Customer Journey Maps: Customer Experience Geography 101

by Jeannie Walters

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A good customer journey map can be incredibly powerful.

It can also become a huge endeavor that sucks the life out of the team working on it. Here is my take on the basics around a good customer journey map.

The idea, of course, is a great one. How can you improve the customer experience if you don’t know what the journey is? Here are just a few of the ways you can tackle learning about the true terrain your customers trek through just to buy your products or services:

Ways to Map It

Customer Journey Maps
Keep the customer journey mapping process simple. You can add as you go!

Get everyone in the room!

Customer journey maps should identify each interaction a customer may have with your organization. This means understanding what the players within the organization are doing is critical. Asking specific stake holders to participate and share – honestly – what they think happens in the journey and what interactions are supposed to happen can enlighten even the most connected participant. I’ve sat in rooms and heard things like “Wait, you’re sending a welcome letter? We’re sending a welcome letter!” A little tidbit like that can help save a customer from confusion, save a company from wasting resources and even cut down on customer service calls!

The actual mapping process can be low tech – think post-its and color-coded stickers – or wonderfully high-tech, like the Touchpoint Dashboard tool which helps folks like me keep everything in one place. I’ve used everything from a graphic facilitator in the room producing cartoon journeys to display to intricate spreadsheets. If it’s your first trip to the Customer Journey Mapping rodeo, I’d recommend keeping it simple. You can always add to it!

While the most important view is from the outside-in, it’s absolutely critical to view the inside-out approach, too.

Ask customers to join you.

Once you have a basic understanding of the customer journey, ask customers to come help you with their perspective. The types of customers and business can have a big impact on which customers you invite into this process and how many, but even one can give you some insight. Invite them in to comment on the journey as you’ve mapped it, and invite them to tell you about their own journey. Customers can provide lots of insight, but be careful how you ask. Bribing customers won’t give you honest feedback, and that won’t serve you long-term. (click to Tweet this!)

Check that data!

Most organizations are rich with data these days. Big data is the buzz word of the moment, but little data works, too. Use your customer feedback surveys, your website analytics, your customer service reports, to inform the nuances of the journey. Look for patterns and work backwards to determine where the journey breaks down.

Customer Journey Maps
“Talk to the hand!” Most unhappy customers leave without providing feedback.

Listen to what they’re NOT telling you.

Many customers don’t tell you directly they’re unhappy. They go to the online forums, social media communities and blogs. Keep searching until you see what they’re really saying.

All of this information can help you build a customer journey map that hopefully reflects a holistic experience. But you can’t stop there. Once you’ve identified the touchpoints and interactions, you need to figure out what’s working, what’s not, and where to improve.

We’ll talk about that next time. For now, what would you add to the customer journey process?

 Image credits: Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections and star5112 via Creative Commons

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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