Customers are the most important part of any business, and keeping them happy should be at the top of your list of priorities. If your organization is among those that have created customer experience maps, kudos to you and your team! If not, and this is an itch you want to scratch, read on for five (5) tips to help you undertake this important initiative.
Before we offer advice for mapping the customer experience, it might be useful to make sure we’re all on the same page in terms of what we mean by customer experience. At VisionEdge Marketing, when we refer to customer experience we mean the points of interaction between the customer and an organization. These touch points include, but are not limited to, interactions associated with pricing, purchasing, servicing, payment/billing, support, and delivery of your organizations offerings (goods and/or services).
How customers evaluate their experience is based on their perception of the actual performance of the organization at that point of interaction compared to the customer’s expectation. In 2005, James Allen from the Harvard Business School revealed that while 80% of businesses state that they offer a great customer experience, only about 8% of customers feel similarly about their experience. Understanding this perception versus the expectation, and the gaps across all experiences, enables you to create customer experience performance targets and key performance indicators.
Customer experience mapping is a vehicle for capturing the perceptions versus the expectations across all points of interaction, ideally for each customer segment and/or persona. The mapping process should enable you to develop processes and skills designed to deliver an experience that sets your organization apart in the eyes of your customers, hopefully resulting in customer loyalty and becoming advocates for your goods/services.
Many organizations often mistake creating a process map with creating a customer experience map. While similar, their focus is quite different. A process map describes your company’s internal processes, functions, and activities and generally uses the company’s internal language and jargon. A customer experience map describes the customer experience in, and only in, the customer’s language. What makes customer experience mapping challenging is the fact that the customer experience is typically quite complex, because it cuts across divisions, departments, and functions.
Here are five key steps to help you create your customer experience map:
1. Start with the universal touch points that can be applied across all your customers (you can create more specific experience maps as time goes on)
2. Make a list of all the touch points. For each touch point write a description, method of interaction, and customer expectation. We have found that this step is best accomplished by:
- Involving as many people as necessary, including members of your customer advisory boards, to identify all touch points
- Holding working sessions and conducting interviews to capture and incorporate the expected and actual emotional, experiential, and functional experiences for each touch point
3. Document your learnings and produce a visual illustration (map)
4. Use the map to identify areas working well and those that need improvement. Focus on those areas that are known as “moments of truth,” those crucial interactions that determine whether the customer becomes or remains loyal
5. Build a plan to address James Allen’s “Three D’s,” which he believes enables organizations to offer an exceptional customer experience:
- Design the correct incentive for the correctly identified consumer, offered in an enticing environment.
- Deliver the proposed experience by focusing the entire team across various functions.
- Develop consistency in execution.
Sometimes organizations need help with this, which is why there are experts out there! Don’t be afraid to ask for help–this is an area you do not want to ignore.