding every customer’s experience at each stage of your brand’s customer journey is crucial for turning data insights into long-term improvement strategies.
Creating a customer journey map is one of the most concrete methods to help your brand visualize how customers feel and what they experience at all brand touchpoints so you can avoid potential issues ahead of time, thus increasing customer retention, and discovering key information to make the best decisions for your business.
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
A journey map lays out all touchpoints that your customer may have with your brand – from how they first heard of you through social media or brand advertising, to their direct interactions with your product, website, or support team – and includes all of the actions your customer takes to complete an objective across a period of time.
A customer journey map is a visual storyline of every engagement your customer has with your service, brand, or product. The creation of a comprehensive journey map puts you directly in the mind of the consumer, so you can see where you may be missing the mark, what you are doing right, and where you can make improvements across the customer lifecycle. There are numerous long-term benefits to establishing a customer journey mapping practice and the data mining that can result. Here are some examples of those benefits.
1. Take your teams out of silos
It’s common to find organizations operating in silos – even the most successful brands can find themselves using different customer data platforms in different departments that don’t share or cross-reference intel, and while they might be able to function, they find themselves in a limited position, and not obtaining the full 360-degree picture they could have of their customers. The resulting problem is fragmented internal processes like these can often lead to a fragmented customer experience, and that will eventually lead to lost clients.
But adopting a customer journey map approach, your organization will be able to see how all departments within your organization work together to address the needs of your customers. In fact, customer journey mapping not only brings your departments together but also crafts an all-encompassing view of every customer interaction. This in turn allows you to build detailed customer profiles, based on a mix of engagements across channels. Even after a purchase has been made, the data can be used to maintain engagement and even cross-sell or upsell relevant products.
Your customers want an enriching and seamless buying experience. Repeatedly. By mapping your customer’s journey through every department touchpoint and taking your teams out of silos, you’ll be in a better position to make this happen. You also remove unnecessary friction that was once scattered across departments, in turn creating a better environment for innovation and growth. By pairing rich content intelligence with unique customer data, you can ensure that you always deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right individual.
2. Step into the shoes of your shoppers
A recent McKinsey study unsurprisingly finds that companies that consistently deliver the best-in-class customer experiences grow faster and more profitably. But, if it’s so important, why do so many brands still miss the mark? Many brands can be quick to convince themselves they deliver a “superior customer experience” based upon long ago established KPIs that might give a picture of the current status quo, but don’t provide any insight into the future. The sad truth is that the breakdown between what a brand thinks and what its customers think can often be a critical issue – a make-or-break scenario. And it’s more than a delivery gap. It’s a customer empathy gap.
Many brands still forget to include the emotional factor into customers’ experience, yet in today’s CX focused world, it’s more important than ever to understand customer emotions. Most brands today compete on value, not price. Providing exceptional experiences ensures you stand out. Incorporating the emotional state of your audience into customer journey maps allows you to step into their shoes – and drive action from this empathetic insight. Customer journey mapping enables you to better understand how a customer is thinking and feeling, in turn allowing you to raise emotions at key points in the buying journey. Similarly, journey maps can help you to pinpoint moments of truth or moments of delight and make them a more enjoyable experience for your customers.
3. Predict Customer Behavior
A big part of any brand’s marketing focus is on predicting and influencing customer behavior. From developing customer personas to creating the most influential advertisements, landing pages, drip emails, etc. there is typically one primary goal; persuading visitors to act now while preparing for their next action. To do this right, it’s imperative to know what motivates the audience both in the present and the future.
Customer journey mapping enables brands to gain a much better understanding of their customers’ needs, wants, goals, emotions, and actions. Customer journey maps give them a visual and data-centric representation of the story of a customer’s experience with your brand – from their first interaction to a long-term relationship – you can predict and influence customer behavior, which in turn optimizes conversion rates.
In fact, learnings can be retrieved from customer maps to develop best practices and anticipate the type of content likely to be required by your shoppers as you introduce new product lines or modify existing ones. By combining behavioral data with marketing metrics, you’ll gain a much more detailed understanding of your customers’ needs, as well as insights to inform decision-making.
4. Creating Personalized Experiences
While the benefits of customer journey mapping are plentiful, helping you to perfect the ideal customer experience, not every customer will go down the same path. Providing personalized buying experiences is key.
Customer journey maps can do a lot of the legwork for you, but as every customer is an individual, you need to be mindful of how to deliver the right content at the right time. Data-driven visual commerce combines content intelligence with rich customer data, creating contextually relevant one-to-one content experiences throughout your website and other marketing channels.