Customer self-service has become a vital component to modern business models, thanks to a typical consumer need for accuracy, consistency, and speed across all facets of your service.
But when designing a means by which consumers can interact with your service with little to no guidance, your entire development team has to have a strong understanding of who your audience is, what specific pain points they’re trying to alleviate, and how they can personalize the process for each individual.
This can all be accomplished through customer journey mapping. By laying out the experiences of your audience, the entire team can work together in one mind to figure out how to approach the issue.
But what is customer journey mapping? And why is it so effective at creating an efficient self-service strategy?
What is Customer Journey Mapping?
Customer journey mapping is a process by which a business seeks to understand and outline the everyday needs and wants of their customer base. This is particularly important for projects like web design or application development, as it serves as a starting point for the design team.
Most importantly, customer journey mapping helps the entire organization better understand the customer experience. Why is that important, you may ask? Research has shown that customer experience is directly tied to retention, which is one of the essential elements of running a profitable business.
It can be up to 25 times more expensive for an organization to bring on new customers or clients than it is to retain its existing audience. That’s why it’s crucial to create a robust and easy customer experience to prevent abandonment and keep your customers coming back for years to come.
Customer journey mapping brings all departments of an organization together, operating under one vision of what the ideal customer looks like. If the design team has a firm grasp on the needs of customers, but the marketing team has no real idea what the perfect audience looks like, that’s a huge problem and will lead to a weak product rollout.
Customer journey mapping has been referred to in some circles as the secret shopper of the digital marketing world. That’s an appropriate comparison as, much like a secret shopper enters a physical store and takes notes on the full experience from the customer’s point of view, so too does selfservice journey map look through the eyes of an end-user to identify opportunities for improvement.
Mapping the entire experience of a customer provides insight into issues that consumers are having with the service. Sometimes, these problems won’t occur to you or your employees, but if left unaddressed, they could negatively impact the overall experience and force customers away.
Another essential feature of a customer journey map is the ability to identify the personas of customers and how journeys differ between groups. If your audience is particularly diverse, a series of customer journey maps can help you gain a broad understanding of the differing wants of various segments of your audience. This allows you to personalize your advertising efforts and target them more effectively.
Customer journey mapping also allows for an omnichannel approach to running a business. That’s a content strategy in which companies combine the efforts of their communications channels and supporting resources, rather than having them work parallel to one another. When everyone is on the same page, it makes for higher efficiency and a vastly improved customer experience.
One of the main reasons why customer journey mapping is so important is that it gives companies a much-needed opportunity to understand the critical needs of their customers to provide better means to meet them. The customer experience can only improve once decision-makers have allowed themselves to walk in the shoes of their clients. It also establishes timelines for the company by identifying how long the customer journey should take.
New findings can be leveraged through customer journey mapping to improve future designs and help move a company forward into the future.
One of the best ways to create a customer journey map is to compile NPS scores and customer satisfaction data to look for similar reports. NPS stands for Net Promoter Score and it is a survey offered at a specific point to customers where they are asked to rate the company between one and ten and leave comments explaining their score.
Oliver Kipp, Chief Customer Officer at MaritzCX, talked about customer journey mapping by saying, “The customer journey map starts by identifying the key moments a customer has with the company prior, during and after the purchase of a product or service – be it online or offline. The review should include the customer’s desired outcomes, emotional needs, and possible pain points. First, by reviewing what the company perceives and second, in comparison, how customers and prospects see it. For the internal perspective, it is important to get all internal stakeholders, and in particular, the frontline employees’ view as well – not just the perspectives of the department running the CX program.”
What is Self-Service?
Self-service is a form of support through which users can access information and perform tasks over the internet without having to interact with a human employee of the company.
Self-service is seen as beneficial to both the customer and the business because it allows for 24-hour support 365 days per year. Using a self service portal, customers can access their information at any time on any day without having to go through the process of making a call or waiting for someone to email them.
A great example of web intelligent self-service comes from the financial industry. Banks have been utilizing websites and applications to give account holders real-time access to their account information 24/7 for years. With some simple login information or a biometric scan, bank account holders can view their balance, review transactions, transfer funds, and even deposit checks with nothing more than a photo.
Two main factors determine the overall effectiveness of web self-service. They are the quality of the information that a customer can access, and the ease with which they can access said data.
