Naturally, marketing has always been customer-focused, but never before it was so close to the customer.
In the digital era, the customer is no longer perceived merely as a buyer. Playing an important but ephemeral part in the sales process.
In the past, immediately after the purchase, the customer was forgotten and replaced by another buyer.
Today, he or she is worthy of remembering. At each phase of contact with a company, brand, product or service, a customer represents a significant value and asset.
In the era of digital products, customers are equally valuable before, during and after purchase.
Customer Experience in the digital era
The Customer Experience at each of these phases (Customer Experience Journey), managing their satisfaction, dealing with their expectations, needs and problems are major components of the Customer Experience Management.
And one of the most effective tools offered by this method is Customer Journey, or Customer Journey Map to be precise.
What is Customer Journey Map? It is used primarily to improve sales volume.
Customer Journey Map is also used to improve the experience, feelings and emotions which accompany becoming familiar with a company and its offer. They arise when purchasing or service ordering.
For this very reason, the Customer Experience Management is currently an activity that is:
- Strategic - determining short- and long-term competitiveness
- Boosting competitiveness, rate of return and profitability
- Increasing sales volume
- Strengthening customer loyalty
- Enhancing reputation and image.
To say that Customer Journey Map (also as Customer Journey b2b) plays a strategic role for an organization is by no means an exaggeration.
Customers are used to products that go far beyond their basic functionality, services provided with value added, customized support, provided at least at or above the level of market standards.
In the digital era, the experience gained in the contact with companies (mainly via company websites, dedicated applications and mobile applications) becomes a key element decisive for the character and sustainability of customer relationships.
You cannot be open to the customer needs as late as at the moment of product selection. The openness must already be present in the phase of discovering the need to have a product, which is often expressed by entering queries in search engines, browsing manufacturer sites or product pages in online stores.
Nowadays, positive experience (also related to the User Experience, or UX) is one of the key purchase motivators.
At the same time, the customers who in contact with an organization gained negative experience are much more determined to choose the competitors offers.
Even when they are less attractive in terms of price.
Customer Journey definition - what is it?
The widespread use of the Customer Journey tool (Customer Journey Map) is due to several reasons.
It is a method that is:
- Relatively inexpensive
- Relatively easy to perform (although few organizations will know how to create a Customer Journey Map professionally)
- Repetitive - can be repeated in the future (result comparison)
- Conclusive - allows you to draw practical conclusions
- Pragmatic - used to optimize operations
- Diagnostic - allows you to indicate very specific issues related to processes, solutions, standards, tools, communication and deficiencies
- Awareness-raising - enables you to understand the customers, see a company, offer and purchasing process from their perspective and based on their values
- Processual - does not focus on selected elements but on the entire process, on the entire experience, thereby offering a deeper perspective and a bigger picture.
To be more precise, the Customer Journey Map (similarly to Customer Experience) is a model, a diagram, a graphical representation of the customer purchase journey.
It registers his/her contact with a company, brand, product or service in the so-called Touchpoints.
The Touchpoints are broadly defined. They can be brick-and-mortar (stores, customer service points, offices) as well as virtual (company websites, online stores, applications, fanpages).
Customer Journey Map is a tool used by employees with different functions, roles and responsibilities within an organization.
In particular, they include:
- Marketers (using them to create strategies and communication)
- UX/UI specialists (optimizing digital tools)
- Salespersons (diagnosing needs)
- Management (planning long-term product strategies)
- Developers (enhancing digital solutions with the use of modern technologies)
- Content writers (improving communicativeness, comprehensibility and persuasiveness of the language of the offer)
- Account managers (better understanding the b2b and b2c customers needs)
- Customer Service Center consultants (contributing to better service standards)
Becoming familiar with Customer Journey Map and Customer Experience, each of these specialist will be able to better understand the customer, as well as to understand the changes and optimizations introduced as a result.
The tools supporting Customer Journey Map creation are Consumer Insights and Personas.
Consumer Insights allow you to build an emotional bond with the customer by means of messages employing the strongest purchase motivators.
Persona is used to ‘feel’ the customer better, more profoundly, to understand his/her needs, goals, capabilities, limitations, preferences and expectations (Customer Experience).
How to build a Customer Journey Model - Customer Journey Map
Customer Journey Map is a graphical representation of all interactions between a customer and an organization.
The journey metaphor is perfectly useful here as it allows you to determine the typical and most common paths to purchase.
It enables you to indicate places of particular significance within them. Both, positive and negative.
The accuracy of a map determines the quality of the conclusions drawn and the decisions made based on it. Therefore, it is important to use ethnographic research tools (in particular, the opportunities offered by qualitative research).
Even more importantly, a thoroughly prepared Customer Journey Map should focus on the values offered to customers at each of the key phases.
