Customer Journey Mapping: Tips to Design Customer Experiences

Secret shoppers, or “mystery shoppers,” are a popular way for market researchers to learn what it feels like to be their own customer. Was the salesperson friendly? Was returning that faulty smartphone a big hassle? Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes helps you improve their experience.

Customer journey mapping serves the same purpose and is a great starting point for designing customer experiences. The process helps align your organizations—getting everyone speaking a common language and ultimately using the map to inform your overall journey management strategy.

Breaking Down Silos

Organizations tend to look at things from a siloed perspective: The team that designs web flows may not consider what’s happening in another channel (such as email, chat or phone), and vice versa.

But a customer journey map must include input from across your enterprise. The process of developing one forces everyone to think more broadly—for example, about the start and end points of the journey as well as about the various channels your customer may use.

Developing a map involves understanding what customers are experiencing—from their perspective. It forces you to consider the omnichannel journey.

Customer journey mapping will help in:

  • Establishing a common language across business silos and a common prioritization of the journeys that align to your business goals
  • Shaping your overall journey management strategy
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement, from which you can then prioritize next steps based on low-hanging fruit (the opportunities that have low cost and/or effort but a high probability of impact)

As your organization matures, you’ll want to make sure that all key journeys are mapped and that the level of detail in your map starts to get deeper. We typically see that customers experience 10 to 15 core journeys with a brand.  There may be thousands of variations to how customers complete a journey, but start with the most common and try not to get hung up on the outliers in the beginning.

Questions to Consider

There are many factors to take into account in the customer journey mapping process. For example:

  • What are the personas of your different customers—and how are their journeys different? Do gold customers have different capabilities and experiences than bronze customers, for example?
  • What self-service gaps do you have? Look at the customer journey from an omnichannel perspective to determine where your customers begin, where they end and where you can offer them a cost-effective, self-service option.
  • What are your customers’ critical needs, and how do you provide them in a way that expresses your brand values? What do you want customers to feel?
  • What’s the expected duration of the journey you’re mapping? Each journey is different, and it’s important to set a baseline for how long you expect each to take, with the customer exerting minimal effort.
  • Journey maps are heavily qualitative—but it’s also good to inform them with some quantitative data, if available. Are there Net Promotor Score/customer satisfaction data available to help focus your efforts? Is there sentiment or text analysis data available at the touchpoint level to show where there might be customer pain?

A Continuous Cycle

As mentioned above, a well-structured program to continually refine journey maps will help you work together across silos, identify opportunities for improvement, empathize with your customers, and develop stronger marketing and organizational strategies.

Journey maps also serve as an important taxonomy for downstream analytics and predictive outcomes. It all starts with a common, cross-organizational understanding of what the journeys really are; then you can begin to apply data to these definitions.

Customer journey management is an endless process: You map, design, analyze, make/test changes, measure and then refine, continuously. Your maps are living documents—and for them to be effective, they must be reviewed and updated as customers’ needs and internal processes change. For example, if a change is implemented from insights derived from journey analytics, the map needs to change.

Just like the secret shopper helps a company improve its customer service, customer journey mapping helps you define your customers’ omnichannel journeys, from their perspective, with the goal of providing the best possible customer experiences. After all, in today’s ultra-competitive digital landscape, it might just be the experience that keeps your customers coming back.

For more information, read the executive brief, Move beyond random interactions to thoughtfully designed customer journeys, to learn how to use data and integrated systems to design customer journey mapping.