Mapping the customer experience

We live in a world of increased choice and distraction in our everyday lives, especially with the expansion of digital technologies. So it’s vital businesses ensure user journeys online are as streamlined as possible, with any barriers hindering productivity removed.

From sites and applications which can be accessed on a range of platforms, to more traditional channels such as call centres, users today have a wide range of tools to select from for their particular situation. It’s unsurprising then that their journeys reach across multiple touchpoints and rarely follow linear patterns.

However, it remains vital that businesses take a step back from the individual elements and consider the overall customer experience (CX). Without this, companies risk creating siloes and points of disconnect which can lead to frustrated users and lost business opportunities.

To ensure this isn't the case, one key process which businesses should definitely consider is mapping out the experience that customers are actually having on their websites.

Firstly, what is customer experience mapping?

Customer experience mapping is a key tool which provides businesses with a highly visual explanation of how users interact with an organisation. The process shows the common actions customers take and the decisions they make, combined with user research and insights from previous interactions. The output is a 'map' that provides organisations with an explanation of the experiences customers have as they interact with the organisation online. This information can then be used both to optimise customer experience and to assess the competitive landscape in order to identify threats or opportunities for disruption.

Here, the visual nature of the tool is key - detailing exactly how individual touchpoints play in the wider ecosystem, as well as highlighting any relationships and dependencies that may exist between them. With this in hand, organisations are able to identify and prioritise any areas of inconsistency and fragmentation, or indeed services that may be underperforming, and work to resolve the issues.

Customer benefits

Increasing use of digital technologies is putting ever-greater power and control in the hands of customers and so businesses must differentiate, standing out from the competition and encouraging customer loyalty. They must deliver experiences which are streamlined, relevant and as enjoyable as possible.

Putting user feedback at the forefront of decision-making is crucial - hence the importance of experience mapping. But, to ensure businesses are getting the best possible value from this activity, a cultural shift needs to be effected - from focusing solely on business goals and KPIs to putting the customer and their needs front-and-centre too.

Maintaining the focus

In order to implement any outcomes of the mapping process, businesses must be able to justify their actions to senior stakeholders. It's helpful then to have gathered such a wealth of analytical insight and visual evidence - all of which can be used to strengthen arguments and secure buy-in.

Also, if you make sure to involve a variety of departments and roles in the experience mapping process from the start, you can be building this buy-in from the outset. Not only will this enhance understanding of the customer at all levels of the organisation, but it will also create a single and shared reference that can guide future strategy.

The overall rewards

Customer experience mapping doesn’t just provide valuable insight, but can change the very way organisations think about their strategic direction. By concentrating on customer needs at every stage of the mapping process, businesses will be better placed to deliver an experience which supports overall business goals and drives efficiency.

Tom Evans, head of user experience & design at Box UK

Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak