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    Why Every Business Should Map the Customer Journey [Blog]

    by Usablenet
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    Today’s customers want great, personalized multi-modal experiences. In fact, nearly 85% of shoppers want to be recognized, and their digital experience tailored as much as possible. To keep up with these expectations, 63% of brands rely on journey maps to improve their customer experience (CX).

    Journey mapping is more than just a trend on the rise, but many brands still shy away from it as a strategy because it seems difficult to do. In reality, it is simple. At its core, journey mapping is about observing behaviors to inform business strategies. Brands already investing in customer journey mapping are seeing increased revenue, reduced costs and stronger engagement as a result.

    Journey mapping allows brands to connect channels and touchpoints and develop a clear, holistic view of their customer to identify opportunities to enhance the experience. Armed with a complete view of interactions and outcomes, brands can execute an effective strategy for journey mapping to improve the current experiences and drive digital innovation. Below are four steps to get journey mapping right:

    1. Use research you already have

    Your customers’ behaviors and feedback will be critical to understanding your starting point before deciding on and aiming for an end goal. According to Forrester, many brands fail to effectively map because they assume they understand their customers, but do not see the experience from a customer’s viewpoint; just 21% brands consistently use customer research as an input into CX strategy. Take a look at customer sentiment and assess their behaviors through a contextual lens, based on their channel or motivations to better define the experience.

    2. Understand the stages of your customers’ journey

    A clear sense of who your customer is can inform the creation of distinct personas and ensure relevant, impactful efforts and content moving forward. Motivations, goals and behaviors will change for each buyer persona you target. Uncover the best way to push them through the journey, based on their goals for engaging with your brand. This will ensure that your strategies and efforts are targeted. Rather than focusing predominantly on the goals of your business, look closely at what various customer personas are doing across various stages of their journey, and strategize how to move them from one step to the next.

    3. Map the gap in expectations

    What your customers want and need will be central to the success of improving future CX. Listen for customer feedback and understand where your brand can do better. Focusing on customer perception of your brand will allow you to identify weaknesses from the outside-in and help ensure your strategy is constantly improving the CX as well as your bottom line. Not only can understanding what’s missing mitigate negative customer experiences today, but it can also help you think ahead and plan smarter strategies to innovate and close gaps.

    4. Format is optional

    The chatter around journey mapping can be overwhelming, with multiple suggested visual formats for how to get it right or do it best. This format, however, is simply a means to an end: it is the content and the value-add that truly matters.

    According to Smashing Magazine, “there is not right or wrong way to produce a customer journey map;” it can take the form of anything from an infographic to a storyboard or a video. Journey mapping simply serves to tell a story about your customers: to give you an at-a-glance look at where they are and where there are going. The key elements of a journey map have been addressed in the steps above, and regardless of format or structure, can highlight disjointed experiences between channels and can teach brands how they must adapt to meet customer needs.

    Get Started with Journey Mapping

    Journey mapping is as much about understanding and catering to how your customers choose to engage and buy today, as it is about being prepared for how their engagement will or should change. With customer behavior growing more complex, a way to tease out the key touchpoints, decisions and roadblocks in the customer experience is vital.

    Journey mapping provides a straightforward way to understand the state and the trajectory of your customers’ behavior. By next year, nearly 90% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary competitive differentiator. Journey mapping will play a critical role in improving CX, and become a vital business tool across organizations for C-suite executives as much as for UX professionals.

    For a comprehensive guide to getting journey mapping right, read these key guidelines from Nielsen Norman

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