Customer Journey Mapping – Six Steps to Creating The Complete Customer Journey Maps

Lisa Ross

Lisa Ross

Reading Time: 9 minutes

When it comes to understanding your customer’s experience, there’s really no easy way. Many turn to customer journey maps. There are positives and negatives that come with customer journey maps, and like any other marketing research and documentation, it comes down to two things:

  • Identifying the goal and purpose behind it,
  • Knowing how actually to apply and use it.

If you go with customer journey maps, we highly recommend you keep the two criteria in mind.

What Is A Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s experience with a company or product, from initial awareness all the way through to post-purchase follow-up. It’s a marketing tool used to understand the customer’s experience at each stage of the buying process and identify opportunities to improve that experience.

These maps are a compact visualization of an end-to-end customer experience, and they can take many forms (infographics, illustrations, diagrams – all that good stuff). A customer journey map illustrates all the places and touchpoints customers come into contact with your brand, online or off… and they help you look at your brand, product, and processes through the customer’s lens so that you can visualize the literal customer journey through the funnel.

In this post, we’ll be detailing the steps to help you craft a complete and comprehensive customer journey map for your business and discuss how to evaluate and use it effectively.

Customer Journey Mapping

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, digital marketers’ understanding of the consumer buying process was heavily based on the traditional, linear customer funnel – which is now obsolete.

Today, marketers understand that the path to purchase is not as linear as the funnel model would have us believe.

Buyers and browsers have more ways to interact with businesses than ever before, and the focus has shifted from getting people into your funnel to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

What are the Four Types of Customer Journey Maps?

Since the customer journey is not linear, it also makes sense to have different types of customer journey process(s). There are different types of customer journey maps, and they all can help you improve the customer experience – but you have to choose/create a customer journey that aligns with your specific purpose. That said, now let’s take a look at each one of them:

1. Current State Journey Mapping

If you want to understand better what your customer experiences while interacting with your product or service right now, consider using current state mapping. This type of journey mapping is about visualizing your customers’ thoughts, actions, and emotions as they interact with your brand’s touchpoints.

Suppose you have a huge amount of visitors using the Chrome browser to access your site, but most of them leave your site without converting. You also notice from the journey map that the same type of customers uses Safari or Mozilla Firefox browser to make a purchase.

Equipped with this kind of data, you can tell that your customers using Chrome to access your access are probably facing some issues. Current state mapping allows you to compare customer experience between these different browsers, therefore, giving you room to uncover conversion roadblocks on underperforming browsers.

2. Future State Journey Mapping

As the name suggests, future state mapping helps you visualize what thoughts, actions, and emotions your customers will probably experience when interacting with your company in the future. In other words, they help you visualize the ideal journey you’d like your customers to embark on as they interact with your brand.

The future state is an effective customer journey map which is ideal for teams who want to close the gap between the current customer’s experience and where it should be. One important thing to note here is that there’s no future state customer journey design without mapping the current state first. You need to conduct research first, understand the current state, and then work on on your future state.

You can also design a future state map if you have a new product or service, and you want to illustrate your vision to your team and set clear strategic goals. Here are some more reasons why you should consider designing future-state journey maps:

  • Keeps the focus on the customer
  • Drive strategy
  • Align teams
  • Control power dynamics
  • Uncover future pain points you’ll need to optimize
  • Extract and articulate a vision

Unlike current state maps, future state maps are driven by the business strategy.

3. Day in the Life Mapping

Sometimes it’s necessary to know your customers’ real-life pain points. Sometimes when you look beyond how a customer interacts with your brand, you get to discover more about your customer behavior. This may entail asking for customer feedback or mapping day in the life journey maps.

Day in the life mapping visually represents the customer’s journey in their real-life day-to-day activities. This type of journey map differs from the aforementioned ones in that it’s more about insight discovery than optimization. So it helps you discover your ideal customer touchpoints outside of your product, service, or brand.

4. Empathy Maps

Empathy maps are a tool that helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their customers by mapping out their thoughts and feelings during the various stages of their journey. The purpose of empathy maps is to encourage organizations to think about their customers’ needs and desires in a more holistic way, by taking into account their emotional responses, pain points, and motivations.

Empathy maps typically consist of four quadrants that represent the four key areas of a customer’s experience: their thoughts and feelings, their actions and behaviors, their pain points and challenges, and their motivations and goals. The quadrants are typically labeled “Say”, “Do”, “Think/Feel”, and “Pain/Gain”, respectively.

Empathy Maps
Empathy Maps

By using empathy maps, organizations can better understand their customers and develop more targeted strategies for engaging with them at each customer journey stage. Empathy maps can also be used to identify areas of improvement in a company’s products or services and develop more effective messaging and marketing campaigns.

What is the purpose of a customer journey map?

 As David Weaver (co-founder of Vintage Cash Cow) explains:

“A successful customer journey map will give you real insight into what your customers want and any parts of your product, brand or process that aren’t delivering.”

