In the world of marketing and product design, there is a shift in focus toward the ideas of "user centered design" (UCD) and "design thinking." UCD and design thinking take a methodological approach to iterating upon design and processes based on feedback from consumers. It therefore is a cyclical process of improvement, not a linear one, that centers around the idea of user empathy. It involves enhancing the users' experiences in their interaction with your product. As a part of integrating these ideas into your marketing and product design, you must build a customer journey map. A customer journey map enables the company to place themselves in the shoes of their consumers (empathy). It helps relay the story of the consumer's exact experience from the moment they come in contact with your product (or even before!) to the point where they purchase and eventually use the product or service (and even after!). This could range from the point of advertising to the application of the service or product in their daily lives.
The Benefits of the Customer Journey Map
The customer journey map helps companies empathize with customers by studying their interactions surrounding the use of their products or services. It helps to identify loopholes within the company's processes that may bar ideal product use and make improvements that are based on the real data. Here are a few examples of where loopholes may be identified.
Customer engagement channels - If 70% of your customers are above 65 years old, social media may not be the most efficient channel to reach them at the moment. While the population of adults online in that age group are increasing daily, the rate is not as fast as other age groups. Therefore, mapping out a 65 year olds experience may require the company to research and identify alternative customer touch points that better reach this target group.
Know your media - If you run a technology business and have an app, you need to ensure your target market would be able to access and use the app in the way the company intended. For example, in a country where English is not the first language, you may want to give multiple language options. Another consideration is how your app can drain battery; in some markets where electricity is not always consistent, people's behaviors on your app may be different. You may also need to consider what devices and operating systems are most popular within your target market to verify they would be able to interact with your product or service. Are they mostly feature phones? Android or iOS? How would that impact what you develop? Understanding the media in which your customers interact with your product or service is important in making it accessible.
Creating a Customer Journey Map
Now that we have identified some of the benefits of having a customer journey map, we can identify a few key steps on how to create a comprehensive map. If you are familiar with project management or software development, this process is similar to the agile methodology. The parallel lies in the idea of continually iterating and refining the map through research, analysis, and communication with customers.
- Empathize - Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What are the scenarios in which you, as the customer, would identify the need for a product? For example, a customer journey map of a grocery store may identify "customer recognizes need for food and requires re-stocking of supplies" as a scenario that may be the starting point of the customer journey. What is the process of getting to the product and interacting with it? What happens after this interaction?
- Research - Based on information you already have, look into patterns that your customers have already exhibited. You could find these through analytics on your website, interactions with retailers at the front end, feedback surveys sent out to clients, and more. This information would help you understand starting points, middle points, and end points of your customer's journey with your product/service.
- Create - After identifying all the points of contact and information on research, begin to create your map. Consider drafting a comprehensive list of questions your consumers may have in every process of engagement and determining how answers to those questions fit within the journey. Have we made it easy for customers to obtain the information they need?
- Present - After all the hard work has been done, pass it through different departments within the company to get feedback. Bring in customers and form a focus group, ask questions about their experience, present your map and listen to their feedback.
- Reiterate - Based on the feedback they provide, rework the map until it reflects the true customers journey and use this to make changes to the processes within the company. This map is a living document; it will change over time as trends change and other disruptive technologies emerge. Never stop trying to refine the journey.
There are a few ways you can go about actually creating this map. You can either use a physical board in your office with post-it (sticky) notes or you can use a few digital tools. A great tool to use is the canvanizer. It helps you digitally map out your customer journey map. It can then be printed or sent as is for feedback.
Have you mapped out your customer's journey? How has it impacted how your company operates? Leave a comment and let us know.
If you would love to discuss creative ways to learn about customers, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org