To provide the best services and a great customer experience, we need to understand the needs of the customers. But how can we understand them without walking a mile in their shoes?
Empathy is the pillar of customer-centric service design. Through empathy and a human approach, we can shift our perspective towards the customer’s point of view. User journey mapping is part of this process.
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the narrative we create for our customers throughout the buying process. Also known as customer experience pathways, this type of descriptive material helps us visualize the customer’s journey and acquire insight into their reality.
Benefits of customer journey mapping
Easily design your customer experience strategy. Understand types of clients and their specific needs to improve customer experience. Identify tasks for different members of your organization. Gain insight into how clients use your products and services. Cultivate a better customer relationship with a more effective onboarding process and an omnichannel approach to communication.
Imagine a story where the character — let’s name her Jo — needs to reach from point A to point B. You have the following information:
Jo needed a pen; she went to the store and she bought a pen.
What does this tell you about the character Jo? Almost nothing. Based on this information, there is little you can do to recommend which pen to buy or to underline the best customer service approach. But what if you knew this:
It was exam day and Jo woke up late. She fed her cat quickly and rushed out the door, to the nearest office supplies store.
Even though I only added one extra sentence, we can already start to understand the person better.
Now we know that Jo is a student and a cat lover. Among all the pens in the store, we can recommend one with blue ink and a cat paw design. She is in a hurry, which means that she would appreciate a fast and efficient service. We also know that she is in the habit of leaving things to the last moment. In the future, she might be interested in an agenda or a novelty book with tips on how to get organized.
Using this type of insight, we can personalize our customer experience and win loyal buyers. With a customer journey map, we can put this information into a visual format and add all the details necessary to understand the customer’s experience and the feelings involved in the decision-making process.
How To Create Your Journey Map
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To create your journey map, start by gathering your team for a brainstorming session. Identify the current customer experience and set clear objectives for the mapping process. Afterwards, choose the template upon which you and your team will build the customer journey.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to designing a journey map. Depending on the goals, the services, the style of the brand, and the creative inclination of the team members, the map can take various shapes and forms. You can opt for a detailed step-by-step description or a general guideline.
For example, a team of UI specialists would easily sketch a comic strip showing different steps of the journey, while a retail business might prefer a straightforward storyboard template. You can always test the current version and reiterate.
Here are some ideas on formats to use for your customer journey map:
To ensure a customer-centric approach, the journey map should be designed from the customer’s perspective. There six items that can help you cover the right steps for your customer experience pathways.
What To Include In Your Journey Map
- Pain points
The buyer persona (or user persona) describes the ideal customer for which you are designing your services. Using demographic and psychographic characteristics, you can narrow your target audience down to the finest details.
Since the purpose of this process is to gain insight through empathy, make your persona as specific as possible and stay away from generalities. Build the backstory of your “customer character”, consider where they come from, their current context, and their needs. The more details you learn about your persona, the more you can start seeing things through their eyes.
Let’s take the aforementioned character — “Jo.” Here is an example of how her buyer persona could look:
Goals: Successfully finish undergraduate studies, find a job
Lifestyle: introvert, pet owner
Hobbies: binge-watching, reading, music
Frequently used media: streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube), Instagram, Twitter, TikTok
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An important step in mapping out a customer journey is understanding their objectives. What does your customer want from your service? What problems will be solved by your product? What are their considerations for choosing your company?
Determining a customer’s goals goes hand in hand with understanding their buyer persona. To find out more accurate information and stay away from speculating, you can conduct customer research. Methods such as surveys, customer interviews, online feedback, focus groups, or email communication can help you research the customer’s motivations and identify their goals.
Touchpoints represent various points of interaction between a customer and your business. These touchpoints will help you plot the timeline of your customer journey map.
When you start creating the scenario of your customer experience, list every possible encounter that the client might have with your brand and your services. The more touchpoints you have, the more complex your map gets.
Consider the following interactions:
- The first time they hear about your brand (brand awareness): a social media advertisement, a TV commercial, a billboard, a friend’s recommendation.
- The research they conduct before considering becoming a client: company website, online reviews, sampling a product.
- Customer onboarding: sign-up process, welcome emails, offers, tutorials.
- Impressions: in-person service, communication with customer care representatives, visiting the store, using a product/service.
As you underline every touchpoint and start building your narrative, always keep in mind the persona for which you create this journey. For example, a young millennial will most likely hear about your brand through social media, instead of a TV ad.
4. Pain Points
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Uncovering the problems that customers encounter in their buying journey is just as important as understanding their goals. Now that you have outlined touchpoints, you can identify where issues might arise and research past problems.
Talk to the sales team and the customer-facing departments to learn what are the most common complaints among your target audience. Metrics for tracking performance, competitive intelligence, or analytics from your online platforms can tell you a great deal about how to uncover pain points.
Our decisions are greatly influenced by the experiences that we go through and the emotions we feel. The same goes for a buying process. When we have a positive interaction with a brand, we are more likely to return as a customer. Feelings turn into actions and behaviors.
As you design the customer journey map, take into account any feeling that might arise at any step of the process. This means to consider what are is the initial emotional state of your customer and what will they go through before reaching a positive emotion.
Let’s take as an example a customer service call. The client doesn’t know how to use a function, they get frustrated and they call customer service. The customer care agent manages to neutralize the situation and explain the steps. The customer understands and has an overall positive experience with the company.
Your feelings map can look like this:
Confusion Frustration Neutral Understanding Happy
The problem arises Feeling aggravate Feelings are diffused We have a resolution The experience is positive
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Finally, you can extract from your visual guideline the necessary resources and assets needed to make this narrative a reality. Think of every detail listed in the template as an actionable item for different people within your organization.
Add the resources alongside your plot points to have a better grasp of how to utilize them. If your journey map mentions an online advertisement, engage the person responsible for marketing. If constructing a better customer experience requires a friendlier user interface, involve the design team.
Try Customer-Centric Service Design
Through empathy and human-centered design, you can improve your customer experience. Get in touch and let’s talk!