Customer Journey Maps: Aligning an Ever-Changing Landscape

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Customer journey maps are the visual depictions of every experience that an individual who interacts with your company may have. While this is generally relative to the customer, journey maps should be inclusive of customers, employees, partners, suppliers, vendors, etc. to ensure the most optimal brand experience.

This map should be an all-encompassing story, meaning that it should include everything from the original engagement and first interaction with a potential customer to a loyal, hopefully long-term relationship.

Customer journey mapping is a high-level approach for companies to highlight and define pain points within the end-to-end customer experience, allowing them to obtain a comprehensive understanding of that journey, and create solutions to optimize the experiences accordingly.

Why are they so important?

Properly understanding the journey that any given customer may take when interacting with your brand, product, or service is critical in today’s consumer-driven market. Beyond this, the ROI of customer journey mapping has been proven time and time again. According to this Adobe Econsultancy Digital Trends brief, “Top-performing companies are 50% more likely than their peers to ‘have well-designed user journeys that facilitate clear communication and a seamless transaction’.”

Along with the recognizable thread between well-designed customer journeys and increased returns, customer journey maps also help companies benchmark their brand promises against real customer experiences. For instance, your customer experience may be portrayed as seamless and effortless, but when they run into a long line at your in-store customer service desk, the imagined experience that is depicted doesn’t line up with the one actually being experienced. Customer journey maps help companies better understand where these discrepancies are, and when used to their fullest capacity, work to coalesce the two scenarios.

If customer journey maps are not already a significant part of your business strategy, it is highly likely that you are aren’t optimizing your company’s sales, customer retention, and long-term loyalty capabilities.

How to optimize your customer journey mapping

This all boils down to one simple word. Understanding. Customer journey maps bring to light the current issues with your customer experience, and allow you to both rethink those existing processes and prioritize solutions to create a more effortless end-to-end journey for your consumers.

In order to elevate these journey maps to their highest potential, all points of customer interaction - even the seemingly inconsequential points - must be considered to truly understand where the biggest discrepancies lie.

In addition to this, it’s important to note that customer journey maps are continuous. There is no time-limit, no assumed expiration to any given customer journey. The stages of the customer journey begin with that initial awareness stage, but do not end with the purchase of a given product or service. After a customer has, or hasn't, made that purchase, it is assumed that their journey will once again begin at the awareness stage as they experience new issues or interests and pursue new solutions, products, or services.

Top five benefits of journey mapping

  1. Customer journey maps shed light on where, when, how, and why a given customer might interact with your company, and provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of those experiences.

  2. They emphasize, and can help to close, any gaps between a desired or perceived customer experience and the reality of that experience.

  3. Journey mapping can help identify and optimize process efficiencies while harmonizing channels, leading to more conversions, higher revenue, and enduring customer loyalty.

  4. They can shift company culture and unite your organization around the consumer, stressing a more customer-focused company culture across the board.

  5. When properly leveraged, they can provide your company with significant, measureable returns. According to this article from Adobe, companies that “…do journey maps right drive top- and bottom-line value in measurable, significant ways. They enjoy truly eye-popping ROI, including 200% greater employee engagement and 350% more revenue from customer referrals.”