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How a Customer Journey Map Builds Better Software

Customers are demanding faster, better, and more accurate software experiences. Building a strong customer journey map will show your customers you care and understand their needs.

· Web Dev Zone

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So, you know your customers.

You’ve put your own blood, sweat, and tears into creating and understanding the people using your app.

Confident with these personas, you’ve gone into building the perfect website with plenty of data to back up your reasoning.

But, to your surprise, customers aren’t walking the path you expected. In fact, some are even leaving your product before touching on the important stages.

A customer journey map is often the starting point

The customer journey map can often identify pain points in a customer’s experience

“I have the data, though!?” you ask yourself.

What this data often fails to expose is the true experience, (and quite possibly frustrations) of your customers.

How can we dig a little deeper?

Many companies turn to their customer journey map for answers. But, why is a customer journey map so vital to improving your customer’s experience—especially in software?

The 'Aha' Moment in Customer Journey Mapping

In his book “X, When Experience Meets Design”, Brian Solis outlines how large disrupter businesses like cosmetics giant Sephora went through 'aha' moments when it came to truly understanding what their stakeholders wanted.

And, at the very core of this 'digital transformation' process lies their customer journey map.

After reviewing a few key areas of their business, Sephora was able to guide their growth strategically based on what customers needed.

When building personas (the other core tool we use to understand our customer) focus groups and surveys certainly still have their place. What customer journey mapping offers is the chance to dig a little deeper, and technology is on our side as more digital tools allow us to take a deeper dive on how actual human beings are navigating our apps.

We can learn a lot from companies like Sephora, who radically changed their online purchase process due to their customer journey map.

The biggest takeaway was that customers actually take a multi-faceted approach to shopping online. This resulted in an overhaul of their website to accommodate this navigation, offering help and product suggestions where needed.

Their customers wanted "unbiased service from experts, an interactive shopping environment, and innovation." Customers are only adopting their technology when it makes their lives easier. 

Building a customer journey map doesn't have to be confusing

Building a customer journey map takes work but it can guide business growth

From this understanding, they were able to be strategic in how they built their technology. Now they have 1,750 stores in over 30 countries worldwide.

Sephora’s story is so powerful because they built the foundation of their company on a balance of brand and customer experience. They focus attention to the interactions that customers have with their brand as a whole, so they can continue to provide exceptional customer service.

What’s interesting is their competitors find it hard to replicate their customer-centric model.

Now, we know building a brand to the size of Sephora is no easy feat. However, there are a few things we can learn from how giants map their customer journey to create better interactions throughout their apps.

Storytelling Has a Place in Customer Journey Mapping

Where customers first interact with your brand is how a customers’ story first begins. From there, we can start to map a journey through their navigation then how they reach a long term relationship.

Keeping this 'story' a dynamic and flexible document (rather than static) will help to put the customer first—especially when it comes to building new features and creating new designs.

Get Valuable Insights From Data to Guide the Process

Having this document as a piece of the design process creates a degree of predictability from how a customer reaches a desired end point. Therefore, it puts much less pressure on teams to 'guess' where to put important steps like calls to action.

Most importantly, customer journey maps help us identify gaps and inconsistencies where things feel disjointed for the customer.

Start to identify places that need particular attention by travelling through your software yourself from start to end on a regular basis. Use data from sources like Google Analytics to discover where your customers are dropping off.

You’ll be able to pinpoint where people are exiting, and even tailor make communication from your marketing team (a well-timed email can work wonders to draw people back into your app!)

Rather than be a complex document, your map can be a simple flow diagram accessible to the whole office.

Why We Need the Customer Journey Map More Than Ever

Customers are demanding faster, better, and more accurate software experiences. Not many have time for slow loading or complicated interactions.

Being able to capture precise information on how customers are moving through your software is vital to enhance a customer’s experience.

Building a strong customer journey map will show your customers you care and understand their needs. Plus you’ll save time when building any new areas of your website.

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Published at DZone with permission of Freyja Spaven, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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