What Is a Customer Journey Map?
If you are in business, then you realize that your customers are what keep your business alive. They are your lifeblood. With this in mind, it is vital to keep a healthy relationship with your existing customers while seeking to understand why they are there and how to draw in new life based on that understanding. This, in effect, is the purpose of a customer journey map (CJM) but what exactly is that and how does this relate to the survival of your business?
Let’s Begin with the Customer Journey
Before discussing a customer journey map, let’s briefly define the customer journey. In its broadest sense, the customer journey is the relationship a customer has with your business and its products or services. It’s how they communicate with your brand, leading them to making a purchase. Each customer has a need or a goal and what you have is a solution for them. It’s this relationship from introduction to their decision to purchase, and beyond, that constitutes the customer journey.
Charting the Relationship
Since the customer journey is their relationship with your company, your brand, and your products, it might help to view it as an interpersonal relationship. Let’s make an analogy to marriage. Every couple will tell you that it isn’t always smooth sailing. There are pain points in that relationship that they learn to overcome. This is what enables them to have a healthy and lasting marriage and that’s what a customer journey map is meant to do for your business. It’s a way to identify and overcome pain points in the customer journey so that you can have a healthy and lasting relationship with your customers.
What Exactly Is a CJM?
A CJM, customer journey map, in its most basic definition is a visual representation of how your customers experience their relationship with you. As mentioned above, identifying any pain points they may have is vital to this process. Understanding their pain points will help you heal and overcome any breaks in the relationship going forward with them while avoiding them in new relationships you establish. In other words, it’s all about the customer experience. Remember, they are your lifeblood and if there is a break in the flow, your business will suffer as a result.
Learning to Edit and Adapt Over Time
Also, as with any relationship, nothing is in stasis. As you overcome one pain point, others pop up along the way. When charting your customer journey map it is imperative that you learn to edit and adapt to address any future pain points you’ve identified. In this way, you will keep that relationship alive and well over time. There really is no set time to add these new pain points or solutions but be ready to edit as new understandings are made clear. It’s this willingness to communicate and answer their needs that will grow your relationship with customers and heighten their experience with your brand.
What Does a Customer Journey Map Look Like?
At this point, you are probably wondering what a CJM looks like. You understand it’s a visual representation of the customer journey pertinent to your business but now you want to know what that means. Basically, a customer journey map is a flow chart. There are various ways to plot them out, so it is probably in your best interest to start with a customer journey map template. Each template is different, but all can be customized to how you want to chart your CJM. Some are interconnected boxes much like boxcars on a train and others are words moving from left to right connected by a series of arrows. It’s up to you which design you prefer, so choose a template you are comfortable with.
It’s All About the Customer Experience
In the end, it’s all about your customer experience strategy. Most customers will gladly say that they value their relationship with a business as much, or more, than they do the products or services provided. They want to know that you care about them and are willing to help them meet their needs or reach their goals. They want to know that they are being heard and that their pain points are being addressed. Isn’t this much like that marriage mentioned above? As with any lasting relationship, communication is key. Your customer journey map will help you visually understand what your customers are communicating. As complex as it may sound, it’s really just that simple.