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Customer journey maps can stave off dismal customer experience

ATLANTA -- In the race to understand their customers, companies now have another term to acquaint themselves with: customer journey mapping.

Customer journey maps enable companies to understand, from the customer's point of view, their experience in interacting with companies over products, services and so on. Customers may first connect with a company over a social channel regarding a product quality issue, but then take to a customer service line over the phone, live chat on a company's website or another channel by which to interact and voice their concerns. Customer journey maps should reflect the various scenarios by which a customer may communicate with a company or take action. Companies need to anticipate and strategize based on these various potential scenarios.

Banafsheh Ghassemi, co-founder at Tangerine Lab, a customer experience consultancy in Washington, D.C., discussed the importance of customer journey mapping in creating a solid customer experience strategy, one of her key themes in a workshop she presented at the Social Shakeup conference this week in Atlanta. Ghassemi said that many companies, however, make missteps. "The single biggest mistake that organizations make is not involving the customer at all," Ghassemi said. "They sit in a conference room and assume a whole lot of things about what the journey of the customer looks like. … It could be through observation, it could be through immersion."

Ghassemi said that part of the objective of customer journey mapping should be to create a more frictionless, seamless and consistent experience for customers as they traverse the multichannel universe: that is, create an omnichannel experience. Ghassemi described her own experience in having trouble paying for her healthcare insurance online. She then contacted the company on social media to indicate that the online payment page was defunct. She was then contacted by the company's customer service line within minutes. The company had her customer information in hand from the CRM system and was able to address her concerns.

"Through this omnichannel experience that they have designed, they have anticipated my journey from Web to social to a call center, and they have designed the CRM platform and the tech that is enabling this experience without me offering any information about myself," she said.

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