Director of Product Marketing, Ecommerce
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In ancient times, to find food, humans would conduct research by asking for a cave drawing.
Trying to remember an etched stone diagram showing something like “Just past the third rock formation, the buffalo are roaming at dawn,” proved a bit spotty.
Then came paper maps, a definite upgrade until the terrain or what was known about it changed (such as when it seemed that Earth might be round and you wouldn’t actually fall off that cliff on the map.)
Even with sophisticated modern GPS, quirks in the programming can make you go in circles or take odd detours.
So maps, while they’ve undoubtedly been a brilliant invention, have a somewhat checkered past.
One type of map that’s likely to not disappoint, however, is a customer journey map, also known as a user journey map. That’s because the data nuggets mapped out by one of these often-artsy-looking things can lead a company to make positive and highly profitable changes to their website or mobile app.
This type of modern-day map was invented in 1985 by a couple of innovative business guys, Chip Bell and Ron Zemke. Basically, a customer journey map is a visual representation or “timeline” of how a typical customer navigates a company’s marketing and sales funnels, including all the relevant touchpoints in all the relevant channels.
The first step in creating this kind of map is acquiring all the appropriate content related to your typical customer interactions, whether on your site or in other on- or offline venues.
To get started making a map, you would gather:
Your data trove might include informational tidbits gleaned from customer touchpoints such as:
The next task in the mapping process is pouring all of this data out in a way that’s clear and inviting to look at and chew on. To achieve this, you can use any of the available customer journey map templates and formats out there, which are ideally:
Is it really worth going to the trouble and annoyance of creating a real-life user journey map?
After all, it’s your company, or you’re a well-versed executive. You know what’s great about your product and (duh) why people like it. You feel like you know your customers’ needs almost too well, after all, it’s obvious. Just like you’re confident you can easily proofread your own writing to catch obvious typos, right?
Yes, you actually probably do need the equivalent of an independent “user-experience proofreader” to review your user journey with a fine-tooth comb. It’s easy to completely miss and unknowingly minimize — or casually overlook and downplay — problems with your user experience.
You may also be missing something that seems minor but is actually pretty critical. A single, seemingly minor issue in your customer’s shopping experience, such as a broken link or a form on your ecommerce site that won’t allow a prospective customer to quickly submit it, can result in them saying goodbye without purchasing a thing. And if that little snafu happens to impact multiple customers, or you have multiple little snafus, you’ve probably got a high churn rate.
You need a fully accurate experience map of what your customer persona is doing so that you can apply that information to better guide them on their buyer’s journey.
A well-thought-out customer journey map could surprise you with its valuable corrections and customer feedback to heed.
Of course you want your shoppers to always buy and be thrilled with their purchase, but if they don’t, you still want to know why. And how you might turn their experiences around or improve your site usability or the quality of their shopping. In all cases, a customer journey map could hold the blueprint for shoring up a lagging customer experience.
With enough data and after doing a thorough analysis of the user flow, you can draw some pretty accurate conclusions. You can then use this insight to put in place customer-centric improvements and start meeting or exceeding your customers’ expectations.
So when it comes to doing “voice-of-the-customer” type research, an up-to-date map of your typical user journey — what it’s like getting from point A to point B in a customer’s shoes — can make all the difference.
Plus, a customer journey map can be a handy tool for you to offer your product team members. They can point out any issues they see from their unique expertise vantage points. Marketing and sales teams are the obvious stakeholders who should get their mitts of your map, but Customer Support might also learn from more deeply understanding customer needs.
By unearthing and making everyone aware of your user needs from the customer’s vantage point, you can identify friction points and plan how to take advantage of opportunities for UX improvement. You can brainstorm ways to streamline the current state of your user experience. You can then implement website or app optimization (and subsequently check whether it’s working by creating, you guessed it, another user map).
What could possibly go wrong in the life cycle of a typical customer shopping expedition on your site or in your app? Here are a couple of different customer use-case scenarios:
As you can tell, the ripple effects possible with making a tiny change to your UX design that you’ve gleaned from a customer journey map and acted on to improve your customer experience can be outsized. When you improve your customer satisfaction, you can get not only better revenue but a better reputation, higher levels of trust, higher customer retention rates, higher everything.
If your search functionality or UI design aren’t as well oiled as you’d like from your typical customer’s perspective, you can create a buyer journey map focused on helping your customers easily find what they’re seeking the first time they try.
Search goes way beyond typing in queries; it encompasses narrowing the focus through choosing categories, noticing promotional banners, reading the content and looking at the images on product pages, and digesting others’ reviews in order to make what feels like an informed decision.
Now that you know how customer journey mapping works, you can create a customer journey map about your search functionality. Then contact our team and we’ll help you create dream search experiences that both meet your potential customers’ needs and help you potentially shatter your business goals.
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