"You don't build it for yourself. You know what the people want, and you build it for them." - Walt Disney
Disney is a master at the customer journey. If you've ever visited one of their theme parks, you know the experience begins well in advance of your actual arrival at the gate. It starts on the drive toward the property, broadcasting from their own radio station - providing you information for the next steps of your journey. Every opportunity to make it easier for you, they do. Every opportunity to brand the experience, they do. Every opportunity to differentiate the customer experience from the competition, they do. They are masters at knowing their customers, and mapping every aspect of their customer's buying and experience journey.
Getting into the heads of your customers, or "customer journey mapping" or "experience mapping" allows you to better know them, meet their needs, and anticipate their wants. It provides your organization the advantage of knowing what to do for your customers at any given place (marketing channel) or time (buyer's journey).
A customer journey map is a framework for visually mapping all the interaction points (or "moments of truth" or "zero moments of truth") within the customer's journey - essentially, every experience with your organization. It's an "outside-in" view of your customers, allowing an opportunity to improve the CX (customer experience).
Google took the "zero moments of truth" concept even further in a recent blog on why it matters now more than ever.
Is everyone doing it?
Surprisingly, no. The Econsultancy Cross Channel Marketing Report 2014, which explores how companies are orchestrating their marketing activities across a range of channels, revealed a key finding: only 2 in 5 of responding companies say they 'understand customer journeys and adapt the channel mix accordingly'. The research is based on a survey of nearly 1,000 digital marketers and e-commerce professionals.
So while not everyone is taking the time to develop customer journey maps, they probably should be. Lori Wizdo, principal Customer Insights analyst at Forrester, whose research focuses on customer attraction, acquisition, conversion and retention, addresses how understanding the customer journey across multiple touchpoints with a multi-channel approach is essential to the success of any marketing program in her blog "Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide The Buyer's Journey."
Start with buyer personas.
In order to map your customer's journey, you need to first start with who your customer is (buyer personas), and an understanding of their path to purchase (buyer's journey or sales cycle). Identify what you know about a customer's goals at each stage of the buying path.
A customer journey map is a type of vantage point (the customer's) which lays on top of these and builds upon both.
See your customers as they see you.
Create a customer journey map for a customer-centric view of what it takes to do business with your company. What steps are required for them to accomplish a goal? Visually map them end-to-end.
There is no "official" template or standard for buyer journey mapping, and there are many examples out there. The folks over at UX Mastery offer a great, informative post on How to Create a Customer Journey Map.
The more you understand the customer journey, the better equipped you'll be to deliver the right information at the right time. And knowing their actual experience with your business, not what you perceive it to be, allows you to improve customer relationships - in order to shorten sales cycles and gain loyal customers.
Identify your customer cross-channel touchpoints.
Now that you have your customer's glasses on, identify each touchpoint of the buyer's journey with your company - what are they before, during, and after? Some examples of multi-channel touchpoints include:
- Website (with every page a different touchpoint)
- Live chat
- Mobile platforms
- Social Media (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter)
- Sales and implementation professionals
- Customer service
- Print materials
- Search Engine Results
When distinguishing touchpoints, remember the average B2B buyer is 57% through the purchase decision before contacting suppliers directly, according to a research study on The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing by CEB's Marketing Leadership Council in partnership with Google.
After you've identified each touchpoint and added them to your journey map, start asking questions to gather more information:
- Who is the customer at each touchpoint? (buyer personas)
- What information do they want at each touchpoint? (customer goals)
- What information do you have to provide at each touchpoint? (content marketing/distribution)
- What is their experience (emotion/impression/perception) and behavior at each touchpoint? (customer experience)
- Where does the touchpoint/interaction take place? (channel)
- When does the touchpoint/interaction take place? (buyer journey/sales cycle)
Through this research, not only can you look for ways to improve upon existing touchpoints with your business (how can you make the experience for your customer a positive one?), but identify gaps (opportunities!) to further engage your customer. How can you make it easier for them to make a purchase decision?
Use your customer journey map as a "customer-centric" guide to altering your marketing, sales and support strategies to provide customers more education where needed, and a welcome brand experience when/where not expected.
Align content accordingly.
Once you understand the customer journey across multiple channels and touchpoints, you can align your content and adapt your channels accordingly.
Take an audit of your existing content marketing materials against the context of the customer journey map. Does it align with their goals at each stage?
According to Gleanster in a October 2014 report on Customer Journey Mapping, 'Suspend what you want the customer to know at each stage of the customer journey and replace this with what the customer needs and wants in the context of each interaction in the customer journey.'
Look for gaps in the customer journey and create new strategic content accordingly. Meaning, the content should align to the buyer persona (who), buyer stage (when), channel (where), and touchpoint/interaction (what) on the path to purchase with your business. Aim to create better customer journeys in order to deliver better CX, and in the end, nurture loyalty and profitability.
Operate intentionally across the organization on customer engagement.
It's competitive out there. Everyone is trying to get your customer's attention. Aside from delivering the highest quality product or service, you can learn to know those customers better than your competition.
Customer journey maps allow an organization to work collectively and cross-functionally on customer engagement - resulting in a more customer-centric approach to your business.
This visual inventory of all touchpoints gives everyone in your organization - regardless of what silo/function they operate under - a clear picture of the customer's journey to do business with you. Because each silo or function may interact with the customer in a different way or at a different point in time, the map breaks down those "functionalized perceptions" of your customers and unifies everyone across the organization on who the customer is, what their goals are, and how they actually interact with your company. It visually puts the customer at the center.
Be intentional about improving the customer experience from end-to-end to increase leads and boost loyalty. Start by seeing your business through their eyes. Start by walking in their shoes along a customer journey map.
Looking for additional resources to help you get started? Try these:
- Customer Journey Mapping: 10 Tips for Beginners
- Customer Journey Mapping
- Customer Journey Map - The Top 10 Requirements