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How much do you know about your customer’s journey? Has the idea of a “customer journey map” been mentioned in a recent board meeting, and you’re not sure what that means or how it can help? A customer journey map is an invaluable tool for improving your customers’ experience with your company. Process mining can help you make that journey map even better.
A customer journey map is an outline of the path your customers take when they interact with your company. The idea is not to shoot for 100% accuracy, but rather to develop a general overview of these customer interactions, from the customer’s point of view, to better serve your existing and potential customers alike.
The highlights of a customer journey map are the touchpoints where they interact directly with your employees, your website, or your customer service system. This covers a lot of territory and intersects with several disparate systems, so it can help to break the journey down into familiar pieces. The stages of a customer journey closely mirror those of a buyer journey, which you’re likely more familiar with:
- Awareness: Potential customer knows they’re having a problem with their service and begins looking into options for fixing it.
- Consideration: Potential customer has decided to change providers, and begins to research specific provider options (online and word of mouth, a distinction whose importance will become apparent shortly).
- Decision: The customer has chosen you as their new provider and is beginning the process of switching to your company.
- Retention: The customer experience doesn’t end with the sale. This is the maintenance stage where you continue providing great customer service, reminding them why they choose you.
The key touchpoints your customer will experience through this journey may look something like this (broken down by stage):
- Awareness stage
- Website landing pages found via search engine
- Corporate social media presence
- “Contact Us” page, chat bots, or other first contact options
- Consideration stage
- Customer service response time when asking questions
- How you respond to reviews—both good and not so good (how quickly and how well you respond both matter)
- Sales team responses to questions or concerns
- Decision stage
- The application/signup process
- Customer service during this process
- Follow-up support when activating new account
- Retention stage
- After going through all the effort to sign new customers, don’t ignore their experience afterward, or you risk losing them down the road.
It will help to remember a few things about customer journeys before creating your customer journey map:
- Understanding context is a major piece of the puzzle. Where are your customers coming from, what are they looking for, and how can you improve their experience with you? You most likely have a handle on your customer profile (if not, ask your marketing department), so the key is figuring out what they’re doing and how to make it easier.
- The question isn’t “How do we get more customers?” The question is “How do we allow our customers to do what they need to do, without losing track of our goals?”
- It’s also important to remember that the customer journey may not be linear at all. They may jump in and out depending on numerous factors that are out of your control. What matters is where they’re jumping, and how easy it is for them to return to the process.
Mapping the customer journey
When it comes to the actual mapping of this journey, data is king. The more data you have, the more you’ll learn about your customers’ pain points, interactions, touchpoints, and satisfaction with all of the above. Any IT system your customer interacts with, from your website to your CRM and your trouble ticket system, can be mined for data.
You can track touchpoints by following the event log (a sort of digital breadcrumb trail) left by your customers, and connect them with the interactions with your employees to see who’s involved and what they did while they were working together.
And it’s in this data collection stage that process mining becomes invaluable. The digital bread crumbs left by customer interactions are exactly what process mining uses to create maps of the processes involved. This data (which is anonymous) lets you track the clicks being performed by visitors to your site, including:
- Click-throughs to landing pages (and where they’re clicking from)
- Walking through the application process
- Calls to the Sales department to clarify that process
- Contacting support via:
- Contact form
- A record of the back-and-forth of the above contacts
- When the customer sets up their portal
- Sticking points in that process, and subsequent calls to tech support
The list goes on. Every time your customer interacts with your systems, your process mining software will pick it up. That means you’ll be able to see where you’re losing visitors (if they get lost finding the application form, for example) as well as tracking where and when they get in touch and with which team members they communicate.
It’s all about the data
When you combine the data from your process mining with more general analytics from your website, you’re well on your way to having the data you need to begin piecing together your customer journey map. There will be other steps along the way, like conducting customer interviews or surveys, to see how your developing map matches up with what the customer is actually experiencing.
A word of caution: be careful with website analytics. Just because a user stays on a page for a long time doesn’t mean they’re enjoying the content. They may be lost and looking for a contact option. This is the data filled in by those interviews/surveys.
This is another place the process mining data comes in handy: By helping you identify what pages people are on when they contact support, you can narrow down the pages that need to provide a better user experience.
A brief example of a Telecom customer journey
Unhappy Ulrich is having some problems with his small business phone service. They’re having constant network outages and he can’t get a straight answer from their support team. This drives him to research options online. Here he finds your content talking about some of the reasons for network outages and what your company is doing to proactively stop them from affecting your users.
From here Ulrich reads through your subscription options, develops some questions, and uses your chat option to reach out to customer support. After a conversation with one of your representatives, who impresses Ulrich with their knowledge of your plan options as well as being generally pleasant to talk to, he decides to switch providers.
At this stage, the representative connects Ulrich with a sales specialist who walks him through the application process, explaining how to port his existing phone numbers over, what to expect in terms of downtime during the switch, and sets up an appointment with a technical support representative to get things started.
And finally, once Ulrich is up and running, a follow-up call comes in from that original sales person, checking on his satisfaction with the process as a whole, your service specifically, and to see if he has any questions.
You can see from this brief example that there are any number of touch points, points of possible failure, and points where Ulrich may drop out of the journey, only to return again later. And you can see how process mining can get you well underway toward the goal of understanding each touchpoint and how it impacts that journey. Each of Ulrich’s contacts with your website, customer service call center, sales team’s CRM tool, technical support ticket system, and finally client account can be a source of important data to help you compile the most accurate customer journey map possible.