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Customer Journey

Tips for successful customer journey mapping

By Leanne Coker, Service Design Lead at dxw 

Approach mapping in the same way you would any other design task – by starting with user needs and testing it.  Recognise that the formats we’re used to as designers (blueprints, journey maps, and the like) are not always familiar to the intended audience and in fact may not align with their mental model.

Make time at the start to think about who the map is really for – is it for the team, internal stakeholders, external stakeholders? It’s probably likely to be a combination. Think about their needs and accommodate them. Create different versions if you need to.

Before you’ve invested too much time in creating a work of art, test your idea with different audience members. It might be a blank or partially complete template but there are still valuable things to learn by showing it to people. Ask if it makes sense to them? Can they work with the format? This will save time reworking things down the line and help make the map more effective.

Don’t feel constrained by templates and prescriptive formats

There are standard map formats and templates, and they are really helpful. They prompt us to think about the right things, save time, and overcome blank sheet paralysis. However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for.

For example, a project brief might ask for a customer journey map or service blueprint because it’s the done thing. But without a clearly understood purpose and audience it might not add value. Other traps to avoid are letting our thinking become constrained by the boxes and lines on a map template or getting bogged down trying to populate all the sections with detail that’s not useful.

We might start with a template but then tweak the structure to fit our particular needs right now. Sometimes we may only be interested in certain rows from that blueprint, or we might want to create a hybrid map that’s a user journey/service map mashup. We might want to create something totally new and that’s okay too. Freestyle mapping can land us at the most elegant and impactful result.

The mapping process is as important as the outcome

Co-creating maps with the team or wider stakeholders can be a great way to gather information and generate a shared understanding. It also supports collaboration and effective decision making. But it’s not always best done in this way and the decision to co-create or not will depend on why you’re producing the map as well as access to information, people, and time.

If you’re creating a map on your own, the process can still be a learning experience. It helps us organise and synthesise our own thoughts. It will generate important questions and discussions. Make sure you don’t lose them. Write them down and follow them up.

Get comfortable with imperfection

A map is only ever going to be a representative model of the world so don’t get hung up on perfection. Our maps are only ever drafts too, as the world and our thinking are constantly evolving. So, when the time comes to share a map we’ve been working on, we can stick a date on it and be happy that this is the best model we have right now.

We shouldn’t feel limited by the fidelity of our maps but instead appreciate the clarity that a simplified view of a complex world can bring.

Describe it properly

It’s essential to properly label the map and provide a description of its purpose and what it’s trying to communicate.  Make clear whether it’s a map of the current or future state and at what stage of the project it was produced. A good map should be based on reliable source information from user research or other documentation – make sure this is referenced too. It’s also good practice to add the names of the creators and make it clear who owns and maintains it.

Be aware of the pros and cons of doing this work remotely

Lots of us are missing sticking post-its on whiteboards and other physical artefacts right now. While virtual whiteboards have been a life-saver for many in 2020, they have pros and cons. These tools can add a layer of complexity and constrain creativity when doing service mapping. For some, working on a small screen can feel claustrophobic and mean that we lose some of the context or zoomed out perspective. Being aware of these limitations when choosing a mapping approach is helpful.

Covering a wall in our own home with post-its might help to overcome some of these challenges. Others won’t be there to see it but we can take a photo or digitise and share afterwards.

Remote service mapping does have its benefits too though. With whole teams and organisations working from home, more people are becoming familiar with online mapping tools and this can create new opportunities for collaborative mapping and visual thinking.

Typical online purchases involve seven steps taking three hours

Shoppers work through several stages before making a significant buy via the internet, which includes spending at least 35 minutes deciding whether a purchase is absolutely necessary.

Following that, an online search for a product or service, including on social media sites, will take place over the next 33 minutes.

And the survey of 2,000 adults found an average of 30 minutes is then spent reading online reviews and recommendations, with the average shopper avoiding a purchase if something has less than 3.4 stars out of five.

While one in 10 wouldn’t buy something with 99 five-star ratings if it has just a single one-star review.

Half an hour will also be spent narrowing down the choices between brands by comparing to other similar products for price and quality.

Other steps include sharing potential purchases with friends or family, putting something into a virtual basket – then the final hurdle of completing the transaction.

The research was commissioned by Vision Direct, whose CMO, Ashley Mealor, said: “As purchasers are spending so long scouring reviews, it is so important for businesses, especially those operating online, to be accurately and fairly represented.

“We recognise there are some brands which have reviews that cannot be trusted, as those writing them have been incentivised to do so.

