What is a Customer Journey and How to Map It

When you hear the word ‘customer journey’ on the surface, it may seem simple – it’s the process a customer goes through when the buy a product. However, with a more in-depth look, it’s clear that the customer journey begins before a person is even aware of your brand, and it has much more to do with their emotional connection to the brand than a single purchase.

 

customer journey mappingThe customer journey is a process of understanding the customer’s path from awareness to purchase. This can be done through mapping out the customer’s experience, or it could be an analysis of their touchpoints with your brand. The most important thing about this process is that you need to identify how customers feel at each stage and why they behave in certain ways.

Most of the time, your customer’s journey determines their customer experience. A customer experience is the combination of cognitive, sensory, and behavioral response a buyer has throughout all the stages of their consumption process.

More often than not, some customers consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products. According to Pine and Gilmore, the experience economy of a customer is the next level after commodities, goods, and services.

Therefore, with a good customer experience, their expectations are heightened, improving your overall customer journey. In this article, we’ll be discussing exactly what determines a customer’s journey, and how best it can be mapped so you can make improvements for your business.

Let’s begin!

 

What is a Customer Journey?

A customer journey refers to the total experience a customer has while patronizing a brand. It tells of the complete progressive interaction a customer experiences – from brand discovery to purchasing and more.

 

Customer JourneyThe customer journey is a long road that is most often unpredictable. Understanding it can be even more complicated. However, adequate knowledge of a customer’s journey can help you understand a customer’s behavior through continuous experience – how the customer feels during and after interactions with the brand.

When the different behavioral scenarios of a customer is documented with clarity, it is termed ‘mapping’.

 

What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation that tells everything about a customers’ engagement with a company. This enables business owners to visualize their customers’ experiences from pre-purchase to consumption to their post-purchase experience.

 

customer journey maps written out on paperThis visual representation is done based on the customer’s point of view and not on your view as the business owner. This ensures a deeper understanding of your customers, so you can better deliver on their expectations and maximize satisfaction.

An effective customer journey map must be plotted using existing market research. It must be factual and intensely data-driven, and should accurately reflect the customer’s behavior from start to finish without omitting any detail.

Mapping a customer journey not only shows the processes customers go through at every touch point, it can easily be misrepresented and difficult to analyze due to back and forth journey of customers. Identifying common customer problems can help you know the height of negative emotions your customers are passing through and why.

Customer journey mapping should also visually represent the different phases of customers’ experience based on a variety of dimensions, including: customers’ feelings and perceptions,  goals, and touch points.

A typical customer journey map consists of the buying process, user actions, emotions, pain points, and solutions.

 

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

Here are important steps to a proper customer journey mapping process:

 

1. Set Clear Objectives for the Customer Journey Map

magnifying glass showing a city roadTo create a customer journey map, you must first set clear objectives for the map.

Find out the aim for creating the map, who the map is for, and the customer experience that makes it up. Achieving clear objectives may also require creating one or more buyer personas using demographics and psychographics to represent any real customer data.

 

2. Profile your Personas and Define Their Goals

profile customer for customer journey mapsA perfect customer journey mapping needs an accurate profile of your persona and definition of their goals.

The best way to create a good profile is through a proper research process. Questionnaires and user tests can help you gather important feedback, which in return will help you reach out to your prospective customers. Some examples of questions to ask include:

 

  • What first attracted you to our website?
  • How did you hear about our company
  • What are the goals you want to achieve with our company?
  • How long do you typically spend on our website?

 

3. Highlight Your Target Customer Personas

defining an audience for customer journey mapsNext on the line is to focus on one or two target customers. This is how you achieve an effective customer journey map.

Customer journeys allow you to tag along with one or two target customers who are specific about what they want from your company, as opposed to a group of people . Customer journey maps can help you keep a good track of your customer’s experience, especially when you work with your most preferred and suitable customer persona.

 

4. List Out All the Touch Points

customer interacts with employeeTouch points are essential in creating an accurate customer journey map. These tools help you understand the objectives of your customers throughout their journey. From your research, list out all the touch points your customers are using, including the ones you feel they should be using.

Doing this gives you an idea of what your clients are up to and will help attain good customer success.

Narrow down your touch points to the most relevant. You can group them into categories, like the ones below:

 

Actions

Make a full list of the actions your customers performed throughout their interaction with your company. Knowing when customers are taking the most action can help you understand where you need to make things easier on the user and improve their customer success.

Emotions & Motivations

Actions are majorly motivated by customer’s emotions.

Sometimes, we need to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. It helps us know how to treat them better, and conducting research on what they like and dislike can help you create a smoother customer journey. It will also help us offer more relevant content, products, or services.

Obstacles & Challenges

You already know what you want the customer to do. Now it’s time to figure out what is holding them back from taking those desired actions.

Obstacles like cost, a poor user interface, or the inability to get in contact with a representative can limit customers’ experience. If you identify them early, you can change them, and know you’re creating a more satisfying experience for your customer

 

5. Determine the Resources You Have and the Ones You’ll Need.

creating an existing customer journeyYou can create a beautiful customer journey design if you take into account the resources available to you and the ones you’ll need.

So, try to take inventory of the resources you have. For example, since the journey map concerns offering quality customer service, you can encourage an entire organization to upgrade their service tools in order to enhance customer lifetime value.

 

6. Take the Customer Journey Yourself

person wearing teal backpack looking at mountainMost customer journeys will require brand owners to analyze results by themselves.

Customer journey mapping doesn’t end in designing the maps only. You need to find out the level of customer interaction on your website and how to give your customers a better experience.

The customer journey map is only based on assumptions till you take the customer journey yourself.

 

7. Make Necessary Changes

editing a customer journey map templateA basic customer journey map requires adequate data analysis to get a picture of what you want to achieve on your website.

Making necessary changes may include writing longer descriptions under each product image to pass a clearer message. Provided you’ve envisioned what your customer journey map will look like, the changes you make will be effective because they are connected to your buyers directly.

 

8. Identify Customer Actions

customer interacts with an employeePart of mapping the customer journey is to be proactive. Be keen to anticipate what your buyers will most likely do. Accurate predictions lead to troubleshooting to provide better experiences, which in turn leads to better conversions with customers.

 

9. Take Business Action

two person standing on gray tile pavingHaving a visualization of what the journey looks like for your customers helps you ensure that their needs are being met at every point. It also helps you deliver clear direction for your team members, since you’ll understand which changes customers will respond to best.

 

Benefits of Customer Journey Map

Whether you are operate a value-adding business blog, sell a top-notch product or service, have an amazing sales team and so on, it is necessary that you keep a customer journey map. Here are the different benefits of customer journey map:

 

Refocuses Your Company with an Inbound Perspective

An inbound perspective can help you discover more about your customers.

Outbound marketing includes strategies poorly channeled to uninterested audiences and can distract audiences from their daily lives. Unlike inbound marketing, outbound marketing can be quite costly and unattractive.

Inbound marketing is made up of useful contents and also has the ability to catch customers attention and promote sales.

Customer journey mapping helps you know what interests your customers about your brand and what is pushing them away so you can create better marketing strategies for your business.

 

Encourages Proactive Customer Service

A customer journey map acts is also your blueprint for a proactive customer service.

It shows you where customers need the most support in a typical customer journey. In response, you can make appropriate plans for a better customer service strategy, producing great customer satisfaction.

Organizations that strive for a wonderful journey map appear to be more trustworthy to their customer base. It also gives your target audience a sense of belonging, and makes them feel important.

 

Creates a New Target Customer Base

Journey maps can place you in a future state where your customer base has expanded. For a proper understanding of your customer data, it’s important that you understand the demographics of your audience.

If you’re planning to reach for a new target customer base, you need to ensure that you aren’t going too broad. Work with an audience that shows interest in your products and services. (If you’re trying to reach an entirely “cold” audience that struggles to understand what you do, you’ll have a much harder time gaining their business.)

Additionally, identify touch points that will help you achieve good customer base within that your new target audience.

 

Improves the Retention Rate of Buyers

Customer journey maps can help you have a holistic view about customer journeys and mappings drawn to grow your business. You also get the chance to get more customers stay with your business than sticking with competitors. It also helps you identify people about to churn from your brand and help them find reasons to stay. Moreover, retaining existing customers is less expensive and less tasking than winning new customers. So, make good use of these advantages customer journey map has to offer while it lasts and watch your customer base grow robust.

 

Maintains a Customer-Focused Mentality

A customer journey map helps you coordinate the activities of various client related departments. Because you have mapped out the steps of your audience’s journey from the introduction stage to the post purchase stage, your sales and marketing teams can better understand what the customer is looking for in those stages, and improve those areas to be even more customer-focused.

