The Process and Benefits of Intelligent Customer Journey Mapping
Published: May 15, 2017
Author: Marcy Strauss Axelrod
As we explored in our last post, customer journey mapping is the foundation of understanding a user’s experience with a brand. It’s comprehensive, it’s exhaustive, and it’s absolutely fundamental to successful customer relationships.
But what does successful customer journey mapping actually look like? We’ll explain with a recent example (to maintain confidentiality, details of the case study have been revised).
A company that connects people with phone-based expert advice came to us a few months ago. They were losing customers fast, spending lots to acquire new ones, and saw a pattern of accelerated churn. The leadership knew they needed to get to the bottom of it.
We surveyed three sets of customers:
- Long-term loyalists – to buffer retention, and to identify what an attractive target segment looked like
- New customers who purchased at least two advice sessions – to understand what would sustain their business and how similar they are to loyalists
- Prospects who came to the site, but did not purchase service – to determine why they did not engage
First we learned that both new and longer-term customers follow a surprisingly similar path. This is because existing customers seek advice from many experts, leading them to search for new providers far more often than expected. The results did show longer-term customers had higher satisfaction with their search, however, because of greater familiarity with site functionality.
Next we learned that two significant Questions and Barriers dominate all journey stages:
- Concerns about the legitimacy and accuracy of the expertise
- What the total cost will be
#1 showed customers sought a better way to evaluate which expert would meet their needs. Their decision process showed a low point in confidence, raising concerns of misspending money, and in some cases, not purchasing at all. The exacerbated cost concerns, high importance, and low satisfaction in this area led the company to realize this was a significant call to action.
The journey needed to make it easy to identify the right expert to address a customer’s unique need. The more obvious the fit of expert and need, the more confidence a customer would have, and the lower the cost concern would be.
Our team recommended a robust, highly structured system to harness user generated referrals and comments from existing customers, something the company had not yet cultivated. It had been functioning as an independent, third-party technology platform connecting experts and customers, and wanted to stay away from being an arbiter of the legitimacy of the experts offering services through its site. Our recommendation supported their continued independent role, and served as a solid step to address unmet customer needs all along their journey, sustaining revenue.
Getting to customers’ reasons for using the service, we uncovered that most people want help “making a big decision in my life”. Words used include “clarity”, “guidance”, and to “have confidence in my decisions”. This is the outcome users sought from the service. It was a real discovery that enabled the company to orient its marketing strategy, customer targeting, value propositions, campaigns, messaging, imagery, and so much more around this need that they had been addressing all this time, yet not been tuned in to.
Many other important findings were identified within specific customer segments and journey stages. Without going into more details, these examples show how important it is to dissect the journey:
- Across stages,
- Within stages, and
- To get at the why and what needs to be accomplished.
A few final points on Journey Mapping:
- Different segments may follow different journeys. So your mapping will benefit from being segment-specific, especially if your segments are defined by different goals or jobs the buyer seeks to accomplish.
- To get results:
- Pull it all together into an ACTIONABLE PLAN.
- Broadly communicate the Findings, Implications, and Actions across the company. The insights are likely as important for product development and customer support as they are for marketing.
If you’re interested in chatting about customer journeys and a holistic look at your business, reach out to marcy.axelrod@3QDigital.com.