Customer Experience Map In A Nutshell

Customer experience maps are visual representations of every encounter a customer has with a brand. On a customer experience map, interactions called touchpoints visually denote each interaction that a business has with its consumers. Typically, these include every interaction from the first contact to marketing, branding, sales, and customer support.

Understanding a customer experience map

Inevitably, not every interaction that a customer has with a brand will be positive. Perhaps they added a product to their shopping cart that wasn’t in stock. Perhaps after-sales technical support was severely lacking or customer service representatives were rude and uninformed.

Whatever the cause, a customer experience map allows businesses to improve every aspect of its customer interactions. In turn, this leads to satisfied customers who are more likely to become loyal, devoted followers.

Creating a customer experience map

A customer experience map may be created using sticky notes, spreadsheets, or elaborate flow charts to represent various touchpoints. 

However, it’s important that the focus is on functionality and not design. The data should be organized in such a way that it demonstrates the customer progression from the first contact to making a purchase and beyond. It should also detail where the business is excelling in the process and standards are sub-par.

To that end, feedback should be gathered from customers and employees. Then, consider these elements of a successful customer experience map:

  1. Touchpoint inventory – list every conceivable way a customer is touched by the business. This includes digital and print media, advertisements, sales representatives, telemarketing, and bricks and mortar stores.
  2. Point of relationship – at each of the predetermined touchpoints, consider where the customer is in their buying journey. How does the business present itself when the customer is gathering information before making a purchasing decision? How does it position itself to satisfied or loyal customers who are likely to become advocates?
  3. Business reason – from an operations perspective, consider the reasons for each touchpoint existing. Is the goal to educate, inspire, inform, provide support, or receive payment?
  4. Customer impact – from a customer perspective, again consider the reasons for each touchpoint existing. Reasons may encompass market differentiation, loyalty-building, or the encouragement of repeat sales.
  5. Touchpoint owner – who is responsible for managing each touchpoint?
  6. Effectiveness – or the ability of a touchpoint to provide a positive or negative experience for the customer. Businesses must think deeply about whether they are meeting customer expectations at every touchpoint. If not, superfluous interactions should be removed or standards improved.

Customer experience map benefits

The most obvious benefit of customer experience mapping is happier customers and increased sales.

However, the process also allows a business to:

  • Improve marketing campaigns. By identifying a customer’s specific pain points, marketing teams can relate to their customers on a personal level and work toward solving their problems.
  • Improve customer retention. Given that customer experience mapping continues after the purchase has been made, businesses can refine their after-sales retention strategies to maximum effect. This increases Net Promoter Score (NPS) – or the likelihood of a consumer recommending a business to friends or family.
  • Facilitate proactive customer service. Many of the negative interactions a customer has with a brand are related to poor customer service. Businesses who understand this are seen as more empathetic and sensitive to customer needs. They can also anticipate customer needs in periods of high demand during holidays and sales – and roster staff accordingly. 

Key takeaways

  • A customer experience map is a visual representation and assessment of business-to-customer relationships at every stage of the buying journey.
  • In creating a customer experience map, function is more important than form. The map must clarify touchpoints where a business is either strengthening or weakening the quality of the interaction.
  • Customer experience maps are important in developing buyer personas and building personable relationships with consumers. With a focus on proactively addressing common pain points, customer loyalty and retention increases.

Connected Business Frameworks

Impact mapping is a product development technique based on user design, mind mapping, and outcome-driven planning. Impact mapping is an agile technique intended to help teams connect individual product features that can impact the user behaviors while connecting to the key, guiding metrics for the business.
Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to analyze and then improve on the delivery of products and services. Value stream mapping (VSM) is based on the concept of value streams – which are a series of sequential steps that explain how a product or service is delivered to consumers.
Perceptual mapping is the visual representation of consumer perceptions of brands, products, services, and organizations as a whole. Indeed, perceptual mapping asks consumers to place competing products relative to one another on a graph to assess how they perform with respect to each other in terms of perception.
The operating model is a visual representation and mapping of the processes and how the organization delivers value and, therefore, how it executes its business model. Therefore, the operating model is how the whole organization is structured around the value chain to build a viable business model.
Empathy mapping is a visual representation of knowledge regarding user behavior and attitudes. An empathy map can be built by defining the scope, purpose to gain user insights, and for each action, add a sticky note, summarize the findings. Expand the plan and revise.

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