What is customer experience?
If you were asked to recall the last time you had a great experience as a customer, you could probably come up with a couple of stories of when you recently felt happy after an interaction with a company. Similarly, if you were asked to recall a time when you had a poor customer experience, you will probably remember when you last felt frustrated, annoyed, and angry as a customer.
Customer experience can have a profound impact on the success of your business. If your business excels in making customers happy, your customers will become your best marketers. They will promote your business by referring friends and family to you, which will ultimately impact your bottom line for the better.
To look at your customer experience and see where your business may have opportunities for improvement, it’s first important to understand exactly what customer experience is. There are several ways to define customer experience, but put simply, customer experience is the impression you leave on your customer at each touchpoint.
In our recent piece, Hiten Shah, Co-Founder at KISSmetrics & CrazyEgg, provided his own customer experience definition stating that it’s “a combination of copywriting, design, and the actual product you create for your customers”. While definitions may differ depending on who you ask, one thing is clear: if your organization’s customer experience isn’t great, it should be your top priority to improve it.
Is customer experience journey mapping worth your time?
Customer experience journey mapping is a great way to visualize your customer’s experience in detail. It includes every single possible touchpoint from when your customer initially becomes aware of your brand, to their decision-making process, to their purchase. It continues to include repeat purchases and brand advocacy.
Customer journey mapping allows you to put the customer front and center in your business’ thinking. The best part? It can be done by anybody and has benefits for a variety of people within an organization.
For example, a customer experience map will help designers understand where users are coming from and what they are hoping to achieve. It will help copywriters gain clarity about the questions users have and the feelings they experience.
Managers will better understand how customers move through the sales funnel and show how improved customer service can make a difference to the company’s digital experience.
By mapping your customer experience, you’ll gain a greater understanding of who your customer is, what their needs are at each step of your interaction with them, and how your company can improve their experience to ensure it’s always pleasant. This process will also help you identify potential problems before they escalate and turn into big problems.
Another benefit of customer journey mapping is that you’ll be able to better understand the entire process your customer faces. This can help you identify if there are any areas where you can improve efficiencies and if there is room for automating various activities along the customer journey.
Customer journey mapping will expose changes in customer behavior as technology evolves.
This will help make sure your organization isn’t planning or making changes based on out-of-date assumptions about customer behavior.
Tips for approaching customer experience journey mapping
1. Agree on the goal/purpose
Before diving in, identify with your team why it is that you are doing this. Have you gotten poor customer feedback via social media, feedback surveys, or customer service complaints? Have you noticed points in your customer journey where users inexplicably drop off?
2. Figure out who your customer is (ideal buyer persona)
The next step is to develop buyer personas. Keep in mind that creating just one persona won’t cut it. Customer behavior can vary from person to person, and at different buying stages.
It’s worth noting distinctions between customers who have been doing market research for a while and are ready to purchase, versus someone who has only just started to think about solving their need through your product or service.
To make sure your personas are as accurate as possible, dig into your customer data. Be specific with your personas and create customer journey maps for each of them. If you fail to do so, your journey map will likely be too generic and will cause you to miss out on important insights and questions.
3. Define the behavioral stages
Once you’ve developed your personas, you now need to define your customer’s behavioral stages. These may differ depending on your business; however, your personas should give you a good idea of the process your customers go through from start to finish.
Typically, the average customer’s behavioral stages are discovery, research, decision, purchase.
4. List all your touchpoints
A “touchpoint” is every time a customer engages with your company. This includes before, during, and after they purchase your product, and also includes moments that happen both on and offline, in person, through marketing, and over the phone.
Note each potential touchpoint that can occur between your organization and your customers. Though this may seem daunting at first, make this task a little simpler by putting yourself in your customer’s position and walk through their journey step-by-step.
You can ask yourself questions to get the ball rolling and to ensure you don’t miss anything:
“Where do I go when…”
- I have a problem that your product/company offers solutions for?
- I discover the product or service that solves my problem?
- I make my purchase decision?
- I encounter this organization again after the purchasing?
Go through this list again and ask, “how do I get there?” at each stage.
You can also go about this task more directly by asking customers about their experience with your brand in the form of a survey. Common touchpoints might include product description pages, pricing pages, contact forms, etc.
5. Identify customer pain points
Now it’s time to combine your data and look at the big picture. Note any potential pain points or roadblocks along the customer journey, as well as areas where you’re doing things right. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are customers achieving their goals on my website?
- Where are the main areas where customers experience friction and frustration?
- Where are people abandoning purchases (and why)?
Once these pain points and roadblocks are identified, note them on your customer journey map.
6. Remove any roadblocks
Now that you know what the roadblocks are, how can you address them to improve your customer experience?
Ask yourself what needs to be fixed or built. Is there anything that needs to be completely scrapped and restarted?
It’s important to recognize that at the end of the day, you’re not optimizing your customer journey just for the sake of it. Rather, your goal is to push your customers down the sales funnel and make it easier (and therefore more likely) to convert.
Customer journey mapping is a helpful tool for companies to understand how their customers interact with their brand. It enables organizations to identify and alleviate customer pain points and roadblocks, and ultimately help drive sales.