User experience is like a puzzle, you need to put all pieces together to see a beautiful picture and get satisfied. To achieve this, I strongly recommend you to get started with your customer journey mapping. Because of technology evolution and competition, the customer journey map has changed a lot over the last years and now customers use multiple devices and platforms to ensure they buy the right product or service for the best price. We now talk about the digital customer journey. 

Nowadays, technology gives you all the information you need to understand your customers. Billions of dollars are invested in marketing technology. You just have to gather it using the UX research tools, which I have described in my previous article. Once you have the information, you absolutely need to carefully study it to set powerful strategies. Always base your decisions on numbers and facts!

 

Customer journey mapping focusing on digital customer journey 

 

In the age of the customer, customer journey mapping is an incredible way to identify areas for improvement and establish the appropriate technology to enhance engagement and loyalty in the customer life cycle.

What is customer journey map exactly? It is a graph that describes the whole journey of a user by representing the different touchpoints that shows his or her interaction with the brand.

The best thing about customer journey mapping is that it puts customers first, describing not just the experience that a brand wants to provide, but the quality of the experience that customers actually perceive. It tells the story of the customer’s experience: from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.

Customers now have endless and unlimited online and offline options for researching and buying new products and services 24/7. Again, because of this technology evolution, customers have much more option to search for products and buy them, for example by image, voice, by pinterest and instagram. They can click on image and see what is this brand, what is the price and buy it the same minute. Or maybe they use comparison websites to choose the best price for the product they are interested in, variations can be thousands, even millions and billions and now marketers have to analyze tremendous amount of data to find the right strategy for the brand, the right way to analyse the digital customer journey.

What I can say for sure is that nowadays we don’t really buy the product, we buy the brand, we buy experience and emotions! And this is key! How companies engage customers in digital channels matters profoundly, not just because of the immediate opportunities to convert interest to sales with the help of push notifications or augmented reality but because two-thirds of the decisions customers make are influenced by the quality of their experiences all along their journey, according to the research by Mckinsey. And we use technology even when we are in a physical store, now we prefer to receive personalized messages with the help of beacons in stead of speaking to a real person just because it is faster. Personally, I prefer to speak with real people and when I go out I try to forget about my phone, but nowadays I have to admit that there are just a few people left who does and thinks the same and now companies should really invest in digital transformation and in understanding better the digital customer journey in order to grab attention of these tech lovers and addicts. 

Today consumers don’t see their interactions with a brand on different channels as separate experiences. Instead, each interaction is just a step within a single journey, whether it’s on the web, in an app, or in-store. Now everything is interconnected. Sometimes I receive push notification with invitation for the women’s day celebration in Louis Vuitton and I end up buying a bag in the store or sometimes I am in a store and it is super crowded, so what I do is I open a mobile app and look for the dress I am interested in, I show it to the sales person, she gives it to me, I try it and buy this dress via mobile app in order not to loose my time staying on a queue.

 

Key tips for digital customer journey mapping

 

1. Customer, brand & goals

Digital customer journey mapping starts with understanding the customer in correlation with the business and brand goals.


2. Draw your digital customer journey map
.

You can use a simple whiteboard, paper and sticky notes There are also several online tools that you can use to build your map, like UXPressia, Canvanizer, you can check other cool tools here.


3.
Emotions and experiences are key.

“Experiences are more important than products now. In fact, experiences are products,” says Brian Solis in his new book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design.


4.
Measure not only sales, but the entire digital customer journey.

The digital customer journey doesn’t start or end at the point of sale. Smart companies recognize the need for more advanced measurements than simply where the purchase occurred, and they track customer feedback along every step of the journey. Watch how customers use your site or app, study how they interact with your brand in real life, with real sales people or customer service department. Conduct regular user research wherever your customer can interact with your brand to assure you’re measuring the entire digital customer journey.

 

5. What drives the experience of the customer with the brand.

By deep-diving into the needs, interests, values, motivations, desires and fears your customers face, you can understand how different customers interact with your brand and why. You can finally understand what drives their positive or negative brand experience.

 

6. Focus on three main areas:

DISCOVER

Companies must apply advanced analytics to the large amount of structured and unstructured data to gain a 360-degree view of their customers. Your engagement strategies should be based on detailed analysis of your customers’ recent behaviours and past experiences with the company, as well as insights taken from social media and customer surveys etc. Here are the key questions:

  • Why were they looking for the product that they bought on your website/mobile app or in a store?
  • How they researched the product?
  • What criteria helped them make their purchase decision?
  • Which of the sites/apps did they visit while evaluating products?
  • Why they chose your product and your web or app?
  • What was their experience like on your website/app, store or any other point of purchase when buying your product and what can be improved?
  • Are they satisfied with port-purchase service?
  • Are they willing to come back and buy your products?

 

DESIGN

Consumers now have much more control over where they will focus their attention to, so companies need to create an extraordinary customer experience in which all interactions are really tailored to a customer’s needs in every stage of the journey.

