Delivering exceptional experiences — whether you're a government agency, healthcare facility, or retailer — is key to driving growth today. It all starts with clearly understanding who your customer is (which can be a patient, citizen, or visitor), their wants and needs, and preferred forms of communication and technology.
But how can you deliver on, and, more importantly, exceed their expectations? You can find the answers with a customer journey map.
A customer journey map visually represents a customer's interaction with your organization. Outlining every stage of a customer's journey on a map tells the story of their experience, providing insights into what the customer wants and needs across every touchpoint, along with their pain points and challenges.
Why is a customer journey map so important?
Customer journeys can seem fairly simple at first glance. They have a need, and you fulfill it by offering them a product or service. But the customer journey is rarely that linear.
Upon digging deeper, you'll find that the customer journey varies depending on the person, their preferences, and their use of technology — complicating what was once thought of as a straightforward process. And as technology continues to advance, we can expect the customer journey to become even more fragmented.
Undergoing the customer journey mapping process not only provides clarity into today’s fragmented customer journey, it also dispels any preconceived assumptions you may have.
The customer journey mapping process facilitates this by compiling information into a diagram or flow chart that enables you to understand if the current customer journey is empowering customers to reach their goal(s) — making a purchase or using a service — and if not, what you can do to ensure that they are.
The benefits of a customer journey map
Outside of improving sales, customer stickiness, and revenue, the benefits of a customer journey mapping process extend beyond the customer experience. It can also help you improve operations for your employees and managers by:
- Optimizing internal processes and operations
- Identifying cost-saving opportunities
- Removing silos and closing gaps between departments
- Improving customer service delivery
- Personalizing the customer experience based on the persona
- Enabling the shift to a customer-centric organization
- Creating a better work environment for managers and employees
7 steps to create your customer journey map
Customer journey maps vary by organization, industry, and customer profile (customer is also often referred to as patient in the healthcare sector, citizen in the public sector, or visitor in a more general context). There is no one right way to create one. The key is to define each touchpoint while including a detailed summary of the tools, channels, and elements your customers interact with.
It's important to remember that you need to adapt each customer life cycle to the customer profile you’re targeting. This will help you identify which phase of the customer journey generates the most value, the ones that don’t, and insights into the customer’s feelings and the challenges they experience at each stage.
Now that you know the components you need, here are the steps to build your customer journey map.
Step 1: Set the goals and objectives
Ask yourself what prompted your organization to start this initiative. Then document the goal(s) you are trying to reach and what the experience is based on.
Step 2: Identify and profile your customers
The next step is to identify your future and current customers. Profiling your customers provides a roadmap for designing the best experience across each touchpoint. Get the information you need by interviewing or surveying customers and digging into the information you already have.
Step 3: Define each phase of the customer journey
Typically, there are six phases of the customer journey. In our experience of helping thousands of organizations develop and implement their customer journey map, here are the stages we’ve broadly identified:
- Pre-arrival: Before the customer sets foot on your premises, and the actions the customers take before arriving and engaging with your organization.
- Arrival: The actions the customer takes when they enter your store, hospital, or government office, such as checking in at a self-service kiosk.
- Queuing and Waiting: Where the customer must go while waiting to get serviced, such as a line, lobby, or waiting room.
- Service: How your organization delivers the service or product to the customer.
- Post-service: The collection of feedback that enables you to further optimize the customer experience.
- Managing: How your organization collects data to make continuous improvements to the customer experience.
Taking the time to identify each stage will help you in the next step when you start digging deeper into each phase to understand the touchpoints, analyze key moments, and identify opportunities.
Step 4: Map the current state of your customer journey
Mapping the current state of your customer journey is the most important step of the customer journey mapping process. It will help you identify gaps in your experience and opportunities for improvement.
A rule of thumb to follow when documenting the current state is to ensure you include managers and employees as part of the process. Often, what we find, after having done countless customer journey mapping workshops with our clients, is that managers and staff have different views on the actual process.
Having everyone together gives you a better picture of what needs to be done and enables you to get the whole organization on the same page. One way to approach current state mapping is to list all the services you provide and the various ways customers would interact with your organization to gain access to them.
For example, suppose you have a medical testing facility that provides multiple tests to patients. In that case, you may want to list all of them, map out how they would move from lab to lab, and then try to think how you can help the patient in this case, consolidate them in one visit.
Likewise, you’ll want to quantify the amount of time it takes to render each service or how many counters the customer has to go to before completing their visit. This will help you identify the resources, tools, channels, and communications you need to ensure a smooth transition and manage customer expectations and perceptions at each phase.
As you go through the process, aligning each touchpoint with the end goal you want the customer to take and how they will move from each step to the next, it’ll become easier to identify how you can design each experience to drive the most value.
Step 5: Map the future state of your customer journey
With the current state of your customer journey experience mapped out, you can start using the findings to develop the future state of your customer journey. In this step, you'll want to go through each phase of the customer journey from arrival to post-service and beyond and include the improvements you want to make. Repeat this process until all stakeholders are in agreeance with the future state.
Step 6: Socialize your customer journey map
Delivering exceptional experiences is an organization-wide initiative. Everyone in the organization should know and understand the customer journey, their role in the process, and how they contribute to the organization's success. Socializing and operationalizing your customer journey map ensures that customers are getting a seamless experience from start to finish.
Step 7: Rinse and Repeat
A customer journey map is not a one-time thing. It's an iterative process that should be reviewed frequently to account for changes in customer behavior and new technologies that can facilitate a frictionless experience. Leveraging data or a business intelligence tool that delivers real-time data can help you optimize the customer experience proactively.
Bringing your customer journey map to life
With your customer journey map complete, you might wonder what's the best way to manage and bring it to life. A solution you may want to look into is a customer journey management platform.
When looking for a customer journey management platform, you want to make sure that it can integrate into your current tech stack while also providing you with capabilities to manage the entire customer journey.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for capabilities such as:
- Appointment scheduling tools that enable you to bridge the transition from pre-arrival to arrival, which also enable you to better allocate resources based on demand
- Queue and line management solutions like self-service kiosks, virtual and mobile queuing capabilities, and digital signage, which make it easy for customers to move from the arrival to the queuing and waiting phase and also help match them to the right staff member
- Business intelligence reports and dashboards that make it easy to collect feedback and proactively make iterative changes to the entire customer experience
- And more
Finally, you want to make sure that you’re working with a proven and seasoned customer journey management solution provider. A seasoned vendor with ample experience and expertise can help you ask the right question at each phase of the customer journey mapping process, overcome hurdles easily, and guide you in the right direction.
At Qmatic, we've helped countless companies, from healthcare to retail to government and more, develop and implement customer journey maps that optimize the overall experience and drive revenue. If you're interested in learning more, or have a question or two regarding the customer journey mapping process, then get them answered by engaging one of our specialists today.