In return, fewer customers will slip through the cracks, and you’ll see a stronger relationship form between your clients and your business in both brand loyalty and revenue.

Other important benefits of customer journey maps include:

Essentially, creating a customer journey map helps you step into your customers’ shoes and see your business from your customers’ perspective across all the touchpoints (both online and physical). When you see from their perspective and understand their potential problems, you will have a better idea of where your business needs to grow and innovate.

 

What are the Vital Factors of  a Customer Journey Map?

A comprehensive customer journey map consists of customer actions, goals, motives, experiences, organizational roles, and activities. Here are a few vital factors that can affect your customer journey maps:

 

Customer Touchpoints

A touchpoint is any point of contact between a business and the average customer. Anything that reminds or draws the attention of your audience to your business is a touchpoint.

Every purchase made or service rendered is an avenue to either strengthen or weaken your relationship with your clients. The more positive each touchpoint is, the better the entire customer journey becomes.

These touchpoints occur before, during, and after purchases, and they affect a customer’s buying decisions and perceptions of a business.

 

Pre-Purchase Touchpoints:

Online advertisements, media broadcast advertisements, print advertisements, marketing campaign initiatives, video tutorials, blog posts, etc. are examples of pre-purchase touchpoints.

These touchpoints enable marketers and sales professionals to engage with customers. They also help ignite the desire to purchase a product or service.

 

Touchpoints During a Purchase:

Your company website, product pages, brick and mortar store, point of sale, product catalogs, sales reps, and product packaging are all examples of touchpoints during a sale.

 

Post-Purchase Touchpoints:

Feedback surveys, newsletters, purchase confirmation emails, thank you emails, customer service representatives, subscription offerings and renewal options, help centers, loyalty programs, billing documents.

 

Customer Pain Points

A pain point is a specific problem that your customer may experience – or is experiencing -during their journey. Once a client’s pain point is solved, it results to customer satisfaction.

People with a specific problem go looking for products and services when they can’t find a solution on their own. Understanding your customers’ problems (including how they got into the problem and what they’ve already tried to do to escape it) will help you better explain why your product is the one that will actually help them.

A good example of responding to a customer’s complaint and improving their satisfaction is the invention of Apple. People needed easy-to-operate devices with excellent results. Apple provided that.

 

space gray iPhone 6Although Apple didn’t invent the first tablet, the first smartphone, or even the first smartwatch, they did create a product that people wanted to use. They addressed the pain points in the technology sector, and the rest is history.

 

Common Customer Pain Points Include:

● Delayed response

● Unstable customer experience

● Pricing

● Poor checkout process (According to a report by Statista, around 70% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts without making a purchase)

● Poor packaging and handling

● Non-availability of the support team

● Poor quality of products and services

● Poor customer onboarding (lack of product  knowledge/ experience)

 

How to Identify Your Customer’s Pain Points

frustrated customer behaviorYou can understand your customer’s pain point by understanding what they want your product or service to do for them. After all, people don’t want to buy workout gear, they want to buy improved performance in the gym. They don’t want to buy a weight loss supplement, they want to buy a healthier version of themselves.

Thing is, you can’t put the latter in a shopping cart. But you can purchase the former. So customers buy the product they think can help cure the root of their pain.

This is why understanding what your customers really want will reveal the pain points they need your company to solve. Here’s how to reach that level of understanding:

 

Step 1: Survey Customers

Use online surveys to ask your customers targeted questions about the types of products and services they are interested in, as well as what relevant challenges they are having with your brand.

Online surveys (via Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, etc.) are easy to conduct, cost-effective, and offer strong response rates.

 

Step 2: Use Social Media

Customers use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to air their complaints or give a glowing review of products and services they’ve used.

You can use this to your advantage by creating a social media page for your brand. Being tagged will alert you to the insight of your customers, allow you to respond and offer speedy customer service, and identify gaps you are omitting.

With the information you get, you can create content that answers the questions of your potential customers. Hootsuite and Sprout Social are examples of social listening tools you can use.

 

Step 3: Set up live chat

Setting up live chat to your website is a great way to learn about your audience’s needs and the challenges they face.

Storing and organizing chat logs for review through a live chat tool (like Alchat Box) allows you to collect data concerning customer frustration and confusion so you can prevent the same issue from happening again.

 

The Customer’s Emotional Journey

Predicting the customers’ emotions and feelings can help a brand pinpoint potential pain points and successes. Emotions are plotted in a single line across the journey phases, signaling the emotional highs and lows of the experience.