“Implemented for the main purpose of generating favourable online appraisals, the concept of proposing incentives or hosting competitions can be misleading and skew authenticity.

“It’s encouraging to see platforms such as Trustpilot, starting to take great steps to ensure it is a level playing field for all by revising regulations and stopping all consumer incentives – to address a controversial grey area.

“With the prevalence of dishonest reviews online, the seven stages of shopping feels like a sensible way of ensuring a purchase – particularly one of value – is made well.

“You are then not just relying on reviews, but also word of mouth, social media, customer service and brand comparisons.”

The research also found 62 per cent of respondents think of themselves as ‘considered’ purchasers – who don’t buy without thoroughly researching the item first.

However, 14 per cent are happy to describe themselves as an ‘impulse’ buyer, who shops first then asks questions later.

But Brits would not consider something to be a ‘significant’ purchase if it fell below the £163 price point – and the last time they spent more than £100, they deliberated for eight days.

And 31 per cent are more likely to make a significant buy online, while 25 per cent would rather do it face-to-face – with the remainder not caring either way.

Although consumers are more likely to be suckered by an impulse purchase in a real-life store, than by something they see online (30 per cent vs 23 per cent.)

It also emerged that in order to ‘fully trust’ a brand, Brits want to receive their goods in perfect condition (45 per cent), experience super-quick delivery (26 per cent) and be on the receiving end of exceptional customer service (41 per cent).

But while 78 per cent of shoppers leave online reviews after using a company, just under half are more likely to do so if they are offered an incentive like money off their next order, or a chance to win a prize.

However, a huge 83 per cent of those polled via OnePoll believe unscrupulous sites or brands often put up fake positive reviews to try and trick people into buying their goods.

Ashley Mealor added: “Our study found online reviews to be hugely important to lots of people – half say they are important, especially when considering eyewear or eye medication.

“It can be hard sometimes to know whether an online review can be trusted, particularly where your health is concerned.

“This is where the fifth stage of shopping – getting real-world feedback from people you know in real life – can be hugely beneficial.

“If somebody you know and trust is willing to recommend something that word-of-mouth review is worth its weight in gold to any manufacturer.”

1. Deciding on a need for something – 35 minutes
2. An online search for the product you want including social media sites – 33 minutes
3. Reading online reviews and going through recommendations – 29 minutes
4. Narrowing down between brands by comparing to other similar products for price and quality – 31 minutes
5. Share links with friends and family – 14 minutes
6. Getting something into your online or real-life basket – 19 minutes
7. Actually making the purchase – 24 minutes
TOTAL – 185 minutes – 3 hours and 5 minutes

WEBINAR: Convert more opportunities with Digital Playback and the AlwaysOn Marketing Machine

Through a combination of enhanced attribution, optimised marketing and spend timely communications triggered by any predetermined event in a customer journey, the Go Inspire Group are successfully enabling brands to convert more opportunities at speed, on the road to recovery.

Nick Greatrex, Digital Director at Go Inspire Insight, shares his thoughts on improving conversion by solving the digital marketing attribution headache, check out the webinar here [17min to view].

Solving the Attribution and Conversion Rate Headache:

Digital Playback identifies browsers as individuals, linking the online and offline interactions that an individual customer or potential customer makes with your business, across all channels, in one journey. It optimises your conversion rates and marketing spend, showing you when to act, when to pull back, and which customer groups to focus on.

Some of our success stories:

  • 13% saved on digital marketing spend
  • 14% higher profit from Abandoned Baskets by using Direct Mail triggered by browsing data  
  • Improved social, email and paid search quality score, saving 1-2p per click and 2-5% more emails landing in inboxes
  • Budget saved on social, direct mail and display ad by selecting most engaged customers
  • Average customer saving of £17k per month

The AlwaysOn Marketing Machine:

Users can now capitalise on the increased engagement and standout direct mail enjoys over other channels – without compromising on timeliness. 

This is because Go Inspire’s AlwaysOn Marketing Machine direct mail manufacturing technology has evolved to the point where it’s possible to achieve a realistic price point for standard format pre-templated mailings for volumes as small as one record. Clients are sending cost-effective mail, that goes from ‘trigger’ to letterbox, in as little as 48 hours.

