Understanding and optimising the customer journey is more vital than ever for business leaders who want to future-proof their organisations and achieve ongoing success. The customer journey has become increasingly complex as the use of digital channels has become more popular, and customers now expect seamless experiences across multiple online and offline touchpoints, demanding a higher level of personalisation and responsiveness. In particular, customers are now increasingly using digital and self-service options, leading to new pathways, expectations, and changes in service and support.
Success in this era requires organisations to change their strategies for mapping and enhancing customer experience (CX). Consequently, business leaders unequivocally need to invest in journey mapping, a strategic approach to capturing and analysing every touchpoint a customer has with a brand, to gain a comprehensive view of customer interactions and take steps to meet these changing needs and expectations. However, journey mapping on its own is no longer sufficient; instead, businesses need to consider the emotional response that customers have throughout the customer journey to better tailor their experiences, according to NICE.
Rod Lester, managing director of ANZ, NICE, said, “Businesses need to deeply understand their customers’ perspectives, goals, thoughts, and feelings at each interaction point. This human-centric approach provides a holistic view of the customer’s experience, highlighting areas for improvement and opportunities for engagement. However, many businesses face challenges in emotional journey mapping because the customer experience is siloed, confined to specific departments like marketing or customer service. To overcome this, successful businesses must recognise that the digital-first customer journey intersects various facets of a business, from product development to IT to sales, and align these diverse functions around a shared vision of the customer.”
Businesses need to move beyond the traditional metrics of customer satisfaction and delve into how customers feel at various touchpoints. This approach will help businesses better identify not just what customers are doing but why they are doing it.
Rod Lester said, “Journey mapping on its own can only tell a business so much about the customer and the experience that they have in engaging with a brand. Enhancing the fundamentals of journey mapping with the emotional elements can provide a more detailed understanding of a customer. For example, a customer’s frustration with a difficult checkout process on a website goes beyond the functional issue to include feelings of annoyance or betrayal, especially if they have high expectations of the brand. These emotions need to be recognised and addressed if a business is to transform a potentially negative experience into an opportunity for positive engagement and reinforcement of trust.”
The best outcomes are achieved by layering traditional journey mapping with emotional intelligence (EQ) and smart tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI). For example, businesses should merge customer feedback metrics, such as satisfaction surveys or Net Promoter Scores (NPS), with operational metrics like conversion rates and digital engagement analytics to uncover a comprehensive understanding of customer behaviour and preferences. Continuously measuring customer experiences and satisfaction using these metrics can help to inform an evolving journey map, one that adapts to meet changing needs and expectations.
This should be enhanced with real-time data and analytics. Leveraging AI and machine learning (ML) can elevate this process, providing deeper insights into customer behaviour and driving more proactive CX strategies.
Rod Lester said, “Modern businesses readily embrace AI and automation to transform their business; however, it’s critical that the human touch isn’t lost, especially when it comes to the customer journey. Businesses that succeed are those that place the customer at the heart of their operations and enhance their understanding with the latest technologies. Adopting a strategic approach to journey mapping, underpinned by EQ and AI, lets organisations exceed the expectations of the modern customer, securing their loyalty and driving long-term growth.”