However, value cannot be understood in the narrow sense, as merely a need fulfillment or problem solution, but much more broadly.
For example: To what extent a contact with an organization, its representatives or its tools is satisfactory to a customer. To what extent it is effective.
To what extent a Customer Journey is a source of positive emotions. To what extent a contact can be described as useful, prompting a customer to recommend or to use again.
In other words, a Customer Journey Map aims to define:
- What, how and when the customers do
- What they feel and think while doing it
- Which contact channels they prefer and why they are more likely to choose them, and choose them more frequently
- Who they can or would contact
- What typical problems they encounter
- What are their goals
- Which journey points function as the so-called ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth), moments where a customer or a user decides to continue or discontinue shopping.
Although there is no one universal pattern for Customer Journey Map creation, in most cases the Maps are created taking into consideration a number of fixed elements.
Horizontally, the timeline should include three phases:
- ‘Before’ purchase phase
- ‘During’ purchase phase
- ‘After’ purchase phase.
The vertical axis should include:
- Pain Points
- Success Points
- Suggestions to improve negative feelings.
The intersection of the axes should feature the information on customer behavior, emotional states, attitudes, goals and thoughts, obtained from multiple sources.
The above scheme provides the most general template to which more details can be added where necessary.
For example, at each Touchpoint, you can ask additional questions about:
- Concerns related, e.g. to access to the information a customer is looking for, to what extent the information is exhaustive and attractively presented
- Hopes associated with benefits and expectations
- Solutions expected by customers, and which are currently lacking or which can be optimized
- Indexes, indicators of the number of customers lost, number of complaints and the satisfaction level
- Incentives - neutral, negative and positive, concerning standards, disappointments and expectations.
The major advantages of Customer Journey Map creation include:
- Reduction of customer problems (both in terms of quantity and quality)
- Discovery and definition of Pain Points
- Discovery of Success Points
- Hierarchy and ranking of problems
- Preparation of optimization plan including problem priorities
- Identification of gaps in expectations and the methods to fill them, and of the relationships between expectations and solutions (e.g. to what extent they are considered sub-standard, above standard or within the standard spectrum)
- Look at the purchase process from the perspective of relationships, process, interactions as well as the emotions and thoughts evoked by them
- Customer-oriented strategic management capability
- Delivering the expected value to the customer
- Streamlining of selection, purchase and after sales service processes
- Comparison of performance, efficiency, advantages and disadvantages of individual customer access channels
- Testing of new channels (e.g. service via Messenger, WhatsApp, ...) and diagnosing multichannel service problems
- Positive optimization of experience
- Redefinition of objectives, optimization of Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
- Customer Segmentation according to new criteria (discovery of microsegments)
- Increased team involvement and responsibility
- Last but not least, revenue increase.
In particular, a Customer Journey Map should be used when an organization objectives include:
- Improvement of the quality of service, services and sales methods
- Keeping pace with the competitors - verification of the accepted competition standards and methods
- Customer retention and acquiring new customers
- Improvement of work productivity and cost optimization
- Testing new methods and sales strategies
- Implementation of new organizational culture
- Creating consistent communication
- Improvement of information availability
- Improvement of communication quality.
During Customer Journey Mapping, a matter of particular importance is to collect valuable, multi-source materials.
Typically, the sources of data are:
- Research (interviews, observations)
- Surveys (e.g. after sales satisfaction surveys, sent after contacting a Customer Service Center, displayed as popups on a website)
- Interviews with employees who have direct contact with the customers (by email, by phone or face-to-face)
- In-depth interviews with customers
- Analysis of data and existing materials (opinions, ratings, recommendations, complaints, also social listening).
UX Customer Journey - Digital Customer Journey
Customer Journey Maps can also be created taking into account User Experience (UX) expertise, experience, standards, and patterns of best practices.
This is the body of ‘laws governing’ (e.g. the popular 20 Laws of UX) the design of websites, web applications and mobile applications.
To make these tools more usable, user-friendly, satisfying and well-liked.
And this directly translates into their selling efficiency (they are frequently used to optimize paths to purchase).
Several hundreds of indexes and design recommendations (such numbers are normally considered in our UX Audit service) enable us to enhance a Customer Journey Map with crucial aspects. These aspects include ergonomics, usability and customer experience. As a result, places causing disorientation and frustration (Pain Points) can be transformed into properly functioning locations (Success Points).
In addition, the creation of a Customer Journey Map (customer path) taking into account User Experience allows you to better understand the relationship between the technology applied in a digital product, User Interface (UI) design standards, experience (UX) and the process of purchase, satisfaction assuring and relationship building.
Frequently, the Customer Journey Map UX is a method utilized by online stores (Customer Journey eCommerce) to increase the sales volume.
Customer Journey has also a permanent place in banking as a research method and an evaluation and optimization tool.