Advances in technology have changed customer expectations. They want a more personal and immersive online experience. This means that IT has an increasingly more important role in customer journey mapping.
It all comes down to touchpoints. A touchpoint is any point where customers interact with and learn about your company’s brand and products on the path to making a purchase. Prior to e-commerce and digital marketing, the customer journey was simple and linear because touchpoints were limited to things like TV and print ads.
New technologies have drastically increased the number of consumer touchpoints: websites, live chat, social media, email, customer reviews, and so on. Each touchpoint helps customers to interact with, learn about, compare, and shop for your products. But having so many different touchpoints can make it more difficult to create a customer journey map.
In this article we will discuss IT’s role in helping your company leverage existing and emerging technologies so you can more effectively map your customer journeys and create rich and meaningful customer experiences.
What is a customer journey map?
Mapping your customer journey helps you understand what your customers do, what they experience, what they expect, and how they feel about your company, its brand, and its products. Use the customer journey to get inside your customers’ heads so you can meet their needs and give them a more fulfilling experience.
A customer journey map is the visual representation of a customer journey. It lets you see the chronological steps your customers take to complete specific actions, such as making a purchase or starting a product trial. The more steps and interactions, the more complex and detailed your customer journey will be.
Why are customer journey maps essential for your business?
Customer journey maps show you customer actions, emotions, expectations, and pain points, so they are essential tools for analyzing customer behavior. The maps help you see things from the customer’s perspective and give you deeper insight into what they need from the journey.
The benefits of customer journey mapping include:
A customer-centric approach: The customer journey experience helps you understand your customers better so you can create better personas. The process of creating customer journey maps centers your users and customers in your decision-making.
Teams bridging silos: A company-wide focus on the customer bridges silos as teams across multiple departments use the customer journey map as a guide for enhancing the customer experience.
Improved lead quality and customer retention: Understanding customer journey touchpoints helps you better understand what will appeal to a broader customer base. This, in turn, leads to happier customers and better customer retention.
Increased sales: Customers who are happy and stick with your brand are more likely to recommend your products to friends and family to drive your sales up.
Identifying key issues: Customer journey mapping helps you to identify and solve problems. Solving problems quickly not only makes the customer experience better, but it helps your company to be more efficient as well.
What is IT’s role in the customer journey?
You and your customers want and expect everything to work quickly and smoothly when customers interact with your brands and consider buying your products.
f systems don’t work well, are hard to understand, or are difficult to use, customers will look for somebody else to give them the experience they are expecting. So it’s very important that IT is involved with implementing and maintaining the technologies that guide customers on their journey.
To ensure that the technologies your company uses are customer-friendly, your IT team needs to research and understand what is most appealing to your unique audience. Then they need to figure out how to leverage these technologies to improve your brand and the overall customer experience.
But simply understanding which technologies to use is not enough. Your IT team also needs to understand how your customers interact with your company and its products. The best way for them to do that is to be involved with and understand the customer journey. When they understand the journey, they can understand where they fit in the customer journey map.
How do you build customer journey maps?
Here are some things to consider when you create your customer journey maps.
Set clear objectives
You need to know why you are creating a customer map. What goals will the map help you to achieve? How will you collect data for this map? Who will be using the map?
You might consider shopping for your own products. Go through the same steps that your customers would take to identify pain points and other problem areas. Note which areas of the process might be annoying or a hassle for your customers and look for ways to improve or streamline.
Talk to customers
You want to know what your customer is thinking and how they feel? Ask them. Getting feedback from actual customers, also called VoC or Voice of the Customer, is much better than guessing. Surveys, focus groups, email questionnaires, and so on can give you valuable data that you can use to create focused customer journey maps.
Define a customer persona
Using the data you collect, create a user persona. This fictitious customer will include all of the demographics, attitudes, aspirations, and needs that represent your average customer. Defining a clear persona helps you to create a customer journey map that is more focused on a specific type of customer.
Not every customer will interact with every touchpoint, but they generally include the following stages: Awareness, Evaluation, Purchase, Usage, and Repurchase. These can be simplified into the following three common stages to help you pinpoint your customer touchpoints.
- Before purchase: This is the stage where customers become aware of and evaluate your brand. Some of the touchpoints here include clickable ads or links on web pages, direct emails, product reviews, social media, and so on.
- During purchase: This is when the customer makes the purchase and determines how and where the product will be used. Purchasing touchpoints can be at a physical store, from a sales representative, or from your online shop.
- After purchase: Touchpoints in this stage are important because you want to retain your customers and you want them to buy from you again. After purchase touchpoints can include billing (especially subscriptions), customer service, requests for product reviews or evaluations, returns, and so on.
Visualize the journey
Once you know what you want to include in your customer journey map, it’s time to create it. And since a map is a visual tool, you’ll need to draw it somehow. You can bring your map to life with pencil and paper, on a whiteboard, or you can save the information on a digital canvas. Digitizing a visual map is preferable because it can be shared more easily with other team members and encourages collaboration.
To begin, you might want to use generic touchpoint stages as a backbone of the customer experience. For example, Awareness ➜ Evaluation ➜ Purchase ➜ Usage ➜ Repurchase. Then use simple shapes, colors, and lines to represent the steps a customer goes through on their journey, including their interactions and decision-making through the various touchpoint stages.
Online tools such as Lucidspark, a virtual whiteboard that lets you capture and share important ideas, can help you and your team map out a customer journey that will satisfy customer needs and keep them happy.
Bring your best ideas to life and create your own user story map with Lucidspark.I’m ready
Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidspark.com.