Customer journey mapping helps bring a unique and important perspective to businesses and products. This spans the entire path to purchase and beyond, from initial need or exposure to a product/service all the way to eventually being finished with the product/service. In between, there are a plethora of marketing, customer experience, customer support, research, and advertising opportunities for companies to consider. Ultimately, these different factors shape the consumer’s perception of the brand. This Harvard Business Review article summarizes the customer journey mapping process well:
“A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination.”
Perspective of the customer
The most important aspect of the customer journey mapping process is seeing the brand and product/service through the eyes of the customer. Inherently, when an employee works within a company, they see the products/services they provide through a unique lens. Often, they get so caught up in their own perspective, they forget to consider what things are like for the customer. This lack of customer empathy causes them to make errors in the way they communicate or deliver a product. Consider the example of a pizza shop owner. Perhaps the owner obsesses day after day with fine-tuning the recipe for her sauce. However, her customers already love the sauce, but think the pizzas always come out burnt. She lacks understanding of her customer because she sees things as an owner and fails to understand their perspective. Customer journey mapping helps align us with what customers are saying through all stages of interaction with a brand.
Blending different departments
Most organizations work in silos – maybe they have a product development department, a marketing department and a customer service department, along with the individuals working in the storefront. Marketing employees think about marketing and communication all day, while product developers think about the next innovation to address a customer need. However, the customer doesn’t see these departments, or more accurately, sees the work of all these departments as a single entity. When the customer sees an advertisement, they don’t think about how well the message of the ad is crafted – they think about whether the product/service will help them. By seeing the sum of the individual parts, each department can better understand its role in a singular, holistic customer experience.
The process a customer goes through with a brand affects their perspectives about what will happen next. If they recently purchased a product, there’s no need for advertising to this individual – instead, they need customer service support to get set up, and resources for how to get the most out of the product. This is an obvious example, but studying the chronology of the customer experience helps put the different pieces in perspective to optimize their overall experience.
Giving perspective to time in relation to customers
The timeline and processes for the customer journey vary not only in terms of the order of events, but the time it takes for those events to occur. For example, the decision to do business with a specific financial advisor will involve a lot of background research and contemplation, while the purchase of a pack of gum in the checkout line at a grocery will be more impulsive. These lengths of time affect the level of information a customer wants and how they will make purchase decisions.
Expectations and Experiences
Throughout the customer’s journey, they will have positive or negative experiences that have already happened and expectations about what will happen in the future. A great ad might entice them to research a product more. If the ad makes promises, they may look to online reviews to see if the product lives up to its promises. Likewise, if they have a poor customer service experience, they might not turn to customer service the next time they have a product issue. As a result, they could become frustrated and not get their problem resolved, which will affect their experience negatively. Business owners and managers need to get inside their customers’ heads and see things from their eyes to create a mix of compelling communications and outstanding product/service delivery.