Making a Customer Journey Map

John Krautzel
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Customer loyalty is hard to earn and easy to lose. Consumers have many choices, and they quickly move on when products and services don't meet their expectations. Customer journey mapping can help you understand a buyer's motivations, so your team has more influence over factors that advance or hinder a sale. Follow these tips to map out a positive customer experience that attracts repeat business.

Develop Customer Profiles

Customer journey mapping is about defining success from the buyer's perspective, not the company's. To serve customers well, you have to know their expectations and state of mind at different points on the sales funnel. Talk to the most loyal segments of your customer base and collect data about their purchasing behavior to create buyer personas. These detailed profiles should tell a complete story that's difficult to get from simply looking at data. For example, focus on:

-Problems that motivate customers to seek out your products
-Common resources customers use to learn about products
-Typical steps your customers take to narrow their product choices
-A customer's level of knowledge about a product before doing research

Answering these questions should reveal shared characteristics that drive a customer journey, such as age, gender, education, profession, income and family status. Many types of people buy the same products, but a retiree, a young entrepreneur and a working parent may have distinctly different expectations when engaging with your business. As a result, it's wise to create separate maps for individual buyer personas.

Empower Stakeholders

Customers get frustrated when businesses give them the runaround or do a poor job of managing complaints and questions. Get feedback from staff at all levels to figure out the most common problems customers face and internal obstacles that prevent your team from meeting customer expectations. By encouraging accountability at every touchpoint, you deliver better outcomes when customers need help. A list of stakeholders should include:

-Frontline staff who directly engage with customers
-Support staff who provide essential resources to frontline staff
-Key decision-makers who oversee frontline and support staff
-Executive leaders with the authority to define company policies and culture

Define the value each stakeholder group brings to customers, and consider ways to improve your chain of command to reduce hiccups in the customer journey.

Identify Moments of Truth

Moments of truth should form the core of your customer journey map. They are the most impactful touchpoints when a customer forms lasting impressions of your business. Depending on your business, important moments could range from social media engagement and online searches to phone and sales-floor experiences. An effective map clarifies the stakes at these key touchpoints, identifying the positive or negative emotions customers are likely to develop when interacting with staff.
No company can deliver perfect service all the time, and customers are okay with that. Ranking moments of truth based on emotional impact enables your company to strengthen operations in the most efficient areas. Mapping pinpoints important emotional triggers, making it possible to work out satisfying resolutions even when you can't deliver the exact experience a customer wants.

A customer journey map should show a clear path from the first moments of engagement to repeat purchases. No matter how you visualize the layout, the goal is to make sure everyone in your organization owns their role in the customer experience.

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