Businesses have long tried to find ways to understand the customer experience in order to improve upon it. Companies used to have to rely on inefficient, inconsistent, and potentially erroneous methods of information gathering like surveys, polls, and write-in reviews to collect this information. In other words, they had very little control over the collection process.

Today, the situation has changed dramatically. The online arena not only makes it much easier for companies and consumers to connect, but data tracking allows businesses to glean untold information about their customers and customer experiences that was previously unavailable.

Customer journey mapping is a way to distill all that data into a valuable stream of information that companies can use to improve their own performance and engineer better interactions for every customer. If you want to provide the best possible user experience, understanding customer mapping is a must. Here are a few basics every business should know.

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

From the simplest perspective, customer mapping is a way to follow your customers from point A to point B, tracking every interaction that leads them to your company and to a purchase. However, it is different from a funnel insomuch as a customer map is intended to help you understand the journey from the customer’s point of view.

In truth, this complex format for tracking and analysis is more like a story than a map. Companies that undertake customer mapping don’t just want to know that a customer clicked on an ad that brought them to a website. They want to know that the customer used a mobile device, that it took several seconds for the landing page to load in mobile format, that the user was frustrated, and that this impacted the interaction, causing the customer to navigate away.

Customer journey mapping strives to understand the goals, motivations, frustrations, and the overall experience of the customer. In most cases, customer journey mapping data is arranged in a graphic or infographic format, such as a timeline or chart of some kind.

A fairly generic customer map might produce a graph that has on one side the elements of a customer journey, from becoming aware of a brand to making a purchase to posting an online review, just for example (and all the steps in between), and on the other side the various touchpoints of interaction, such as word of mouth, website, and email.

By comparing gathered data about how the customer proceeded along a path and what their interactions entailed, businesses can begin to develop a clearer picture of what customers experience and why they behave in certain ways.

What are Touch Points?

Touch points are an important part of customer mapping that distinguishes the format from similar tools like sales funnels, for example. Touch points are basically any means by why a customer interacts with your company, either directly or indirectly.

Touch points could include seeing your advertisement or reading a customer review. They could also include viewing your website, visiting a brick-and-mortar store, looking at products, making purchases, and any kind of follow-up.

In addition, there are touchpoint distinctions. Some interactions are considered to hold more weight than others. For example, making an online purchase is a touchstone, as is receiving the product. Where touchpoints become important is the details.

What if the shipment is delayed or the product is damaged when it arrives? These interactions with your company and your brand can become more or less important depending on the circumstances that affect the customer experience, which is why mapping the customer journey and understanding all the touch points is so important.

What are the Benefits?

Customer journey mapping does more than just deliver analytical data, which can easily be misunderstood – it also gives you the opportunity to gather anecdotal data, filling in the gaps of the customer experience to form a complete story that details the goals and feelings particular to your customers.

This, in turn, allows you to better understand your customers so that you can make improvements for all users and tailor customer experiences to ensure the best possible interactions at every step of the journey. When businesses capture users’ wants, needs, and emotions to pair with statistical and analytical data, they have the best opportunity to provide an easy, engaging, and rewarding experience for both customers and the company.

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