You can learn a lot from a person’s story. For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental forms of communication. A story helps to activate the brain in its most complete form, hitting various processing parts triggered by language.
When reading information such as that presented in bullet point form, your brain springs into action by activating what scientists call the ‘Broca’s area’ and ‘Wernicke’s area’. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning.
When reading a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in the brain that would be used when experiencing the events of the story are too. In this sense, storytelling is the most powerful way to activate the brain while providing a holistic account of the information in front of you.
For marketers, understanding one’s story can be a valuable tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. Knowing a customer’s journey provides you with vital information that can be used in your marketing approaches and to avoid frustrations and negative experiences for consumers. And the best way to learn one’s story is using a customer journey map.
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map tells the story of the customer’s experience: from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship. It may focus on a particular part of the story, or give an overview of the entire experience.
Via a customer journey map, you can quickly identify key interactions that a customer has had with your company and better understand the user’s feelings, motivations and questions for each of these touchpoints. It allows you insight into what a customer hopes to achieve, and what expectations that have from you and your company.
A customer journey map typically comes in the form of an infographic, but however it comes, the goal remains the same: to teach organisations more about their customers.
Why you should be creating customer journey maps
Wherever you sit within your business, a customer journey map can be a valuable tool. For a designer, it will help you understand the context of users and offer a clear picture of expectations. If you write copy, it will help you understand the questions users have when interacting with your company. If you’re in charge of CEM, it will help you identify how you can better customer experience.
Yes, a customer journey map is that versatile.
Customer journey maps help to identify gaps and points in the customer journey that may be disjointed or frustrating. They put the user front and centre in terms of an organisation’s thinking and shows how mobile, social media and the web have changed customer behaviour. It encourages people right across your organisation to consider the user’s feelings, queries, and expectations – especially important with digital products and services.
For an organisation looking to become more customer-focused, a customer journey map will do just that.
It’s one thing to come up with a product or service that gets you noticed, but what is it that keeps people coming back? It’s the moments of delight that spark the magic of a good experience, and the best way to find these moments is with a customer journey map. Used strategically, it gives you the power to ensure every interaction is filled with moments of delight, even the typically painful ones.
Let’s for a moment step out of the digital scenario and take a look at an example of a customer journey.
Say for example you are the proprietor of salad and wrap store in the hub of the CBD. Your focus is on the final destination, and that is to provide your customers (typically office workers) with healthy and tasty food.
But let’s say you look at it from the customer’s point of view. Let’s look at the customer journey map:
- Customer would like to save money by making their own lunch but they run out of time in the mornings.
- Customer leaves on lunchbreak with limited time and must find something to eat fast.
- Customer is hungry, stressed and tired. It’s been a tough morning.
- Customer wants to eat healthy but gets annoyed at having to wait longer for it.
- Customer has no cash for lunch and needs to pay a colleague back for lunch last week. They need access to an ATM.
- Customer wants to buy a drink but is worried they will lose their place in the line if they go get one from the fridge.
- Customer wants to enjoy some down time and not think about work.
- Customer sees nowhere to sit down so must take their food back to their desk.
Now you have the emotional, functional and logistical components of the experience. Using this information you can take measures to ensure their next experience is better. You may consider:
- Alleviating financial anxiety by offering budget options.
- Alleviating the hunger and limited time pain with an online ordering platform that allows the customer to order from their desk and have their meal waiting to collect.
- Alleviating the longer wait pain by allowing customers to view orders being made or by notifying them of wait times upon ordering.
- Alleviating the no cash pain with an eftpos facility with no minimum or surcharge and ability to take cash out.
- Alleviating the buy a drink pain by placing the drinks fridge at the front of the queue or allowing the customer to grab one on their way out.
- Providing distractions from work with newspapers, magazines, interesting artwork or good music.
- Alleviating the nowhere to sit pain by adding more seating or offering menu items that can be eaten without fuss.
Essentially, your goal is fix every challenge on your customer’s journey, making way for moments of wow.
Now let’s go back to the digital side of things and look at data. Never before have we had so much data at our fingertips, so why not use it to our advantage? By understanding the behaviours, preferences, media consumption habits, technology adoption patterns and detailed day-in-the-life routines of customers, marketers can design a journey map that becomes the backbone of an effective customer experience strategy.
After all, facts and figures play an important role in developing the right insights necessary to shape the strategy that lies behind transformation.