Customer journey mapping: the company from the customer perspective

Taking the customer’s view of things gives companies enormous potential to discover weak points when it comes to customer contact. Before an internet user makes the transition from window shopper to perspective customer, they’ve generally already encountered a variety of different advertising measures, business sectors, or service employees. Marketers refer to this term as the customer journey. Each of these so-called touchpoints offers a chance to pick up more customers. In order to make this happen, it’s necessary to find out which wants, needs, and expectations customers have during the individual buying decision processes and how these can be satisfied on central touchpoints. This information can then be reproduced with the help of so-called customer journey maps.

What is customer journey mapping?

Customer journeys are schematic depictions (usually in the form of infographics) of prototypical buying decision processes. These are normally developed by different actors within a given company: information architects, user experience designers (UX), product developers, marketing team members, and social media managers. Customer journey mapping displays the customer experience from the very first moment in which contact was made with a company all the way through all the relevant touch points, and finally, to the conversion. Here the focus is on the customer’s motivation and emotions during the interaction. Some central questions include:

  • What awaits potential customers?
  • Why are they interacting with the company?
  • How do they feel during these interactions?

The goal here is to design a picture of the current situation together with all participating departments. Next, a plan needs to be developed on how the customer journey can be ideally designed for concrete scenarios. Thus the infographic acts as a template for optimization processes.

The customer journey map is a valuable marketing tool that can be used for all business aspects: managers can make use of this to gain an overview on how customers move through the sales funnel, and identify chances for improving the customer experience. Customer journey maps help clarify the expectations of website visitors, which helps improve the work of copywriters. With the help of infographics, UX designers are able to develop a feeling for how users interact with a website and its available service channels and which requirements these should fulfill. Additionally, customer journey mapping also enables marketers to implement advertising measures in a more targeted manner. The central task of such an analysis process is to put the customer at the very center of company thinking.

Creating a customer journey map in six steps

The goal of customer journey mapping is to find out more about customer groups and their needs vis-à-vis the buying decision process and customer surveys. To this end, there are different methods available for carrying out research on customers’ user experiences: surveys, customer diaries, and blogs as well as focus groups are all tools that marketers have at their disposal. Evaluating user behavior through web analytics and usability tests also plays a central role in online marketing. In addition to empirical data, customer feedback stemming from social media channels should also influence the customer journey map.

1. Identifying customer groups

The starting point of the customer journey map is comprised of so-called personas: fictitious persons that represent certain target groups as prototypes. A persona generally receives a realistic name and is described using demographic characteristics like age, sex, marital status, location, occupation, and income. Additionally, goals, desires, expectations, and needs are also defined. A photo of the person and quotes help bring them to life. The information on relevant target groups is obtained from registration data, online questionnaires, and interviews.

2. Defining a use case

Based on the target group, use cases can be defined for each persona. This process involves carving out typical cases that describe why a potential customer is interacting with the company. Traditional use-case scenarios for online marketing purposes include searches for information, products, or solutions to specific problems.

3. Defining touchpoints

Typical touchpoints on which selected customer groups come into contact with the company can be determined for each use case. A customer journey map, however, is only able to depict buying decision processes in an abstract manner. In order to obtain a clearly-arranged infographic, it makes sense to prioritize touchpoints and ignore points of less importance. Critical touchpoints that appear to be able to sustainably influence customers are highlighted separately as ‘moments of truth’. These points are where it matters the most when it comes to finding success. 

4. Identifying actors

Those looking to optimize customer journeys need to be able to directly address the actors within the company that will come into contact with customers on relevant touchpoints. In terms of customer journey mapping, an overview of all involved departments and employees is created. If it’s known that certain processes crucial to customer satisfaction may be prone to delays or other problems due to underlying conditions (e.g. lack of staff, budget), then this information should also be incorporated into the customer journey map. 

5. Evaluating customer experiences

Once it’s known which touchpoints a target group may come in contact with in a certain use case, then it’s time to evaluate these from the customer’s point of view. This step of the customer journey mapping process relies on both statistical evaluations of key performance indicators (KPIs) gathered by tracking tools as well as customer feedback in narrative form (e.g. social media posts or product reviews). In case there aren’t any touchpoints available that are able to offer sound data on an evaluation from the customers’ perspective, interviewing reliable employees may offer a possibility for gathering information on the performance of a contact point. The goal here is to obtain an objective picture of the customer’s experience during an important interaction. A glossed over depiction, on the other hand, doesn’t offer any input for optimization measures and is therefore counterproductive. 

6. Graphically displaying the customer journey

Collecting data is followed by graphically depicting the customer journey map. All relevant touchpoints within the individual phases of the customer journey are located during this process: awareness, favorability, consideration, intent to purchase, and conversion. Often, visualizations in the form of a large-format poster with icons, arrows, and text boxes are created. The most important thing here is to make sure that both positive and negative customer feedback is taken into account for the customer journey map

Deriving optimization measures

Once the infographic, a list of all involved actors, and the analysis results are all available, the coworkers involved in the customer journey mapping process have the possibility to draw up suggestions for improvements. Customer journey mapping is able to reveal gaps in cross-departmental work, the need for additional training for service staff, or missing functions on the website. Additional approaches for these optimization measures include changing internal business communication protocol, downsizing bureaucratic hurdles, and expanding the authority of employees working on certain contact points.

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