Customer journey maps are arguably the best tool marketers have to understand and improve brand experience.
They help companies visualize the steps their customers take — from initial contact through engagement, along a path that ideally leads to long-term loyalty.
Journey Maps Are Essential
Because they enable companies to clearly see what they are doing right as well as areas they need to improve, journey maps promote empathy.
By understanding how your customers interact with your brand, you can gain better clarity about their pain points and can identify ways to make the customer journey easier, faster, and more convenient.
In fact the customer journey and the process of mapping it out for your organization is the foundation for all of the technologies, processes, campaigns, and talent that comes after it.
Many Industries, Similar Journeys
Despite the obvious advantages of journey maps, many companies struggle — or at least procrastinate — when challenged to create them.
It can be a daunting task, especially around the issue of the level of detail to include. Too little detail makes the journey pretty but not actionable or worth review; too much turns the map into an eye-blurring chart trying to map every single variance.
But I have some good news. All organizations share similar set of journeys. They also share similar audience expectations. And lessons learned creating one customer journey map could easily be extrapolated to another.
All it takes is creating a journey map template.
Arke Researched 12 Industries
To prove this theory, the team at my company, Arke, analyzed journey maps across a dozen industries: Automotive, B2B Manufacturing, B2B Technology, Banking, Consumer Services (such as carpet cleaning and construction), Home Builders, Hospitality, Investment Firms, Insurance, Luxury Goods (Considered Purchases), Retail, and Training/Education.
We identified similarities across the journeys we created for each industry, as well as ways to leverage this model to create better experiences.
Modeling and knowing what is working for others helps companies anticipate what will work for them. It also allows for incremental, continuous improvement.
A tweak to one journey is easily replicated across all other industries.
Journey Maps Across Industries
Specifically, when you break down each map into the Awareness, Nurture, Convert, Retain and Advocate stages, you see all of the same “processes” bubble to the top. These processes include Demand Creation, Nurturing, Sales/Buying, Onboarding, Cross-Promotion/Up-Selling, Retention, Reactivation, Customer Support, and Referral.
There may be variances in the ordering and frequency of the tactics used to connect with customers (for example, email, phone calls, direct mail, text messages, ad targeting). But the tactics are the same, just spun together in unique ways.
To test this, visualize a customer of any of the above industries starting on a search engine, discovering the brand or product, performing research, converting to learn more information, being nurtured by automated or human processes, and then making a face-to-face visit.
Then we have service/experience delivery and advocacy strategies, all following a same generic approach.
Now try this exercise again with a customer from another industry. Get the picture?
Create a Customer Journey Map Template
While we all want to be unique, customers share a lot similar expectations and follow similar journeys across industries. At each stage of the journey, there are repeatable questions to ask:
- What actions is the customer taking to move to the next stage?
- What are the catalysts or motivations to keep moving?
- Are there any obstacles that might prevent the customer from advancing to the next stage? These can range from emotional issues, such as confusion or uncertainty, to empirical issues around cost or time.
You can — and absolutely should — specialize the journey and customer experiences to reflect nuances in your audience or industry.
But starting with a journey map template, a base model, so to speak, provides a tremendous jumping off point. It’s like purchasing software versus building from scratch — and everyone knows how time intensive the latter can be.
Want to learn more about effective journey mapping? Contact Chris.Spears@arke.com for more information.