This month we’re learning to understand and implement the customer journey. Already, we’ve learned so much about what the customer journey is and why it’s important to designing the perfect customer experience. 

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What is the Customer Journey?

Before we can begin to discuss the customer journey and its impact on the customer experience, Angie Zener urges us to define it. She says that the customer journey is

... the full lifecycle view of a customer’s interactions with a particular brand that yields information related to channel and content preferences, level of brand engagement, action or inaction and timing at each touchpoint."

It makes sense because when a customer desires something, whether it be a hairdryer or a content management system, they're on a mission to not only to find it, but the best one that fits their needs. Very few of us buy the first thing we see. The information superhighway has transformed into the Internet of Things and with so much available to us at the click of a button or swipe of the finger, we’re led to believe that the customer has become much more well-informed about their choices. But are we mistaking well-informed for well-led?

At the start of the customer journey, many of us are wide-eyed and optimistic. Soon, thanks to a number of poorly-designed websites, or mismanaged communities, we’ve been led astray. Now we’re desperately trying to read through user-generated reviews while comparing it to the latest tech reviews. We’re crowdsourcing on Twitter, asking for recommendations on Facebook and searching Pinterest for inspiration. For the lucky few, we find our destination in the form of a helpful, well-designed website with cleverly written content that makes us feel complete. Is it going to cost us a little more than what we wanted? Perhaps. Is it worth it? Yes. Will we return? Absolutely.

How Does an Organization Map the Customer Journey?

Now that we know what the customer journey entails. How do you map it and why? John Abraham taught us that “customer journey mapping is a straightforward but powerful tool to help companies organize around the customer.” But where do you even start?

Abraham says that it’s critical for organizations to “describe what the customer experiences when doing business with your company, from the customer’s point of view.”

Again, nothing radical here, but as consumers we can definitely tell when a company has disregarded the human experience. How many hoops do we have to jump through to get to where we want to go? If it’s too many, chances are the company isn’t mapping the customer journey from the consumer’s perspective.

Once you’ve described the experiences, ensure that all touch points have been optimized and the teams in charge of them are on the same page. From there, integrate these mapped customer journeys into your marketing plans to make sure that what you’re saying accurately matches the real-life experience.

Are Customer Maps Useful When Designing the Customer Experience?

Yes.

For those that need further proof -- we sought out the wisdom of Leisa Reichelt, in a blog post she wrote last year. In her article, Improving UX and CX through Customer Journey Mapping, she speaks about how if you’re not solving the right problems with your design, your customer experience is just a waste of time, energy and talent. Employees will feel disengaged, while customers will feel as if they’re not being served appropriately. Reichelt outlines three distinct ways that customer journey mapping does to accelerate an organization’s customer focus:

  1. Makes the customer experience understandable and addressable;
  2. Unites the silos, ignites customer focus, and;
  3. Visibly connects business value and customer value.

The customer journey mapping process is not just an empty exercise. A good customer experience is dependent on it. For some of us, it’s an implied step; while for others, this may be the first time they’re learning about it. Considering the fast-paced online world in which we live, shop, engage in, the customer journey is constantly taking some interesting twists and turns, through neighborhoods that were once exclusive and are now inclusive. How are you accounting for these journeys?