Customer Mapping and How it Can Help Your Small Business
Customer mapping is simple, really. It’s the process of determining the entire life of your customer’s engagement with your company, brand, and products.
It involves every step; from initial interest piqued to a google search and a browse on your website, from a registration or signing up for your newsletters to buying your product and writing a review, and from buying more products and becoming a fan of the company, the brand, and telling others to buy from you.
Customer mapping doesn’t just involve the ideal customer or end-user interaction, and that’s its unique impact. Customer mapping can also involve thinking about the potential oversights in your company’s approach to outreach, sales, marketing, and engagement.
Think about someone in your intended audience and the frustrations they might have, or what might turn them off.
- What if your website isn’t mobile-friendly? Immediate turn-off.
- What if your shipping costs are set at exorbitant rates? Loss of sales.
- What if your copywriting is mundane and provides nothing innovative or new from the five other companies doing what you’re doing? Moving on to the next company!
Why Should You Do It?
Using customer mapping has the potential to visualize what a successful engagement with a customer looks like, and what a failed engagement looks like, and how to merge the two to provide the best possible end-user focused problem-solved experience for the people you’re trying to reach.
Most importantly, you can use customer mapping to discover holes in how potential customers interact with your business or brand. You want to control as many variables as possible, so the things that are in the customer’s hands, like product reviews or social media engagement, are as strong as possible.
Identifying the potential oversights in engagement allows you the distinct advantage of improving those touch points when they’ve been identified. It can also help you look at the bigger picture of your business or brand, and help you identify improvements you could make to your product, sales approach, website design, brand, and so on. Who doesn’t want more customers?
If you happen to employ such processes like design thinking, then you already have a procedure in place that is user-focused, empathetic, and concerned with the needs and desires of the people your company is reaching out to and the audience for whom your products are being created.
How Do You Do It?
There’s no singular approach, and there is a lot of information on the web articulating specific viewpoints of what it might look like.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ve pared down what we know and what we’ve found to ease you into the process as quickly and effectively as possible.[Tweet “Help your #smallbiz, learn how #customer #mapping can provide a better customer experience.”]
Remember that this a process and there are no one-size-fits-all approach, find what works for you after giving these steps a try.
Customer mapping research reveals the strongest means of engaging with an audience, and the best practices for selling your product or getting an audience to interact with your service.
It shows you all possible touchpoints with your end-users and reveals what you lack. You should already be researching, but customer mapping gives you a visual paradigm that structures your approach in a proven formula.
Demographic and Audience Research
Research studies relating to your customer base. Utilize ethnographic and demographic research in the audience you’re trying to reach. Look at market trends, what’s popular, and consider a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and perspectives.
Look at trends. This is extremely important. Know your audience, and know what is working in the market right now. If nobody looks at newsletters anymore, then don’t waste time, money, or effort on a newsletter.
If nobody you want to sell to is likely to use Pinterest, then don’t have a board (exception: if you want to extend your audience to include Pinteresters, then figure out how to get there via mapping).
Know the trends, know the trends, know the trends! Don’t necessarily rewrite your entire story just to get in with trends that may only be around for a month, but know what’s working for people right now, and what has never worked. Combine what you know with what others know.
Look at What You Already Have
Look at what you already have. Do you have a social media account that you aren’t updating? Do you have poor customer service or no way customers can contact you with concerns? Think about all the channels of communication you might have with your clients and what’s stopping you from being directly in contact with them.
Stick to Your Audience
Don’t try and appeal to everyone. To make a universal message usually results in a mundane, general one. Obviously, your business or company shouldn’t be discriminating against anyone, and all should be welcome. What we mean is consider who will actually buy or engage with your product. Don’t think of people as consumers, but as desiring-humans with problems that need to be fixed.
Seek New Perspectives
Ask friends for advice. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. Get involved in the process yourself. Ask questions, like what frustrates you, or what would you do if you knew nothing about the company. Test your product on those closest to you. Get a variety of perspectives.
