A customer journey map helps businesses see their products and processes from a customer’s point of view. Plotting a customer journey map gives business owners and marketing and design teams valuable insight into common points of friction so they can improve customer experience and ultimately make more sales.
In this article, we’ll explore what customer journey mapping is, followed by a complete step-by-step guide to plotting your own map.
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
“Your customers are human… You should understand their challenges and their vernacular, from both a macro and micro level, and then connect the dots back to your product or service.” – Forbes
You are not your customer. What’s intuitive to you may not be intuitive to them. What’s attractive, alluring, and inspiring to you may turn off your target market. It’s not just preference, either. Your behaviors and habits, your limitations and concerns, and your life experience all shape your purchasing decisions. And, chances are, yours do not align with your ideal customers.
Customer journey mapping allows you to become your customer, to walk in their shoes.
You want your customer’s experience to be seamless from start to finish and across multiple channels and touchpoints. Questions will inevitably arise, and you want your customers to find the answers and reassurances they need to commit to a purchase. By tracing the experience step-by-step, your map will help reveal issues with siloes in your business, issues that are specific to your customers, that are not assumed or predicted but grounded in your customer’s unique reality.
The benefits of customer journey mapping include:
- Identifying where customers interact with your business
- Determining whether the customer journey is logical
- Identifying and focusing on different needs at various stages of the buying funnel
- Revealing gaps between the desired customer experience and the real customer experience
- Allowing businesses to allocate expenditure on development priorities that matter most
How to Create a Customer Journey Map
Step 1: Determine Your Objectives
Why are you making a customer journey map? What goals are you directing this map towards? What experience will it examine? Which type of customer will it follow?
These objectives will guide the remainder of the plotting process, so be sure to think long and hard about the who, what, and why.
Step 2: Create Customer Personas
“If your brand is like many others, you might not be able to map out that customer journey. And the reason may stem from a deeper problem: You can’t identify the customer.” – AdAge
You cannot track a customer’s movements if you don’t know who they are, what they like, their pain points, and their aspirations. One of the best ways to flesh out your customer personas is to survey and test real-life people that have engaged with your brand.
Some valuable questions could be:
- How did you hear about our brand?
- Have you made a purchase with us? What was the deciding factor?
- How easy do you think our website is to navigate?
- Have you ever contacted our customer support team? If so, was it helpful?
- What goals are you trying to achieve with our company? What problems are you trying to solve?
- What attracts you to our brand?
- Is there anything we can do to improve your experience?
Research and questionaries will likely leave you with several customer personas, different distinct groups that interact with your brand. Your customer journey map can’t effectively cover them all, so select one or two to focus on.
Step 3: Identify All Touchpoints
Touchpoints are the places on your website and online that your customers can interact with. For example, adding a product to cart, engaging with a social media post, opening an email newsletter, and so on.
You might find that there are fewer touchpoints than you expected – could this mean customers don’t hang around your site long enough to make a decision? Or, there could be more touchpoints than expected – could this mean your site is too complicated and there are too many steps to get to an end goal?
Step 4: Decide on the Type of Map
The type of customer journey map you decide on will depend on your objectives. The main types of maps include:
- Current state. The most common type of map, the current state map allows you to visualize the actions, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions your customers experience when interacting with your brand right now.
- Day-in-the-life: This maps your customer’s day from morning to night. It details their habits and activities, whether that includes interacting with your brand or not.
- Future state. These visualize what you predict will be the actions, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions your customers will experience during future interactions with your brand.
Step 5: Plot the Customer Journey
You know who your customer is, and you have narrowed your focus. Now, it’s time to plot the customer journey step-by-step. At this stage, just focus on actions. What actions are your customers taking, and at what time?
Step 6: Take the Customer Journey
This is the crucial step – put on your customer’s shoes and work your way through the customer journey you plotted in step five. Take note of pain points, moments when you don’t get the information you need or the experience you expected. Analyze actions that feel natural and identify why.
This step allows you to focus on the areas where your customers’ needs are unmet. From there, you can fine-tune your offering to ensure that brand engagements:
- Provide a valuable, intuitive experience
- Solve your customers’ problems
- Promote trust
- Feel personalized
Follow these steps to create your own customer journey map. Do it well and you’ll find that it not only serves your customers but also delivers value to your business.