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  • Leslie Horna

What is a Journey Map?

Journey maps are a visualization of the customer’s relationship with a brand over time and across multiple channels. The customer’s journey is a detailed outline of each touch point with the company, from prospecting to becoming a customer, and post-experience. This year, brand experience is expected to surpass price and product as the largest market differentiator. As more companies compete for customers, journey maps are essential to understanding your customer's experience and identifying ways to improve it. Your brand experience drives revenue, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. Here's a brief overview of journey mapping to inspire innovation in your company!

First, plot each customer milestone within your marketing and sales cycle, each touchpoint the customer has with your company. Through this process, you learn how customers perceive and experience the company from their point of view. Each touchpoint provides near-immediate feedback, affording companies to make changes in real-time that can save the company time and money. The customer too benefits from this cycle of improvement! Journey mapping facilitates a system of communication to align a wide range of groups around the brand experience - from sales, service, and marketing, to product development and others involved in delivery of the experience. Data collection is often focused on multiple personas - lowest-performing, certain demographic, or highest number of customer service complaints - so that you can cross reference how each of your unique stakeholder groups responds to the cues provided along the customer journey.

Each stakeholder's journey is filled with highs and lows and across many departments within an organization. In the research phase of the mapping, solicit input from all roles and functions within the organization. This is a deeply collaborative research and analysis project. Each department has a different relationship to the customer and the product which is incredibly valuable when building your brand experience. By engaging more internal stakeholders in this discovery and strategy process, you're better able to deliver a consistent customer experience and this is proven to increase brand loyalty.

No two maps are the same as you can see in the examples included in this article. However, there are a few pieces that are necessary to tell all journeys.

  • Stakeholders: These are groups of individuals that make up the brand's target audience. The needs, wants, thoughts, emotions, challenges, perspectives, and expectations of each stakeholder group drives the experience outlined in the journey map.

  • Time Period: Decide on the timeframe (e.g. 1-month) or circumstance (e.g. campaign) to evaluate

  • Touch points: Pinpoint each interaction the customers have with the brand

  • Channels: These are the places where customer activity takes place such as the brand's website, customer service center, social media sites, and such. This is specific to your industry - a healthcare facility is going to be very different than a hospitality booking website.

  • Emotion: Note the customer's feelings in response to each touch point. Moments where customers feel happy, encouraged, proud and amazed inspire them to continue moving along the journey.

Within each of these views of the customer, there are various key performance indicators and metrics for evaluating engagement at each touch point. This activity is important to document in your customer relationship management (CRM) software, like Salesforce. Make sure that efforts are set up to track the correct data points to influence growth and progress toward your goals. All kinds of things can be measured, but it's what you do with the data that matters. If you can't use the data, there's no point in collecting it. With the journey mapping team, collectively decide on the metrics and the process for measuring performance throughout the journey.

Putting the customer at the center of your business will be rewarding for you and for the customer. From aligning internal teams to conducting and documenting the research, you will benefit from mapping your customer's journey. The more attuned to your customer's needs, challenges, and wants, the better you can deliver an exceptional experience that keeps them coming back for more.

C. Change Consulting provides brand research, strategy, planning, and execution for businesses, nonprofit organizations, community foundations, and government agencies. Schedule a consultation to discuss your brand's marketing and communications challenges.

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