This is the third in a 3-part blog series covering the role of the customer decision journey map in designing the optimal customer experience and how modern companies can stay on top of this dynamic and vital tool for marketing excellence. Part 1 can be read here and Part 2 is here.
In the previous posts in this series, we discussed what a customer decision journey map is and why it’s a vital step in creating an excellent customer experience. We also considered how a journey map is built and how it should be maintained as a living document.
Today, we’ll step back and look at the journey map process from an international perspective. Are the guidelines we’ve been discussing applicable globally?
The short answer is yes.
There are almost innumerable factors that differ from one nation to the next, including government regulation and ownership, business structure and practice, culture and traditions, and all the nuances of these that can color a business agreement. But the basic guidelines we’ve already discussed regarding building and maintaining a customer journey map to help facilitate the development of a better customer experience remain applicable:
- Building a customer decision journey map is vital to understanding your customer, their needs and experience gaps. Only through knowing what the customer wants can you build an offer and experience that satisfies their needs and differentiates your company from the competition.
- Effective experience journey maps have to start with an in-depth and open discussion with the customer (and their influencers) to get their insights on the journey.
- The key components the journey map seeks to identify and account for are: a progression of key activities in the purchase/usage journey, the decision makers, influencers, customer needs and pain points, and experience gaps at each step of the journey.
- Where, when, and how the customer gains information along their journey also impacts how you can proactively or reactively interact with them to improve their experience and steer their purchase decision your way.
- The “finished” customer decision journey map is actually a living document that needs to be continually tested and updated as new information becomes available.
But in a global market, it’s not always quite that simple.
Of course, those differences in regulation, business practice, culture, and other factors will have an impact on the reality of gathering data, analyzing it objectively, and using it to build an effective journey map. In fact, while the process of understanding the customer experience and building a journey map to capture insights may be the same around the globe, the actual maps will likely look quite different.
Culture and traditions may have a significant effect on how customers answer certain questions or what information they feel comfortable providing. This may impact whom you should speak to or in some cases, you may need to speak to more people or a greater percentage of influencers to get to the insights needed. If the government has a significant impact on the business environment for the customer, it may be prudent to speak to government officials and/or regulators as part of your information gathering.
Not only is the research approach and design likely to vary in the global, market, but the maps themselves will likely vary dramatically from country to country. For example, the purchase process may have a more concrete structure to it when there are a lot of government-owned businesses. Similarly, differences in infrastructure and transportation may have a dramatic impact on customer feedback as well. For example, if the closest distributor of your product is 3,000 miles away but air transport is difficult or prohibitively expensive in that area, there may be a very different need for delivery guarantees and other issues related to logistics and local service support.
It’s important not to presuppose that the needs and experiences for U.S. based customers are the same needs and experiences for non-U.S. based customers.
In the end, a customer decision journey map is just a tool, albeit a powerful one. The real goal is to create and maintain an excellent customer experience. Without that, a company operating in today’s highly competitive environment doesn’t stand a chance.
So use the tips and reminders in this 3-part series of posts for what they are, a warning and a hope: Make your customers love their experience with your organization. It’s the entry fee that lets you play this game for another year.
Brenna Neal is a Director at EMM Group and has led a variety of global segmentation, customer experience and go-to-market projects. Feel free to connect with her by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).