Keeping stakeholders informed turns out critical for successful Customer Journey mapping. Customer Journey mapping, or Customer Journey (also known as The Voyage of the customer) is a term used in marketing and refers to the individual cycles a customer passes through, before deciding to purchase a product or service. From the perspective of the customer journey, Marketing refers to contact points (touch points) of a consumer with the brand, product or service. These include not only direct interaction (e.g. personal display, commercial, website, etc.), but also the indirect contacts ( e.g. review sites, user forum, blog etc.).
Customer journey mapping is not an aim by itself, but a means to an end, to make marketing more effective, and in that way to ensure sustainable business. This means primarily reaching out to your customers, satisfying them throughout their purchasing process, and delivering on their needs. Knowing the customer journey allows you to focus on what is important to reach out and service your customers.
So, what is key to customer journey mapping? What are the top ten topics to consider when mapping the customer journey? What do the practitioners say is important? I had my suspicions but was not sure. As always, last resort is Google.
The approach we took to get an overview is the following. First, search for ‘customer journey steps’. This gives a long list of pages all claiming the list THE ten steps to be effective in customer journey mapping. Second, put the steps found in an excel sheet, keeping steps that are different on separate lines and grouping the steps that are the same. This gave a list of almost 30 items. Third step involves aggregating topics that are similar enough to belong to the same theme, reducing the list by half. Last step is sorting the list from most frequently mentioned steps/recommendations to least frequently mentioned.
Agreed, the process of finding data for this analysis is reasonably random, ignoring best practiced and recognized experts. The data used to create the overview consists of what turned up on roughly the first five pages, and promoted itself with ‘10 steps to…’, or ‘7 easy steps…’, or Customer Journey mapping for dummies etc. An un-reproducible snapshot at best.
Also the classification can be frowned upon. Planning implementation clearly belongs to project management, does change management as well, or is that a separate topic? And what about scope management (rephrased into “Sufficiently abstract”?
But here it is; the aggregated top 10 of steps to take, or activities to do when going through the process of customer journey mapping.
|1||Stakeholder management||•||• •||•||•||•||•||•|
|2||Customer journey||•||• •||•||•||• •||•|
|3||Scope management||• • •||• •||•||• •|
|• •||•||•||• •||•|
|6||Touchpoints||• •||• •||•||• •|
|10||Time as critical parameter||•||• •|
The list below is nota list of order, meaning number one is not the thing to start with. It is merely a list of priorities, meaning whatever you do, at least take care of the first item, then the second and so forth.
- Stakeholder management. Meaning keeping informed all person involved, aligning the visions and ensuring all parties (e.g. departments) unite in achieving the same goal. This actually was a surprise; key to customer journey mapping has nothing to do with actually understanding the customer and his journey, but with those enabling the customer journey. Before looking at the customer and his/her journey, make sure that within the company all parties who contribute to this are aligned and have embraced the importance of understanding the customer journey. Stakeholder management – also in this case – is critical.
- Customer Journey Mapping. Listing all actions (as far as possible, including those that are not covered by our company) the customer has to take, starting from need recognition, to reach the outcome, purchase and after sales service.
- Touch-points. These are the moments that you actually interact with your customer. Which are these? What is their relative importance? How do your customers experience these?
- Persona. A persona is an artificial description of a customer, realistic enough that it could have been a real customer. Personas are the face of the customers and the customer segments, especially to those who do not (regularly) interact wit real customers.
- Project Management. Many steps and suggestions could be classified under project management skills. Such as planning, take action, or measure, plan and control.
- Do not drown in details. One customer does not make a segment. One phone call to a customer does not make a touch-point. Make sure to be detailed enough to keep track of what is important, without overwhelming with specifics and details. You need to explain it to your CEO within the time made available by his attention span. Keep it abstract, drive on the important points, but be prepared to dive into the details if needed.
- Data based. Make sure that the customer journey is based on real and reliable data. Check with the support team. Get statistics from the sales department. Dive into the sales figures.
- Business relevance. As described at the beginning, customer journey mapping is a means to an end. The objective is to drive a sustainable business. This means that the elements in the map you are creating have to demonstrate business relevance.
- Innovate. The purpose of creating a customer journey map is not simply to document the as-is situation. The purpose is to drive your business, this means that – while you are at it, and while you have all the important stakeholders around the table – improve and innovate where you can.
- Time is a critical parameter. Time is what they invest in your business before purchasing anything. Experience length gives important context. How much time are they investing? 30 seconds? 7 minutes? Did shoppers spend 20 minutes or 40 hours deciding on a product? (invested) Time is an important key to understanding the customer preferences and interest.
Looking at the list makes me wonder why the Osterwalder business model canvas is not a standard tool to support the mapping of the customer journey? It will ensure that points 2, 4, 6 and 8 are accounted for, although we naturally would like to argue that to support persona creation and business relevance maybe our product design canvas is more appropriate.
We hope the above list will help you to apply customer journey mapping techniques, and serve as catalyst to align and rally the organization into a customer-centric organization.