You would be surprised to learn that 84% of businesses that strive to improve customer experience (CX) witness an improvement in their revenue. Unfortunately, only 19% of businesses actually have a dedicated CX team to help bridge gaps in customer experience. The first step towards bridging gaps in customer experience is to understand how customers sense, perceive and behave with your product. As you may already know, customers do not necessarily interact with your product the way you intend them to. This often results in poor customer experience, which consequently causes customer attrition.
To avoid such frustrating situations, it is important to understand and predict every possible interaction a customer may undertake while using your product. A customer journey map identifies these various paths that lead a customer to interact with your product. Once you identify possible interaction paths, you can create contingency plans to improve customer experience by ameliorating product features.
So let us take a look at what customer journey maps are, and how you can implement them in the context of your products.
Customer journey maps help businesses to identify how the user interacts with a product or application right from the outset, and what could be done in order to ensure a favorable outcome for the business. Customer journey maps can be drawn for a variety of product and application situations. In fact, you can create customers journey maps for your marketing and customer support endeavors as well. For example, you can create maps for the following situations:
a.) Responding to a social media query
b.) Speaking to a customer service representative
c.) Interacting with an email newsletter
d.) Interacting with a physical product at a store
e.) Clicking the desired CTA on a website
f.) Using an application in a way that results in a sale
Customer journey maps can be drawn for every possible customer interaction that should have a desired outcome. These possible pathways help you to predict how a customer might behave, and fill the gaps within the process so that customer experience is smooth and intuitive.
In short, well-defined and carefully thought-out customer journey maps directly result in improved UX metrics. Customer journey maps are particularly important in the context of ecommerce applications. Poor CX scores directly result in poorer sales and lost revenue. Understanding how customers interact with ecommerce applications and mapping those pathways can be invaluable.
Customers often do not interact with an application or product correctly. Research shows that most customers use a product or application haphazardly. It is difficult to ensure that they use an application the way you intended it to be used. Customer journey maps help you to imagine various pathways via which customers may interact with your application, and understand their underlying cognitions. This helps you to improve product experience.
Here are some possible scenarios:
1.) Users may interact with the application or product randomly
Example: Instead of tapping on a menu button, customer may swipe, resulting in a differing outcome than the intended one. This results in customer frustration, while negating the efforts of the developer who created the user interface.
2.) Incorrect usage of an application or product can be the result of confusing pathways or unintuitive UI
Example: There are times even when the best intentions can go wrong. Though you may think the user interface of your application is perfect, there may be a loophole which results in customer using the application incorrectly.
3.) Humans do not always think logically and behave according to their state of mind
Example: People do not always interact with an application in a logical manner. How logically they use an application depends on their level of interest and motivation, their emotional state, how bored or interested they are, or if they truly want to achieve the goal.
4.) Emotions are more important than you might imagine
Example: A person who is in a bad mood may displace his anger on your application by repeatedly tapping on the wrong button, and ultimately deleting the application to prove that “it was a terrible app anyway”.
5.) Users interact with a product or application based on their experience with other applications and products, retrieved from their experiential memory.
Example: A person who is used to Spotify may look for a similar function in Apple Music, and grow frustrated because “it is different”.
Customer journey maps help you to understand how user feels, thinks and what he does, in every probably step. In fact, such a map is eerily similar to thought diaries that patients of psychotherapists are advised to maintain during their cognitive behavior therapy sessions. Here its what a basic customer journey map looks like:
What is the customer going to do? (Click on the product image)
What might the customer be thinking? (“I hope it looks good”)
What could the customer be feeling? (Anticipation and excitement)
Unfortunately, customers do not behave in a logical sequence as described above. Instead, they may click on an image and expect the checkout page to appear, or hope that the specifications are mentioned alongside. When they realize that a certain interaction with the application or product (path) does not fetch the result they want to see, they may grow frustrated. By considering various paths that may lead to desired and undesired outcomes, you can make improvements to your product or application.
A successful set of customer journey maps depends on the following:
a.) Thorough user research that explores customers thoughts, feelings and behavioral outcomes
b.) Study is conducted without any research bias
c.) Sampling is done correctly and is representative of the intended target audience
d.) Maps are drawn only after conducting in-person user tests
In-person user tests should include 2-way mirrors, observation rooms, external observers, cameras and microphones placed in different corners of the observational room, and real-life conditions for users.
Customer journey maps are crucial in ensuring top-notch UX metrics. However, maps need to be drawn after conducting user research carefully. Customer journey maps help you to understand what users think and feel, and how they behave while using your product or application. This helps you to make improvements to existing applications or products, or envision a new product altogether. Ultimately, you will launch a product that helps you improve your bottom line figures. Make sure to hire an agency that has the adequate research infrastructure and experience to develop customer journey maps.
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