Navigating complex journeys

We live in a world of ever-greater choice and distraction. As such, organisations must make it as easy as possible for users to interact with them – and a myriad of touchpoints are often required in order to facilitate this. From sites and applications that can be accessed on a range of platforms and devices, and third-party social network services, to more traditional channels such as call centres and physical spaces, users today can select from a wide range of tools to find the one that’s most appropriate for their particular situation. Little wonder, then, that their journeys can reach across multiple touchpoints, and rarely follow linear patterns.

Nevertheless, there is still an imperative to take a step back from these individual elements and consider the overall customer experience you’re delivering. Without this, you run the risk of creating siloes and points of disconnect that will lead to frustrated users and, ultimately, could lose you business opportunities. Thankfully though there are techniques available that will help you stay on top of things, even in such a fragmented landscape.

Techniques such as customer experience mapping…

What is customer experience mapping?

Customer experience mapping does pretty much what it says on the tin: based on user research and insights, it provides you with a map of the common experiences your customers have as they interact with your organisation in order to achieve their goals. You may even choose to assess the competitive landscape as well in order to identify threats or opportunities for disruption.

Whatever your focus, the advantage of this technique is that user journeys are displayed in a highly visual way. This makes it much easier to understand the roles individual touchpoints play in your wider ecosystem, as well as any relationships and dependencies that may exist between them. Straight away then, you’re able to identify and prioritise any areas of disconnect, inconsistency and fragmentation, or services that may be underdeveloped or underperforming, and take steps to resolve these issues.

A customer focus

Of course, digital technologies have helped give customers ever-greater power and control, and we’ve looked at the specific ways they do this previously on the blog. Consequently, business success often depends on creating competitive differentiation and encouraging customer loyalty through the delivery of an experience that’s as streamlined, relevant and enjoyable as possible. To ensure that an experience map is objective, effective and comprehensive, therefore, it should be based on genuine customer insight, and user research has a crucial part to play here. To get the greatest value from this activity, though, a significant but vital shift in mindset may be required – from focusing solely on business goals and KPIs to putting the customer and their needs front-and-centre too.

Keeping focus

Experience mapping activities, then, can do a lot to build a strong customer focus. But to implement the strategic priorities that come out of the mapping process, you’ll still need to be able to justify your actions to senior stakeholders. The real-world feedback and analytical insight gathered during your research phase comes to the fore again here – strengthening your argument with a clear demonstration of the rationale behind your decisions. You can also help secure buy-in for a customer-focused approach at the outset by involving a variety of departments and roles in the experience mapping process. This will enhance understanding of and appreciation for the customer at all levels of your organisation, and create a single, shared reference by which to guide future strategy.

Reap the rewards

Customer experience mapping doesn’t just provide you with valuable insight and understanding, but can change the very way you think about your organisation’s strategic direction. By focusing on customer needs at every point, you’ll be better placed to deliver an experience that serves and delights – and supports your business goals in the process. And, as you’ll be prioritising those opportunities that will help you achieve this, risk and waste will be minimised too. A win-win situation all round then!

If you want to find out more about why understanding your customers is so important, download our User Experience (UX) white paper “Six Things You Need to Know About Your Users”.