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Customer journey maps – From the outside looking in

Do your customer journey maps truly represent your customer’s experience or your own assumptions on what your customer’s experience? For journey maps to be effective, brands need to deploy in depth qualitative techniques that offer true insight into the customer’s experience.

Customer journey mapping has become a critical component in redesigning the customer experience. Yet, many organisations still base their maps around internal assumptions and what they believe the customer journey should be, rather than mapping the journey from the customer’s perspective.

Customer Journey mapping refers to a range of techniques that aim to connect every aspect of a business with the lifecycle of a customer. Alex Allwood, principal CX consultant at All Work Together, comments, “A customer journey map tells the story of the customer’s experience. It’s about understanding the emotional connection customers make with every interaction and experience they have with a specific organisation. It brings the customer to life across the entire business”.

She adds, “Journey maps are typically the vital first step on the path to better customer experiences. They help to identify areas for improvement or the issues customers may be experiencing when dealing with a company.”

Benefits of customer journey maps

In 2017 research from the Aberdeen Group highlighted how companies that do journey maps correctly can experience greatly improved revenue from referrals, as well as greater employee engagement, brand awareness, and profitability. Companies that have effective journey maps in place enjoy greater sales, marketing, and service effectiveness.

Alex Allwood, says “Customer journey maps allow us to understand the functional and emotional needs of our customers, thereby connecting brands with their customers on an emotional level.”.

Few organisations do it well

Though the benefits of customer journey maps can be clearly demonstrated, which has in no doubt led to their increasing popularity, few companies actually have them in place. According to the research from Aberdeen only 36% of organisations have a process to map customer journeys. And a large number of those who do have a process base their maps around their own internal assumptions and perspective.  Allwood highlights how a dangerous gap can emerge between:

  1. What the customer thinks about the organisation and
  2. What the organisation believes the customer thinks.

She advises that it’s only through indepth qualitative research can a brand achieve a true outside looking in view of the organisation and the experience it provides customers. “Systems like NPS (Net Promoter Score) and VOC (Voice of the Customer) provide useful data and insights, but they can also contribute to a situation where the brand is mapping its own assumptions rather than what the customer is truly experiencing.”

Qualitative and quantitative research

Quantitative research based on surveys and transactional data about customers can provide insights into trends, segment analysis and general customer behaviour. But they are limited in delivering true insights into human emotion and understanding customer needs and preferences. For this you need qualitative research techniques such as focus groups, workshops and in depth interviews.

Allwood advises, “To create effective customer journey maps you need to develop a true understanding of how people feel and why they do the things they do, say the things they do and buy the things they buy. You need to complement your quantitative research with qualitative research.”

In the coming weeks we will explore in greater depth how to conduct the qualitative and combine it with other data and surveys. We will also look at a range of techniques of how to create the relevant diagrams/maps and how to share them with the rest of the organisation.

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Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.

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