A customer journey map is a visual representation of all the ways a customer can interact with your brand.
Every business’ customer journey is complicated. For multi-location businesses, there is an extra wrinkle because customers may shop at several stores as well as online storefront. Getting those experiences into lockstep alignment is tricky.
Franchises and chains can still map those journeys, however. Just bear in mind the following tips to make sure your customer touchpoints comprise a cohesive, engaging experience.
Know Why You’re Mapping the Customer Journey
Companies map out their customer journeys because they need to audit the experiences they create for shoppers, the team at Qualaroo writes. It’s the same reason app developers sketch out user flows and filmmakers create storyboards. Sketches, storyboards and journey maps let you see at a glance how your business (or app, or film) looks from the customer’s perspective.
With the experience mapped out, you can make changes as necessary. These kinds of changes are only possible when you’re able to view the entire customer experience as a whole, writes SaaS marketer Steve Offsey. “It reveals the paths that your most satisfied customers take. It also uncovers the bottlenecks to a consistent and high-quality customer experience. Using customer journey analytics, you can find paths that lead to a desired action, as well as those paths that typically don’t lead to that action.”
There are few other things that you could start doing today that would have a more significant positive impact on the customer. As Econsutancy’s Nikki Gilliland notes, customer journey mapping has been called “a cheat code for better customer experience.” Once you understand the customer journey, you are in a much better position to make changes for the better.
When brands complete a customer journey map, everything they do starts to revolve around the customer, UX and digital transformation strategist Paul Boag adds. It’s no longer the brand that comes first, but the customer.
Gather Data From Everywhere
Multi-Location businesses need to be receiving data from across the organization. That includes feedback from head office, shopping behaviors in every store and user interactions with the brand’s web presence.
Data is key to a successful customer journey map, Broadsuite Media Group CEO Daniel Newman writes. “At Adobe, for instance, they use data like user downloads, cancellations, geographic location, etc., to better understand where their products are faring well—and where they need a bit more help.”
You’ll want to collect information from your website and your social channels, digital marketer Breonna Bergstrom Clark writes. Website analytics can provide data about where users come from and how they move through your site. User flows in Google Analytics can be particularly useful for understanding your brand’s different digital touchpoints visually. Social media data can show you the type of person interacting with your brand and the types of content they interact with.
Make sure you are casting your net far and wide. Speak to as many people as possible to identify when and how customers interact with your brand, says author and podcaster Adam Toporek. Doing so allows you to add qualitative information to the quantitative data that you have already gathered.
Create One Map That Takes Into Account Every Interaction
You may have different stores, you may even have several different websites, but you have one brand. That means you need one single customer journey map that takes everything into account.
It’s all too easy to try and segment the process when creating a customer journey map, warns journalist and business consultant Melissa Burns. But only a single, holistic map will genuinely reflect a given customer’s journey. “For example, if a customer experiences three points of annoyance in the ordering process, they are unlikely to proceed with the purchase. Each of these points of annoyance may seem small when you add them into the map. However, they are cumulative in the customer’s eyes.”
Look at it from a customer’s perspective, says The Marketing Store’s Jen Clinehens. They don’t think they are taking different journeys. There aren’t different departments, and there’s no difference between online and offline touchpoints. Customers see one brand, and they have one journey.
Don’t Try to Simplify the Journey
A multi-location business will have complex customer journeys. That’s OK. Don’t try to simplify it. You’ll only get value from the exercise if your map is a true reflection of your customers’ reality.
There’s a reason it’s tough to document the customer journey clearly, says Aptos’ Nikki Baird. Customers continually move back and forth between different stages of the buyer journey without much logic. If you want to become a customer-centric organization, you need to understand just how convoluted your typical customer journey is.
There’s no end to the number of ways customers can move through their journeys, notes Citu’s Robert Allen. Only a fraction of the people who interact with your brand end up becoming customers, however. That’s why it’s so important to understand all of the different interactions people have with your brand on the way to becoming customers. With that insight, you can find ways to convert more of them into customers.
It’s important to understand that brands have to map an omnichannel customer journey, writes Kitewheel President Mark Smith. In effect, some customers are on multiple journeys at the same time. A poor experience on any one of these channels could end all other journeys at the same time.
“To achieve simultaneously successful journeys, it’s essential to understand the full breadth of journeys that potential customers may be on, use analytics to identify optimal real-time responses and ensure that employees are also having good experiences that inspire them to provide a consistently positive experience in return.”
Make Sure You Account for Every Touchpoint
The utility of your customer journey map depends on whether you can account for every single touchpoint a customer has with your brand. Make sure you take note of them all, both online and off.
Start with digital touchpoints, as they are the easiest to identify, writes consultant Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré. “Ask your marketing team members to fill you in on what the top of the funnel looks like, what links are bringing people to your website, and how those people first heard of you. In the post-acquisition phase, Customer Success and Support own certain customer touchpoints, and are likely already gathering feedback about them from customers.”
Chris Bolman, founder of the software company Brightest, recommends that you rank touchpoints in order of importance. Some touchpoints are clearly more impactful than others.
“For example, in physical retail, merchandising and packaging have become increasingly important selling factors, a point often under-appreciated by digital marketers,” Bolman writes. “Consumers want to look at a product in action and are highly influenced by visual attributes.”
Don’t just plot the different touchpoints. Plot how they interact with each other, writes UX designer Bree Chapin. For example, Chapin says to look at how a customer service agent raises a request, and what impact this has on the customer, or how in-store returns are accounted for when the original purchase was made online.
When you’re mapping a multi-location business with an online and offline presence, you need to understand how an online experience impacts an offline experience. Imagine a pizza restaurant, for example. An online order for delivery then creates an interaction with a delivery driver.
Making connections like those can help your data become less siloed and much more useful, writes Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi. As a result, you’ll be able to use these insights to smooth out seams in your customer journeys.
Your Customer Journey Map Is an Ongoing Process
Make sure to reward yourself and your team after you’ve finished mapping the customer journey.
But don’t rest on your laurels. Mapping the customer journey is an ongoing process, says digital marketing consultant Oren Greenberg. Your customers’ journeys are going to change over time, and you must change with them.
So, keep revisiting your customer journey map regularly to make sure it remains relevant and instructive.