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What is a customer journey map?

Learn about this crucial tool to improve customer engagement.

By Narrandum team
26 April 2020

At Narrandum, what we call a story is often referred to in the business world as a customer journey. One popular way to capture and describe these stories is a customer journey map, and this is what our service is designed to help you to create – with our own distinctive twist, of course. But what does a customer journey map look like, and what kind of information does it contain? Let's take a detailed look.

The customer's point of view

It may seem obvious to say that a customer journey should be written from the perspective of the customer, but this is surprisingly often overlooked. Organisations map out their actions, decisions and relationships, with the customer featuring as a minor character in the story, if at all. If you do this, you haven't made a customer journey, you've just produced a slightly prettier project plan. The purpose of the exercise is to see the world through the customer's eyes, so that you understand their needs, goals, struggles, obstacles, hopes and fears.

This is why Narrandum puts such emphasis on characters rather than customer personas or archetypes. We want our users to see their customers not as a collection of data points, but as complex, funny, flawed people, whose individual characteristics drive the story forward.

A living document

If you've ever taken part in a customer journey mapping workshop, you'll know what tends to happen to the output of that meeting. At best, it gets hung up on the wall for passers-by to admire. All too often, it is rolled up and stored under somebody's desk. In any case, much of the time, once it's done, it's done, and the "real work" of implementation begins. This is a huge mistake, and Narrandum is all about making sure it doesn't happen.

A customer journey map isn't just about getting things off to a good start. By helping you create stories which evolve over time, Narrandum keeps your team on the right path throughout the project lifecycle. That's why we're all-digital – we want the customer journey to stay alive, not be frozen in a printout.

Our aim is to make it fast and easy to for everyone in the team to keep stories up to date as new information comes to light. Working iteratively means learning as you go, and this can mean drastic changes to how you thought your customer journey would turn out. This is a good thing! Don't fear or fight change – choose the right tools so that you can adapt and respond.

Covers the entire customer engagement

A customer journey map should cover every stage of the relationship with the customer, from the first moment they become aware of your offering, until they stop doing business with you. Like any relationship, this story will have its ups and downs. Hopefully it will grow stronger and more meaningful over time, but remember not to only depict the "happy path" – if you ignore the tougher times, you're lying to yourself, and will be ill-prepared when things get difficult.

It should also take into account not only hands-on interactions with a service, but also what happens before and after these moments, both online and in the real world. It should even cover things which don't happen at all, or at least, things which never leave the customer's head – the thoughts and feelings which underpin everything and drive their behaviour. It's not just what a customer does that matters - consider also what they decide not to do, and try to understand why they chose one thing and not the other.

Every touchpoint

As well as covering the whole story from start to finish, a good customer journey map will also depict each and every interaction or communication between your business and the customer. There's no better way to get this than to involve real customers in the creation of your journey maps. In Narrandum, we call these events and touchpoints.

Single point of reference

One of the great things about a customer journey map is its ability to bring everyone together and align them on their common goals Whether you're an executive, product owner, designer, developer, or any other kind of subject matter expert, the customer journey (and the service blueprint that emerges from it) serves to keep everyone on the right track.

It's there to remind everyone what needs to be done, and why, but most importantly, who it needs to be done for: the customer. It's a great way to cut through office politics and individual biases: the customer journey map is created with everyone's input, ideally including the customers themselves, and depicts the agreed way forward. Everybody can refer to the customer journey to understand the part they play. Decisions are made not according to corporate hierarchy, nor who shouts the loudest, but by what best meets the customer's needs.

We will be producing many more articles on this topic, so be sure to check back soon.

Thanks for reading.

We hope you enjoyed the post. We love helping people to understand their customers better, and producing articles like this is part of how we do it.

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