Charting the Path to a Frictionless Customer Experience
A major threat to any company is dwelling in assumptions or building business approaches that meet internal agendas but forget to account for the customer experience. This company-centric mentality neglects the interests and the priorities of consumers whose expectations have changed over time. Requirements of a frictionless experience, married with high customer service expectations, are the foundations of building customer advocacy. Challenges for retailers to meet these expectations are real and include:
Brands must take customers’ needs and actions into consideration and anticipate them to provide relevant experiences. Taking a customer-centric approach helps bridge the gap between the brand’s promise and the customers’ expectations to lead a successful digital transformation.
Understanding the customer experience through every touchpoint with the brand is a critical step to transforming the business to better meet customers’ needs and delight their expectations. Once the customer’s engagement with the brand and their actions are understood, their behaviors can be anticipated to create meaningful experiences that drive loyalty. One of the key ways to understand this holistic experience is to create a customer journey map.
"Brands must take customers’ needs and actions into consideration and anticipate them to provide meaningful experiences."
A journey map is an immersive research and discovery document with qualitative and quantitative data that visually tells the story of the customer’s omnichannel experience. It is a living document that encompasses customer’s actions, thoughts, feelings and interactions across all touchpoints and throughout different phases of their relationship with the brand. Journey maps can reveal moments of truth, uncover pain points, gather opportunities and deliver insights for organizations to take action. Journey maps can come in all kinds of iterations, designs, and depths. But there are a few traits that help categorize the types of journey maps and when best to use them.
Types of Journey Maps
According to Forrester, digital customer experiences are the top three investments companies make in customer experience: 55% prioritize online experiences; 41% are adding or improving mobile experiences; and 39% are improving cross-channel experiences (Forrester Blog, December 2015). Journey mapping can help ensure these investments are supported by data and actually relieve customer pain points.
Additionally, customer journey maps inform company roadmaps and can influence or direct all internal initiatives that support a better customer experience, such as:
A customer journey map doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but each step is critical in the development process to ensure valuable information can be gleaned. Starting with the customer experience must be the foundation of a brand’s research and the cornerstone of their map. The steps below outline how to get started.
Step 1 - Discover
Begin by understanding every aspect of the business that the customer will engage and interact with the brand.
Step 2 - Architect
Map the learnings, pain points and opportunities across phases that will naturally shake out. Sticky notes and white boards are your friends. A story will evolve which can help guide the visual depiction of the journey.
Step 3 - Design
Make the journey map visual and engaging. Bring the path of the user to life and call out moments of truth using design elements or color to help the reader quickly decipher key areas for deeper understanding. There is no wrong way to design – legibility and comprehension are key.
Step 4 - Show & Tell
Walk internal stakeholders and executives through the learnings and review uncovered opportunities. Discussions and epiphanies will unfold as the organization begins to see through the lens of the customer.
Step 5 - Move Mountains
Set up additional time to brainstorm solutions that capitalize on these opportunities. Think through the future state of the customer experience and then work to prioritize new initiatives against a realistic timeline. From here, budgets can be aligned and departments united to move the needle.
Journey mapping is an actionable blueprint informing many aspects of your business – it’s worth the investment of time and money. Journey maps can add value beyond crunching behavioral data by giving a wider reach of the customer’s reality than company-centric assumptions. Mapping out experiences across touchpoints reveals the omnichannel relationship customers have with a brand and answers the why that pure data alone can’t touch. The insights gleaned enable the organization to make more informed decisions and solve major challenges prevalent in the post-modern marketing era.