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How do experience maps vs. customer journey maps differ?

Customer experience maps and customer journey maps serve as the blueprints for buyer interactions. Despite these maps' similarities, they play different roles in organizations.

Understanding the differences between customer experiences and customer journeys can affect how organizations interact with potential buyers.

Customers' overall experiences during their journeys with an organization define their sentiment toward the business. Every touchpoint in the customer journey can bring positive experiences that encourage prospective buyers to become customers and customers to become loyal brand advocates. Customer service teams should understand how experiences and journeys connect and differ and the differences between customer experience maps vs. customer journey maps.

What is customer experience mapping?

A customer's experience reflects how the individual feels after interactions with an organization, including marketing they see before they buy, the sales experience, product or service quality, and customer service after the purchase. Positive CX can stick in customers' memories and make them want to return or recommend the product or service to others.

CX maps contain the steps people make throughout a journey. To begin a CX map, teams should identify their organizations' opportunities to interact with consumers, analyze how customer service teams should behave and predict how consumers might respond.

Customer service teams should put themselves in customers' shoes. They should understand what buyers experience when they call or visit a store or website, what information and support they need during a purchase, and how they get help if they need it.

In the process of CX mapping, teams should consider the following:

  • branding
  • marketing strategy
  • communication with prospective customers
  • products that receive positive reviews
  • customer service activity
Every touchpoint in the customer journey can bring positive experiences that encourage prospective buyers to become customers.

Each interaction with an organization defines whether customers like and trust that business. One poor interaction can negatively affect the journey and make customers reconsider future purchases or interactions with that business.

What is customer journey mapping?

To fully understand experience maps, customer service teams must understand the customer journey. The outcome -- buying a product or service -- may be the same, but the journey may differ between prospective customers. They may hit different touchpoints along the way. Some prospective customers may interact with an organization several times before they make a purchase.

A customer journey map has a starting point, but instead of imagining this map as one linear path, customer service teams should think of it as a series of steps that make up the journey. The customer journey considers the full CX and how prospective customers go from interacting with a brand to making a purchase. The journey also includes the customer's motivations and potential obstacles at each stage.

Customer service teams must also understand the different potential buyers they may have. A customer's needs could differ by age or location, so having a clear idea of potential buyers -- which may involve developing buyer personas -- can help define the types of journeys each person may take.

A chart comparing customer experience maps vs. customer journey maps
The differences between customer experience vs. customer journey maps reflect the overall difference between CX and journeys.

Differences between customer experience vs. customer journey

CX and customer journey maps serve different organizational purposes and have three critical differences, which reflect how CX and customer journeys differ:

  1. Proactive vs. reactive. CX is proactive -- as the organization listens to what potential customers want and need, it can change the quality and quantity of interactions with them as time progresses. The customer journey is reactive, as it changes with any customer actions or experiences.
  2. Purpose. CX is all about relationships so customers feel looked after and get what they need. The customer journey involves getting to the end goal or from point A to B.
  3. Uses. To enhance the customer journey, customer service teams should look at the process from the customers' point of view and consider their next actions. On the other hand, CX considers actions from the customer service team to give customers the best experience.

CX is vital as it props up the customer journey. If buyers have poor experiences interacting with an organization, the customer journey may end abruptly.

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