Published in Uncategorized

Customer Interaction Maps: Plotting the Customer’s Journey

I say “to-may-to,” you say “to-mah-to.” I say “customer interaction map,” you say “customer journey mapping” – or customer corridor or service blueprint or … well, you get the idea. Whatever you call it, it plays a crucial part in defining your overall VOC initiative.

So, where do we begin? Let’s go back to a blog I wrote a couple of months ago about the brand promise. Recall that the brand promise is the expectation that you set about your brand with your customers. Each of your touchpoints reinforces and fulfills the brand’s promise. Creating a customer interaction map forces you to think about the customer lifecycle and to consider or visualize the experience at each touchpoint – and ultimately, it identifies where the brand promise is broken.

During this process, it is important to remember that the customer should always be at the heart of any decisions made or actions taken by your company.  The experience cannot be designed without giving the customer a seat at the table.

Before you begin to create your interaction map, you must first identify who your customers are. Do you segment your customers? Do you cater differently to different types of customers? Do different customer types have different interactions or touchpoints with your organization? Will the map look different for different customers?

Next, identify the touchpoints along your customer lifecycle. Start not with the purchase, but long before that – when you’re just a thought in the

customer’s mind, part of the consideration set. End with the customer’s exit or cancellation; remember that, even when a customer cancels your services or terminates usage of your product, it is an important interaction to do well.

Finally, identify the following for each individual touchpoint. Lay out the map in such a way that you identify which of these are customer-facing and which are behind-the-scenes.

  • which specific interactions occur at that touchpoint
  • which processes support that touchpoint
  • which people support those processes
  • who owns the touchpoint and its related interactions and processes
  • who the customer interacts with what the specific outcome for that touchpoint should be
  • which tools are used during the interaction at the touchpoint
  • what customer data are gathered at the touchpoint
  • which metrics are tracked at the touchpoint
  • which pain points you’re aware of, and
  • what the ideal customer experience ought to be

From a practitioner’s viewpoint, this map clearly helps you understand when, where, and with whom interactions occur; it’s important to do prior to designing surveys (both customer and employee) for each touchpoint. It also helps you to identify other customer and operational data that you’ll want to pull into the initiative in order to make your surveys, analysis, and action planning more relevant, personalized, and actionable. It might also identify other customer feedback inputs besides surveys (e.g., online communities, tech support forums, support calls, etc.) that should be tied back to the survey data for that touchpoint.

The customer interaction map is important to introduce as you roll out your program to the larger organization. It can help the various departments and business units understand the customer lifecycle while helping to break down silos and pull the organization together to work toward one common goal: a superior customer experience.

It’s simple. Start with the brand promise, identify touchpoints and determine which are most important/influential (not all touchpoints are created equal); outline the optimal experience (from the customer’s perspective) at each; and rally the organization to deliver it!