Do you know what path your customers take in their buying journey, starting with awareness through to purchase, implementation and support?

If you’re like most sales organizations, you may have an inkling of how your customers progress to purchase, but you haven’t yet mapped it out. And you’re not alone.

In our Customer Experience Best Practices Study, we looked at 50 key service practices, ranging from leadership activities to cross-organization collaboration to training and coaching. Of these practices, the one with the most significant gap between Leader organizations—those whose customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores had increased—and Laggard organizations—those whose CSAT scores had declined or stagnated—was journey mapping. Even though Leaders outpaced Laggards in this regard by 28%, only 46% of Leader organizations reported having defined customer journey maps that link their processes and interactions with customer expectations and emotions.

To deliver a stellar customer experience that builds customer loyalty, organizations need to invest more time in understanding their customer journey: it’s a key customer experience best practice that leads to higher customer satisfaction and, with it, more sales and higher customer experience metrics.

What Is a Customer Experience Journey Map?

In every organization, customers take a unique path, which we call the “customer journey,” from awareness to implementation and support. Along this path are numerous touchpoints between the customer and the sales organization, each of which is what we call a “defining moment.” A journey map traces each defining moment, or the critical moments when customers form an impression of your organization, throughout the customer’s path.

Defining moments come in three varieties: positive, negative, and neutral. Your organization should shoot for positive defining moments in every interaction: they’re opportunities when a company stands out because of its outstanding service. Positive defining moments lead to higher customer satisfaction, favorable word of mouth, and greater organizational success.

Negative defining moments, on the other hand, are to be avoided at all costs. In our survey of 5,500 global consumers, 93% said they’d abandon a business by the time they have three bad experiences; 50% of U.S. respondents said they’d defect to a competitor after a single bad experience.

But what about neutral defining moments? Though innocuous-sounding, they’re your organization’s biggest threat. If you aren’t exceeding your customers’ expectations, you aren’t building their loyalty. As a result, there’s nothing stopping them from looking elsewhere for a sweeter deal or a better experience. Problematically, your customers will defect to your competitor before you even realize the relationship is in jeopardy or have a chance to fix it.

Organizations study maps of these defining moments to determine how to elevate the customer experience. They also use these maps to diagnose problems created by a siloed approach to the customer experience: sometimes, a problem that winds up with the customer service team was created earlier in the sales process. For example, a salesperson may set unrealistic expectations with a buyer by not communicating clearly about a product’s capabilities. Eventually, when the upset customer calls the support team, the company must determine how best to meet the seller’s promises, leading to frustration on all sides, rework and cost overruns.

Four Steps to Building a Customer Experience Journey Map

Customer experience journey maps come in different forms: some cover the end-to-end customer relationship, while others drill down into a key component of that relationship, such as the onboarding and welcome process for new customers.

While the process of mapping may seem simple, it’s difficult to get right. No matter which approach you take to mapping, we recommend following these customer experience best practices:

  • Track interactions across channels. All customer-facing reps should use your CRM software to track each customer communication, so you see how customers progress from marketing to sales to service and across various channels.
  • Focus on the voice of the customer. Some companies use their employees’ perceptions to inform their customer experience strategy, but there is no substitute for data straight from the source. Gather customer feedback through surveys and digital interaction data. Keep in mind that for more complex deals, you may need to solicit feedback from additional decision-makers.
  • Collect qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative customer experience metrics are readily accessible, but qualitative information from your customers is equally important. Without it, you may not fully understand your customers’ emotional response to your organization’s actions.
  • Decide which defining moments are critical. You can’t manage every defining moment, and not all of them hold equal importance in your customers’ eyes. Study your customers’ feedback to determine which defining moments are critical and, if managed well, will serve as clear differentiators from your competitors.

Optimize Your Organization’s Customer Experience With Service Ready

Journey maps reveal two key things: what is happening in a specific customer experience and how the customer feels about it. They may also show you opportunities where your organization can improve the customer experience.

Service Ready teaches customer-facing teams the customer experience best practices that build customer loyalty in every touchpoint. Reach out to learn how our customer experience training will help your sales organization deliver a consistently high customer experience throughout your buyers’ journey.

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