In this opinion piece, co-founder and CEO of omnichannel automated CX company Cyara, Alok Kulkarni (pictured above), discusses key elements of building and optimising customer journey maps.
Until recently, the customer journey was calculated by the marketing department by using funnels. They created funnels and calculated the conversion rates step by step, in a very linear fashion.
But with the increase in customer touchpoints through technology, along with recognition that the customer journey starts long before customers log in to your website, funnels are a thing of the past and customer journey mapping is how businesses are going to gain an edge over competitors.
A customer journey map is a framework that defines each stage of the customer lifecycle, enabling businesses to improve customer experience through increased understanding of how they interact with customers. A good customer journey map enables companies to identify investment priorities to grow their businesses.
Despite the non-linear and somewhat untidy look customer journey maps can have, covering everything from online and offline touchpoints, through to cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, the value it can bring to businesses is priceless. A customer journey map is a practical and visual document that denotes real customer data, behavioural stages, cross-departmental resourcing, brand sentiment, and more.
Building a customer journey map
The beauty of this new process for measuring the customer journey is that there is no set template or technique for developing a customer journey map. Every company will have their own unique version, using bespoke benchmarks and measures that reflect their business goals and objectives.
Customer journey mapping is also vastly more useful than funnels, because its free-form nature means the various stakeholders within a business can engage in mapping together, using their own analytics to build a clear picture of the customer.
Regardless of how the map looks in terms of design, there are some key elements companies should include:
- Context or stakeholder map: With the customer firmly in the centre, describe and link all the relationships the company stakeholders have with the customer. Identify how this helps or hinders the customer journey. This is particularly useful for identifying how different areas of the business interact or connect with each other.
- Identify customer personas: What does a typical customer look like? Different areas of the business can bring in useful insights through their own analytics.
- Identify customer outcomes: What is the customer trying to achieve?
- Customer journey: Start from well before the customer interacts with the business, taking into consideration the actions they may have taken in the lead-up to and after engaging with the business. This could include speaking with friends, looking at review sites, or engaging on social media. This is definitely best presented in a linear way, and the information coming out of it will also help businesses identify their customers’ key behavioural traits.
- Touchpoints: List every opportunity the customer has had to engage with the business underneath each customer journey point — try to think beyond website visits. This could cover blog views, social media interactions, messaging app interactions, TV ad views, radio tune-ins, review site submissions, and word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Moments of truth: These are when customers would actually engage with the business through certain touchpoints, providing insight into the most pivotal and impactful moments in the journey.
- Delivery: Beneath each touchpoint, list who is responsible within the organisation for delivering that piece of the journey. This step can be taken even further by listing the support personnel within the journey who help to deliver that piece of the puzzle. It is also often useful for HR teams and senior management when deciding company structure to support a customer-first philosophy.
Optimising the customer journey map
Once the mapping is complete, companies can brainstorm how to improve the process. In many cases, this means working out the best way the various teams within an organisation can work more collaboratively to ensure the best customer outcomes. It is not uncommon for several teams to be involved in a single element of the customer journey, and the mapping can clarify just how interdependent teams actually are.
It is also common to identify the need to standardise tools and analytics, or introduce dashboards to share cross-functional analytics or uniform testing for new processes. Customer experience testing systems, for example, can simulate a user’s experience across company-facing touchpoints, giving real-time insights into customer behaviour while enabling businesses to identify exactly which areas need improvement.
Despite its seeming complexity, customer journey mapping can provide highly valuable qualitative data about customers, and enable businesses to remain nimble while prioritising the customer at every touchpoint.