A growing number of B2B businesses are claiming to be customer-centric – but before you add, “we put our customers at the heart of everything we do” to your core messages, is your customer experience the best it can be?
The experiences your customers and prospects have with your brand can have a huge influence on whether they choose you or your competitors for their next purchase. In fact, research has shown that
89% of companies compete mainly on customer experience
– so how can you ensure that your business goes above and beyond the competition?
If you want to ensure that you’re providing a stand-out customer experience,
creating a customer experience map is the best place to start
. This involves mapping out the experiences your customers have at every stage of the buying cycle, from before they are even aware of your brand to post-purchase. It’s an incredibly useful tool for improving customer experience, because a detailed CX map will show you exactly where you need to make changes to give your customers a better experience with your brand.
So, what are you waiting for? Follow these four simple steps to create your customer experience map:
1. Choose the best approach for your business
There are two types of customer experience maps – linear and non-linear. With a linear approach, you map out the customer journey as a series of touchpoints that follow logically one after another. It may start with a prospect interacting with one of your ads, for example, then visiting your website before filling in a form. A linear map is typically well-suited to customer journeys in which the customer must follow a set process to complete a purchase, such as a public sector organisation buying through a structured tendering process.
But most prospects won’t follow a strictly structured journey to becoming a customer. In today’s digital world, there are many opportunities for prospects to interact with your business, and they’re likely to move back and forth between various touchpoints while considering whether to buy from you. This is where a non-linear customer experience map may be the best approach. A non-linear map looks at all of the potential touchpoints your audience may have with your business before, during and after they become a customer. As it’s not linear, you can see how customers may ‘bounce’ between different stages of this lifecycle, and identify how you can improve their experience at every stage.
2. Gain stakeholders’ insight and buy-in
Your marketing team isn’t solely responsible for your customer experience. Anyone who interacts with your customers can leave them with a lasting impression of your brand – and is likely to have important insight into your customers’ behaviour. So it’s worth engaging these stakeholders to not only gain their knowledge of your customers but also to help them understand the role they can play in providing an excellent customer experience.
Carry out a workshop with a range of stakeholders from across different departments to get a range of different customer experience perspectives. You should start the journey with a blank customer experience journey map and work through each area of the map with your stakeholders, asking them to contribute their thoughts on your customers’ mindset, pain points and actions at each stage. You should also ask whether they can think of any opportunities your business may have to improve the customer experience before, during or after they become a customer.
3. Check in with your customers
Your stakeholders’ customer insight is valuable, but it’s also key to check whether their contributions to your customer experience map are accurate. We typically make assumptions about our customers’ pain points and mindsets that may not completely reflect reality. The best way to test these assumptions is to collect data on your customers’ behaviour through customer interviews, surveys, and your digital analytics.
If you have buyer personas, it’s useful to carry out at least three customer interviews per persona to give you a well-rounded view of what they expect from their interactions with your business. If you struggle to find customers willing to commit to an interview, you might have more success in sending out a short survey that they can answer in a matter of minutes. You can also delve into your website and social media analytics to get a clearer picture of where your customers may be having positive and negative experiences with your business. If an ad is receiving a high number of clicks, for example, it’s clearly resonating with your audience – but if the landing page has a high bounce rate, you may need to review why it’s not engaging these prospects.
4. Create and share your customer experience map
Once you’ve collected insight from your stakeholders and customers, you should have the information you need to create a really robust customer experience map. Your map should make it easy for your whole team to see where the opportunities to improve your organisation’s customer experience lie – and motivate them to get involved. Set up a working group containing stakeholders from across your business to help you to put the learnings you have taken from the map into action and measure their impact.
Remember, your customer’s world is always changing, which means their pain points, mindset and behaviour is subject to continual change too. And as you make adjustments to problematic touchpoints, you should see improvements in customer experiences in these areas. This means that your customer experience map shouldn’t be treated as a static document. By regularly revisiting your customer experience map, and checking in with your customers themselves, you can ensure that your business lives up to its ‘customer-centric’ values.
Why not check out Propolis, our exclusive community for B2B marketers to share insights, learn from industry leading marketers, and access our best content. Propolis includes eight Hives (group) to tackle your challenges, including one dedicated to CX.