In today’s world, there are multiple ways in which a customer interacts with a brand. This might be direct – through the website, in-store, or on the phone; or it might be indirect, for example, reading a third-party review of the brand’s product or service. One thing is sure – how a customer is influenced varies from person to person, and this continues to evolve.
With multiple channels both online and offline and evolving buyer needs, understanding the customer journey map — how a customer interacts with your brand before, during, and after purchase — can be complex.
It’s not a single, linear journey. For a business of huge scale, manually creating a journey map for every customer type is impossible. This is why journey mapping tools are so valuable; because the quicker you can understand the customer journey, the quicker you can find ways to improve the experience and reach your goals — whether that is buying a product, getting a customer to renew, upgrade their subscription or refer to a friend.
A customer journey mapping tool should include the following:
1. Simple design functionality
You shouldn’t need coding know-how to contribute to a customer journey map, so whatever tool you use should offer easy design functionality. On the flip side, you shouldn’t have to stick to rigid templates that don’t suit your customer journeys. Customer journeys can be complex, so being able to see the journey visually – in a simple and clear way – is a huge benefit. It will make the decision-making process far more effective.
2. Fast and easy editing
With new channels, evolving buyer habits, and changing needs, the customer journey isn’t static, and therefore your customer journey mapping shouldn’t be either. You want the ability to change your journey maps quickly, in order to reflect new products, services or processes, or changing customer behaviours. As the customer journey evolves, so can you — meaning any actions you take will be as effective as possible.
3. Sharing functionality
What’s a journey map if only you get to see it? Your chosen journey mapping software should enable you to share your maps quickly and easily, with as many stakeholders as you want. The customer experience should be something that’s owned by the entire company — from marketing and sales, to customer service and product.
But only by knowing how customers interact with the brand throughout the journey can your teams ensure the experience will meet their needs and expectations. Empowering your organisation from top to bottom is key to making this a reality.
4. Real-time collaboration
Along with shareability, you also want a tool that enables your team to collaborate in real-time. It should be possible to set permissions for who can view, edit, or create journey maps. If you’re serious about improving the customer journey, then journey mapping should become a part of your daily routine, and not something that is done at the start of the year and forgotten about afterward. Turn your journey map into a living, breathing document that every team can access, learn from, and improve.
5. Data integration
A great journey mapping tool will integrate with your existing data sources, allowing you to feed in real customer sentiment into your journey maps. By using data to inform your journey mapping, teams can have real confidence in the actions they take, removing any element of guesswork. Create a journey map based on real customer behaviour, emotions and attitudes backed up by data, rather than what you assume to be true.
6. Action trackers
Once you’ve identified pain points and come up with ideas to remedy them, you should be able to assign actions within your mapping software and track progress. With access to a single platform, teams from across the business should be able to collaborate, and take steps towards a shared vision and better customer experience. After all, a journey map is just a piece of paper unless you’re taking steps to implement the insights you gather from it. This is where the true value of customer journey mapping becomes clear to see.
7. Customer personas
Some of the best customer journey mapping tools allow you to create customer personas as well. But at the very least, you should be able to import existing personas into your maps. Why is this important? Because there is no single journey that customers take, but similar groups of people may take a similar journey. This is where segmentation (dividing customers up by personas) is helpful because you can see how the customer experience varies for certain groups of customers. Ultimately, customer persona capability will allow you to take an even more tailored approach to your mapping process.
8. Omni-channel data integration
The very best journey mapping software will combine offline and online data sources, reflecting the fact that your customers will veer between the two during most customer journeys, and some sets of customers will lean towards one more than the other, depending on their preferences and demographic. This means that your journey mapping will reflect the full picture, making it as accurate as possible.
9. Unlimited journeys and personas
Once you get the journey mapping bug, you’ll want to create lots of them. Your tool shouldn’t limit you to a certain number or set a restriction on the number of customer personas per map. Your customer maps will evolve over time, so you need to be in a position where you can as a business too — and quickly.
Don’t be held back by technology. The customer journey maps you create will likely be dictated by the size, location, and industry in which your business operates. For example, if you’re a global FMCG business then you will have various maps that account for the various channels in which your customer personas interact with the brand, both directly and indirectly, throughout the journey. However, if you’re a B2B IT manufacturer then the maps you create will focus on a totally different set of customer personas, with their own purchase intent, motivations, and timeline.
10. Attractive and easy-to-understand maps
It’s easier to get senior buy-in when your customer journey maps match your brand colours and are easy to understand at a glance. Don’t go for a tool that generates maps that are overly complex and, frankly, ugly. As a business, you want your teams to be brought into the process. Create a journey map they can easily understand, recognise, and use again and again. Branding will help too because it will create a sense of familiarity. Getting the look and feel right is a small but effective way of driving buy-in throughout the business.