Despite best intentions, and the means of gathering large amounts of data, many SMEs continue to offer substandard online experiences for their customers. However, plotting out a customer’s emotional landscape by way of a Customer Journey Map can shed light on key opportunities for deepening those relationships.
A Customer Journey Map is a plan of the overall path of a customer’s relationship with a business, service, product or brand, over time and across channels. The plan is from the customer’s perspective, but highlights the important intersections between user expectations and business requirements, and consequently gives your SME the opportunity to evolve into a business that understands what motivates your customers and what they need, and is able to meet those demands. Being able to align what they want to accomplish when they come to your website is the key.
“The goal of the customer journey map is really to get a holistic view of what the customer is going through from their point of view and really what it’s like for them on a personal level, that human level.”
Mapping out their paths from first interaction to the last will show if they are achieving their goals. Good quality customer interactions are not simply getting someone to visit your site, or ‘like’ your Facebook page; it’s about giving thought to how your SME, service or brand fits into customers’ lives is.
What are your customers thinking, feeling, seeing and doing, and how can your business use this information to bring the customer experience to life?
Consider what your SME’s goals are for the product or service, and translate this into specific goals for how you want customers to interact with your website.
Review all relevant user research to provide insights into the customer experience. Research methods can include customer interviews, customer surveys, support/complaint logs, web analytics and social media ‘watching’.
“Over 50% of global marketers report that they have fair, little, or no knowledge of the customer demographic, behavioural, psychographic and transactional data. Just 6% say they have excellent knowledge of the customer.”
Are your customers achieving their goals?
At this point, you can bring in the data you’ve collected to establish what your customers are trying to do, and how you can further help them to do it.
- Where are barriers appearing?
- Are customers frequently contacting you with FAQs because the information is hard to find on your site?
- Are people abandoning their purchases on the checkout page in large numbers?
- Are you finding that the people clicking on your opt-in download page are not then signing up to get the download?
The results from your Google Analytics account will show you the areas where problems are cropping up, and your qualitative research should help you understand the why behind these problems.
Review the touchpoints
The next step you’ll need to take involves organising this data so that you’re able to take actionable steps towards improving how you manage your customers’ experiences with your brand – and more specifically, your website.
Plot out the touchpoints
Touchpoints are the places where customers are engaging with you on your site. For retailers, a common touchpoint would be a product description page – in a business selling services it could be anything from a pricing page to a contact form.
Analyse the actions (or lack thereof) of your customers in terms of how well their needs are being met at each touchpoint and during each phase.
How can these touchpoints be improved?
As a team, come up with a list of all the touchpoints and the channels on which those touchpoints are, then, brainstorm additional touchpoints that can be incorporated into the future journeys you intend to map. For example, you could expand the touchpoint ‘pay a bill’ into channels including ‘pay online’, ‘pay via mail’, or ‘pay in person’.
Sketch the journey
Now it’s time to pull together all the information you’ve gathered: the emotional highs and lows, the timeline, the touchpoints, and lay it all out in one large map. There aren’t too many rules for this, and there are no templates; as long as it makes sense to you, you can get as creative as you need to!
Recommendations for change
Now you can see it, all laid out, how would you improve it?
Begin by prioritising the areas that need to be addressed first. For example, if your research has shown that your customers are most concerned about a particular payment method, tweaking your copy on the relevant page could immediately alleviate their hesitations.
You can remake and review your customer journey maps throughout the year and turn them into a sort of bench-marking process, where you can track your progress in accordance with your goals.
The way in which your customers interact with your website or brand is not always in your control, and getting people to move across your site in the exact way you intend them to is not always possible. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use Customer Journey Maps to better understand what your customers’ goals are, and do whatever you can to keep them happy (and by default, grow your business).
Customer archetypes that illustrate the needs, goals, thoughts, feelings, opinions, expectations, and ‘pain points’ of the user
Peaks and valleys illustrating frustration, anxiety, happiness, etc.
Customer actions and interactions with the business. In other words, what they’re doing on the site
These are where the interactions take place