This is the step in which you’ll take all the research you’ve accumulated and actually create the visual flow chart of your customer engagement.
Notice your weak spots. Make note of past complaints, reviews, or points at which engagement dropped off. This phase helps you know your entire process forwards and backward and allows your to fill in the communication holes. It can even show you the advantages or disadvantages of your product, your sale approach, and broader changes you need to make.
Create visuals of the flow of communication and engagement. This gives you a clear view of all the touchpoints and their connections (and the ways in which they aren’t connected). Think of mapping it like this:
- Successful engagement: Engage > Purchase > Writes Review after Use > Gets Friends to Buy Product > Buys Another Product
- Unsuccessful engagement: Engage > Signs Up for Newsletter > Gets Annoyed at Amount of Emails and Dislikes Website > Unsubscribes and Disengages
Research + Brainstorming = Success
Combine research with brainstorming. Write down all possible scenarios. What you want is breadth and depth of all possible engagements. Think about every touch point you might have with your customer.
- Do you have commercials?
- Shelf space?
- Ads in the weekly?
- A website?
- An email campaign?
- Mobile billboards?
- Landing pages?
Refine and shape each with the research you’ve gathered.
What mapping will actually look like depends entirely on you, but it helps to visualize each step of the ideal engagement, and then at each stage of what you’d want the perfect customer to do, figure out all the steps that you can do to ensure they’re satisfied every step of the way.
You can’t start strong in the beginning and then forget the follow-up. You have to be consistently strong every step of the way. Be suspicious if you couldn’t think of any oversights in your process. Everybody and every company can always improve on some aspect of their business or brand.
3. Testing and Refining
This is the step in which you’ll activate your steps and address your pain points. During the mapping phase, if you realized you saw customer drop-offs at email engagement, then you know to either scrap it or improve your process. If you mapped successfully and you see that there’s no engagement on your social media, you can do the same: abort or improve.
This will help you get rid of things that aren’t working or devote more time to ensuring they start working. You don’t want to spend time doing things that haven’t been working, or simply don’t usually work for businesses. If you spent adequate time researching, you’d be able to identify what works and what doesn’t.
Refining and Revisiting your Map
Successful engagement doesn’t stop at one round of customer mapping. Think of customer mapping as something you’ll need to use initially and then use to return to phase one. Refine your approach with the personal research and experiences you’ve gathered from your initial tests.
Locate Your Oversight
Customer mapping is an indispensable and utterly crucial way through which you can see oversight in your interaction with your clients. It can even show you things that you didn’t know you need. After a successful round of customer mapping, you might be able to determine that you need to use your social media more, or update your website, or improve your email management system, or have stronger visuals.
Utilize design thinking, the empathetic approach to solving problems by combining disparate parts into a human-centered whole that puts your customers and end-users first. You’re trying to get them to use you, or buy from you, or contribute to your blog, after all, so it really is all about them.
Is Customer Mapping Really Worth It?
Life is a journey that involves many steps and many parts. It isn’t always easy. But remember that that’s why you’re here: to improve the lives of others by fulfilling some need or desire that they might even know they want.
Your job is carving out a place in the market to provide for others a service or something that will drastically make their journey a little bit easier.
So think about this when you’re customer mapping. Think about the customers journey like they’re browsing through a retail store, or browsing on a website.
- What does that journey look like?
- What do you want that journey to look like for them?
- What would be the best possible journey?
- How will you ensure they know that you can provide some valuable and crucial for them?
Ask yourself these questions and map out where your customers have been, where they’re going, and lead them right to you.
Shawn Parrotte is the marketing manager of Designli, a mobile development firm specializing in bringing certainty to the world of custom software development. Designli guarantees fixed price points, fixed scope of work ‘deliverables,’ and fixed timeframes for its clients as they build iPhone, Android, and web apps for startups and businesses wanting to scale.