Whether you are a marketer or a research & analytics professional you are likely looking for ways to drive business by improving customer experience. Customer Journey Mapping has recently become the go-to method for marketers when trying to understand customer experience and identify pain points. While this method has been around for some time in the technology sector for UX, this is a good tool for marketing and analytics professionals to use in developing action plans that improve customer experience and drive business goals. My goal is to leave you with a starting point for journey mapping and equip you with a new tool to identify actionable insights.
What to Map?
Customer Journey Mapping is broad which makes it difficult to pinpoint a place to start. The starting point should always be focused on priority areas for your business - for example, sell more of product X to 18-35 year olds.
Customer complaints provide anecdotal feedback on issues that your customers face that may lead to attrition. These can be valuable in generating insights and should also be considered when determining which journeys to map.
With so many options, identifying the starting point can be paralyzing. After reviewing business priorities and customer complaints, use your best judgement and pick one or two journeys to focus on.
How to Map?
In research and analytics, the second question one asks after identifying the subject is to decide if a qualitative or quantitative approach would be best. Ideally, we would be able to do both; however it depends on available resources and skill sets.
Quantitative Insights through Journey Analytics
Journey analytics detects frequently seen journeys that can lead to a business priority. It requires access to data at the customer level and the ability to match individuals across different sources.
The objective of journey analytics is to identify the steps taken or customer interactions before the target customer (i.e. 18-35 year olds) completes the targeted behaviour (purchases product X). This practice will highlight all of the milestone interactions that the majority of them had with the business prior to making this purchase.
Interactions could include participation in campaigns, web behaviour, transactions or inquiries.
When data is consolidated and time stamped you may find yourself overwhelmed by the volume of possible journeys that categorization of interactions will help to simplify. Once this is mastered, you can also look at the data to see where customer drop-off occurred along this journey to identify barriers and gaps in customer experience.
Qualitative Insights through Hypothesis Journeys
A more traditional form of journey maps is a hypothesis journey which provides qualitative insight. With hypothesis journeys, persona creation is necessary to add additional details to the target segment. Persona creation is essentially putting a face and a name to the target audience; this humanization allows you to empathize with them and visualize their path to purchase.
Persona creation is an important component of hypothesis journeys because it identifies the different paths to purchase by segment. By focusing on a member of your priority segment(s) you will be able to map out the journey by putting yourself in the position of that individual and making decisions as they would. Make sure you give them a name, age, their preferences in regards to channel (ie online vs offline), an occupation and location.
The most effective way to map these journeys is to gather a large group of individuals who all play a role in customer experience and white-board what they believe could be the milestone steps. The reason why this is called a hypothesis journey is because it is not based on data but on assumptions. It’s crucial that these maps are made in large groups so that the assumptions are as close to reality as possible.
In an age where we have a wealth of different data points but often lack the ability to consolidate into one single customer view, hypothesis journeys are vital to address gaps that data is not telling us.
Create an Insight-Driven Action Plan
Whether you develop a hypothesis journey or an analytical journey, insights will start to come to life. For example – you may see in the analytical journey that all sales for 18-35 year olds originated from a visit to the website. Or, with a hypothesis journey you may notice that your persona is unable to make an online purchase because she typically shops on her mobile device and your website is not optimized for mobile.
When done correctly, journey mapping typically identifies a large number of potential pain points and areas to focus on.
Since you can’t take action on all insights at once, prioritization is vital to ensure that these insights lead to action plans. A recommended way to prioritize is to list all the possible action items and then evaluate them against customer goals and business goals. Your priority list should focus on those actions that help drive both.
As professionals, our ultimate goal is to drive business priorities while also ensuring that customer experience is top of mind. Identifying qualitative patterns in data or gaps in assumption-based journeys that impact both the business and the customers is an effective way to ensure that marketing plans are developed effectively.