The customer experience map has long been one of the most valuable marketing tools for gaining a holistic understanding of your customers. It can be instrumental in unlocking latent potential in your funnel, pinpointing opportunities for growth and even uniting divided teams around a single customer view.

So, what is a customer experience map?

Customer experience (CX) maps provide a complete view of every interaction a typical customer has with a brand. They illustrate every touchpoint a customer encounters with a company over a period of time, whether it’s a product, experience, or service. Using real-life data, they describe and measure how a customer thinks, feels and acts as they move through each phase of their journey.

With this human level of analysis, we’re able to build empathy for customers and begin to understand how the experience plays out from their point of view. This builds a macro or ‘helicopter’ view of how well a company is doing, which is less concerned with micro-metrics – like clicks, page views and likes – that can often be a distraction.

Ultimately, this framework provides the clarity and perspective that’s needed to reveal genuine business opportunities. These can then be used to inform a CX strategy across all of your channels and touchpoints.

 

customer experience workshop

 

What makes a customer experience map so valuable?

Mapping the customer journey isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, but it seems the industry is only just waking up to the benefits it can have. Over the past two years alone, interest in the topic has doubled by more than 200%. Greater controls over customer data and an increased scrutiny on ROI has likely played an important role in its rapid rise in popularity. When you look at the benefits, it’s easy to understand why.

Customer experience maps help to:

  • Pinpoint areas of service that are lacking and reveal opportunities for optimisation;
  • See who else is involved beyond the customer, influencing their decisions and behaviour;
  • Highlight the relationships and interdependencies between departments and across channels;
  • Break down “organisational silos”, or teams that operate as individual business units, and help facilitate a common; understanding between departments, especially sales, marketing and customer service;
  • Instil a customer-centric approach across the whole organisation; and
  • Prioritise and plan a roadmap of service and marketing efforts.

It’s an ambitious goal which can feel overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. If all parties are willing, this is an exercise that can be completed in a matter of weeks. There’s often a lot more data at your fingertips than you might think.

 

6 steps to map your customer experience

  1. Review business objectives

What are the specific goals for this exercise and actionable outcomes that you hope to get? It often helps to make sure each head of department has a say in this in order to secure buy-in and ensure engagement throughout the process.

  1. Identify the key stages of customer interaction

What phases do your customers go through in relation to your product/service? The most common include:

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Purchase
  • Delivery
  • After sales

However, every brand is unique. The stages the average consumer goes through when buying and owning a car are vastly different to investing in a gym subscription. So make sure yours is a true reflection of your target customer’s experience.

  1. Establish the scope

Customer journeys can take place over a week, a year, a lifetime, or be based on the cycle of a purchase or even a life event. So remember to be specific. Most companies also have more than one target audience, but in the interest of being single-minded, it’s best to focus on your primary persona only at first. Before starting, make sure this persona is researched, documented and agreed on internally. You can always go back later and add more layers with secondary and tertiary audience groups.

  1. Identify the information to plot

What do you need to know at each stage? For example:

  • Doing – What behaviours and actions is the customer taking?
  • Thinking – What thoughts and beliefs does the customer hold?
  • Feeling – How is the user feeling?
  • Touchpoints – What channels does the customer use to interact with the organisation?
  • Weaknesses – What are the shortcomings of the customer journey?
  • Strengths – Where are we currently performing well?
  • Opportunities – What measures can be introduced to improve the customer journey?

 

customer experience workshop

 

  1. Dig for data

This can come from many sources, internally and externally. It’s the foundation of creating a reliable interpretation of your customer’s experiences. If there are gaps in your knowledge, make educated assumptions and aim to prove/disprove these assumptions with research. Some useful sources include:

  • User personas;
  • User research (interviews, usability tests, surveys, focus groups);
  • Stakeholder workshops;
  • Customer service teams;
  • Analytics;
  • Social channels; and
  • Retail stores.
  1. Pulling it all together

Running a customer journey workshop is an effective way of drawing information from stakeholders and plotting it onto the experience map. The goal of the workshop is to draft the journey on a grid, with journey stages on one axis and key information types on the other. Usually best done on a large wall or whiteboard with plenty of space for the team populate the grid with post-it notes.

Having a couple of impartial workshop leaders to challenge, mediate and note-take will make things move much quicker and ensure all voices are captured. Keep refining the content until you produce something that is universally agreed on.

Following the session, you will need to translate the populated grid into a visually appealing and useful experience map. This should be distributed to stakeholders and team members in a way that is practical. This point shouldn’t be overlooked: the exercise is only worthwhile if the output is going to be used and not hidden away in a drawer. Ideally this should be a living document that is tacked onto a wall or exists as a digital dashboard, whichever is most useful to the team.

Make sure you revisit the framework regularly and refresh the data points to see if your strategies are still relevant and appropriate, otherwise you run the risk of becoming out-dated and out of touch.

The map is not the territory

All that said, it’s important to remember that the map is not the territory. That is to say, landscapes shift over time and you need to update your maps accordingly. Market dynamics, customer attitudes, competitor threats; all of these influences will mean that your customer experience changes from week-to-week and month-to-month. Make sure you revisit the framework regularly and refresh the data points to see if your strategies are still relevant and appropriate, otherwise you run the risk of becoming out-dated and out of touch.

The objective of any strategic framework is ultimately to have a clearer understanding of the impact of marketing activity. A customer experience map allows you to plan actions and interventions and then monitor and evaluate their effects over time. It’s a framework for planning activity across the whole journey and then proving that the plan worked. In an ROI-obsessed world, that’s worth its weight in gold.

 

If your business is drowning in a sea of research, lost in a maze of channels and needs help clearing the fog, get in touch with joe.johnston@saintnicks.uk.com. We would be happy to discuss how we can help you navigate the waters.