Customer journey mapping is exactly what it sounds like: documenting the actions customers take in a buying cycle and what they do next. Journey mapping is part of any good customer experience strategy. The map (it’s really any kind of document or chart) helps you visualize how your audience interacts with your company.
A detailed customer journey map will plot primary points of a customer’s experience with your brand across all channels, helping you understand their motivations and challenges at those points.
By considering each aspect of the customer journey, you can gauge customer sentiment more effectively, predict possible needs, and introduce meaningful innovations drawn from empathy. You can also gain a better sense of how the segments of your business intersect—and how they can best support each other.
In the past, the customer journey was more predictable and static. Sales, service, and marketing professionals could more easily understand how to align activities to the journey. Today, trying to map each journey with a standard number of steps and processes is like shooting at a moving target. Increased online research and purchasing has altered the number and sequence of steps in a customer journey.
Customers come to the table well-informed by the time they ever engage with a salesperson. Their expectations are also influenced by their experiences with other brands. With all these variables in play, what should you focus on?
First and foremost, you can apply the same kind of mapping strategy, but inform it with different steps. Applying a so-called “traditional” journey map to today’s customer behavior doesn’t work. Instead, start with a basic map and uncover new data about your customers to see where the journey goes. Have an open mind about what your customers are really doing (and not what you think or want them to do.)
Second, decide on an approach. A macro-approach defines the journey as an infinite loop of engagement with brand, sales, service, or repurchase and evangelism. A micro-approach focuses on one element of the customer experience, such as the marketing journey or the sales journey.
Third, know that a customer’s starting point with your brand may not be where you thought it was, and that their journey may not be linear, either. An unpredictable journey can make the mapping process more difficult, but it also allows customers to explore. Look for stages where your customer isn’t used to hearing from you and try to engage them there.
Brands that do customer journey mapping effectively lean into testing. This means they do much more quantitative analysis to make sure what they’ve stood up actually works, tracking where customers enter, which paths they take, where they exit early (and why), etc. When the intention of a marketing campaign and its eventual results don’t align, it’s time to pivot. Generally speaking, customer-centric brands are willing to embrace the unexpected and demonstrate their ability to adapt. Customers value brands that pay attention to their needs, curating experiences just for them and providing personalized guidance throughout their journey.
1. If you’re not hyper-focused on the customer, you’re going to have attrition.
When you’ve done journey mapping right, you’ll be able to keep customers engaged throughout the customer experience. Precise campaign targeting matters less for this tactic; a broader, more top-of-funnel approach is the idea here. Most brands will tell you that unengaged customers won’t complete the journey if they feel neglected.
2. Change your message.
Customers are demanding more from brands. Every interaction with a brand, whether it’s your business, a competitor, or in a completely different industry, is shaping their expectations. With so much choice and purchasing ease, brands that continuously push the same message and offers—instead of variety—will find themselves on the outside looking in.
3. Know where to push, where not to push.
In short, balance your business objectives against customer needs. No matter how many times a customer has interacted with your brand, they want experiences to always be meaningful and contextual.
There can’t be communication without connection, and connection is impossible without knowing where your customers are—and where they’re going. Deep learning about who your customers are and what they want can inform every aspect of customer experience. Moreover, when you act on learnings from customer interaction data, your knowledge of what the customer really needs is advanced.
Create your own customer journey map with Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience (CX).
Ana Jablonski is data-driven storyteller, with over fifteen years in the digital marketing space advising small startups to Fortune 50 companies. Her passion is guiding clients to true digital transformation through data-centric strategies and cross-channel solutions.
Ryan has the privilege of leading a team of incredibly innovative Solution Engineering Strategists and Creatives. Ryan has personally facilitated over 30 journey mapping workshops and sprint engagements for Oracle customers, helping them uncover innovations that produce real business outcomes.