That said, the factors listed above can serve as ways you can improve an entire customer experience towards your business and provide world-class experiences for them.

 

What are the Best Practices for Customer Journey Mapping?

mapping customer behaviorThe following are best practices that can help improve customer journey mapping for your brand:

 

Determine a Goal for Your Customer Journey Map

First, decide what you want to achieve with your customer journey mapping process. Whether you decide to launch a new product or create a better buying experience, understanding the journey map will help you meet your customers’ needs.

 

Examine Your Customers to Understand Their Buying Journey

What you may have heard about a customer experience and what they’ve actually experienced can be two very different things.

As much as you can, ask your customers directly what it’s like for them doing business with your company. This will give you a more accurate snapshot of their journey map.

 

Find Out About Frequently Asked Questions from Your Customer Service Reps

question markSometimes, it’s hard for customers to pinpoint what issues they’re having with a brand other than knowing that it’s just not working for them.

This is where customer service reps come in.

They help put into words where the breakdown in the communication or buying process is occurring. By knowing what issues or questions are frequently popping up for your customer service reps, you can figure out where the customer journey needs to be improved.

 

Create a Journey Map for Each Buyer Persona

Of course, your customers will have a lot in common with one another. However, there’s a good chance your audience can be sectioned off into smaller niches. Creating a buyer persona for each of these “archetypes” within your customer base allows you to better tailor customer experiences.

 

Analyze and Upgrade Each Journey Map After Every Major Product Release

Every time your products and services change, your client buying process will change, too. Whether you’re expanding your brand to a new field or creating a new product, not informing your buyers about these changes may become a roadblock for them in the future.

 

Ensure the Customer Journey Map is Accessible to Cross-Functional Teams

Your customer journey map needs to be accessible to all your teams. If all team members can easily reference the customer journey – and understand what roll they play within it – buyers will remain the central focus of your brand.

 

Best Customer Journey Map Templates

Ready to start building out your own customer journey map? Here are a few online templates you can use:

● Miro

● Mural

● Smaply

● Figma

● FlowMap

● Custellence

● UXPressia

● FullStory

● Lucidchart

Additionally, you can employ tools like Excel sheets, infographics, illustrations, and diagrams to enhance your customer journey map.

 

Customer Journey Map Examples

Customer journey maps will look different depending on your business model (brick and mortar store, ecommerce, B2B, etc.). The examples below cover a broad spectrum of business types:

  • HubSpot’s Customer Journey Map
  • B2B Customer Journey Map
  •  Ecommerce Customer Journey Map
  • Future B2C Customer Journey Map Example
  • Retail Customer Journey Map Example

 

Types of Customer Journey Maps

Your journey map style will be influenced by what you’re trying to understand about your customer:

 

Current State

This illustrates what customers do, think, and feel as they interact with your business currently. It is the most commonly used journey map.

This style is great for highlighting existing pain points and works best for implementing incremental changes to customer experiences.

 

Future State

This illustrates what customers will do, think, and feel as they interact with your business in the future. It is useful for conveying a picture of how customers will respond to new products, services, and experiences.

 

Empathy

These are used to create a shared understanding of the wants, needs, thoughts, and actions of a buyer.

 

Day in the Life

This is for examining everything that customers or prospects do, think, and feel. It takes a wider look into the real life situations of the target audience. It can be used settle consumer needs even without their knowledge of such needs.

 

Service Blueprint

This diagram usually starts with a basic version of an existing or future state journey map. They are best used for finding the main causes of recent customer journeys together with steps required for future journeys.

 

Strategic

Strategic journey maps show you the big picture of a customer’s goals, experience, and dreams.

 

Circular Template

These are used for subscription-based models to visualize the customer journey as a circle or loop. It’ll help to reinforce the importance of buyer’s retention and lifetime value.

 

Conclusion

Building a customer journey map helps business owners visually represent and clarify customer experience in all stages. Engaging in qualitative market research/survey and creating a compelling journey map will help you stand out fro

Gordon Tan

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Gordon Tan is an entrepreneur based in Australia who has started and sold multiple technology companies with a combined value of $150m. This included a client satisfaction benchmarking platform which gave him first hand insight into the best practices of over 6,000 businesses. After retiring at 35 he is now a recognised thought leader on winning and retaining clients - His two passions: making clients the heartbeat of a business no matter what the product or service and this blog.

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