Customer journey mapping is a way for companies to see what customers really and truly experience with your brand, whether they’re browsing your knowledge base or being talked through a concern by your amazing customer service team.

The path a customer takes from Point A to Point B is often a key source of truth when trying to decipher what they loved, what they hated, and where they might have gotten stuck navigating the labyrinth. This data, some of which is self-reported by the customers and others culled from back-end tools, tells you how to help and possibly convert them in the future. Each customer has a profile detailing how long they’ve been shopping with the company, what they typically buy, where they spend the most time on your website, and where they sought more information or got stuck for a solution to their problem. Though it may sound like too much information, it’s anything but for companies seeking to build more personalized relationships with their customer base. In fact, 78% of customers are willing to share this type of information if it results in better experiences for them.

A primary metric, one our key journey mapping tools, is the amount of effort a customer exerted while dealing with your company. Here, “effort” is defined as making more than one contact (often on more than one channel), having to repeat information, the customer’s perceived effort, and being transferred to another agent. This data tells an important story: 96% of customers that had high-effort experiences reported being disloyal, according to The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty. And a staggering 81% of customers with high-effort experiences said they would spread their negative review of your brand.

On the flip side, only nine percent of customers with low-effort experiences reported being disloyal. Only one percent of all customers with low-effort experiences said they’d spread negative word of mouth about the company.

So, how do you nip high-effort and disloyalty-driving practices in the bud? Let’s first examine the qualities of low-effort, high-loyalty companies. Then, we’ll dig into the types of data you should analyze and encourage your customers to share as you attempt to understand them better.

The four pillars of low-effort companies

Low effort on the part of the customer directly correlates with high loyalty ratings. These are some key characteristics of low-effort companies:

Low-effort companies minimize channel switching. We’ve all experienced it: you check the website FAQ to see if there’s an answer there. Nope. You decide to contact customer support via email. Too much time goes by, so they bite the bullet and call customer service, which then asks if she’s checked the FAQ for the answer to her question. Channel switching has a huge impact on customer satisfaction and (yikes) contributes largely to churn: waving goodbye to your business altogether.

These are lofty, high-level goals. How do we get there? Keep reading.

Customer effort score v2.0

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a metric that’s been around a long time. Its first iteration asked customers to rate their level of effort involved in resolving their issue, asking questions like, “How much effort did you personally put forth to handle your request?” This was problematic for a couple reasons. Firstly, the inverted scale—where 1 is high effort and 5 is low—caused some confusion. Secondly, the word “effort” doesn’t translate easily in all languages.

The solution was to turn the question into an “agree-disagree” continuum that addresses both issues. You’ve probably seen and answered these questions yourself: “The organization made it easy for me to handle my issue.”

Scoring best practices

Let’s say you’ve peppered CES questions artfully and thoughtfully throughout your digital properties: content strategy and CTAs for days. And, because of that, you have a wonderfully robust set of customer data to start journey mapping. First, identify any anomalies in the scoring distribution. Identify the outliers that had significantly better or significantly worse experiences than the average. Anything that falls outside the bell curve is worth your time and consideration. Did a customer that exerted a ton of effort:

  • Get channel switched a bunch of times?
  • Get asked to repeat information more than once?

Pinpointing the reason for their high effort only makes your product, and your relationship with that customer, better.

Channel-specific customer effort audit

We know—no one likes seeing the word “audit,” especially in the same context as “effort.” But having a series of diagnostic questions on each channel at the ready (on social media, your website, to wrap up a phone call) can be a good way to evaluate each channel on their own terms and merits.

It all adds up: The math of loyalty

Mapping the customer journey helps you improve your rate of customer retention, which thereby increases your potential to connect with even more customers over time. Furthermore, increasing the lifetime value of a customer means more revenue per customer. Think about how much you’ve spent, and have yet to spend, on a brand you trust.

Embarking on your customers’ fantastic journey alongside them helps ensure all boats rise when it comes to the relationship between you and your customers.