Customers – the unknown individuals who are one of the major driving factors for any business. If not for the customers, businesses would have to shut shop more often than they do in reality. But should they remain anonymous? Can businesses run operations if customers were left unhappy and ignored? You know the answer as well as we do. Customers are the kings. They may have remained anonymous for a very long time but today they seek to know the businesses that are behind their favorite products and services. It has become equally important for businesses to understand, respect and improve customer service for a longer, tangible relationship with them.
So, let’s first understand why customers are crucial to the success of a business. You have a product or service, customers see it through advertisements and other marketing tools (you may have devised), buy it once, like it and comes back for more. But is it all that simple? No, definitely not! Customer journeys are more complex than a mere buying-selling habit. Thanks to the numerous digital touch points customers have access to information like never before. They use this power to understand, know and question a brand before arriving at any decision. In many cases they don’t even go through the final buying process because their interaction wasn’t fulfilling.
What is a Customer Journey?
We no longer live in a world where we can assume that the customers are faceless, nameless individuals. According to a Salesforce study, 80% customers consider their experience with a company as important as buying their products. Moreover, 69% will reach out to the company to communicate in real time. Customer expectations are a real thing today. How they choose to interact with you, how they seek information about you and how they choose to remain connected is important for a business today.
You must not only acknowledge their importance but also understand their journeys. This is important if you want to continue building a relationship with them for a longer period of time. Mapping customer journeys helps in improving customer relationship and service. It brings out the flaws in your messaging and customer response giving you the scope to improve.
A customer journey map is crucial in today’s world as it gives a clear, concise and visual representation of customers and their journeys. Also known as user journey or buyer journey maps, through these maps you can study the touch points – social media handles, mobile app, website, live chat and other channels that they might use to interact with you. This visually representative map helps to understand their preferences and also to ensure that no channel and no customer need are left unattended.
In short, mapping customer journeys helps businesses gain insights on their customer service, identify the pain points, optimize the service and personalize the experience.
Customer Journey Mapping
Simply put, a customer journey map is an easily comprehensible method of identifying customer interaction touch points and customer buying behavior patterns. The idea behind mapping the customer journey is the constant need to improve customer service. If you are keen to provide consistent and a seamless experience to your customers – whether through immediate response on social media, or constantly being available on live chats – you will need an effective customer journey map.
It is a foregone conclusion that if you respect your customers, acknowledge their concerns and work on improving services, you are well on the path of growing with your business. With the opening up of communication channels it has become ever more important today to listen to customers and build a personal relationship with them.
Why Customer Journey Mapping is Important for Business Growth
We are staring at a future where customer experience will no longer be separate from business goals and vision. In the coming days, every company will first think about customer response (not in bold, random strokes, but in minute details) before everything else. In fact customer experience and preference is overtaking product quality and price measures to a large extent today. This means that when you offer better service to the customer, they come back for more. You interact with them on a personal level, they continue their association with you.
If you think that you understand your customers and their preferences, think again. You cannot think that broad customer preferences categories, demographically segregation is going to be enough to study and understand them. It has become extremely important to break down the customer journey, phase-by-phase. Once customer mapping is complete, it becomes necessary to align goals to touch points so as to maximize customer success. After all, the ultimate aim of customer journey mapping is to understand your customers better and to maximize interaction. The aim is to achieve maximum customer success.
For any business, mapping customer journey is important because –
- You get a bird’s eye view of customer preferences and journey,
- You can identify and resolve customer hurdles,
- You can improve customer conversion rates by understanding negative experiences and working on improving on the loopholes,
- You can illustrate the complete procurement cycle and hence improve customer retention measures,
- A well-defined and illustrated customer journey map also help identify the loopholes and gaps between your communication and customer acceptance and involvement ,
- Lastly, it gives your business the opportunity to prioritize certain aspects of customer experience, as may be necessary for your business growth.
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Steps to Create Effective Customer Journey Maps
As important as it is to create customer journey maps, it is equally important to create them right. You cannot have an over-complicated visual representation of your customers as that won’t solve your problem. The idea behind mapping your customer journey is to see how they behave. For example millennial customers will engage on social media, browse on mobile apps and finally place order through a desktop site. This essentially means that an average millennial will use two mediums to evaluate your products and services but finally use another medium to make a purchase. Ignoring any of these three mediums will mean that you haven’t mapped the customers efficiently. Then, you will be missing out on key variables that would define the effectiveness of the customer journey map.
Below we list the steps you need to follow to create an effective customer journey map.
Defining Your Objectives
Even before you start charting your map, you need to ask yourself – why do I need this? Answers to this question will lead towards your goal of creating a customer journey map. Another important starting point is defining the customer persona. This is an imaginary customer with perfect attributes – those desirable for the success of your business. Defining the persona will address crucial questions such as demographic segmentation of your audience and their psychological needs. Once you are able to define the persona clearly, you will be able to better steer your customer journey map towards the right direction. Additionally to improve the customer journey map further, you should create more than one persona – for those who checked out your brand but didn’t purchase, you made a purchase once but never returned, you engage on social media platforms but don’t use your app etc.
Defining Customer Phases
Customer stages or phases are important for earmarking major goal points in the map. When you build a map, identifying and defining these phases are important. By doing so, you will be able to make the map customer-need oriented. The stages (for the customer) typically start with – discovering your brand, researching your products and services, analyzing your competitors and choosing you above them, purchasing from you and finally continuing the relationship in the future. So the stages are –
Listing Touch Points
Touch points are your company’s points of contact for the customers. Today there are multiple touch points for the customer. Advertisements, hoarding, reviews and ratings, website, retail stores, social media platforms, mobile apps and live chats are some of the touch points. It is undoubtedly a long list but if you want customers to be thoroughly mapped you need to list all the touch points.
Once the touch points are marked, you need to evaluate each of them. Contacting your audiences, understanding their POV, gauging their emotions and motivations (towards your brand), identifying problem areas should be your main objectives here.
Completing the Map
In order to complete the map you will need to identify the other elements you may want to include. In order to complete the map you will need to revisit your goal. Are you trying to resolve customer issues, or simple chart the current state of things, or do you want to chart the future course you envision for your brand.
Customer journey map is crucial if you are serious about identifying your audiences. The map is ideal not only to identify your audience but also to see how each touch points are affecting buyer-seller relationship, what the sore points in your communication are and what the discrepancies are that need to be resolved. Start working on your customer journey map today. You can seek help from professional marketing agencies who have both expertise as well as resources to complete the task for you.