Mapping the customer journey means creating a start-to-finish snapshot of customers’ interactions with a company. Compared to cold statistics, a map of the customer journey is more narrative, more nuanced, and reveals more about the customers’ feelings as they interact in different ways with a company.
Customer journey maps are often expressed infographically, which can reveal the how, why, when, and where of customers’ contact with a company. There are many benefits to mapping the customer journey, and call centers are uniquely positioned to reap these benefits.
Benefits of mapping the customer journey for call centers
- Integrating channels
A customer journey infographic can display in an easy-to-read way the various channels customers are using to reach out to your contact center and the overall flow of customer activity.
Examining the path followed by customers can show in what order they access these channels, and may help you determine preferences or whether a customer switching from one channel to another is the result of a roadblock or gap in service on a particular channel.
- Pinpointing resolution sweet spots
Knowing how to map the customer journey can reveal the endpoints where resolutions are most likely to occur.
This has the potential to inform your contact center as to the most valuable channels and methods for successful resolution of customers’ issues.
Accordingly, your call center can invest more resources into this channel or take steps toward improving other more neglected channels.
- Recognizing and resolving inefficiencies
Organizing and displaying the customer journey may lead to insights about inefficiencies in your system that are frustrating customers.
For example, you can examine a representative set of end-to-end individual customer data to see how many times customers are transferred, and how many times they are asked to verify information or re-explain their problem.
This could help your contact center to reduce such redundancies, resulting in happier customers overall. Furthermore, examining such inefficiencies in tandem with abandonment rates and times can reveal a lot about frustrations that your customers experience when they interact with your company.
- Manage resources proactively
Whereas many call centers wait until a service bottleneck prompts hiring or redistribution of team members, having a customer journey map that displays the trajectory of customer paths and volume can help call centers to get ahead of the storm.
Now that you’re sold on the idea of creating a customer journey map for your call center, here are some tips for how to map the customer journey:
- Do your research
Rather than starting at ground zero, begin by reviewing the customer data you already have. This data can be analytical (e.g. the average number of touchpoints before typical customers reach a resolution) or anecdotal, meaning stories culled from individual customers.
Your CRM software can provide a wealth of analytical data, and a great source of candid anecdotes from customers is social media, where many post freely about their customer service experience. You can do so using a social media tracker tool, or the analytical data available on each individual social media platform.
And of course, the traditional method of soliciting customer feedback through surveys is also an option.
- Conduct virtual walk-throughs
A brick-and-mortar store owner or manager has the benefit of being able to physically walk through their retail space and observe the customer experience for themselves.
While this first-hand perspective may be a bit more challenging to achieve in a call center, an effort to simulate a customer walkthrough may be worthwhile.
Recruit agents or managers to embark on a customer journey of their own (real or simulated) as a baseline for mapping the customer journey. Of course, authentic data needs to be examined as well for maximum reliability.
- Determine stages and pivot points
The research you’ve conducted should allow you to divide the customer experience into a series of stages that customers move through.
It is important to remember, however, that in the age of omnichannel customer support, the customer journey is often non-linear.
Determining these stages will allow you to begin developing a layout for your customer journey map. Perhaps even more important than these stages are the pivot points of transition from one stage to another. This is where you are likely to find narrative and emotional elements of the customer experience that can inform your call center practices.
- Get creative
Now you are ready to create your map. But what does it mean to map the customer journey? Customer journey maps can take a variety of forms.
Look for patterns in your data and use these patterns to determine the shape and form of your map. For example, if your customers have a tendency to cycle back to your contact center, a circular layout with defined entry and exit points may be appropriate. If your customers tend to move through a semi-linear process, then a timeline-style graphic may work well.
Anecdotal evidence can be inserted at essential pivot points in order to infuse your graphic with narrative elements. Although this process can certainly be conducted in-house, depending on your budget, you might consider hiring outside of the organization to make the most of the information you’ve collected.
What is the story of your customers? Mapping the customer journey means tapping into these stories to reveal the habits and desires of your customers in order to provide them with the best customer service possible.