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How to achieve customer happiness in times of change

September 13, 2021 | by Angela Gutierrez | Marketing

Woman in a shop checking the bottom of a piece of pottery

Have you ever wondered why customer satisfaction remains low for most organizations?

Today more than ever, customers have a stronger voice in their shopping experience within companies.

The root of the problem can often be traced to broken organizational structures that can be difficult to overcome, for example:

  • Lack of collaboration between departments
  • Disconnections between branches
  • Corporate divisions operating on islands
  • Lack of unified goals

All of these issues create isolated experiences for customers that typically derive value and meaning from the total experience. So what can be done to help overcome these challenges?

From my experience, developing customer journey maps remains a critical first step. A customer journey map is a model of a customer's 360-degree experience with an organization. A customer journey map visually illustrates a client's needs, the series of interactions that meet those needs, and the emotional states experienced by the customer. In previous publications I have shown through an infographic how to easily carry out the customer journey mapping process.

Customer journey map in a crisis

The customer journey map should not be suspended until the COVID crisis recovers, says Joana Quintanilha, principal analyst at Forrester. “Today it is more important than ever to map the tours with real insights to understand how those tours are changing. How online activities are changing. How your customers interact with you differently, ”she explains. As consumers endure difficult circumstances, they learn new behaviors, and the journey map can help track them. It's especially important to design customer journeys that are emotionally in tune, avoiding dull marketing.

Ecosystem maps versus customer journey maps

Many organizations think they have developed a customer journey map, but instead, they have created an ecosystem map. Ecosystem maps are typically created through a collaborative exercise that involves key internal stakeholders, not customers, and are in turn assumptions. They are more focused on the points of contact.

Ecosystem maps are less customer-centric, as they do not consider the actual needs or emotional states of the customer.

While ecosystem maps certainly have value and are a good starting point, in many cases they are simply not enough. Taking an ecosystem map to the next level requires validation through voice of the customer research. That involves taking insights and assumptions gleaned from key stakeholders and overlaying the research learnings from the exercises with your target customers.

Tours are not linear, flat, or static, as customers can enter your platform at any point in the engagement funnel. Organizations, channels and technologies are constantly evolving. Consequently, the mapping process is a dynamic exercise. Tour maps can organically build on each other, especially during a time when consumer behaviors are changing so rapidly.

Customer journey mapping in a new world

Since employees work and collaborate remotely, customer journey mapping often looks different these days. Virtual customer journey mapping, of course, doesn't involve in-person workshops with dozens of sticky notes and 20 participants. There's more prep work to be done, “face-to-face time” squeezed onto the screen and digital whiteboards in place.

In times of change or crisis, virtual customer journey mapping really highlights its own importance and urgency. “Doing it virtually helps remind people that this is a dynamic exercise. A route map is a living document that we use as a problem-solving tool,” says Quintanilha.

With proper preparation and careful time management, virtual customer journey mapping can be a very valuable exercise. In a recent Forrester Wave ™ report on customer journey mapping, research shows that vendors' efforts to support their customers through visualizing the journey, co-creating in a virtual environment, and using information about the tour are on the rise.

Start again?

A recent Ascend2 survey revealed that only 20% of marketers "do not have or plan to use road maps in the future." The current status of the remaining 80%?

  • 30% plan to create and use trail maps in the future
  • Currently 26% have and use defined trail maps
  • 24% are building or testing trail maps

Take a look at your trail map atlas. Do some need to go back to the drawing board? Should you speed up others? You may consider releasing potential new and relevant trail maps for health and safety or diversity and inclusion.

To ensure that the work you are doing resonates now and in a post-pandemic world, prioritize the accuracy of your travel maps by regularly reviewing and reassessing them in light of these changing times.

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