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A customer experience map helps brands to focus on and refine the experience that they deliver to their customers. It does this by enabling brands to identify strengths, shortcomings, and opportunities to better serve customers and retain them for longer.
In essence, a customer experience map helps to outline every channel, each variable and all possible paths that a customer may take to purchase or, to have a customer service query resolved. This guide will help brands build their customer experience map and will explain how it can maximise conversions and customer retention.
Customer experience maps vs. customer journeys
A customer journey outlines the interactions and touchpoints that customers go through as they travel along the sales journey with the company. Customer experience maps take this one step further by examining the entire picture of the customer’s experience. The customer experience map also outlines customer interactions and behaviour along the channels and touchpoints before, during and after their transaction.
Instead of a straight path from one point to another, a customer experience map charts the processes that each customer goes through, across each interaction and job that they are trying to get done with the brand.
A customer journey map works best when a brand is focused on a specific area; for example, the buying journey for a focus group of consumers with a specific product or service line.
In contrast, an experience map is used when a brand wants a fuller picture of the experience that it is being delivered to customers and is often used to optimise how the brand is selling, serving and supporting its customers in the long term.
Why is a customer experience map so useful?
Customer experience maps can give brands a holistic view of the entire customer experience across multiple touchpoints and channels. They can also identify crucial opportunities for brands to improve their customer experience. It helps companies identify the difficulties that their customers may be facing whilst interacting with the brand. Additionally, a customer experience map shows the areas that are working well for the customer.
Business owners and marketers often look at how a customer interacts and engages with the brand on an isolated basis (sales journey, customer service) but, this can result in a disjointed and misaligned end-to-end customer experience. With the help of a customer experience map, decision-makers are given a visual representation of every interaction that a customer has with the brand. This can then can enable businesses to optimise the way their experience performs for the customer on a holistic basis.
Tips for Creating a Customer Experience Map
- Gather the right team – Take the time to gather and build a collaborative and cross-functional team to create a completely integrated customer experience map.
- Gather data about the ‘voice of the customer‘ – Gather data across all business functions which outlines where and how the customer is interacting and responding as they engage with the business.
- Produce the draft customer experience map – Put in place a process to capture, consider and arrange insights as well as data points in order to fill out the customer experience map.
- Take note of any variables – Consider any variables which may be important to the customer experience and factor these into the map to ensure that the map is truly accommodating the way all customers interact with the business.
- Be open – Defend any insights revealed through this customer experience research – but also be open to new ideas.
- Keep discussion at a consistent level – Focus all discussions on the goals set on the map. When you have a curious team they may want to consider other details or some other aspect of the customer experience. While this may be a good learning practice for the team, make sure to keep returning to the overarching objective of refining and optimising the customer experience.
- Invite a discussion with decision-makers – Encourage discussion with decision-makers and walk them through the experience map.
- Finalise the experience map and launch the optimal customer experience – After finalisation, prepare a roadmap to progressively upgrade, integrate and innovate the customer experience as a fully integrated customer-focused team.
The purpose of a customer experience map
The goal of a customer experience map is to examine every conceivable way that a customer may potentially interact with a brand. This means that, when creating the customer experience map, every channel and touch point must be reviewed. Some of the questions that should be addressed are:
- Is the customer trying to learn more about your product or service before they buy?
- Is the customer comparing your products or services to competitors before they buy?
- Is an existing customer reaching out to different customer support channels to help them solve problems that they may be experiencing with your products or services?
Each of these interactions is unique and may not be the only type of interaction that a customer will have with your brand. You may also find more of these interactions when you compare across a variety of channels with different customer segments (enterprise customers versus direct to consumer for example).
Customer experience maps can also help with:
- Informing the customer loyalty strategy.
- Pinpointing important touchpoints and experiences that contribute to customer churn.
- Learning about more opportunities to improve customer retention.
- Understanding the areas where customer experience is already working.
- Identifying opportunities for innovating the customer experience and developing a competitive advantage.
Customer experience maps are an amazing tool in helping brands to better understand their customers and identify opportunities to improve customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty through a fully integrated and seamless customer experience. With a customer experience map, businesses are armed with a detailed illustration of the different opportunities, challenges and shortcomings that their brand delivers.
Upgrading and integrating the customer experience
Too often, these maps become corporate wallpaper rather than being actively implemented. To fully optimise, integrate and innovate the customer experience, consider answering the following questions:
- Is the brand able to map the end to end customer experience of all customer types?
- Is the brand measuring satisfaction and brand perception of the end to end customer experience?
- Is the brand measuring employee satisfaction in the same way as customer experience?
- Is the brand measuring the performance of internal processes such as logistics, customer query resolution time and stock replenishment to ensure satisfaction in the customer experience?
- Are programmes in place to address or improve high priority issues with the customer experience?
- Is the customer experience reviewed as part of the brand’s planning cycle?
- Does every employee understand the role that they play in delivering the best customer experience?
A customer experience map is vital in defining and improving the customer experience strategy. It helps outline what a business must do in order to make sure every customer has an excellent experience when interacting with the brand. When properly executed, it is an effective way to align stakeholders so that there are no cracks for customers to fall through as they move across different channels.
The business benefits are clear – improve the experience and increase brand loyalty, customer retention, average order size and long term customer profitability.