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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- Touchpoint owner – who is responsible for managing each touchpoint?
- 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.
- 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.