The Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping
Positive customer experiences and business success go hand in hand. In fact, by investing wholeheartedly in customer experience, you can double your existing revenue in the space of 36 months. That’s right, DOUBLE.
With such an emphasis placed on customer experience, many businesses are now looking to customer journey mapping to improve practices within this hugely important area. To get you started, I’m going to share with you why it’s important, how it works, and the types of phases within it.
Before delving in, I want to make you aware that there is also such a thing as employee experience and employee journey mapping. It is a particularly useful tool if you are hiring somebody new for your team, which covers the recruitment, onboarding and activation processes, as well as helping them accomplish what it was that you hired them for in the first instance. More on that another day, but for now, let’s discuss the subject at hand!
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is a tailored, step-by-step plan that is followed by those that engage with, invest in or purchase from your company.
Creating a journey map is a bit like writing out a recipe for a meal that you’re going to cook at home. To get the end result that you want, you need to follow the recipe. But first, you must write out the ingredients that you need to get from the supermarket. Then you need to bring them home, prep them, cook them, and follow the method within the recipe. When you do that and follow it step-by-step the whole way through, the finished product is what you’ve dreamed of.
Following that recipe is a lot like following your business plan. By taking the time to carefully structure and adhere to your customer journey map, you could save yourself time and money down the line. When you do that, it’s a recipe for success. Without it, you may not end up with the results you hoped for.
Why should I create a customer journey map?
Profit margin aside, other technical issues can come into play, which might inspire the creation of a customer journey map.
For example, when an entrepreneur or business owner comes up with a super idea for a product or a service, they go straight into the design. What can happen here (unless they have experience in business, or somebody steers them in the direction of thinking about the ideal client who’s going to use this product or service) is that the customer comes after the fact. This is perfectly normal but should be reviewed so that the customer is front and centre from the beginning of the process.
Your company map will also come into play in the area of customer service.
In most instances, the person who set up the company is an expert in what they do and is fantastic at customer experience. What I often see happening as businesses scale is that they take on employees who might not deliver experiences at the same level as the business owner. To ensure all team members maintain the same standards, it needs to be crystal clear what the processes are, why they’re important, what’s acceptable, what’s not, and how to implement them.
This can be achieved by drafting a customer journey map.
As you are in the process of creating this, there are two other types of maps that you could generate at the same time.
The first one is a process map, which outlines the steps that you need to take at the backend for your business. Then there’s an empathy map, which should be based on how customers feel at each touchpoint that you’ve created for them.
These maps serve to reinforce an effective customer experience strategy, which in turn:
- helps manage your brand and your business
- helps bolster your reputation
- grows your bottom line
- saves you time and money
- serves as a way to delight your customers
How many phases does a customer journey map have?
There are 11 phases that a client goes through on a typical customer journey. I think most people are surprised by how many phases there are.
Some customers don’t reach the eleventh phase, and sometimes the phases are merged or amalgamated. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there are touchpoints at each phase because sometimes the touchpoints can be rolled into one. The touchpoint is where the client is active and engaged with you. That can be face-to-face. It can be online. It can be on mobile. It can be on email. It can be anywhere.
To define the various phases of a customer journey map, it’s first essential to understand how the customer journey begins. I find that reflecting on physical journeys can help with this.
If you were lucky enough to go away on holiday in the last couple of years, think back to what prompted you to go on that holiday in the first instance. Was it that you needed a break away from home? Were you taking a holiday from work because you wanted to get away and relax? Was it that you wanted to do something nice with the family? Perhaps you were visiting relatives while away? Or maybe you were having work done in your house, and you needed to leave your home for a brief period.
With each of these examples, you are trying to achieve something or get away from something. Most of us in life are doing exactly that.
As a business owner, that initial need or desire is not something you have autonomy over. You can’t really control that aspect of a customer journey, which is the very first phase that people go through – unless you’re the likes of Steve Jobs. He created technology like iPhones and smartphones and things that we’d never heard of, and all of a sudden, we all wanted it. He created something that our future selves needed.
