Customer Journey Mapping in the Internet Age

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Customer Journey mapping is an integral part of customer experience design. Customer journey maps help to understand the 360 degree view of customer experience lifecycle. While designing the customer experience for any business, it is very important to start with a holistic customer journey map.

 

 

How it began

Earlier, life was simple and easy. There were only brick and mortar stores to shop from. Customers would visit shops and supermarkets and come out with bags full of products. But in late 90’s, the Internet changed the entire ballgame. Everything became connected. Customers now have a “border free” pass to shop. Options increased and so did competition among brands. Life became complicated for brands and simpler for customers.

Every shopping experience has a journey with arbitrary starting and ending-points. Brands try to articulate this journey by drawing an end-to-end customer journey map. An effective customer journey map represents the journey of the customer from the initial desire/need of a product/service to its fulfillment.

With the huge penetration of mobile and social channels in our lives, the previous notion of effectiveCustomer journey map (CjM) is fading. Customer journey is not simple anymore. The traditional funnel has transformed into a never ending loop. Customers are always active on one or the other channel and different customer segments may take different paths to complete the same objective.

Take this for instance, traditionally a person would call customer-support of the respective service provider and log a complaint regarding pathetic speed of his 3G connection. A modern, net-savvy customer may just log a complaint onto the service provider’s website. But, for the same issue, a millennial may just post a negative comment (“3G service sucks”) on the service provider’s FB page and expect the company’s representative to respond and resolve. The goal remained same, but the paths taken by the customers were different, and so would their experiences.

 

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So what should be done?

Customer Journey Mapping is not new. Early adapters and evolved brands have used it for long to deliver rich experience across all the touch-points and throughout the channels. Amazon and Nike are best examples of retail giants who have used “Customer Journey mapping” as their tool-kit to deliver seamless in-storeonline and out-of-store experience.

In the age of customer, it’s necessary to have seamless Omni channel experience across all  possible paths of the customer journey. Social media and mobile have added new channels in the customer journey but it’s of prime importance that we do not create new customer journey with inclusion of new channels. Customers relate with the products and brands instead of the silos, they want the flexibility to seamlessly interact with both traditional and modern channels.

Companies are required to understand that each touch-point is an opportunity to deliver better customer experience.  Brands should know different customer segments and all possible paths in a consumer’s journey. A holistic CjM is required for seamless customer experience throughout the journey and across the channels regardless of the paths. For mapping a holistic customer journey brands need to consider:

  • Omni-channel experience (in-store, online and Out-of-store)
  • All possible touch-points
  • Interaction between customer and touch-points
  • Customer emotions at different channels and touch points
  • Connected channels

The benefits of early CX adopters are slowly fading as customers already have a lot of CX oriented companies to choose from.  The present age requires that organizations refrain from self-centered policies and adopt a customer-centric view instead.  It is the era of holistic customer journey maps and delivering memorable experiences.

By: Shantanu Singh

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