Customer Journey Mapping: The Key to Delivering on the Experience You Promise Customers

Everyone’s Offering ‘A Great Experience’

Today, brands that aren’t focused on the entire customer experience simply can’t compete. Every touch point counts. Every interaction matters. Brands are expected to live up to their promise at every moment. And to do so, everyone within a business must behave in ways that help make this promise ring true authentically.

We see a lot of brands today differentiate themselves on “great experience” or “unparalleled service.” But in order for businesses to truly commit to creating unrivaled customer experiences, they have to fully align their value with what people truly care about and need – at every brand moment. This requires getting to the heart of what these pains and gains are and when and why they are happening. How? Customer journey mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping, A Different Type of Research

When conducting consumer research, the mistake a lot of businesses make is framing themselves as the stars and consumers as the extras – how can consumers fit into our story? Customer journey mapping, on the other hand, flips the script. It asks: how do we fit into consumers’ lives? Their cognitions? Emotions? Social realities? Priorities? What’s going on in peoples’ lives and how can we better fit into them? How can we shift and adapt to consumers’ needs and desires?

Through this approach, customer journey mapping can uncover what role the brand plays in peoples’ lives and optimize the whole customer experience to a certain set of emotional and situational circumstances. 

Customer journey analysis examines the entire journey people go through with your brand – even before they make any kind of contact with you. It’s an approach that yields a full understanding of what your business does, and doesn’t, fulfill for people. It offers a more sophisticated way of looking at how connections are built with your customers.

Customer journey mapping can help your brand connect more meaningfully with people. Here’s how:

1. Alignment

Journey mapping fosters alignment by bringing organizations into sync with the people they are looking to serve. By analyzing the physical maps, businesses gain a holistic picture of how their purpose, intention, and investment can be positioned to be the most powerfully differentiated from their competition. By uncovering what moments really matter in a customer’s entire experience, the whole team can get aligned around how to connect, behave in line with the brand purpose, and evoke the right emotional impact at every moment during a customer’s journey.

By getting to the heart of what customers are thinking, feeling, and perceiving along their whole journey, your organization can better align the way it does business with customer needs.

2. Respect

Customer journey mapping looks at the entire customer experience: every interaction and every moment of contact. For a lot of employees who may struggle to see the ways in which their role matters, seeing this kind of map can be an a-ha moment. The importance of their work really sets in.

Seeing the journey from start to finish, people discover that everyone is a key player. Everyone within the organization contributes to the way customers perceive their experience. As such, people start to recognize the roles of those that are less visible in a customer’s experience. They recognize that everyone (receptionist, project manager, sales person…) contributes in essential ways.

Because it reveals the contributions of teams and individuals, it can help people celebrate what they are doing well. People across the board feel more valued and more important. They feel more empowered to contribute and shape the way people experience the brand.

3. The Whole Picture:

Some research can be confusing or misleading because it only offers a single segment or chunk of data or meaning – a piece of the puzzle. However, customer journey analysis is unique because it provides the whole picture, even before the brand enters the scene. By unveiling the shape of the entire overall experience, journey mapping gives a unique view of what you do and why you matter – from the outside in, not inside out.

The maps themselves offer helpful mental models for everyone across the organization – helping people to understand what they are trying to accomplish with every interaction and at every brand moment. With this whole picture view, interdependences are more easily seen, and you can be more strategic about your areas of focus, as well as figure out where the real opportunities lay.

This kind of shared visualization can also be of great value for businesses today who may be stuck in a siloed way of thinking. People can contribute their own insights to it and the maps can shift and flex as business does. Embracing the whole picture is the way to create a compelling, consistent, meaningful, and differentiated customer experience today.

Qualitative Data, Back it Up

At Emotive Brand, when we do customer journey mapping it means in-depth interviews that help people bring us into their world. We take the time to build rapport and spend an extended period of time with the people we are interviewing. This kind of qualitative data gets to the what, why, and the how.

However, qualitative data always needs to be validated. That’s why we always back up our findings with quantitative data – often in survey form. This quantitative data helps answer the question: to what extent are our findings valid and true? The combination of quant and qual is key and helps ensure the usability of the maps.

That being said, customer journey mapping is meant to be a living tool. It should be updated and used as something you can measure against. It’s important that people don’t just see it, but that they use it too. Keeping it up-to-date can help ensure that it is being used in the most powerful, impactful ways.

If you want to enhance the power of your customer experience, look to customer journey mapping. Investing in this kind of mapping and strategy will ensure you deliver on the great experience you promise and connect more meaningfully with the people who matter to your business.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design agency.

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