 

DELIVER

“Always on” marketing programs, in which companies engage with customers in exactly the right way at any contact point along the journey. It requires agile teams of experts in analytics and information technologies, marketing and user experience design, which would constantly evolve their strategies increasing business value and reducing risk of failure.

 

7. Micro moments to consider

According to Google, there are just four key “micro-moments” to consider:

 

  • Want to want moments
    Someone is exploring or researching, but not yet in a purchase mode, they want useful information and maybe even inspiration, not the hard sell.
    Note: 66% of smartphone users turn to their smartphones to learn more about something they saw in TV commercial
  • Want to go moments
    People are looking for a local business or are considering buying a product at a local store, being there means getting your physical business in the consideration.
    Note: “near me” searches have grown 2x in the past year
  • Want to do moments
    This may come before or after the purchase, either way this is “how to” moments when people want help with getting things done or trying something new, being there with the right content is key.
    Note: searches related to “how to” on youtube are growing 70% year-over-year
  • Want to buy 
    Someone is ready to make a purchase and may need help deciding what and how to buy, you have to be there with the right information to close the deal.
    Note: 82% of smartphone users consult their phone while in a store.

 

Statistics about digital customer journey mapping

  • Gartner has found that 89% of companies plan to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience in 2016.
  • 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. This means that your online marketing strategy is more important than ever.
  • According to Ciceron, 90% of consumers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
  • 4 out of 5 local searches on mobile devices end in a purchase and 73% of these purchases are in brick-and-mortar stores
  • 89% of consumers use search engines for information before making a purchase
  • 90% of smartphone users use their phone for pre-shopping activities such as: find location/adress, find hours, make price comparisons, find promo offers, find a specific product, find product information, find product availability, find product reviews.
  • According to sprinkl, by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of its relationship with a brand without interacting with a human.
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
  • 91% of organizations said they aspire to be among the customer experience leaders in their industry
  • While 73% of companies with the most positive CX impact understand the link between customer experience and business results, only 35% of companies with the least positive CX impact claim the same.
  • 63% of customer experience decision-makers think the importance of the customer experience has risen.
  • 95% of companies fail to exceed the expectations of their customers.
  • By 2017, it’s expected that 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.
  • Customer experience management is “on the top of every C-Suite executive’s list
  • Only 2 in 5 responding companies understand the digital customer journey and adapt the channel mix accordingly.
  • According to Forrester survey of 1,821 enterprise business and technology decision-makers, top three investments firms are making in customer experiences are in digital customer experiences. 55% prioritize online experiences; 41% are adding or improving mobile experiences; and 39% are improving cross-channel experiences.
  • 88 percent say their growth depends on personalizing the customer experience, but lack the resources and expertise to design an improved digital customer journey.

 

5 Digital customer journey tools

 

1. THUNDERHEAD

It is a customer engagement tool that involves three main features:

  • Listen: This functionality “listens” to your customers interactions with your digital marketing and gathers insight on their behavior. It combines your data with the personal experience of customers to deliver real-time insight.
  • Engage: Recommendations are made in real-time based on the individual needs of customers that were identified in the listen phase.
  • Learn: Instead of guessing customer behavior, this platform helps fine tune your approach to match changing customer needs.

 

2. CLARABRIDGE

Clarabridge describes their solution as a customer intelligence platform that helps companies adapt to the customers preferences. Their system offers survey, text and sentiment analytics to help companies make more data-informed decisions. This tool takes an omni-channel approach and collects data from multiple sources and analyzes this information to get useful insights.

 

3. SMAPLY

The tool is project based and heavily focused on the development of customer personas. It allows you to map personas and customer journeys and create touch points based on that information. There are 13 steps to completing mapping in this tool and you will have a very detailed and persona driven plan.

 

4. TOUCHPOINT

Touchpoint offers a collaborative way for teams to visualize the customer journey map. Existing customer data can be imported into the tool to help you design a comprehensive digital customer journey. They also offer templates to help you get started and provide an easy way to edit and share information. Once you begin testing mapping, touchpoints can be scored to determine ROI, cost and most importantly, customer impact.

 

5. UXPRESSIA

Uxpressia allows to create professional digital customer journey maps in minutes. Users are able to tailor customer experiences by touchpoints and channel interactions. Teams can also collaborate on these maps on an ongoing basis to continue improving the customer experience. There are templates included but users can also create their own custom maps.

The key to creating business value is focusing on customer value. Truly understanding the needs and preferences of customers, as well as their behaviour during the buying journey, is essential for your business strategy.

Providing your customers with a delightful customer experience means realizing that there really no separate channels anymore. Your customer may take many steps and use many devices and channels along their journey to purchase, and a bad experience on any one of those steps could ruin the relationship. It’s critical for your team to understand your users mindset at each point in order to create a unified customer experience

It may look obvious to write it, but I think it can be a good summary for this article! Improving the customer experience in a consistent and continuous way leads you to more revenue, more positive word-of-mouth, a better brand reputation, more loyal customers and higher profit margins, etc. Unfortunately this simple fact remains undervalued as reports show year after year. People know about it, people want to do it, but they don’t do it! Stop saying things, just do it and be faster than your competitors!