Customer Journey Mapping – All you need to Know

Before we dive into details about Customer Journey Mapping, we must understand what a customer journey is.
“Customer Journey” shows the journey a customer embarks upon to avail a service. Each action performed by a customer is part of the customer’s journey.

We also know that services are usually sequential in nature. This means organizations can make a step-by-step list of each incident, department and system a customer is likely to encounter. Organizations can also record the emotional response of a customer to each singular event. This list of incidents and the corresponding emotional responses felt during the customer’s association with the organization is known as a Customer Journey Map (CJM).

Customer Journey Maps are most effective when represented visually. They depict the various layers, stages, personas, touchpoints and emotions of a customer journey. The visual aspect of these maps makes it easier for customer experience managers to analyze the data and use it effectively.

Conventionally, CJMs are made using vision boards, post-it notes, excel sheets or visual presentations. For many years organizations have adopted these methods and adapted to making them effective for business improvement. This being said, each of these methods has its own set of difficulties. The emergence of customer journey mapping tools that are designed specifically to construct actionable CJMs has changed the working methods of innumerable organizations.

What are Customer Journey Mapping tools?

“Customer journey mapping tools are a digital solution that include process-specific features like textual and visual input, graphics and multi-media incorporation, customer behavior/ emotions / barrier capture and analysis, and most importantly, continuous modification capabilities that produce a thorough, all-inclusive view of a customer journey. These tools also emphasize gaps in customer experience, failures in business process execution and potential improvement opportunities.”

The elements of a Customer Journey Map

Generally, a Customer Journey Map is built of four major layers or categories. These are:

1. Customer Experience – This layer portrays the stages, activities, situations and emotions of the Customer.
2. Frontstage – This layer consists of channels of consumption or communication to understand how customers interact with a service or provider.
3. Backstage – This category is not about the customer but the organization. It analyses organizational operations, employee activity and inter-departmental communication required to serve a customer.
4. Internal Processes and Systems – This layer records all the supporting systems, inter-departmental communication and shared resources that are used while serving a customer.

CJM tools can extract and condense information for all these layers simultaneously while providing granular insight to each separate section of information. This creates a 360-degree view of customer experience. While the experience and frontstage layers supply information about the audiences, the other two layers focus on where and how an organization can improve.

As mentioned above, CJM tools provide a microscopic view of each separate category of information. This means that they focus on

1. Customer Stages 

While choosing a service, a customer goes through various stages. Each of these stages affect the final decision and impression of the customer. These stages are
• Awareness – A record of how the customer becomes aware of a service. This could involve various channels of communication and advertising or even word-of mouth awareness. It gives an organization an understanding of the most effective channels of distribution.
• Comparison – Every customer wants the best service. This means that most customers compare the services of multiple vendors before deciding on which to use. This enlightens the organization of their competitors and what customers prefer.
• Purchase and Usage – Advertising and clicks aside, a click-to-purchase ratio gives an organization a true understanding of how well their service is being accepted. Similarly, the usage patterns, reviews and installation difficulties received from a customer also highlight places of improvement.
• Loyalty – The return of a customer or endorsement received from them allows an organization to gauge how happy customers are with their services over long periods of time.

2. Buyer Personas 

Depending on various factors like age, location, behavior and profession, customers are segmented into demographics known as Buyer Personas. Personas help an organization realize how a group of consumers with similar profiles react to a service.

3. Touchpoints 

Inside of any stage, a customer performs various actions and interacts with the organization through various channels. Each of these interactions and the respective channel used forms a touchpoint. These are useful to gain a sense of which methods used are the most effective.

4. Emotions 

Different touchpoints and stages spur a range of emotions in customers. Recording emotions is vital to the meaningfulness of a customer journey map. If a particular process or channel has a large record of negative emotions, it spotlights the need for improvement.

5. Pain Points / Barriers 

Since no plan can be flawless, it is undeniable that customers will face barriers occasionally. Pain points and barriers display the challenges faced by customers, processes or factors that deter customers and attitudes after facing these challenges.

Considering how many elements are involved in the formation of a composite customer journey map, it is easy to predict the challenges one may face collecting and processing these reserves of information manually. Very often, the lack of Inter-departmental communication and the capability to tabulate all the information effectively leads to breakage of system and the CJM becomes dysfunctional. Nevertheless, specialized digital tools such as customer journey mapping tools can help in doing away with these challenges.

Venturing into the digital vs manual discussion, what are the benefits of a CJM Tool?

Some beneficial features of Customer Journey Mapping Tools are

1) Predesigned templates/ digital canvases/ storyboards, ease of use, textual and visual representation and addition of documents.

2) Data integration capabilities, multi-departmental usage (collaboration, co-creation, resource borrowing and plan creation).

3) Information collection from various touchpoints, channels, customer personas, sales and marketing systems, customer experience surveys, customer engagement analyses and web analyses.

4) Analysis of various types of information including customer impact, business impact, cost, Voice of Customer (VoC) feedback and interaction metrics.

5) Conversion to visual form, ability to view microscopic analysis (zoom in or out) of each category separately and tracking over long periods of time.

6) Comparison with various customer experience metrics and KPIs to supply deficits.

7) Ability to easily highlight, move and restructure aspects of a journey map to suit the organization’s understanding.

Reflecting on the visible benefits of a digital CJM solution, it becomes important for organizations to begin exploring automation in customer experience management. Specialized tools when used and executed effectively, have the potential to improve customer experience drastically. They can enhance customer engagement, acquisition and retention. They can also supply service experience, brand loyalty measurements, and provide prognoses of distribution channel modification.