Mapping the Customer Service Journey in Four Easy Steps

Ring­ing in a New Year is a great time for busi­nesses to take some time to reflect on the suc­cesses and chal­lenges of the prior year and to think strate­gi­cally about the goals and out­comes they hope to achieve in the New Year. In Stephen R. Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effec­tive Peo­ple” he intro­duces the con­cept of first seek­ing to under­stand. While this con­cept was dis­cussed as an impor­tant skill that effec­tive peo­ple prac­ticed, the same con­cept applies to the cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney. Before a com­pany can cre­ate a cus­tomer ser­vice strat­egy, the cus­tomer jour­ney must first be under­stood.  As tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to quickly evolve and dis­rupt our pat­terns, this under­stand­ing of the cus­tomer becomes increas­ingly impor­tant. With so many touch­points for cus­tomers to inter­act with a prod­uct or brand, learn­ing the habits of your cus­tomers is cru­cial to cre­ate the most effec­tive strate­gies for cus­tomer ser­vice suc­cess.

There are many tools and charts that orga­ni­za­tions rely upon to best under­stand the inter­sec­tion of the cus­tomer and the company’s brand or prod­uct. Cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map­ping is prob­a­bly the most impor­tant tool for your orga­ni­za­tion to track and under­stand so that rel­e­vant prac­tices and com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies can be imple­mented. Quite sim­ply, cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map­ping is the process of putting the steps, stages and touch­points your cus­tomer goes through while inter­act­ing with your prod­uct, brand or ser­vice, along with their emo­tional jour­ney, into a visual map. A detailed map con­veys the hows and whys of your customer’s jour­ney. For instance, how is your cus­tomer con­nect­ing with your com­pany; how do they feel at var­i­ous touch­points; why are they choos­ing one entry point over another; and why are they choos­ing your prod­uct or ser­vice over your com­pe­ti­tion. A com­pre­hen­sive cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map goes beyond the pur­chase and delves deeper into the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence before, dur­ing and after inter­act­ing with your prod­uct, brand or service.

Even if your orga­ni­za­tion has the struc­tures and tools in place to guide your cus­tomer jour­ney, these struc­tures aren’t sta­tic and need to be revis­ited annu­ally to ensure you remain on the right track. Whether your orga­ni­za­tion is in its start-up phase or has been estab­lished for years, the same rules apply: map­ping out your cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney requires com­mit­ment, input and updat­ing so you can meet your cus­tomers where they’re at and pro­vide them with incen­tive to keep return­ing to your prod­uct or brand.

Cre­at­ing the Cus­tomer Ser­vice Jour­ney Map

Some­times not know­ing where to start is what pre­vents us from achiev­ing our goals. Let’s break down some of the steps to cre­at­ing a cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map so you can feel con­fi­dent about imple­ment­ing this impor­tant tool within your orga­ni­za­tion. Keep in mind that the cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map is all about your cus­tomer and his per­spec­tive. Cus­tomer jour­ney maps are tools to pro­vide insight into how your cus­tomers per­ceive and inter­act with you and isn’t a mar­ket­ing tool for how you want to be perceived.

Step #1—You know more than you think

The eas­i­est place to start in under­stand­ing your cus­tomer is with your exist­ing cus­tomer related data. Min­ing your web ana­lyt­ics, comb­ing through the most fre­quently asked ques­tions posed to your live-chat and call cen­ter oper­a­tors, and query­ing your exist­ing stake­hold­ers will offer up loads of valu­able data as a start­ing place. To begin mak­ing sense of the data, the next step is to break it down into the var­i­ous touch­points your cus­tomers inter­act with your brand or prod­uct. Web ana­lyt­ics, c-sats, cus­tomer ser­vice logs and other sources will allow you to under­stand the cus­tomer through each of the chan­nels that your cus­tomers inter­act with you. Although your employ­ees are valu­able resources for improv­ing your cus­tomer ser­vice deliv­ery strate­gies, be care­ful not to turn to employ­ees when map­ping your cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney. Employ­ees are biased toward their expe­ri­ences and not nec­es­sar­ily think­ing about the where the cus­tomer is com­ing from. Remem­ber, you are cre­at­ing a tool that allows you to walk in your customer’s shoes to get an out­side per­spec­tive as to how your brand/product/service is perceived.

