Take A Road Trip With Your Customer—Using Customer Experience Mapping To Make Improvements

One of the best ways to make improvements to your business is to better understand how your customer experiences your products or services. The best way to do this is by mapping out their experience and then looking for opportunities to make those improvements. Think of it as the ultimate road trip where you get to ride along with your customer. You can map out the entire trip, such as making an initial contact through a sale, or just a specific interaction. The mapping process takes a few key steps: define the customer, conduct research, and develop the map.

Defining Your Customer

To start the process, decide what types of customer experiences you want to map. Do you want to explore their entire process from their first interaction through the end of a sale, or just carve out a single event. You might want to choose an area that’s receiving low ratings based on your existing research. Next, define which set of customers you want to map, existing or prospective. Further break down those customers demographically, by persona, geographically, etc. If you don’t already have a set of customer personas this will be a good time to develop them. You’ll want to create separate maps for each type of customer because their journeys will be distinct.

Conduct Research

The key to developing a customer experience map lies in conducting unbiased marketing research. Using research methods the customer experience will be revealed providing the key points along the journey. Both quantitative and qualitative research may be required. Surveys are a good way to begin developing customer personas, and can serve as a baseline for the project. 

Focus groups help create conversations with groups in a setting that allows for more interactivity and discovery. These can also be conducted as workshops where the customers (or prospective customers) can provide their thoughts in an open forum.

Depending upon the topic, some customer research may need to take the form of an in-depth interview. This allows the interviewer to create a private conversation and discover more emotional reactions, attitudes, and feelings.

In addition to research with customers or prospects, talking to employees can also be a valuable exercise. Employees can document what the journey looks like for their customers. These maps can then be compared with the actual process and discussed. This helps the employees visualize what their customer goes through and how to improve the overall experience.

Develop The Map

The customer experience mapping process culminates in the creation of a visual representation of their journey. The map should include the steps the customer takes, and their interactions with staff, websites, etc. The map should also highlight areas where the customer is frustrated (areas for improvement) as well as areas where they have positive feelings. The map will serve as a touchstone for decision-making in the future as you look for ways to combat negative experiences.

The map should be visually appealing and easy to read. They can even be turned into posters, small handouts, or postcards for employees to carry with them.

The entire customer experience mapping process should reveal to you a variety of things: barriers to customer services, opportunities to improve customer interactions, ways to drive sales, and options for prioritizing future spending. The maps cans be used to train staff and change the dynamics of customer relationships. So the next time you wish you could really understand what your customer is thinking, consider the creation of a customer map. Stop guessing about what their journey looks like by going along with them on that journey. After all, everyone loves a good road trip!

Debra Power

Power Marketing Research, 804 Phoenix Drive, Ann Arbor, MI, 48108