Customer experience mapping (also known as customer journey mapping) is an exercise companies use to discover and remedy trouble spots customers encounter in their interactions with a company or a product. Essentially, it’s an effort that requires a business to put itself in the customer’s shoes to be better able to empathize with customers and smooth the rough spots of the journey for them preemptively. While customer experience mapping is usually a very visual exercise, it should be based on research and lead to actionable items on the part of the company.
The process should reveal the complete experience a customer has with a product/service, from pre-awareness through (and beyond) a purchase regardless of which platform they use. In other words, the map should include each touchpoint a customer could potentially have with the company throughout their purchasing process. Touchpoints could include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Reading an email
- Visiting the website
- Interacting on social media
- Making a phone call to get a question answered
- When and how the product is delivered
- Customer support after the purchase
- Research/comparison shopping
- Receiving a postcard in the mail
- The point of sale
Touchpoints could all occur on one platform or many. The entire process could be online, in the store, or a combination of the two. Even online, the customer experience could span social media, email, one or more websites, and live chat support. There are many routes to the final destination. Your job as a customer experience mapper is to look at the process from all angles to ensure the best possible experience for your customers.
Essential Aspects of the Process
Important things to consider when mapping the customer experience:
- It takes time. Don’t expect to complete the process in an hour. Block off the better part of a day (or more) depending on the complexity of your customers’ journeys.
- Do your homework. Collect data from employees and customers alike to accurately understand where weak points along the way may be. For example, is your customer support team consistently fielding calls from customers who don’t understand the assembly instructions? That would be a valley in the customer experience that should lead to action that resolves customer complaints preventatively in the future.
- Look at the entire experience from the customer’s perspective instead of the perspective of company processes and procedures. Customer experience should dictate policies and procedures; not the other way around.
- Practice empathy. If you discover that a certain phase of the journey has the potential for frustration, think about how you would want to be treated in the same situation. If the frustration cannot be prevented, how could it be eased?
- Create a visual representation of the journey to give everyone a point of reference as well as a clear vision of what needs to happen for a smooth handoff from one touchpoint to the next. It may require a large sheet of butcher paper to encapsulate every part of the map.
A Vision for the Future
Customer experience mapping serves the customer, but it also provides a clear view of the big picture for employees who can easily stay in the rut of their own part of the process. It’s a vision for how to move the company forward with everyone’s best interest in mind.