In a recent SuperOffice study of nearly 2,000 business professionals, 49.5% indicated that their number one priority over the next five years is improving customer experience (CX). Another study conducted at the end of 2020, by Walker, found that CX will overtake price and product as the ultimate expression of your brand and therefore a competitive advantage.
Every person can tell when they’ve had a good or bad experience, but what exactly is customer experience? We like to use this definition for CX:
“The sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, expansion, and advocacy.”
CX is so critical that it must be continuously improved. In order to improve anything, you need to be able to identify and address failures to eliminate breakpoints. This takes mapping the customer experience.
Customer Buying and Customer Experience Map Differentiators
Customer experience maps (CXMs) are similar to customer buying maps (CBMs), with a few important differences.
- A customer buying map captures all of the touchpoints and behaviors of a customer from their initial discovery of your organization to the sale and delivery of your product or service, right through initial consumption. The Marketing (this includes website, content, promotion, etc.), Sales, Accounting, and Delivery processes are often center stage. It is the front end to the customer experience map.
- A customer experience map extends beyond the purchase journey. It encompasses every interaction the customer has with your organization, which includes every touchpoint even long after they’ve made the purchase and installed, used, or deployed the product. User design, Implementation, Customer Service, Technical Support, and Customer Success processes are in the spotlight on your CXM.
Jim Kalbach, author of Mapping Experiences explains,
“Experience maps look at a broader context of human behavior. They show how the organization fits into a person’s life.”
We’ll use a B2B example at a high level to illustrate the difference between CBMs and CXMs.
Your company decides to move its website to a new hosting provider. The customer buying map includes every interaction from searching for potential providers, evaluating the providers, selecting a provider, selecting and purchasing the appropriate hosting plan, and getting the site onto a new server. It may also include addressing the SSL and DNS changes to ensure full implementation. This is your customer buying journey.
Now imagine, your company is having website issues and is working with your hosting provider to address these issues. The provider recommends changing the hosting plan and location which involves a migration of the site. Your company is already a customer. The work is being done through the technical support and customer service entities. All the interactions, from phone calls, emails, and service tickets, etc., your company has with the provider throughout the migration are part of the CXM. If the migration goes smoothly and there are no glitches, the customer will have a good experience. If the migration goes poorly and the site goes down or there are many issues, it’s possible the customer will go in search of a new hosting provider.
The two maps are part of the whole. Mapping the entire customer experience provides a comprehensive and cohesive view. It allows different parts of the organization to focus on where they can make a difference.
Why Customer Focus is Key in Successful CX Mapping
Maps are made up of touchpoints. Some organizations have numerous touchpoints and make for more complex maps. Others have much fewer touchpoints. We can use our example to illustrate this concept.
In the migration example, there are phone calls, emails, and service tickets needed to support a migration. From start to finish is probably ten days. Either it goes well or there are lots of bumps in the road, most often experienced after the migration is completed.
Now imagine that your company decides to add an ecommerce platform to the website. You have dozens, perhaps hundreds or more SKUs. You’ve completed the buying process and have selected your ecommerce platform. The number of tasks to build out an online store are many, from product sourcing to product descriptions to payment gateways to fraud detection and more. Often these tasks will include interactions with the provider. Each of these interactions with the provider will impact the experience. These interactions should be captured in the CXM.
A good CXM is customer-focused. To create an accurate CXM, you’ll need to document EVERY customer interaction and touchpoint. The details matter because it’s often the details that make or break CX.
To create this type of map, you’ll need to take three initial steps:
- Gather the data and analytics from multiple sources (social media, call center, chat, etc.) to help you identify the touchpoints, their channels, and which function within your organization owns the touchpoint.
- Conduct interviews with customers (consider engaging your customer advisory board) to understand the purpose of each interaction and what they are trying to accomplish.
- Determine the quality and effectiveness of each touchpoint. Previous customer satisfaction survey data and reviews (especially reviews on third-party sites) along with customer interviews help with this step.
The goal is to understand every possible way that a prospect or customer could potentially interact with your organization and your product or service along with the value, importance, and effectiveness of these interactions.
Armed with this data, you can begin to construct your map. We recommend putting your map into a visual format, as opposed to text only, or a table. Don’t worry too much about the design of the map. It is more important to have the map represent the “flow” of the experience CX, as the customer moves from one interaction to the next. It is possible for a customer to have more than one touchpoint at a particular stage in the process.
Good Experience Mapping Leads to Success
Of course, a map is only good if you use it. Once you have the map, vet it with real customers. Have customers help you assess each touchpoint and channel and provide input as to how the experience meets their expectations and compares with the competition. This is where you can truly glean valuable insights about which experiences exceed customer expectations, are better than the competition, and where improvements can be made. Use your maps to inform design and service decisions, personnel training, and so on.
Your CXM facilitates continuous improvement in how you market to, sell to, and serve your customers. It creates an opportunity to competitively differentiate your organization, which in turn leads to better word of mouth and customer loyalty. This in turn leads to growth, revenue, and profit.
Don’t worry if your map isn’t perfect right out of the gate. As a customer-centric organization, what matters is that your CXM gives you a deeper understanding of your customers and helps you create stellar experiences. The process of creating a CXM can seem overwhelming.
Need some help creating a map associated with the customer’s experience? Check out our affordable Engagement and Experience Touch Points workshop. This workshop focuses on identifying all the key touch points a customer has with your company, measuring the effectiveness of these touch points, and using them to create a map of the customer experience.