In this four-part series, we’re discussing the importance of optimizing your customers’ experiences through customer journey maps. If you’re just joining us, check out the first and second blogs of the series.
So, you’ve already decided that a customer journey map is an essential tool for optimizing your utility’s demand side management programs. Here’s how you go about creating one.
Step 1: Create your customer personas
A customer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers. It usually includes information about demographics, goals and motivations, and typical behavior.
Each journey map you create will represent the story of a single customer persona, representing a sector of your customer base. If you have more than one major sector, each has its own persona, so it’ll require a separate customer journey map. You must know precisely whose journey you’re mapping to effectively illustrate how they work toward achieving their goals. Without this context, the map can’t effectively represent the customer’s relationship with your utility or be a useful tool in optimizing customer experience, designing programs and marketing.
So, if you don’t already have a customer persona in place for the sector whose experience you want to map, use your market and customer research to create it.
Step 2: Gather your data
Effective customer journey maps are built on solid research—you should never draw conclusions based on hunches that are not supported by reliable qualitative and quantitative data. So, before you do anything else, you need as much detailed information as you can get regarding:
- Customer behavior—What is the customer doing at each touchpoint? How long are they spending on the landing page? How are they reaching your website? What search words are they keying into Google? This kind of quantitative data comes from website analytics, social media likes and shares, search data, login rates, surveys, polls (“how did you hear about us?”), “pay per click” and Adword data, and so on.
- Customer emotions—What surprises, frustrations or delights does the customer feel before, during and after each touchpoint? This is more qualitative, anecdotal evidence from surveys, interviews, reviews, social media comments and support logs. Be sure to involve frontline staff dealing with customers (help desk staff, client relationship managers, social media managers), who often have the most valuable information about your users’ goals, needs and levels of satisfaction.
- Customer thoughts – What do customers think of your organization? Do some in-depth research to discover their true opinions by conducting focus groups, customer interviews, and more. Obtaining this qualitative data firsthand will lend otherwise untapped insight to the customer’s point of view.
Step 3: Plot your customer goals
Sketch out the phases of the customer journey, outlined in our first blog, as a timeline:
You could do this using a large piece of paper, a whiteboard or even sticky notes on the wall. At this point, it can and should be a “quick and dirty” process, involving stakeholders and decision-makers from across the utility and implementation team.
Now, using the data gathered in Step 2 above, consider what the customer’s goals are in each phase. (It’s vital to identify your customer goals clearly, because your business can only accomplish its goals if your customers accomplish theirs.) What does the customer want to achieve? What do they need? What do they feel? What do they want to feel?
Plot these insights onto your timeline, and begin to flesh out the emotional landscape before, during and after each phase and transition. Consider the thoughts, feelings and challenges of your customers at each stage and discuss how these emotions can impact their decisions.
Step 4: Touchpoint inventory and channels
Next, list all the touchpoints at which a customer interacts with your company, product or brand—and map these on to the phases of your timeline. Your touchpoints probably include first contact, enrolling in a program, making a return to the online store, looking for support and so on.
Think about the different channels customers use for these touchpoints—such as:
- online (website, mobile, email, online chat, social media, blog, FAQ page, webinar, case studies, testimonials)
- phone (sales calls, support)
- print (direct mail, press ads, brochures, support documents)
- personal interaction (in-field assessments, conferences, word of mouth)
For example, for the touchpoint “enroll in a program,” the channels might be “enroll online,” “enroll via mail,” “enroll via phone” or “enroll in person.”
It’s important to drill down and revisit what you think you know, to rethink assumptions and really understand each and every touchpoint a customer has with your utility.
Consider the time frame, too—about how long does each step and transition last? Do some touchpoints need a minimum time in order to be effective? For example, how long does a successful customer support call usually take?
All this information should be plotted onto your developing journey timeline.
Step 5: Layout & Distribution
A customer journey map is not necessarily linear, though it broadly follows the timeline of your customer’s progress. It could be cyclical or spiraling—each one is different, depending on your business model, company structure and approach.
In general, most tend to show the phases of the customer journey along a horizontal axis, with the customer’s thoughts, goals and emotions at each touchpoint plotted along that scale, segregated by channel.
Customer journey maps are typically presented as some type of infographic, but get creative with how you lay yours out. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a classic left-to-right timeline—it could be circular or helical. It could be an interactive, shareable graphic with embedded video, or a 12-foot banner displayed in your office lobby. There are no rules—the possibilities are endless.
Whatever its form, the goal is the same—for your utility to learn more about your customers.
For more information on meeting your customers wherever they are in their journey, download our free ebook The Importance of Journey Building in Program Design.
Digital Marketing Strategist
Marketing is always evolving, but Megan Nyquist knows how to stay one step ahead. As an expert in both digital marketing strategy and digital campaign development, she works closely with clients and program marketing staff to develop innovative digital marketing campaigns that improve results and reduce costs. Megan also leads digital marketing training for the Franklin Energy marketing team and our clients. She has achieved trackable customer engagement in our own corporate marketing and effected impressive improvements in satisfaction and participation on behalf of our utility clients. Megan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University, extensive digital marketing certifications and has won multiple digital marketing awards on behalf of Franklin Energy and our clients.