Most entrepreneurs and business owners are not there, let’s be honest. But when a client starts to accomplish their goal, when they begin to feel their need or desires being met, that can create an opportunity for you to create a future need or desire. You can tell them, ‘Okay, you’ve done that, now have a look at this over here’ or ‘You’ve done this, how about that next?’. That’s the logical next step for you to take – and it presents opportunities. To be able to recognise these opportunities, you need to know where your clients are on the journey.
What I’ve noticed in business is that once a sale is over the line, many entrepreneurs will let the client go. So, what does that tell me? It tells me that potentially they’re missing out on opportunities. It tells me that perhaps the relationship is not as good as it could be, or maybe the offer could do with a little bit of tweaking so that clients become repeat buyers.
Let’s go back to our holiday analogy to understand this further.
When you land back from wherever you went, once your plane hits the tarmac, your journey still isn’t over. Your journey is not over until the plane pulls into the terminal; you disembark, get your luggage, and arrive at your next destination. So, if you’ve had a fabulous holiday and you get a puncture on the way home, what happens?
It upsets you. It creates an emotion that impacts the previous two weeks of your experience because that might have felt like a nightmare. And the same thing can happen for your clients. But when it’s good – when that end part is really good – those emotions are fantastic. What’s more, you can leverage these emotions by identifying cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
So, the journey is not over until the client reaches the final destination and you part ways. And even at this point, you need to consider your business and ask yourself if there is scope somewhere at the end stages for you to delight – and ultimately retain – your clients.
How a customer journey map can add value to your business
73 per cent of customers agree that customer experience helps to drive their buying decision. Furthermore, 86 per cent of customers are willing to pay more if they believe the experience they’re going to get is better.
What these statistics tell us is that providing a superb experience throughout the phases of your customer journey map will not only reel customers over the line but will also encourage them to spend more and spend again. In basic terms, when the rapport with your clients is really strong, there’s scope to upsell, and there’s scope to cross-sell.
When communication skills are strong, and first impressions are solid, which can start very early on in the relationship, to create an effective customer experience, those skills must be evident and outstanding all the way through. And when it’s good all the way through to the end, the customers will market your business for you.
Essentially, customer experience can add value to your business in multiple ways.
For argument’s sake, let’s look at the costs associated with losing a customer. There are retrospective costs associated with acquisition, which refers to the time you spend trying to acquire a new client or the money or resources you use for marketing, for example. Then there are profits; these become impacted because every time you lose a customer, it decreases your profits.
Now, think about sustaining or scaling your business and how extra challenging it would be without a well-founded customer retention strategy. When you’re a solopreneur or even if you have a team, morale suffers when a client leaves or decides not to go ahead with your services. There are emotions involved, which may be felt in the moment, but perhaps they’re not long-lasting enough to warrant you taking action there and then when those emotions run high.
When you manage the customer journey carefully all the way through, it helps with identifying flaws in processes and common pitfalls that result in customer churn.
Journey mapping is like the customer experience gift. It just keeps on giving. When you craft a carefully structured customer journey map, it helps you identify where the opportunities lie in the journey you’ve created. It helps to identify where there’s scope or capacity for you to be able to capitalise upon the effort you’ve put into creating and delivering an exceptional customer experience.
The most important criteria to creating an effective customer journey map is to give yourself adequate time to properly plan how it will take shape. Save yourself time, money and resources by investing the time upfront. Stay on course with that journey map unless your customer is telling you otherwise. When you do, you can be sure you will savour the result at the end.
Finally, let me ask you a couple of important questions.
If you still did business with every client that has dealt with you in the past, how big would your business be today? How much money would you save if you never lost a customer, and how much faster would your business scale?
I’ll leave you with that. I hope that I have inspired you in some way to take some time out to create a customer journey map. Please download my free customer journey map template and take action today.