Documenting your customer’s journey is a great way to build empathy and understand your customers. It’s a smart investment to make but it does require time and cross-functional collaboration.
Amy Ellis, the Head of Marketing at FullStory, has some tips around creating a Customer Journey map for smaller companies (like startups), and in this post, we are recapping a workshop from Forget The Funnel with Amy.
Amy has been in the Marketing space for over 10 years. Before working at FullStory, she also worked at Mailchimp as their Head of Integrations & Partnerships. She is passionate about all things Customer Experience and empathy.
Forget the Funnel has a long list of workshops and training (some FREE!) around SaaS Marketing.
Let’s jump into the top three takeaways:
1. Hosting a dinner party with the customer’s experience in mind
2. Customer Journey 101
3. Customer Journey guide for scrappy teams
Hosting a dinner party with the customer’s experience in mind
Let’s define a few things:
Journey mapping is one of the tools that can help you understand and prioritize your customer’s overall experience.
Customer Experience (CX) refers to how your customer experiences your brand or your company and it’s intended to help shift your perspective to a more holistic view of your customer’s overall experience.
The idea is to move from thinking “how do I get my customers to do what I want them to do” to “how can I help my customers accomplish their goals while still achieving mine”. CX helps you gain this perspective.
An analogy that helps break things down… The dinner party (we love talking about food)
Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party, think of all the things you need to do to prep for the party. you’ll probably think about the menu, food preparation, what the table should look like, seating arrangements, and the wine you’ll serve.
But if you shift this perspective and go from your customer’s point of view, the customer journey mapping exercise would look like this:
You’ll think about their first touchpoint: they’ll get an invitation from you which will probably invoke some questions like when? Where? Who’s going? Will anyone they know be there? Dresscode? Do they need to bring anything?
Next touchpoint may be sending them a reminder: They may have questions around parking. Is it difficult to find parking? Is it free or do they have to pay?
Following touchpoint may be their arrival: So questions like where do they put their coat? Where do they get a drink? If they brought a dish, where should they put the dish? How do they get introduced to people they don’t know? Etc.
These are all of the things that wouldn’t occur to you if you’re thinking from your own perspective. And this kind of shift in perspective feels like a lightbulb moment. All of a sudden, it’s really clear and really exciting to brainstorm all of these new things you can do to make your party exciting from the customer’s perspective.
Customer Journey 101
CX is all about empathy and storytelling to put yourself and your company in the shoes of your customers. Once you can really understand who your customer is and what they experience, it’s easy to feel what it’s like to be them. What’s best is that empathy will make it really clear what’s working and what’s not.
In the business world, making these kinds of changes requires people from different parts of your organization.The goal is to understand your customer from the first moment they became aware of their problem and your brand all the way to when they stopped being your customer.
What about data?
This is a question Amy gets asked often. The assumption is that data alone can tell you everything there is to know about your customers. The short answer: Probably not!
Most organizations are good at gathering data about their users but data often fails to communicate the real frustration of a customer. So in the dinner party analogy, the data points might look like this: how much food was served, who had chicken and who had fish, how many people came, how much red over white wine was served.
All of these things are helpful but relying only on these data points can show that you may have a problem but it doesn’t tell you what to do next or how to fix the problem. You run the risk of missing out on identifying opportunities that can take you from great to exceptional.
What does a Customer Journey map look like?
The Customer Journey Map is a visual map of all the ways you’re interacting with customers across every stage of their relationship with you. The key to creating these maps is that it has to be from their perspective, not yours.
These maps vary, some are very complex while others are minimalistic. Here’s an example of one Amy shared in her presentation:
In this example, the touchpoints are laid out and then Amy added a layer that includes the customer’s thoughts, feelings, and frustration they may be experiencing at each step.
Before jumping into visualizing the touchpoints, it’s best to define the journey in a tool that lets your ideas flow (like a Google Doc) and once you’re ready, then you bring it all together in a visual way. Amy shared a free Customer Journey Map template created by Kerry Bodine.
The four approaches to Customer Journey Mapping
Depending on your resources and the approach you want to take, here’s how to tackle Customer Journey Mapping:
The Customer Journey guide to scrappy teams
For smaller companies, Amy recommends using the quick fire approach. Here’s how you would break that down:
Step 1 – Identify a business problem. This step is really important because you want to make sure you’re focusing on a problem that’s felt across the entire company. Ultimately, you’ll want to get buy-in and the problem you focus on can help you do that. Some common business problems are churn & retention.
Step 2 – Identify any allies you may have. Sometimes it’s really hard to get buy-in on your ideas at an organization. You may not be able to get your whole team to buy into your work but if you have a few allies who can get onboard, loop them in to further your reach.
Step 3 – Sketch out a Customer Journey that surrounds your business problem. If you have multiple use cases/personas or jobs to be done, it’s important to map separate journeys. You should include the customer’s pain points and emotions, their frustrations, and your opportunities to delight. All of these things may vary depending on the customer’s goals.
Step 4 – Augment your journey with as much info as possible. You’re really trying to stoke that empathy to tell the story from the customer’s perspective and painting a picture is a really big part of that. Your words aren’t enough so you’ll need to add direct quotes from customers, share visuals from the landing page they may have visited, or document what the customer support experience looks like. By including additional context, you’re able to set a tone and add color to the story.
Step 5 – Identify opportunities to improve. Formulate actionable next steps and make sure you tie business outcomes to that (how would we know it’s successful?). Once you have gained insights, you are empowered enough to act and if you can’t, you’re in a good place to make your case to key executive stakeholders.
For the scrappy teams, Amy also shared additional tips:
Stop focusing on what you want the customer to do and instead focus on how you can help them accomplish their goals
If you’re not focusing on creating a Customer Journey map because you have enough data, you’re missing out on your customer’s sentiment
For scrappy teams, center your Customer Journey around a business problem (like churn) to get the buy-in you need