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The Significance of Customer Journey Mapping

March 4, 2022.

What is customer journey mapping? 

Customer journey mapping is a valuable tool in any business’s strategy to create a visual story of how your customers interact with your brand in their day-to-day life. In business, it is often easy to fixate on deliverables and tangible outcomes to justify the investment of time and money on strategic activities. While the outcome of customer journey mapping is a physical item (the journey map) and a representation of your customer’s touchpoints with your business, an often-overlooked achievement is the act of meeting as a decision-making unit and walking through the customer’s experience from their perspective. By having your key internal stakeholders put themselves into a customer’s shoes, you gain valuable insights that cannot be achieved from customer research data alone.

Types of Customer Journey Maps

Current State

Current State journey maps are a clear-cut way of visualising how a customer interacts with your brand. These are most commonly used to regularly be improving the customer journey through optimisations to their contact points. This considers all areas of the journey, from the point of needing a product, researching your brand and competitors and finally making a decision based on the contact they have made with you. 

Future State

Retaining customers can be just as important as creating new ones. Future state journey maps look at customers who have already been involved with your brand and takes a look at the future interactions and experiences they may feel. A strong future state will help you make long term strategic goals for your company vision.

Day in the life

Understanding how your customer reaches your product is key to knowing if your advertising strategy is working. A day in the life customer journey map is used to address customer concerns before they even arise. These maps are more experimental and likely to use assumptions, in order to explore new marketing strategies.
Using a variety of these customer journey maps will help you shape your business to become more customer orientated. A business that cares for its customers will retain its prospects. 

When should you start mapping customer journeys? 

The earlier, the better. Customer journeys should be mapped whenever there is any significant change in how the company functions, particularly in areas that customers interact with directly. Sticking to the same customer journey map throughout the business’s lifetime will be ineffective as your business and the market landscape are constantly evolving, and ensuring that you address pain points throughout the purchase funnel will avoid churn and demonstrate that you have considered the customer’s experience from start to finish. It is important to treat customer journey mapping as a continuous journey - a good rule to stick to is to remap customer journeys every 6 months and compare any changes to your previous customer journey maps. 

It is important to note that the terms ‘customer journey mapping’ and ‘user journey mapping’ are often conflated – however, there is an important difference between the two. User journey mapping is a digital form of customer mapping, which tracks the user flow through your site from the point of initial contact to conversion. A user journey map allows you to assess how your website is functioning, and if there are any user experience (UX) changes that will improve the information it provides and the duration that users spend on the site. This creates a foundation to improve different steps of the user journey within the website specifically, while customer journey mapping encompasses the entirety of customers’ interactions with your business.

How you can benefit from researching your customers

The story behind your journey map has to be accurate. Receiving real qualitative feedback from your customers such as through surveys or reviews is the most effective way in allowing your map to be a real customer experience. Without accurate feedback, your map will be based on assumptions which can lead to misguided planning further into your business that does not reflect what the customers want. Set a regular time for surveys to be sent to your customers so that you can always be receiving up-to-date feedback and improvement points for your brand.

Another method of understanding your customers is to visually see how they interact with your website or app. If customers struggle to reach their goal, they are more likely to give up and find another brand. Observing how they navigate the system to reach their goal will allow you to see what works as you intended and whether everything makes sense as you had planned out. If you are the one who developed the system, you are going to know how it works and not pay attention to areas that others may. Doing this can significantly improve the UX and create amendments which have the greatest effect on making your systems smooth running. 

What does a successful customer journey map look like? 

Fundamentally, customer journey maps tell a story. They contain your customers’ experiences and illustrate their interactions with your brand. This allows your company to prioritise valuable time on the changes that really matter and will make the biggest difference, adopting a customer-orientated perspective. Following a customer journey means that your business’ internal collaboration will be optimised, as everyone can see what needs to be done and work together on it. 

A key element of journey mapping that leads to success is a clearly defined goal and scope for the exercise. By attempting to do a high-level journey map for all potential personas, you will not be able to fully connect with what is actually happening from a customer’s perspective. By focusing more on a specific portion of the journey, or a key customer persona, you are far more likely to gather actionable insights. 

The most important part is implementing a customer-centric culture. You will be working on what benefits your customers after witnessing their experiences, in comparison to what you are able to see from your position in the company, which may be limited. Customer journey mapping follows the concept of communicating with your customers to find out what they believe is important, as they are the ones who make your brand successful.  

In summary, customer journey mapping is about more than creating a poster on the wall. It is a continuous process that can help all members of your business’s decision-making unit to understand how the customer interacts with your brand, and how to improve that process to help serve the customer better. Give us a call on 01787 388038 or email customerservice@mackmangroup.co.uk to find out how Mackman can help with your customer insight and strategy.

Dr Gemma Mackman

Dr Gemma Mackman

Research Director

Dr Gemma Mackman is co-founder and Research Director of the Mackman Group. Her professional career has given her a broad knowledge of business practices, an appreciation of good customer service and experience of a diverse range of sectors. Gemma is also a member of the Market Research Society and has completed research training provided by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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