How well do you know your customers?
From identifying a problem, researching a solution, deciding which product to purchase and engaging ongoing support, it’s critical that businesses have a solid understanding of the key phases of their customer’s journey.
A customer journey map (CJM) is a method of investigating the way your customer might engage your business. In its simplest form, a customer journey map is a timeline of the actions taken by your customer, from initial research all the way through to the end of the product life cycle.
The real value in a customer journey map is isolating innovative opportunities to help solve your customer’s pain points adding value to their journey with your business.
Here are five ways that we use customer journey maps for innovation.
1. Identifying barriers or blockers for the customer
Through the customer journey mapping process, you’ll step through each phase of your customer’s journey of finding their perfect solution. Along the way there will be a few barriers or blockers that pop up.
Finding these blockers might sound counter-productive when you’re looking for opportunities to innovate, but, as the saying goes, it’s better the devil you know.
Extract these barriers from your CJM and analyse them to really get to the heart of their cause and effect. Is the blocker related to location or language, or is it based on cost or value? What is stopping the customer from overcoming this barrier? Why is it a barrier in the first place? And what flow-on effects can arise from this blocker?
Once you have these insights you can begin to identify ways to flip the barrier on its head.
2. Aligning your team with a shared vision
Customer journey mapping works most effectively when you have a range of data from different sources. Critically, this includes anecdotal evidence from sales reps, marketing co-ordinators, product developers, as well as input on the company’s strategic direction from senior management.
Customer journey mapping will only add value if the outcomes and goals are shared across the organisation.
By bringing together your team, you can not only gain a clear, cross-functional understanding of your customers’ journey and experience with the different touch points of your business, but also help your team members to learn from their peers and create a shared vision for success.
3. Empathising with the customer
Whenever you’re searching for a way to solve a problem or make the most of an opportunity, you’ll feel a range of emotions and have a flood of questions and thoughts as you begin your research and decide on the best solution.
Your customers are no different; they will experience a variety of different emotions on their way through their journey. They might feel confused at where to start, cautious at investing in something new, excited at the prospect of changing a process or a method, or completely amazed by the possible outcomes they could achieve.
The key outcome here is to identify how to alleviate the low points and capitalise on the high points.
If your customer is feeling confused about where to begin their research, how can you help educate them on how to make a great choice? If your customer is feeling disheartened or impatient because they’re waiting for a callback, what can you do to speed up the call-back process? When your customer is at their happiest, how can you make the most of their great experience to generate brand awareness or trust?
A great way to really get into your customers’ shoes is to invite them in to be part of the customer journey mapping process.
Real customer insights are invaluable – and what could be more useful than having one or two of your customers in the room with you to provide feedback and validate your hypotheses.
4. Bringing data into context
Building a customer journey map without real customer data to inform it is incredibly risky; how do you know that your findings are accurate or if your new ideas are going to be useful for the customer?
Data without context doesn’t tell a clear story or provide any real insight.
To provide context to any dataset, you need to cross reference it with other data sources or insights, whether they’re anecdotal, qualitative or quantitative. Take a deep-dive into your website’s reverse goal path; which pages are your customers visiting on their way to completing a goal or submitting a lead form? What types of information are most effective in leading the customer towards a conversion point? This quantitative data, alongside qualitative data from customer interviews or user testing sessions, will provide fantastic context on what your customers are currently experiencing, and how you can improve.
5. Identifying gaps in your offering
Once you’ve gone through your customer’s journey, stand back and take a look at the entire picture. Can you see anything missing? Is there a product or service that your customer is seeking that you don’t currently provide? Or does your product or service address only part of your customer’s concerns? These are the golden opportunities for innovation.
These innovation opportunities help you to create fantastic value for your customers.
This value might be realised by streamlining or overhauling internal processes, creating a new product or service offering to solve a customer pain point, or by adopting a new methodology or approach for existing customer-facing services.