What is customer journey mapping?
By Jonathan Opperman, SAS Senior Solution Specialist
The path to purchase is no longer linear. Customers can encounter a business through a variety of mediums, methods and devices. Some may start from a simple organic search and end their journey by purchasing a product in store, whilst others may find a business through a referral and purchase goods, products or services online.
As a result of all of these touch points, businesses need to reconsider the approach to interacting with potential customers and ensure that the experience is seamless across all of the different communication channels - and that's where customer journey mapping comes in.
By utilising data-driven research and analytics, customer journey mapping provides the foundations to build a visual framework of the individual stages of a customer's lifecycle. With comprehensive customer journey mapping, businesses can improve the overall customer experience as it provides insight into how and where audiences are interacting with the business - and where they are not. However, remember: customer journey mapping does not ensure a seamless customer experience - but it does provide the framework to get there.
Consumers long for that emotional connection in a world of overabundant and often distracting messages.
Bridge the gap between departments: Organisational alignment first
One of the key problems in producing a seamless customer journey experience is misalignment across departments and organisational silos. Rather than the business operating as a whole, each individual department is occupied with its team's own goals; generating more leads here, increasing revenue there. As a result, the organisation fails to recognise the true potential of an all-encompassing marketing and sales strategy and the customer journey is fragmented across numerous online and offline touch-points. Not only does this present a problem for the business, but also for the consumer.
With customer journey mapping, rather than each individual team operating towards achieving its own goals the business comes together as a whole, working towards a common goal - satisfying the customer.
Seamless customer journey across all touch-points
Consumers move between online and offline brand interactions throughout the customer journey, venturing across mobile, social, email, in-store and others whilst researching products and services. In this period of consideration, they are expecting every brand channel to be consistent, convenient and reflective of the business' messaging, tone and style. Inconsistencies across any channel with regards to what a business does or offers will leave customers disenchanted or even confused - fracturing the customer experience.
Customer journey mapping provides the clarity to understand where businesses can begin to build consistent communication channels and start imposing standards across each channel to keep the business image, messaging, tone and style consistent.
Understanding customer context
- What different interactions are customers having with the business? Through being able to identify the behavioural stages customers go through when trying to find out more about a product, service and brand, businesses can determine a lead nurture process and then can build a series of actions or triggers to target customers based upon these specific behaviours.
- Know the customer goals: Once a business understands what customers are trying to achieve, it can work backwards to build the necessary touch-points within each phase to support the customer in reaching a purchase.
- Utilise data where possible: Continuous surveying and monitoring of customer interactions with a brand or business will help refine customer journey mapping. Pull as much data as possible from the analytics to improve customer touch-points. Also, consider how long each phase lasts and what touch-points are the most effective at driving conversions.
Benefits of customer journey mapping
With customer journey mapping and detailed analytics, businesses can address every individual customer journey and provide customers with a personalised experience. An effective customer journey map will allow a business to visualise how to use its deep data resources to refine and enhance the individual customer experience, as well as help to anticipate the next actions in the journey.
Ultimately, with customer journey mapping driving activity across multiple channels, businesses can build a truly customer-orientated experience.
This article is included in Keep them coming back: Your guide to building customer loyalty with analytics. You'll learn how to get more useful customer insights, build better relationship with your customer and much more.
If you want to learn more about the buyer's journey, here's a report on customer analytics and how you can use it to better manage your customer life-cycle efforts.