Companies can see a wealth of benefits from implementing a self-service strategy. First and foremost, self-service helps a company save on overall costs, especially when compared to a live manned service department on call 24 hours a day.
It also grants companies the ability to collect data on customers who use their service. This is beneficial to a company’s ability to market to their base successfully and to improve the overall customer experience.
Whether you’re deploying a self-service function for your company for the first time or just seeking to improve what’s already there, a strategy has to be put in place. This is known as a self-service strategy, and it is the template that companies use to plan the successful rollout or improvement of their self-service system.
As web self-service becomes more popular and expected, advanced methods are being deployed to ensure that these systems roll out efficiently. That’s why a lot of businesses have taken to customer journey mapping to help them plan out their self-service strategy.
Applying Journey Mapping to Self-Service Strategy
has become a pivotal aspect of modern business, and customer journey mapping can help companies create more effective self-service strategies.
How vital is self-service? According to recent studies, 50% of customers want to solve service issues themselves while a whopping 70% of customers expect some form of self-service throughout their journey.
Mapping can be helpful for businesses that are looking to start a self-service function, but it can also help a company refine and improve its existing system. If you’ve already implemented self-service, you can easily use journey mapping to gauge its effectiveness and enhance it for improved customer experience.
This can be accomplished through the use of polls or focus groups, which will give you a peek into the minds of your existing customers. Then, once you have this data, analyze the feedback from each audience segment to determine where your self-service strategy can be improved for each section of your target demographic.
If you’re implementing self-service functionality for the first time, you can use customer mapping to determine what features are most important to your audience. Then, build them into the process to create a series of user-friendly options that will improve the lives of your customers and keep them coming back for years to come.
There are a few essential questions to ask yourself before implementing a self-service strategy.
What devices are your consumers using?
Are they desktop-based, or are more of them utilizing services through mobile platforms? Once you know this, you can optimize accordingly. You want to make sure that if mobile platforms are the preferred method of self-service for your audience that mobile functionality runs like clockwork. That’s not to say that desktop platforms shouldn’t matter at all, but it is best to sink more effort into the most highly trafficked areas of your business.
How tech-savvy is your audience?
Understanding this will tell you how much hand-holding you will have to do through the self-service process. If you’re typically serving millennials, that’s entirely different than designing a platform for senior citizens or baby boomers.
Customer segments who are not as knowledgeable will need a slew of tutorials popping up. However, this could annoy a more seasoned technical audience. That’s why understanding the way they think and what they want is so essential to the strategic process.
The Key to Self Service
The key to flawless self-service is to make it effortless. Customers don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to work through self-service systems. If it’s too complicated, they will move onto another service.
Customers also want customer support experiences to be flawless when self-service issues arise.
Accenture reports that 89% of customers are frustrated because they have to repeat issues to multiple representatives throughout the support process. Flawless self-service removes that objection.
On top of that, more than 87% of customers are looking for a more consistent experience.
Flawless self-service works to connect the customer with the answers that they need in the smallest amount of steps possible.
Personalized Self Service
Personalization is also essential when developing a customer self-service strategy, and customer journey mapping makes this infinitely more accessible.
The logic behind personalization is to make users feel as though the entire self-service system was explicitly designed for them.
You can easily do this by making self-service reflective of specific circumstances that the user has undertaken within the system. Provide the customer data that is specific to them, such as their purchase history, previously asked questions, support tickets, and more.
You can also use customer mapping to improve your self-service knowledge base. Through mapping, you can easily find frequently asked questions and make sure that your site provides dynamic answers to these identified issues. Not only are you creating an efficient self-service system, but you’re ensuring that your customers can address their problems and gain an education on how to work the service without going through a human customer support agent.
Self- service is the future of customer support, and customers prefer to solve their queries on their own without having to reach out to a customer support agent. But it will be useful to both you and your customers only if it has the right resources. Update your self-service resources with the proper FAQs as the common issues arise. If your self-service resources are clear, it will not only help your customers find information quickly but will also reduce the number of incoming queries to your support team.
With something so vital to the customer experience, you must back up your strategy with quantitative data, which will provide insight into the customer’s journey. For that, you need to implement customer journey mapping into your overall plan and use it to craft a self-service strategy.