This is a guest post from Nico Dato at Podium.
Your customers expect you to know them, and to know your customers, you have to put yourself in their shoes. The less you know about your audience, the more you’re at a disadvantage as a business. But getting inside your customers’ heads isn’t so easy, either.
Surveys can’t show you the whole experience, and reviews only offer a small insight into how your customers interacted with your business. So, how can a business better understand its customers? Customer journey mapping.
A customer journey map is a visual depiction of every potential interaction a customer can have with your business. Seeing how your customers experience every aspect of your company can provide valuable insights to fuel business innovations. By constantly innovating, you make your business more efficient, allowing you to better meet customer needs and retain customers.
Here’s a customer journey map from Starbucks, where each step of the journey is visualized and explained, allowing an empathetic understanding of the customer.
How your business benefits from using a customer journey map
A customer journey is a powerful tool you can use to shape your business decisions and policies. Here are just a few of the innumerable ways having a customer journey map can benefit your business.
A better understanding of your customers
First and foremost, a customer journey map helps you decode the reactions and potential needs of your customers at every stage of conversion.
To provide great service, you need to know what customers are looking for and how they experience your business. With proper execution and analysis, your customer journey map will provide you with this insight.
In order to find this information, consider testing and collecting information regarding your customers. You can easily start collecting this information by testing customer engagement with your email marketing campaigns.
What messaging do they respond to? What do your click through rates tell you about customer pain points? Email is a simple and effective way to begin learning about your customers.
Learning how customers engage
The next benefit also has to do with learning more about your customers. Rather than just learning what they want and more about who they are, you can start to learn more about how they engage with your company at different levels.
How do they engage with the brand? How do they communicate with support? Understanding how the customers are interacting and their preferred methods of engagement can help companies create better plans for developing a relationship with those customers.
Follow up with surveys by asking customers about purchases, events, and customer service interactions. Use this data to improve your business moving forward.
Elevating your customer service
Along the same lines, you’ll learn more about what happens when the customers are engaging with your customer service department.
If there are problems with the service department, and those problems are not taken care of relatively quickly, it often means that customers will buy from the competition rather than you. In fact, 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great customer service.
Creating a good customer experience, from start to finish, should always be a top priority, as it’ll continue to serve you well.
If your business isn’t achieving optimal results, crafting a customer journey map can help you diagnose problems. For instance, is there one step in the journey where a disproportionate number of customers are lost?
If so, that step’s probably a pain point in your sales funnel that requires immediate attention and correction. Perhaps there are other areas of your business practice that might be inefficient right now. A customer journey map can often highlight these issues, which will make it easier to locate and diagnose.
After you fix the problems, you can improve the customer experience. Another benefit of dealing with those types of issues is that it will often allow you to save the company some money, as can the next tip.
Removing unnecessary steps
Unnecessary steps can be frustrating for both customers and staff. A customer journey map can help you spot unnecessary steps in your customers’ journeys so you’re able to remove them.
Not only can the removal of unnecessary steps curb frustration, but it could also lead to cost reductions, since you won’t waste the associated resources.
For instance, let’s say you notice people fall out of the sales funnel because the signup process is too complicated. You could use this data to simplify the signup process.
Here’s a Campaign Monitor example of how you can apply customer journey mapping to the signup process, even for something as simple as email.
Bridging gaps between departments
Crafting a customer journey map can help you smooth the transition between departments. When one department hands off a customer to another department, there could be a disconnect.
A customer journey map can help you spot gaps and find new ideas for greater interdepartmental cooperation.
If, for instance, you notice your site is getting a lot of traffic but not many conversions, there could be a misstep in the process. Encourage collaboration across teams to get more conversions and more sales.
How your customers benefit from your customer journey map
Customer journey mapping doesn’t just benefit your business: It can also provide a better experience for customers and make their interactions with your business easier and more enjoyable. This means repeat business, positive reviews, and favorable referrals or recommendations.
More efficient experiences
Your customers are busy people—if you can make their experience faster or simpler, they’ll be more likely to complete a purchase and come back again next time they need you. Even website loading time affects your conversions.
Does your checkout process always grind to a halt in the same stage? Do site visitors predictably have trouble finding a particular resource? A customer journey map will reveal these inefficiencies.
Looking at the steps in your processes isn’t something that you’ll only want to do once. It’s a good idea to regularly revisit your processes to see if there might be new technology or improved methods that can help you modernize.
Your customers will be appreciative of a more streamlined process, even if it all happens behind the scenes.
Your customer journey map can allow you to detect and remove not-so-obvious problems. You may be surprised where you’re losing customers and what you can improve.
Fewer problems clearly benefit your business, but perhaps more importantly, it provides guests with a smoother experience. If the customers were to run into issues with their cart, with making purchases, or even simply finding the information they need, it’d cause frustration. That type of frustration is likely to send them to one of your competitors.
Better overall experiences
Once you’ve made corrections based on your customer journey map, your customers can enjoy a better overall experience. Efficiency, accuracy, and problem prevention can add up to create an exceptional customer experience.
Possible long-term effects of customer journey mapping
Customer journey mapping can create far-reaching effects that benefit your business and customers for years to come. These benefits can permanently change the face of your business and help you better meet your sales and revenue goals.
Since customer journey mapping can help you reduce redundancies and improve efficiencies, it’s only natural that it may also save you money.
Over time, changes you make as a result of your customer journey map can accumulate to save you money in staffing, performance training, and materials. The improvements will be appreciated by everyone at the company, as well as the customers.
A customer journey map can not only save you money, but it can also help make you more money. A study by the Temkin Group shows a strong correlation between customer experience and repurchasing.
Not only that, projection models estimate, if $1 billion businesses experienced a moderate improvement in customer experience, they could enjoy a $775 million gain over three years. Since customer journey maps can improve guest experience, they can be a great way to increase your business’ sales.
What’s the difference between a satisfied customer and a happy customer? A solid customer journey. While your customers may currently get what they need from your site, streamlining their journey might push them past feeling so-so about your brand to becoming a full-on brand advocate.
The happiest customers leave positive reviews and refer their friends—both of which are invaluable to your business.
The many benefits of customer journey mapping can add up to one irresistible outcome—customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is the key to long-term business success.
Using a customer journey map can help your business build lasting relationships with customers that keep your business strong for years to come, and those loyal customers are likely to become vocal advocates for your business.
The secret to lasting customer loyalty
You don’t have to be a mind reader to understand your customers. However, you should always make sure you’re listening to them. Many times, a customer will provide helpful feedback for the company that will not only benefit that customer, but plenty of other customers just like them.
Customer journey mapping can give you valuable insight into what customers experience when they buy from your business. Who knows? A customer journey map could be your business’ secret to long-term success.
Nico Dato has played an instrumental role in transforming Podium from a single to multi-product solution and has been named as one of Utah Business’s Sales and Marketers of the Year.