Do you know what your customers think about your healthcare company’s digital experiences? Before you respond, ask yourself this: How do your customers feel at each interaction point along their journey? Which specific touchpoints tend to cause frustration or confusion?
If you can’t answer those questions with confidence, then you almost certainly have undiscovered pain points. These pain points are putting a drag on your customers’ overall impression of your brand. And that means it’s time to invest in customer journey mapping.
What is Customer Journey Mapping, and Why is it Important?
Customer journey mapping is an exercise that enables your team to develop empathy for your customers by viewing your customer journey through their eyes. By reconstructing each step of a customer’s interactions — and learning how they actually experience each of those interactions — you can uncover UX issues and discover opportunities for improvement.
Most healthcare companies are aware of at least a handful of touchpoints that could stand to be improved upon. Too often, however, they focus on fixing specific, high-profile touchpoints without first taking the time to understand how they relate to every other part of the customer journey. As a result, they may fail to address the root causes of a problem — or solve the wrong one, entirely.
In contrast, customer journey mapping gives you a holistic, bird’s-eye view of what is and isn’t working across all touchpoints (and the departments that own them). Organizations are therefore able to work collaboratively to prioritize strategically and align around a cohesive plan of action.
Customer journey mapping can be useful at any stage of a product’s lifecycle. If you’re at the outset of a new project, use customer journey mapping to ensure you build it the right way the first time. And if you already have a functioning member portal or app, you can use a healthcare customer journey map to further hone your UX and improve customer satisfaction.
The Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping
There are many benefits to customer journey mapping. These include:
- Increased alignment across functional groups
- A documented, end-to-end map of all of the touchpoints that comprise your customer journey
- An understanding of your customers’ emotions related to each touchpoint, as well as major gaps and friction points
- Actionable insights into the friction points your customer faces along their journey
- The ability to appropriately prioritize opportunities in a way that supports your organization’s established KPIs
A Step-by-Step Guide to Customer Journey Mapping
Take the following steps to create a customer journey map, uncover critical user experience pain points, and strategically identify top priorities.
1. Put together a cross-functional customer journey mapping team
It’s critical that you put together a cross-functional team to build out your customer journey maps. No one person (or team) can construct the map on their own. For example, your marketing, sales, and customer service teams may each be responsible for various touchpoints along the journey. By including representatives from each of your key functional groups, you get a complete and comprehensive customer journey map that everyone can rally around.
2. Select the right approach
There is more than one way to tackle customer journey mapping. Consider the following, common approaches and select the ones that best match your circumstances and objectives.
- Current state vs. future state customer journey mapping. If you want to get a handle on the friction points in your existing customer journey, then you are using current-state customer journey mapping. If, on the other hand, you are at the outset of a new project, you can use future-state customer journey mapping to envision new customer journeys (or new touchpoints within an existing journey). In this case, customer journey mapping can help you refine the UX of a product or digital experience before you build it.
- Hypothesis-first vs. research-first customer journey mapping. A research-first approach takes longer to achieve and often results in deep customer insights being gathered before you start mapping. The process allows you to holistically assess every touchpoint in your customer’s journey without preconceived notions. The hypothesis-first approach, on the other hand, is substantially quicker because you typically come to the table with a known problem. Beyond that, you have an educated guess as to what’s causing the problem. In this context, you can use customer journey mapping to validate (or disprove) your hypothesis.
3. Map your touchpoints
Next, work together as a team to identify all of the touchpoints that occur along your customer’s journey. Construct a map that places each of the touchpoints in order so that you can see the entire customer journey from start to finish. Make sure that each cross-functional team contributes to this effort so that your customer journey map is as comprehensive as possible.
4. Conduct research
All customer journey mapping exercises require research, which is used to assess the UX of each individual touchpoint and uncover pain points. Depending on your objectives and available tools, you may choose to employ qualitative research, quantitative research, or some combination of the two.
Quantitative research is all about uncovering user behaviors and trends using data, such as click-tracking, time on page, or user dropout rates. It’s most helpful when it comes to identifying new problems or verifying the existence of assumed problems. For example, quantitative research can tell you that 20% of your users abandon their session on a particular screen while attempting to create an account on a member portal. In that sense, quantitative can tell you with certainty that you have a problem — but it can’t tell you why users abandon their session when they do.
To understand why, you’ll need qualitative research. Qualitative user research is based on a mixture of observation and interviews. It enables you to dig into customer sentiment — how users feel as they attempt to complete a task and move through the customer journey. For example, you might observe a small group of users attempting to create that member portal account and then interview them to learn more about what they found frustrating or confusing. This information is critical in your team’s ability to identify the best possible UX solutions for the problems at hand.
In most cases, you’ll want to use a combination of quantitative and qualitative research to thoroughly vet your customer journey map and identify friction points and opportunities for improvement.
5. Prioritize next steps
Once you’ve identified all the friction points, gaps, and opportunities within your customer journey map, it’s time to prioritize next steps. To do that, map each of your takeaways to your organization’s established KPIs to identify the highest priority to-do items. In addition, plan to perform an impact-versus-effort exercise to determine which to-do items will have the best ROI. Plan to tackle high-priority, high-ROI items first, then work your way down to the lower priority issues as time and budgets allow.
By embracing customer journey mapping, you stand to gain deeper empathy for your customers — and craft a digital experience that enhances your brand by removing friction for your users.