It might be challenging for you to get into the mind of the customer. You might wonder why a customer leaves your checkout? Or why do they spend so much time in a physical shop, but conversions are low in mobile?

The root cause is that you most likely don´t have a clear grasp of the customer journey. It reminds me of playing a chess game without knowing the rules. The game might be very fun at the beginning – experimenting, trying out various strategies, capturing a few pawns along the way… However, it diverts the attention from the bigger – and more important – picture: the end-to-end journey.

The truth is that nowadays customers don’t revolve around the business, rather businesses must figure out how they fit into the lives of their customers. This requires a shift in your mindset and understanding of the whole customer journey in your e-commerce business.

In short, it means illustrating the experiences of an individual as a customer of an organization: across all offline and online touchpoints.

“Creating value in the 21st century will increasingly involve systems of experiences. Touchpoints are the basic building blocks that make up the system

Battle the short-sighted chess game by understanding these 3 important pillars of customer-centric organization:

View your e-commerce strategy from outside-in rather than inside-out

No matter the industry, organizations tend to focus too much on internal processes. That’s when solutions fail. Many people in the organization don’t know what customers go through and it creates a lot of misalignment in between people. Teams build solutions that are detached from reality and focus on technology and business needs rather than experience.

“There are a couple of important benefits that journey mapping is delivering for River Island. The first is a cultural one, where every person within the organisation, regardless of role, feels like they can voice an opinion and contribute to the company’s success.“ – Tim Maclvor, head of the customer experience at River Island

Create visualizations as shared references

However, simply understanding the customer journey isn’t typically enough.

The challenges in alignment lie in the difficulty of seeing interdependencies across the organization. Customer Success, marketing, design, and technology departments might function very well on its own. But from the user perspective – it might be a maze of interactions that are not connected.

There are two perspectives, the actual journey users take and the aspirational expectations of the organization. Visualizing the journey is the key to breaking down the siloed thinking. It does not give immediate answers, but it fosters conversations. It is the key starting point.

There are several maps you can start using, depending on the challenges you want to solve and how you would like to visualize the journey, for example:

  1. Service blueprints
  2. Customer journey
  3. Experience maps
  4. Mental model diagrams
  5. Spatial maps

By creating a journey in one of these ways – you start visualizing something that had previously been scribbled down in a customer support call or living in the departments or organization. Seeing the journey side by side, you can then begin making necessary changes. Because it’s now visual – anyone can look at it, contribute to it, dispute it and use it!

Ask yourself early in the process: how the “customer journey” will be used?

Will it be used to diagnose problems or improve the design of an existing system? Will it be used to create a strategy or plan for the development? Is it more a cultural shift in a company to start taking users into account?

The most important part of distilling all the evidence into understanding is that a journey map does not need to be a pretty presentation that was done once and forgotten. It must be useful – it is not about how you layout the information, it’s simply that you are doing it in the first place and using it!

Make it a living document

Just because you’ve designed your map doesn’t mean your work is done. The whole exercise of mapping the customer journey remains hypothetical until you try it yourself, test it and constantly update it with new insights.

Consider it as a living document – fill it up with new insights, customer quotes, data about each touchpoint that you can refer to when making important decisions in product development.

If possible – test your journey map regularly – it must be tweaked accordingly whenever you introduce significant changes to your product and service. You can set up a time each quarter to evaluate how your current customer experience matches your documented journey.

Based on the rationale above, you can’t deny the importance of a customer journey map.Stop playing chess with your customers by making blind moves!

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