Customer Experience Mapping
Seeing Your Business Through Your Customers' Eyes
Have you ever wondered what your organization looks like from the outside? Or been shocked by the disconnect between how you see your organization and what its customers say about it?
When customers visit your store or website or call you, what do they experience? When they make a purchase, what information, support and follow-up do they receive? And, if they encounter a problem with one of your products or services, how do they get the help that they need?
Most importantly, does their experience of your organization leave them wanting more, or vowing never to do business with you again?
Customer Experience Mapping (or Customer Journey Mapping) can give you a better understanding of what your customers think and feel about your organization. This article will show you how to map out the customer experience of your organization, and use it to improve the quality of service provided by your customer-facing departments.
Customer experience maps are valuable for helping you to understand and improve existing customer experiences, but future-state customer experience maps can help you to design completely new ones. You can read about them here.
How to Use the Tool
Follow these eight steps to map out the customer experience of your organization.
Step 1: Define Your Objectives
Work out exactly what you want to achieve before you start. Do you want to focus on the entire customer experience, or only a specific part of it?
If you have a broad objective, such as "To increase customer satisfaction levels by improving company-wide customer service processes," you'll likely need to map out the customer's journey from start to finish.
However, if you have a more specific objective, such as "To reduce complaints about late deliveries," your efforts will likely be concentrated on specific areas of your organization, like the warehouse, delivery and complaints department.
Step 2: Gather Information
Try to identify why your customers want to engage with your organization. What do they want from it? How do they interact with you? When do they do this, and for how long?
You can answer these questions by compiling information about your customers and their behavior. This might include surveys or studies, market research, focus groups, website analytics, and other sources of data.
Anecdotal research is a must, so do your best to talk to the people in your organization who will most likely interact with customers. Form a cross-functional team that includes frontline customer service staff, marketers and social media managers. Their input will help you to gain a deeper understanding of the routes that your customers use to engage with your organization, and the level of service that they receive when they do.
It's essential to speak to your customers as well. When they buy a product or service from your company, they are also buying into the "experience" that you deliver, so it's important that what you're offering reflects their expectations.
Step 3: Identify Your Customer "Touchpoints"
Customers interact with your organization using a variety of different "touchpoints" – the channels that they use to engage with your organization. These may include in-store activity, online searches, telephone calls, blogs, help desks, email campaigns, online chat services, conferences, product demonstrations, or sales calls.
It's also important to think about the touchpoints that customers use to access information about your organization. Where can they find information about delivery times? Who can they contact if there is a problem? Is it easy for them to get your contact details?
You might have a great customer service team, eager to deal with enquiries, but, if your website or sales team are giving out misleading information, then your customer's experience will be one of confusion rather than of great service.
Remember that not all touchpoints will be within your control – word of mouth, for example, and comments people make on social media. However, the touchpoints that you can control, such as face-to-face interactions and online experience, will have a significant impact on the feedback that you receive on these channels. Therefore, it's important to develop a positive and consistent customer experience in the areas you control.
Step 4: Outline the Key Stages of Your Customers' Experience
Use the knowledge that you gathered in Step 2 to identify the specific, sequential steps that your customers will likely take when they interact with your company.
These steps can vary significantly by customer, product line or service so you may need to create more than one set. The journey taken by a customer looking for a book about disruptive analytics, for instance, would be very different from the journey of someone impulsively buying a fast food meal.
Figure 1, below, illustrates how a typical customer experience might look.
Figure 1 – Example of a Common Customer Experience From End to End
If you want to take a closer look at a particular stage of the customer journey, the steps taken will likely be more specific. For example, you may want to focus specifically on what the customer experiences when a product that he has ordered is delivered late. Figure 2, below, shows how this might look.
Figure 2 – Example of a Customer Experience Involving a Product's Late Delivery
Step 5: Start Mapping!
There are countless ways to create a customer experience map.
A good method is to use swim lane diagrams. These can help you map customers' experiences from the initial stages of interaction with your organization right through to the support that they receive after purchasing your product or service. You'll then be able to identify the different teams that they interact with at each touchpoint, and pinpoint any places where the service or information that you provide is inconsistent or incorrect.
Figure 3, below, shows an example of what a customer experience map might look like for someone purchasing software. The different stages of her experience are listed along the top axis, and the touchpoints are listed in the far left column. Her goals, the information that she receives from the organization, and her emotions have also been included for each stage of the journey.
As well as touchpoints, goals and emotions, you can also include other factors like customers' questions and perceptions, operational performance metrics, and organizational weaknesses, for each stage of the customer journey.
Figure 3 – Example of a Customer Experience Map Showing the Purchase of Software
If you want to create your own map using the template above, you can find a copy of the worksheet here.
Your map doesn't have to look like the one shown above. Some take the form of an infographic, but there are many ways to present them. Yours could be a simple timeline, a helical diagram (a circular representation of the journey), an affinity diagram, or a whiteboard sketch. It could even be a video or an interactive chart.
Step 6: Validate Your Results
You'll want your map to be as accurate as possible, so you'll need to validate it. You can do this by asking for feedback from a focus group, a customer forum, other departments in your organization, or your team members. This will help you to gauge how well your map reflects the reality of the customer experience in your organization.
Step 7: Analyze Your Map
How you analyze your customer experience map will likely be determined by the objectives that you laid out in Step 1. Were you trying to solve a specific problem, or hoping to improve the customer experience throughout your organization?
Listed below are some questions that might help you with your analysis. You can supplement these with more specific questions related to your business and its objectives.
Does the customer:
- Know what to expect and when?
- Have access to the right information at the right time?
- Know who to contact and where to go to get help or information for the different problems that he may encounter?
- Get acknowledgment of orders, complaints and so on?
Do the touchpoints in your company:
- Work as you intend them to work?
- Flow in a way that's logical and easy to follow?
- Give the right level of information? Are you bombarding the customer with too much information, or providing too little?
- Deliver the quality of user experience you want?
Is your internal organization:
- Efficient and effective?
- Organized, with clear objectives set out regarding the level of service that should be provided?
- Confusing to the customer because it involves too many people or departments?
Step 8: Treat Your Map as a Living Document
Remember to revisit and update your map regularly, particularly if your organization introduces any significant changes – the introduction or removal of a touchpoint, for instance. This will enable you to keep track of customer satisfaction levels and make sure that the quality of service that you provide is of a consistently high standard throughout your organization.
You can also use your map to design and test new customer experiences that you want to introduce.
Customer experience maps are a way of putting your customers at the front and center of thinking across your organization.
They allow you to put yourself in the customer's shoes, which can help you to gain insight into how she engages and interacts with your organization. You can also use them to develop a better understanding of what your customers encounter at each "touchpoint" – the channel that they use to contact, or access information about, your company.
By following the customer's journey through your organization, you can more easily identify the touchpoints where his needs are not currently being met. You can then focus your efforts on improving your service at these points.
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