Think about the last time you have made a purchase. Now consider all the steps - online and offline - that brought you from need to conversion (and over). That is your customer journey, a map that you can break up into many different pieces.
Customer experience looks like a puzzle, that you - as a business - can shape and analyze using a specific tool: the customer journey map. As the years pass by, new technologies change the perspective, and so the map needs to become more structured, to include the new touch points.
The map is not the result of the creativity of marketers. On the contrary, it draws a precise picture of the experience that customers actually live when connecting with a brand or product. Any single - even minor - change in the experience causes a profound change in the requisites of the customer journey map.
Far from being little obvious, the digital transformation driven by the smartphone has completely disrupted the way we live, communicate, share and buy. The Internet-gone-mobile has laid the foundations for the dawn of a new generation of customers. The digital customers: empowered, demanding, and connected 24/7.
Disruptive technology trends continuously shuffle the cards on the table, sometimes confounding marketers and entrepreneurs. What is evident is that digital leaders still need (more than ever) the customer journey map to stay on course, but the map they need is not the one they used to rely on.
A digital customer journey map is a complete framework that enables you to understand how clients and prospects connect with your brand and product. An illustration that shows all the different stages that your customers go through as they interact with you, from awareness, to consideration to purchase.
In the Age of the Customer, it is an incredible tool aimed at identifying areas for improvement and establishing the appropriate technology to enhance engagement and loyalty in the customer life cycle. Easier said than done. With empowered customers, old-style funnels won’t work anymore.
Although the map is still rooted in traditional marketing funnels, it is non-linear and made even more complex by a plethora of socioeconomic and behavioral factors. Thereby, there is no standard to create a digital journey map. You need to build - and get ready to rebuild - your own from scratch, shaping the experience from your customer's perspective.
The new customer journey must start from the following mandatory requirements:
CUSTOMER POV (Point of View)
The best thing about customer journey mapping is that it puts customers first, describing not just the experience that a brand wants to provide, but the quality of the experience that customers actually perceive.
The digital journey has replaced the traditional one, melting online and offline in a continuous sequence of micro moments. That is why your only chance to understand and engage customers is to track the interactions as they live them, including those interactions and touch points out of your direct control (i.e. social media).
A great journey map is always rooted in data-driven research. You might already know your clients, but that all the surveys in this world will not ensure that you understand them. Only smart data can confirm or refute your assumptions about their behaviors or desires.
Today, technology gives you all the information needed to understand customers and markets at your fingertips. You just have to gather it across the different sources (user research, interviews, contextual inquiry, web analytics, sentiment analysis, social media monitoring), and finally dive through stats and facts to extract useful strategies from numbers.
MICRO MOMENTS OF TRUTH
Mobile devices enable new ways to explore the world and do things. They help us to find all relevant information in the blink of an eye. As a result, we can buy whatever we want, whenever we need it, from an increasingly wide set of suppliers. This activates the multiplication of touch points and the dawn of micro moments.
The framework of your map should communicate the type, channel and order of touch points, including those out of your control. Of course, some interactions have more impact than others, and your map has to separate those essential micro moments of truth from those less impactful.
GOALS AND EMOTIONS
There is no action that is not fueled by emotions and objectives. A proper map always shows goals at each stage of the process. That includes your business goal AND your customer’s goal. Keep in mind that objectives are never static: in an evolving scenario, they can rapidly change as the process unfolds.
The main cause behind this change is the heart, not the critical mind. You need to take into consideration the emotions that arise during the connection, not just the behaviors. Emotions are critical to any experience, and there is no possibility of customer engagement or loyalty if you ignore them.
TIMELINE AND METRICS
As said, no map lasts forever. Time is critical to transfer the value of digital customer experience. At the same time, mapping is useless without measurement. If you want to stay on top of your clients’ mind, start by refining and redefining your framework according to the evolution of technology.
In a world where mobile, proximity and real-time marketing constantly rewrite benchmarks, good metrics become the key to deliver a meaningful experience when and where it matters most.
The creation of a proper journey map is one of the blocks of the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download it here for free:
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy with the latest trends and advancements of digital customer experience.