It’s easier to please someone the more you know them, isn’t it?  If you know that women’s clothing frequently lacks pockets, you’re going to make sure there’s a purse hook behind the bathroom door. If you know your customers work 9-5, you’re going to make sure you have some evening and weekend hours. You get the picture. And we all know, the details are as important as the broad strokes. When it comes to pleasing your customers (the most important intangible as it relates to your bottom line), knowledge is power. How do you really get to know what pleases your customers? Enter: Customer Journey Maps.

The current “It” tool when it comes to customer relationship building, customer journey maps are a way to see the customer journey from the perspective of the customer. This insight allows you to anticipate customer needs, and delight your customers in meaningful ways. Perhaps even more importantly, customer maps reveal “breaking points”- that previously head-scratching moment when a prospect decides to jump ship. Customer maps show you where you go wrong, where you’re going right, and where you can improve. 

A customer journey map is essentially a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer goes through when they engage with your business. This could be online, while experiencing a product, in a retail environment, etc.- anywhere your customer goes along their journey doing business with you.

  1. Creating Your Map
    Utilizing knowledge of the customer’s perspective is a crucial way to avoid employee bias. It’s common to begin your mapping capturing what you assume is the customer’s journey. After all, we’re all customers somewhere, so we should all be experts, right? Not quite so. Great maps utilize outside research to really nail it.
  2. Start simple.
    Chances are you already have much of the win/loss analysis you need, such as customer buying preferences and marketing that did or didn’t produce sales. The next step is separating the customer journey into its various sub-journeys or destinations along the way. These usually fall into the following categories: Demand Gen/Prospecting, Consumption of the Product, and Usage/Post Sale. The beginning, the middle, and the continuing story.
  3. Consider the diversity of your customers and the way they, as individuals, approach the sales process.
    You may have a customer who is naturally impulsive, and another who is more cautious. You can’t control this, but you can observe it. The type of content and its frequency may have different impact depending on the recipient. Once you have acknowledged the different personas of your customers you can begin to tailor the experiences, determining marketing and outreach that will have the most meaningful impact. Consider the emotional and intellectual buyer. What moves each along the stages of the sale? What emotions or thoughts keep them moving forward? Note your insights both intuitively and analytically. Consider concrete data, as well as your innate sensibilities. This will define the topography of your customer map. When you have a hypothetical blueprint, continue to validate it with further research.
  4. Establish metrics to measure your success.
    Keep an eye on the overall improvement of customer satisfaction and follow-thru along each of the sales steps. Look at improvement in the number of referrals and qualified opportunities. Note the shifting data at each stage of the customer journey. You’ll begin to note trends that allow your continued improvement. Develop an action plan, take notes, revise, repeat.

Marketing is a soft science, even with the data. But, when you consider the diverse ecosystem that is your customer base, you’ll begin to be able to paint a customer map with fewer broad strokes and greater detail. Your customers will be your guides and your best traveling companions. To quote the great Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”