2014-29-July-Pins-US-Map.jpgWith the rise of customer experience as a corporate function, customer journey mapping is taking its place as a vital component of any program or process focused on enhancing customer centricity. Here are a few insights on how to get the most value out of your customer journey mapping efforts.

1. Be clear what you’re mapping and why

Some companies invest a lot of time and money creating immersive, life-size dioramas depicting their customer’s experience with touchpoints in all forms. Some take a simpler, chart-like approach to mapping out the customer’s flow of communications and interactions. Regardless of the scale, the question remains -- why?

For other companies, it’s to get a bird’s-eye view of what’s actually going out to customers, because the siloed structure of the organization obscures the total picture. That’s a good reason. For other companies, the primary purpose is to rally senior executives who might be a little too removed from the customer experience by getting them to walk in the customer’s shoes. Also excellent. We once developed a program for a bank after the chairman’s wife had her purse stolen and lived through the hassle first-hand, so we don’t discount the value of this exercise unto itself.

But then what? Too many companies seem to get stuck at this point. Understanding what you’re currently doing is really only valuable if it imparts wisdom about how to do it better -- what to keep doing, stop doing or start doing. The next step of effective journey mapping is to take a cold, hard look at how well the current experience is working. 

2. Invest in customer research to identify true needs, actual behaviors, and real hits or misses in usability

The best way to understand what customers want is to ask them: What drives them to select one product or service over others? Which touchpoints are most important to them (and therefore have the greatest potential to influence their brand experience)? When and how do they prefer to receive information?

The best way to know what customers are doing is to watch them. We’re all pretty unreliable in describing what we do, so ethnographic research is the unfiltered way to see how customers are actually interacting with products or services. And usability testing or task-based comprehension testing is the key to measuring the customer’s true ease of use and accuracy of understanding.

There are a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods that may apply based on the type of customer journey you wish to evaluate -- any of which will help you get to the heart of how customers truly think, feel and behave. Armed with the insights derived from customer research, you can …