Step #2—Give equal time to all your touchpoints             

Com­pa­nies are slowly real­iz­ing the impor­tance of cre­at­ing omni-channel cus­tomer ser­vice strate­gies, and map­ping the cus­tomer jour­ney is the place to start. With so many options for cus­tomers to access com­pa­nies, whether it’s a bricks-and-mortar store or vir­tual, make sure to include ALL the ways your cus­tomers access you. Be pre­pared that there may be entry points that you aren’t aware of and don’t have con­trol of, such as word-of-mouth, friends and fam­ily. Just because you can’t con­trol these touch­points and the fact that they’re harder to quan­tify, doesn’t mean they don’t war­rant atten­tion. Again, when think­ing of your touch­points from the customer’s point of view allows you see which chan­nels need improvement.

Step #3—Understand the emo­tional triggers

Every jour­ney and touch­point your cus­tomer encoun­ters with your brand or prod­uct has an emo­tional impact. Under­stand­ing the emo­tional trig­gers involved with your touch­points is impor­tant so you can craft your responses to either mit­i­gate neg­a­tive emo­tional responses or enhance pos­i­tive ones. Keep in mind that try­ing to elim­i­nate ALL neg­a­tive responses is not only futile, but unnec­es­sary. Cus­tomers are will­ing to “suf­fer” a bit so long as cer­tain touch­points are per­ceived as pos­i­tive. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it makes sense when you start to think about it from the customer’s per­spec­tive. Take for instance the call-center. While cus­tomers may respond that they expe­ri­ence “neg­a­tive” emo­tions while hold­ing to speak with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, so long as their needs are met once they do speak with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, they’ll remem­ber the over­all expe­ri­ence as pos­i­tive, not neg­a­tive. Under­stand­ing emo­tional trig­gers along the cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney is impor­tant, as cus­tomers make pur­chase deci­sions based upon their emo­tional responses.

Step #4—Know the moments of truth

Know­ing which moments have high impact on your cus­tomer allows you to focus on tar­get­ing those areas and focus resources. A “moment of truth” is when your cus­tomer pauses to assess if she is sat­is­fied or dis­sat­is­fied with her expe­ri­ence. Depend­ing on her expe­ri­ence, she’ll either con­tinue on with you or decide to bail out. Learn­ing these piv­otal deci­sion points is impor­tant for all the obvi­ous reasons.

You’ve devel­oped a Cus­tomer Ser­vice Jour­ney Map—now what?

Once your map is com­pleted it will be a tool that will ben­e­fit most every­one in your orga­ni­za­tion. Cus­tomer jour­ney maps aren’t lim­ited to only those who inter­act directly with cus­tomers. Brand­ing and mar­ket­ing depart­ments use these maps to under­stand where the tip­ping points are in the jour­ney and cre­ate cam­paigns around those points to nudge cus­tomers toward a pur­chase. Prod­uct Devel­op­ment teams ben­e­fit because under­stand­ing the cus­tomer allows for the cre­ation of prod­ucts that cus­tomers actu­ally want. Cus­tomer ser­vice staff, dis­tri­b­u­tion teams and exec­u­tives all ben­e­fit as well. See­ing your orga­ni­za­tion the way your cus­tomer per­ceives you allows for real­is­tic bud­get­ing, mar­ket­ing cam­paigns that ring true to the cus­tomer, and train­ing that is tar­geted to pro­vid­ing top-notch cus­tomer ser­vice. Keep in mind that the cus­tomer jour­ney map is an evolv­ing tool, so revisit it annu­ally and enjoy the ben­e­fits of truly know­ing your customer!

Jodi Beuder, Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Advo­cate at Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, believes cus­tomer ser­vice exists not just out­side the com­pany, but inside, too.. “Hav­ing excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice skills and knowl­edge are para­mount to cre­at­ing strong work­ing rela­tion­ships, whether you are in an office or out in the field.” With over 17 years in Mar­ket­ing Exec­u­tive roles, Jodi has ded­i­cated her career to assist­ing com­pa­nies grow their brand pres­ence and sales, and most impor­tantly, their cus­tomer reten­tion and satisfaction.

Leave a Reply