The customer-brand relationship is critical to long-term business growth. Many brand loyalists attribute their devotion to exceptional customer experiences rather than product benefits or price points. Although a positive customer experience (CX) is something many businesses strive for, very few understand every step of their target customer’s journey.

A successful customer relationship instills brand trust over time through multiple product and service purchases, thus increasing the number of customer-organization touchpoints. As these actionable touchpoints increase, managing the quality and consistency of the overall customer experience becomes a challenge.

To combat such challenges, CX experts recommend developing customer journey maps to plot each interaction between customer and brand. While many argue that journey mapping is crucial to improving the customer experience and building brand loyalty, it can be difficult to enlist C-Suite support. The value of customer journey mapping lies between your business’s goals and objectives and your target audience’s pain points and aspirations. When created comprehensively, a journey map can help build strong customer relationships, increase return-on-investment and guide your organization confidently into the future.

Fundamentals of Customer Journey Mapping

Nielsen Norman Group defines customer journey mapping as a visualization of the series of interactions an individual has with a brand while attempting to accomplish a goal over time and across channels. This compact visualization transforms complex data and insights collected about your key persona into an easy-to-digest report for your entire team.

hotc_map
Source:  Heart of the Customer 

A customer journey map solely considers the purchasing path from the consumer’s point-of-view. Too often, a business will emphasize all efforts to particular sales and marketing KPIs without stopping to consider how those performance indicators correlate to the customer experience. While journey maps should always be created to support a known business goal, they should not be developed opportunistically to address a single customer touchpoint. A holistic journey map considers every point of interaction with a customer, both positive and negative. This approach allows businesses to truly recognize and resolve consumer pain points, improving the customer experience along the way.

Proving the Business Value

While customer journey mapping can transform a company’s commercial efforts, executive support for an investment is never easy to obtain. To secure buy-in and build momentum, consider the following benefits customer journey mapping could bring your organization:

1. Combating Customer Challenges

 First and foremost, the focus of a customer journey map is to provide insight into customer pain points and how your business can help achieve their goals. It is important to note that customer journey maps are evolving, changing as your business introduces or improves touch points. By gaining feedback from your actual customers, or even your target audience through a focus group, your business can better understand the thought processes and emotions involved in the buyer’s journey. Journey mapping creates a holistic view of the customer experience, uniting and visualizing disparate data points that can help engage even the most disinterested stakeholders and stimulate collaborative conversation and change.

2. Monitoring Customer Satisfaction Rates

When it comes to proving a business case, there is often no quicker way to obtain executive buy-in than presenting data demonstrating a very low level of satisfaction from current customers. Negative feedback can result in a bad reputation, which can haunt a business for ages. Customer journey maps are built to combat any friction experienced with your brand by monitoring satisfaction during every interaction. McKinsey reports that measuring satisfaction on customer journeys is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for an individual interaction. Monitor KPIs to benchmark overall customer satisfaction rates over time, improving the journey map as your brand learns more about your customers.   

3. Lowering Acquisition Costs

While it’s typical for a company to invest heavily in lead generation strategies, it’s less likely that those companies truly understand the wants and needs of their target audience. Executives are often left questioning why their costly customer acquisition initiatives prove to be less valuable than expected. However, customer journey maps take into account the behaviors and actions of potential customers. When built out properly, journey maps can lower customer acquisition costs by targeting the right audience with the right sales pitch at the right time.

4. Capturing Repeat Customers

As we touched on earlier in this article, customer loyalty is often attributed to a positive customer experience. Current customers are a high-value asset who are far easier to re-engage and sell to time and time again than finding and acquiring new customers. In fact, research from Harvard Business Review shows that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Successful companies drive growth by delivering experiences that meet customer needs in a way that generates positive emotions and leaves customers wanting to repeat that experience. A customer journey map considers the most positive decision-making path forward, allowing your business to recreate the journey over again for your most valuable repeat customers.

Getting Started

Customer journey maps holistically plot every touchpoint of the customer experience across all marketing and sales channels. This valuable tool can be measured, tracked, analyzed and updated over time, proving value as your customer expectations evolve. Crafting a customer journey map takes research, investments and expertise, so make sure you have experts on your team that can truly capture the Voice of the Customer (VoC) before undertaking such an initiative. In an era hallmarked by increasing customer expectations, only customer-centric organizations that prioritize positive experiences above all will see rapid business growth. Make sure your business seizes this competitive advantage.

Topics: featured, Customer Obsession, Customer Journey Mapping

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