Personalising the persona: a customer journey mapping guide
Jason Mallia has some tips for planning and reviewing best-practice customer journey maps.
The past few years have seen a boom in the customer journey model with the impact being felt across industries from retail to insurance to B2B. More significantly, that impact is also being felt in the board room. Creating a ‘story’ or journal of your customers’ interactions from go to whoa (particularly if it is woe) is a practical, visual method of mapping out the journey and all the steps they took to arrive at the end point.
This means considering more than just a list of sales and service channels, such as stores, websites and call centres, to deliver a real understanding of your customers, what they are trying to achieve and what they are doing to achieve it.
By doing this, the ‘moment of truth’ approach that many businesses already utilise is extended to cover every interaction with your organisation and not just those that have the most impact. A true customer journey map provides a framework that encompasses the entire business – how each area impacts the customer and informs your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to ensure you’re able to capture feedback at the right moments.
Here are several key steps for companies who are ready to set off on their customer journey mapping expedition.
Plan it out
Simply, a customer journey map must generate value and drive change if it is to improve customer-centricity across the company. So before you start anything, you need to think about what you want to achieve.
- Are you going to use the map to improve the customer experience (CX) in specific channels?
- Are you going to use the map to engage employees so that they deliver better service and enhance CX, or do you just want to refine and consolidate your brand?
You will probably find that ultimately you can do more than you imagine at the outset, but make sure you start with measurable and achievable goals.
No successful customer journey map was ever built in a vacuum. It’s vital that you include people from across your organisation to ensure you capture the full customer journey.
It can also become a great rallying point for the business because you can see how different stakeholders fit within the framework and help them to understand their impact on customer experience.
For example, front-line employees, including store workers and customer service reps, have a wealth of knowledge which can ensure that local variations are accounted for. This may be the order in which customers tend to approach different touchpoints in different regions (do they visit the store first, or the website?), or are expectations around call centre service different in particular areas?
They’ll also have better insight into what customers expect, particularly in-store, how they react to particular situations, and the process they go through to make a purchase. This level of on-the-ground input is critical in the retail world where even the most structured sales situations will have nuances that aren’t recognised at your head office.
Meanwhile, back-office areas like accounting or dispatch will hold information about processes that directly impact the customer but are often virtually unknown outside their departments.
Bringing different perspectives together with the frontline view will help you consolidate your understanding and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. Make it clear to employees that they all impact the customer journey. Whether directly or indirectly, they play a part in one or more touchpoints; being aware of that can be highly engaging for them.
You are all in this together
No touchpoint is an island. Your customers see your brand as a single entity. They don’t know (or care) that the website is handled by different people than the call centre or the social media program or that some services are outsourced.
As you build your map, think about the combination of touchpoints that customers go through, and consider how well you deliver your brand experience at each of them. Always remember these touchpoints extend beyond the traditional areas of physical stores, customer service and the website. For example, a poor delivery experience will mar the whole process, even if your product is perfect.
Expect the best but prepare for the worst
Some things are beyond your control but still impact how customers feel about you. It might not be entirely fair (regulatory changes that require your customers to deal with more ‘red tape’ or your customer’s internet connection that makes your site so slow), but the result is the same.
When you build your map, make a note of the things that can affect key touchpoints. In some cases, you may be able to build strategies to mitigate against them, such as proactive assistance from customer service to reduce the ‘red tape’ impact.
When it comes to implementing your VoC program based on the framework provided by your map, it pays to enable a broader range of employees to have input into the surveys you send to customers.
A good customer journey map needs to be based on more than the generic idea of ‘the customer’. Create personas, fictional characters who are trying to achieve something specific by interacting with your business.
The process of mapping the journey is much easier when you can focus on ‘Brian’ who has researched your product heavily before purchase but thinks he’s been billed incorrectly, or ‘Jessica’ who realises she’s bought the wrong item and needs help identifying what she really wants and returning the original one.
This is particularly key for multi-channel businesses because different customer groups will use a different combination of channels in a slightly different way. Increasingly, customers use mobile devices to check whether there’s a better deal elsewhere, look up reviews, or to find out about specific product details.
Make sure that you’re accounting for this and other particular behaviours within your persona set.
Building your VoC program
Don’t forget that your journey map is part of your wider CX program, not a stand-alone project. Ensure that the feedback you gather through that program is tightly linked to the touchpoints on your map.
This enables you to pinpoint the root cause of any issues effectively and take action quickly. In terms of building your VoC program based on your map, it makes sense to start small and build up.
There’s a temptation to ‘boil the ocean’ – do everything at once and change the world overnight. Don’t.
It is more productive to identify a couple of the touchpoints on your map and start to collect feedback at those stages.
As you refine your processes for reporting, follow up and process enhancement, you can add additional touchpoints to your feedback program over time. This approach also means that you can prove the ROI of your program in stages, making it easier to roll it out.
Finally, it’s important that you review your journey map on a regular basis.
It may not need amending most of the time, but in some cases a new store, sales channel, or delivery company, will have kicked in and you need to build that into your map.
Otherwise, within a couple of years, you’ll have something that resembles an out-of-date atlas that doesn’t acknowledge a major road!
Jason Mallia is manager, Australia and New Zealand at Confirmit.
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