The Customer Experience

Mapping the customer experience entails moving beyond the single flashpoint of the sale. It examines all of the ways the customer interacted with the brand before the sale, but it doesn’t stop there. A business that focuses solely on the sale itself as the only interaction worth mapping is essentially missing the forest for the trees.

If we stopped and really thought about all of our recent experiences as a customer, we’d quickly realize how many of them were not centered around an active sale. Customer experience mapping acknowledges that and seeks to identify all touchpoints a customer and a business have.

Creating Your CXM

Identifying how a customer interacts with your brand goes into developing your customer experience map, or CXM. You should include all interactions, even those which are not actual sales. Mapping all these points paints a picture of all the ways in which a customer uses your brand or product and this matters because this is how you determine which points have the most value and effectiveness. Your goal can’t be only the sale. You need to identify how you can develop customer loyalty and brand integration into daily life.

Looking for Your Strengths

The layout of your CXM isn’t the most important thing. What you’re really looking for are those key touchpoints, and which of your departments is responsible at each point of interaction. Those are the departments that you can target for additional support and development. You can work with personnel in those departments to identify the aspects which appeal to customers the most, and what that department needs to continue to nurture that customer touchpoint.

Of course, the opposite holds true. Even the absence of data is data. So after you’ve identified all the customer touchpoints, ask if there are any departments or areas in the business plan that you expected would create touchpoints, but didn’t. What barriers can you identify in those departments that prevent them from contributing to a more meaningful customer relationship?

Aren’t CBMs and CXMs the Same?

A Customer Buying Map (CBM) examines all the areas in which you and your customer interact along the path to the sale. A CXM captures all of these touchpoints but continues to expand. A CBM does not focus on the customer after initial consumption unless the customer cycles back to the path that leads to another sale. So CXMs are vital because they map out all the ways the customer interacts with your brand beyond the sale. Does the customer need to access customer service? Are they struggling with a breakdown in the product and calling tech support?

To be clear, a CXM doesn’t replace a CBM—it extends beyond it in all directions. It can function as a safety net, catching customers who find themselves having a less than ideal experience. By identifying the issues and incorporating them into your CXM, you’re cultivating a long-term relationship that helps to ensure customers return to the CBM again and again.

Specific CXM Examples

There are several ways you can proactively seek out touchpoints with your customers. Customer satisfaction surveys and tech support requests and outcomes allow customers to speak to you directly about what is working well for them—and what is pushing them away.

Customer churn is another potentially fruitful area. Every business experiences churn to some extent, even with strong products and responsive customer care. You can address some of that churn by identifying trends and drawing up plans of support for affected departments. Many companies producing great products find their churn isn’t because customers don’t like what they offer, but because they stopped with a CBM and failed to implement a CXM.

From Identification to Integration

Gathering the data and constructing a CXM is only valuable if you utilize it. It sounds silly, but some companies collect the data and map them out, and then expect the map to do all the work. It’s an important tool, but only a tool—how you as a business implement the guidance the tool can generate is what gives the CXM its true value.

The sheer amount of data that comes out when you’re working on your CXM can feel heavy and overwhelming. If this is the case, try taking a step back and viewing it all as a continuous work in progress. As you continue to use the map, the paths will take shape over time. Touchpoint outliers may crop up from time to time, but you’ll probably see clusters of data points that will help guide your quest to supporting customer experiences.

The final takeaway is this: customers will tell you everything but if you stop listening at the point of sale, you won’t hear some of the most important information you’ll need to grow your business.