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The 5 Critical Components of a Great Customer Journey Map From clear goals and actionable insights to an omnichannel view of the customer experience, how to fashion this pivotal business building block.

By Scott Baradell Edited by Matt Scanlon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Creating a customer journey map is one of the best ways to understand customers' experiences with your business. By mapping out each step of this journey, you can identify areas where they may encounter difficulty or confusion, and then have the opportunity to make improvements to address those problems.

Put simply, this map is a visualization of the customer experience (CX). Some might be designed to track the entire journey, from first impressions of a brand all the way through post-sale service. They can also be more localized in focus — show what happens when someone becomes one of your customers by highlighting certain aspects like ordering online, for example.

With the rise in technology and evolving consumer behavior, customers now have a much more complex journey when discovering brands. They could discover yours while researching a product generally. They may then go to your website… might even visit your physical place of business. They might conduct further research on the internet and decide whether to buy from your store rather than a competitor's. It's crucial to consider how such interactions happen throughout this process to stay ahead of the engagement curve.

Let's look at some of the critical elements involved.

Related: Customer-Journey Mapping: The What, How and Why

1. Focus on CX

Customer experience must be the foundation of a customer journey map. I've found that the best will focus on a specific customer segment and be based on research rather than assumptions — data on how and where customers interact with your brand and how they feel about those interactions.

2. Clear goals and actionable insights

For a map to be effective, it must have a clear goal and include insights that you can act upon. So, include all your discoveries, whether positive or negative, then determine any correlations among them and the behavior of your customers, as well as their expectations and goals.

You can then use that data to determine where you need to make CX improvements and which ones will generate the best and quickest returns. It will also help you monitor the progress of any existing efforts and identify areas that require further investment.

3. An omnichannel view of CX

Many organizations still operate in a siloed manner, with each team focused on a distinct set of touchpoints or channels. Customers, on the other hand, don't consider these channels: They consider their entire journey, which comprises all their dealings with a business.

So, a good customer journey map should look at the entire CX — all their interactions with your business, regardless of which team handles which channel. It also helps to look at how they move between touchpoints and what factors affect these moves. This will give you a better understanding of how to improve the overall experience as it helps identify potential gaps.

Related: How to Improve Your Bottom Line by Embracing Customer Experience

4. Quantitative data and key metrics

Qualitative research conducted on small sample sizes is the main source of data for an effective map. However, quantitative data can help provide further insights, as well as boost the validity of the results.

Employing quantitative research also allows you to establish a set of key performance indicators that can be used across the entire journey (or only certain portions of it). Various customer satisfaction metrics, such as the net promoter score, ensure that your map can help determine how well you're doing in CX improvements.

5. Level-up those graphics

While a customer journey map is already a graphic representation of CX, consider taking things a step further to increase its effectiveness — organizing it so that others who view it find it attractive, but also in such a way that you can incorporate more information as you gather it. You could even consider creating different versions for various people, based on their respective roles. For example, a map for senior management might emphasize key performance indicators, whereas one made for those in the proverbial trenches might include more detail regarding processes and systems employed for each touchpoint.

Related: Customer Journey Maps: The North Star to Digital Transformation

While there's science involved in creating an effective customer journey map, there's art to it as well. Remember, though, the most critical aspect is to act on what you discover. You can be certain that, if it includes the components above, yours will help produce valuable insights.

Scott Baradell

CEO of Idea Grove

Trust expert Scott Baradell is editor of the "Trust Signals" blog, author of the upcoming book "Trust Signals" and CEO of Idea Grove, a unified PR and marketing agency. Idea Grove has ranked three times as an Inc. 5000 company and was named 2020 Agency of the Year by the Dallas PRSA.

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