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Just how important is it that businesses understand how customers interact with or feel about them, or be able to identify the "moments that matter" in customer interactions?

Well, without that ability, a business cannot see how each interaction relates to others in the communication matrix, or instantly identify and recognize pain points—and both are critical to being agile and aligning with the constantly developing needs of its customer base.

So, how do businesses achieve that knowledge? With the help of customer journey maps.

Customer journey maps help businesses visualize customer interactions and identify quickly and clearly what is working in the communication exchange, as well as what needs more work. That, in turn, helps pinpoint potential issues on the horizon and improves customer decision-making, maximizing those moments-that-matter interactions and the customer objectives of the business.

In the world of B2B, customer journey maps have an additional level of complexity because organizations are often selling to a team rather than a single person. Therefore, when building a journey map, you need to consider the role each person is playing in the journey and the ways those roles interact with one another. Who is the primary buyer? Who are the consumers of the product or service being sold? Is someone acting as your coach or adviser in the journey? Can you identify influencers or detractors?

So, how does a business start with customer journey mapping? Before attempting any customer journey map exercise, organizations must answer two questions.

  1. Are we a customer-centric organization?
  2. Is customer experience a measured focus of our business?

Assuming the answer is yes to those questions, the next step is to build out journey maps using the following general framework.

1. Persona

The persona is a definition that represents the customer group you want to interact with. It should be as complete a picture of the customer as you can create, and it should help your team visualize how that constructed person will interact with your business.

In a B2B journey, you also need to identify the role of each person associated with your persona and recognize that there are multiple personas in play at any point in the journey itself.

2. Stages or Phases

Customer journeys are broken down into stages, and each industry has its own language that applies to those stages. In general terms, organizations should consider the following steps in a customer relationship:

  1. Awareness
  2. Research
  3. Acquisition
  4. Retention
  5. Advocacy

Not all organizations will need to define every stage, but those stages can act as the starting blocks for building effective customer journeys.

3. Moments That Matter

Sometimes referred to as touchpoints or channels, "moments that matter" are the key exchange points in the customer journey between your organization and your customer. They can be visualized in various ways, and they are an essential tool for identifying effectiveness and efficiency in the journey.

4. Feelings (Thoughts and Actions)

An articulation of customer thoughts written in the first person can help organizations better understand and demonstrate how a customer feels about a businesse's products and services. Actions—customer reviews, service desk calls, complaints, etc.—all help to create that narrative and support the identification of what works and what doesn't.

5. Pain Points

Organization can now start to look at pain points that affect the customer. For example, having a service desk with limited hours but a sales process that is available 24/7 may leave some customers frustrated with their interactions with you. That might be something the business wants to address.

6. Emotions

Emotions are often the hardest part for an organization to understand, but if the journey map is to be of value and help improve customer interactions, it must be done openly and honestly.

Understanding the highs and lows of the customer journey through each moment that matters helps an organization identify the focus areas for improvement of the customer journey.

* * *

One final point on journey maps: they are not designed to be static documents or one-off exercises. Any organization wanting to go down this route should be fully committed to the creation measurements and use of the maps it creates. Failure to commit fully to the process will do more damage than good; as a consequence, customer experience will suffer.

More Resources on Customer Journey Maps

Customer Journey Maps for Marketers: Understand and Exceed Expectations | MarketingProfs Master Class

The State of Enterprise Customer Journey Mapping

How to Create a Customer Journey Map to Optimize Your Campaigns

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image of Mike Turner

Mike Turner is a principal business advisor on customer intelligence at SAS, an analytics, AI, and data management company. He has 30+ years of experience working across various industries, leading mixed teams of creative and technical resources in marketing agencies, consultancy, supply- and demand-side commercial businesses, and startup organizations.

LinkedIn: Mike Turner