What is Customer Journey Mapping?
July 17, 2016 by Mel Telecican
7 min read
Customer Journey Mapping is what the title suggests, but is far more dynamic than you may think. If you are reading this and think, I know what this is, I challenge you to test your knowledge about the process in it’s entirety. In the simplest sense, it is about identifying the true customer experience (CX). It’s about your clients perceive their experience with your business and the documentation of each interaction a client has along the path of doing business with you.
Presently, we’re in what’s known as the ‘Age Of The Customer’ and everything we use is testament to this need to be user-friendly (think tablets, phones, wearable technology). While many businesses market themselves as the people who care for their client and walk in their shoes, the truth is, most of them are all talk. Why? Because most business owners not only think, but truly believe they are completely in-tune with their client’s needs. The great opportunity for businesses lies in their willingness to test whether their assumptions are in fact, accurate.
The possibilities that exist for both subtle and significant change in the client experience can be identified through customer journey mapping as a process. There are multiple approaches in how it can be implemented but essentially, customer journey mapping when completed in full, does five things. It:
- Identifies the current customer experience from awareness of need through to referrals
- Validates or disproves elements of the existing/current journey
- Identifies weak spots across the experience
- Creates a plan for an ideal customer journey; and
- Puts the plan into action.
A journey map isn’t done across a whole business, it is done one product or service at a time. The pain points of a client who uses one service offered by your business goes through a different process to that of another service, even if they are linked or often put together.
The customer journey mapping process is most effective when created with a team of employees along with the owners. Leaving this to management alone in a business can be problematic. Mapping out the touch points of the customer experience will be most accurately documented when a range of roles weigh in on what they perceive the client experience to be.
How Is It Done?
Importantly, a customer journey map is very detailed. It starts by mapping out, usually on a wall for everyone to see, all of the stages, actions, thoughts and feelings we believe our customer experiences when they do business with us.
The customer journey commonly begins with what’s known as the ‘investigation’ or ‘awareness’ stage. This is when your ‘ideal client’ is seeking what you offer, is aware you offer it and learns more about how your business delivers it. This is often followed by ‘exploring’ other options available to them.
Then comes ‘engaging’ your business to provide the service/s.
Finally the client goes through the various steps required to ‘complete’ the process with you.
All this rounds out with your post-engagement phase, detailing any process you have in place to re-engage with them for additional service or to promote recommendations and referrals.
Law firm staff collaboratively mapping out the client journey from beginning to end.
Once completed, the customer journey map is a perspective that needs to be confirmed or disproved using qualitative and quantitative data. Collating evidence through client interviews and quantitative data such as webpage-visit results is helpful in determining whether your ideal clients are truly performing the mapped actions. Validating your mapped discoveries is essential for future improvements.
Next, the areas ripe for improvement are then identified and prioritised based on the business’ goals. Strategies for each area are then mapped into a new map, that is often called the ideal or future-state client journey map. Finally, the plan is then implemented and growth is monitored and measured.
Getting It Right
What is common in almost all customer journey mapping workshops is that it is hard to maintain the perspective of the client, purely because employees are used to seeing the task or process from their perspective. Having a third party facilitate the mapping process allows an outside-in perspective – fresh eyes to validate, question and challenge their thinking further.
Working through this process and including a range of people from across a department or business, provides an opportunity to develop understanding and empathy for your clients. When empathy is realised, collectively a team is more likely to be more understanding and mindful of their client’s position and needs.
Outcomes of The Customer Experience Journey Mapping Process
The obvious outcome is for clients to enjoy a seamless experience with your business, despite the nature of the service. Even a lawyer who is unable to win their client a case can still have that client become an advocate for their business. An experience that means they will drive business to you by either returning for additional products/services and/or referring others to you.
Depending on the goals you set out to achieve as a result of this mapping process, the benefits can be not as obvious and more far-ranging. For example; it often provides staff the opportunities to refine processes, reduces double handling of tasks, and increases productivity. It provides a cohesiveness between teams as they are all ‘on the same page’ in their understanding of the process, their client’s needs and the accompanying requirements.
For management or owners, the benefits extend to increased client retention, clarity on areas requiring focus to reduce friction when aiming to convert prospects to clients and an improved flow of new clients.
In addition, advertising spend is no longer attributed to marketing that is ineffective, client acquisition costs are reduced and revenue increased as a result of the repeat and referral business.
Mapping a customer journey to drive growth is a largely untapped strategy; particularly in professional services. Few businesses investigate and map out their client’s experience; and it’s those that do, differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Furthermore it is a strategy that no competitor can simply copy from others (unlike most advertising and marketing campaigns). This is an internal growth strategy that is specific to one business’ clients and is not easily replicable.
What are you doing to enhance your client’s experience?