Some scenarios utilising this approach are:

  • Loyal customer starting to lapse
  • Overdue account
  • Repeat website visits
  • Item added to online basket
  • Contract nearing expiration
  • Annual statement & reminders 

Some of our success stories:

  • 14% higher profit from Abandoned Baskets
  • Inbound calls to contact centre have reduced by 9%.
  • Letter costs and processing costs of sending out new credit agreements have reduced from 10% to 3%.
  • 40% Postage saving
  • Annual production saving of c£270K from associated information design services

If you’d like to find out more information about how you can benefit from improved conversion rates and an agile ‘AlwaysOn’ Marketing Communication, click here or email

Chatbots and VR to take over brand interactions by 2020…

Research by Oracle suggests the relationship between customers and brands is set to undergo a “technological revolution” which will cause the number of human-to-human interactions to fall.

A total of 800 senior marketing and sales professionals across EMEA were polled for the ‘Can Virtual Experiences Replace Reality?’ report and found 78 per cent of brands expect to provide customer experiences through virtual reality in the next four years. Meanwhile, 80 per cent expect to serve customers through chatbots. 

Despite brands willing to embrace new technologies for the customer journey, many are struggling to make use of the valuable customer and prospect data, with 60 per cent not currently including social or CRM data in their customer analytics.

42 per cent already collect a great deal of data from multiple sources, but are unable to extract customer insights from it; and 41 per cent agree smarter analysis of customer data will have the biggest impact on the experience they deliver to their customers.

Daryn Mason, senior director, CX Applications at Oracle said: “While virtual reality may be seen as a passing craze by some, the commitment of some of the world’s biggest companies to develop VR products for consumers suggests otherwise.  Brands will always look to experiment with new technologies as they try to find ways of delivering innovative and memorable experiences for their customers.

“Brands are at a crossroads. There’s an early-mover advantage to experimenting and launching innovative services while others wait and see, but they need to walk before they can run.”

The report indicates brands are looking to implement innovative technologies that allow their customers to continue interacting with brands on their own terms. 80 per cent of brands will be using chatbots for customer interactions by 2020; 78 per cent of brands expect to be using VR for CX by the same year; and 48 per cent have implemented automation technologies in sales, marketing and customer service.

Mason adds: “The reality is that many brands are still unable to get a complete view of each individual customer so the immediate priority needs to be to organise and get value from the data they already have.  Customers will value a quick, helpful, personalised interaction regardless of how it’s delivered so there’s hope for us humans yet.”

Access the full report here

Hootsuite highlights social media significance across the customer journey…

Companies that are not investing in their social media strategies may risk losing touch with their customers and being outdone by competitors, a new Hootsuite survey has discovered.

Surveying 2,048 adults in the US and 1,029 adults in the UK, 48 per cent of Americans have interacted with companies or institutions on at least one of their social media accounts, and 41 per cent say it is important for companies they engage with to have a strong social media presence.

In regards to UK consumers, 40 per cent of agree it is either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very important’ for a company to have a significant social media presence, and more than one in three (34 per cent) would rather engage with a brand or company on social media than visit a physical location. 

Penny Wilson, chief marketing officer at Hootsuite, said: “This research underscores the pervasiveness of social media and the massive opportunities available for organisations that use social to engage with their customers. 

“Today, social plays a key role in determining and influencing customers’ attitudes, motivations and behaviours. Now, more than ever, there’s an opportunity to tap into social and connect with customers when, where and how they want, helping to maximise sales.”

US and UK respondents also find customer service via social media has made it easier to get questions and concerns resolved, with 59 per cent in the US and 56 per cent in the UK, respectively.

Read Hootsuite’s 8 Social Media Tips for the Retail Industry here 

Survey demonstrates the qualities of high-performing marketers…

Autopilot has revealed that high-performing marketers are surpassing their peers when it comes to customer journey marketing, with some generating revenue growth by as much as 122 per cent.

Consisting of 505 marketer responses, the email marketing firm’s ‘2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing‘ report found high-performing marketers generate revenue 58 per cent faster than their colleagues; acquire 23 per cent more leads; are twice as happy with their performance; and win a higher number of customers.

Brand awareness was pinpointed as a ‘main measure of marketing success’ (29 per cent), closely followed by customer satisfaction (22 per cent), and, for B2B marketers in particular, 43 per cent claim investing in brand assets is a ‘top priority’.

The report states: “All marketers are prioritising brand awareness, converting leads to sales and generating new leads. But high performers are investing in customer events and marketing, referral and satisfaction programs, and analytics and attribution, rather than in online ads, to get there.”

High-performers affirm the top three investment areas are: customer events and marketing (35 per cent), loyalty referral programmes (29 per cent) and analytics and attribution (19 per cent).


Download Autopilot’s research here