Customer experience maps are highly valuable tools for any organization looking to improve customer satisfaction and success.

Why use customer experience maps?

Customer experience maps help organizations to discover how customers engage with their organization, how they behave and feel at each stage of that engagement and which touch points most influence customer satisfaction. Customer experience maps reveal where the customer experience is positive and where improvements need to be made.  Above and beyond knowing how customers feel, they can be informative about where to nudge behavior or to cement loyalty by increasing value.

Use of customer experience maps help organizations shift their thinking away from a simple fine tuning of internal process or operational enhancements to a fully customer-centric approach to identify future innovations. Rather than just fix what’s broken, why not re-think the service process all together?  Using customer experience maps organizations can ensure that customer experience is consistent and high quality, as well as memorable –that it has the kind of impact that promotes brand loyalty.

What is a customer experience map?

A customer experience map is a graphical depiction of the full experience that a customer has with your organization as they seek to achieve a specific goal in their lives. Some parts of their activities overlap with your services and offerings, others might involve the customer on their own. A customer experience map charts all the steps the customer takes as customers reach for their desired outcomes. The map shows the journey and and identifies the ups and downs for the customer along the way.

How to develop a customer experience map

To build a customer experience map companies should follow the following 4 steps:

1. Build a customer profile

Create a succinct articulation of the customer whose engagement you intend to map, a customer profile. This should encompass their goal, the underlying motivations for their wanting to achieve this goal e.g. save time, money, etc., as well as any background information influencing their attitudes or expectations e.g. prior or family experience.

Different customer experience maps should be developed for each customer profile as each will follow different paths and use different channels to get their needs met.

2. Chart the customer journey

Map the activities, thought processes, and decisions the customer makes along the way. Include the points of interaction, particularly the “moments of truth” which are those touch points with the service provider that cement either dissatisfaction or delight.

A moment of truth is an instance of contact or interaction between a customer and company, (through consumption of a product, use of a service or exposure to sales, marketing or customer service activities), that gives the customer an opportunity to form or change their perception of the company.

Make sure to capture interactions across channels i.e. in every area where the customer interacts with your organization, online and off, virtually and in-person.  Group these interactions into the relevant stages or milestones for the customer as they progress along the path towards meeting their goal.

3. Identify the customers’ highs and lows

Capture how the customer thinks and feels at each touch point or step along the way.  Identify where their thoughts and feelings are positive as a result of their expectations being met or exceeded, as well as where their thoughts are negative and they feel frustrated or concerned e.g. due to long wait times.

Note these emotional highs and lows of the customer alongside the relevant touch point. Use them to plot an experience metrics line graph showing the customers’ state of mind and level of satisfaction at key junctures.

Organizations can draw upon a wide range of research techniques to gather the necessary information to build a customer experience map. These include desk research and analysis of existing customer information, interviewing internal sales, marketing and customer service teams and Voice of the Customer research, qualitative and quantitative, surveys, interviews and focus groups.

4. Act on opportunities to improve customer success

Organization must act on what their customer experience maps reveal. There are many techniques to mover from customer insights to solutions but the most successful approaches are to have employees truly be in the shoes of the customer and to turn the moments of opportunity into “how might we?” type questions.  A question such as “ how might we maintain the customer’s trust through financial market uncertainty?” is open enough to spur innovation.  Brainstorm the opportunities to turn around negative customer experiences with your team, look for ways to influence customer behavior towards more positive outcomes either through improved communications to better manage expectations, operational and service improvements or through innovation.

Below is an example of a customer experience map. It depicts a young woman trying to remedy her painful knee. This example uses PCG’s Qualitative Customer Experience Flow template.  After the experience map is completed, quantitative surveys can “size’ the issues and opportunities. This ensures that companies don’t act on the easiest fixes or rely only on employee voting to select where to invest in improvements. Rather, with the right survey and analysis, you can  identify which areas of the experience will have the most impact on overall customer loyalty.

Given the amount of work involved and the need to maintain an external customer focus, organizations can benefit greatly from working with an external consultant to help them develop a customer experience map as well as to implement the opportunities for improving customer success that emerge.

If you would like to discuss how a customer experience mapping could benefit your organization, please contact us to request a free consultation.