When was the last time a company really impressed you? Was it the product or service you purchased, or the whole experience that wowed you? Now think about your business. What would your customers say about their experience?
To understand your customers’ behaviors, expectations, wishes, and goals, you have to put yourself in their shoes and understand their journey. What motivates them? What excites them? What irks them? The answers to these and many other important questions can be found in customer journey mapping.
Qualtrics XM defines customer journey mapping as “the process of creating a visual representation of customers’ processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with an organization.”¹ It’s a process that can ultimately help you design an experience that will give you the competitive advantage you need to differentiate your business.
However, before you begin any customer journey mapping initiative, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind:
A customer journey map is NOT a business process map! Never forget — customers don’t know or care about any behind-the-scenes actions that a business takes to process their request, ready their shipment, or schedule their appointment.
Assumptions aren’t facts. Whenever possible, validate your customer journey map with real customers. Do they actually complete the actions in the same order that you documented? Is anything missing? You don’t want to base important business decisions on unconfirmed assumptions.
There are two types of data that should be collected to understand the entire customer experience. The first is operational data, which allows you to track your business operations and ensure everything is running smoothly. In a call center, for example, you might track and trend wait time, number of transfers, and first call resolution. All are potential key performance indicators that provide insight into what the customers are experiencing.
The second type of data — and perhaps the most overlooked — is experience data. Whenever possible, collect data from your customers about key touchpoints in their journey. Experience data helps you understand what the customers feel and think about their interaction with you, as well as why they feel that way. This data should inform your decisions about where to invest to make improvements. Where are the high-effort touchpoints? When are the customers dissatisfied?
For experience data metrics, three valuable tools for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data are customer effort score (CES), customer satisfaction (CSAT), and willingness to recommend (NPS).
CES rates statements such as, “It was easy to resolve my issue” when dealing with a call center or completing a service transaction. This score will help you understand the perceived effort the customers had to put forth. Understanding the high-effort touch points will help you design an ideal customer journey that makes it as easy as possible for the customers to achieve their goals with your business.
CSAT data will help you understand customers’ perception of their interactions with you. If they were satisfied with their interaction with the call center, for example, it’s more likely they’ll call back again when another issue arises. If they were dissatisfied, you can dig into the reasons why, which will help you identify and focus on trouble spots.
NPS helps you understand customers’ willingness to recommend your company, product, or service and can, over time, provide evidence that the journey improvements you’ve made are having their desired effect.
Take the time to truly understand what your customers experience along their journeys with your business. Use data collection, analysis, and visualization to reveal new customer insights. Then, design and validate a truly outstanding customer experience. It’s a big undertaking, but, if done right, is one that’s guaranteed to pay dividends for years to come.
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