• September 1, 2016
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Should You Create a Customer Journey Map?

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Recently, I participated in a panel discussion in which a debate about the validity of customer journey maps ensued. One panelist argued that organizations should not create these maps with the intention of guiding customers on their journey, saying that customers don’t always travel down expected paths and should be allowed to move freely between channels and touch points. True, but that’s not the maps’ purpose—at least, not today.

I can understand the confusion. It’s natural to think maps are created to help people find their way. Often, they are. But customer journey maps should be used to help organizations understand customers’ motivations, feelings, questions, and expectations at any given touch point.

Compelling reasons exist for gaining this level of information. First, at the very least, customer journey maps can help managers and employees acquire a visual understanding of an organization’s customer experience landscape, which can help them connect the dots, better appreciate customer concerns and problems at a given moment, identify disconnected areas on the journey, bolster customer empathy, and generate ways to improve customer experiences.

For example, by understanding customers’ motivations, feelings, questions, and expectations, marketers can write copy that speaks to the needs and wants of customers and prospects along their journeys. Graphical user interface designers can improve digital experiences by clearly, concisely, and tastefully presenting the right information to customers and prospects at the right time.

Creating a customer journey map might take time, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s not a bad idea to create two types of maps: One can show all the touch points across the enterprise and how they’re connected. Another can identify the different stages in the buying process. I like EffectiveUI’s example provided by Smashing Magazine (view it at http://bit.ly/2aiSiuy); it enables viewers to learn about customers’ motivations, feelings, questions, and expectations at each touch point. Plus, it offers recommendations on how to help customers at each stage. To create the latter, you’ll need to incorporate customer behaviors and attitudes.

Understanding customer behavior requires technology that captures and tracks customer interactions, such as a website visitor’s digital breadcrumbs. Knowing that a person spent a lot of time, say, on a particular web page might suggest there is a problem with that page. Maybe a customer is overwhelmed, confused, or experiencing technical challenges that are preventing him from completing his task.

Learning customers’ attitudes requires a different approach. Organizations will have to gain this information through customer feedback strategies, such as focus groups, surveys, social media monitoring software, or call recording and speech analytics applications in the call center.

So which tools should you use to create a customer journey map? Many marketing automation and CRM systems can be used to view the sales journey. Also, some vendors can help you track customer service and support journeys. View our webinar “How to Chart Successful Customer Journeys” (http://bit.ly/1n9Xmax) for more information. But if you’re looking for software specifically designed to help you create customer journey maps, here are some suggestions from Adam Ramshaw’s blog (www.genroe.com): Small to midsize companies can consider Microsoft Visio, smaply, and Touchpoint Dashboard (acquired by Strativity Group). Enterprise companies, he suggests, can consider UX360, Visual Paradigm, and suitecx.

To the panelist’s point that customer journey maps can’t accurately predict where customers will go next, I’m sure NICE would argue otherwise; its NICE Customer Journey Optimization solution leverages predictive and real-time analytics and machine learning technologies to identify customers’ behaviors and anticipate their next move. In time, I expect more such solutions to be available across the enterprise.

David Myron is the editorial director of CRM magazine. He can be reached at dmyron@infotoday.com or @dmyron on Twitter.

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