Customers these days are now demanding – and they expect the customer experience with a brand to be connected and seamless. They expect companies to know and remember who they are and what they’re looking for (even across multiple touchpoints) so that they can pick up where they left off without having to repeat or clarify their needs.

Customer journey maps are important for brands and come with many benefits. Here are some of the purposes of using customer journey mapping tools:

Identifying customer pain points: At each step of the customer journey, you can identify customer needs, customer actions do they take, and what kind of questions they have. Knowing what kind of questions your customers have can help you know what you should really address on your websites. At the end of the day, you end up improving customer experiences.

1. Improves customer retention: A well-crafted customer journey map takes post-purchase experiences into consideration. That knowledge helps you know why customers leave. And when you know this, you can enhance your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

2. Improves your marketing efforts: When you understand how customers make decisions and which platforms they tend to use the most, you can create campaigns that are tailored to address their needs on those platforms.

3. You understand your customer better: When you know all the touchpoints of your customers you get an understanding of how your buyer personas navigate through your conversion funnel. This helps you personalize your marketing strategies.

4. Customer journey maps enable better experiences for your customers along different touch points.

5. Customer journey maps pave the way for your customers to achieve their goals better.

6. It gives your company the much-needed context about who your customers are. It’s easy to think you know who your customers are and their issues and friction points, but customer journey maps shine a light on these issues.

7. Customer journey maps position your company to drive better results as an organization. This is because you become more customer-centric and less organization-focused.

Here’s the bottom line:

Customer journey maps give businesses a way of getting into their customers’ heads, helping them gain valuable insight and understanding regarding common customer pain points. They also aid in building empathy for customers, helping brands understand what buyers want and how they feel.

Here’s where you come in.

Your job is to apply the knowledge and insights you’ve amassed from your customer journey maps to crafting engaging marketing campaigns, high-converting landing pages, and more.

Benefits Of Customer Journey Map

This section will sound like a bleed-off from the previous one, but we thought the benefits of the journey mapping deserve its own section.

There’s a story common to many founders in the ecom space, SaaS, or any other niche.

I had a problem, I didn’t see a solution in the market, so I decided to build the solution.

This looks like a template, but it’s true for many businesses. The issue with this is it leads the founders and top execs to think they know all there is to their customer issues and buying journey.

This might be true at the surface level, but there’s a lot underneath to be uncovered.

To maximize customer engagement and satisfaction with your business, you need to break down every step of your customer journey and align it with a goal.

Here are some benefits you stand to gain from customer journey mapping.

1. You can create a new customer target base.

There’s a mental picture you have of who you think your customer is. In reality, most times, that’s not your ideal customer.

If you fail to have a customer journey map, you probably don’t completely know the demographics and psychographics of your customers.

This is bad for your business, and that’s because you keep throwing money down the drain targeting broad customer segments and interests. This leads to a spike in your CAC.

Researching your typical customers’ needs and pain points and mapping out their journey will give you a good picture of the people trying to achieve a goal with your company. Thus, you can hone your marketing to that specific audience.

2. You can implement proactive customer service.

A customer journey map is like a roadmap to the customer’s experience. It shows you moments where people will experience delight and situations where they might be faced with friction. Knowing this ahead of time allows you to plan your customer service strategy accordingly and intervene at ideal times that maximize your brand’s value to the buyer.

Proactive customer service also makes your brand appear more reliable to your customer base. For example, if it’s around the holidays and you’re anticipating a customer service surge, you can send a message to your customers letting them know about your team’s adjusted holiday hours.

You can also tell them about additional support options if your team is unavailable and what to do if an urgent problem needs immediate attention.

This way, customers won’t feel surprised if they’re waiting on hold a little longer than usual or call you outside your new working hours. They’ll even have alternative options to choose from — like a chatbot or knowledge base — if they need to find a faster solution.

3. You can improve your customer retention rate.

A customer journey map gives you a full view of your customer’s buying process. This view helps you see areas of difficulty that your customer might encounter, and you can go ahead to improve their experience there.

Being proactive in improving your customer experience and decreasing their friction points will encourage more customers to stay with your company.

Customer journey mapping can point out individuals who are on the path to churn. If you log the common behaviors and actions of these customers, you can start to spot them before they leave your business. While you might not save them all, it’s worth the try since increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25%-95%.

How To Create a Comprehensive Customer Journey Map: 6 Stages of Journey Mapping

I had a chat with Khalid, and he had this to say;

“The way we build the customer journey maps is through jobs to be done analysis.

When we start working with a company, we tell them to give us people, recent customers who just bought the items, and they’re still fresh in their minds.

Most interviews are forward-looking but don’t help build the customer journey map. Rather, we go backward and ask them questions like what was going on in their life that day they decided to purchase the item, etc.

We repeat this process across 5 to 10 customers, and then we go further to run website polls and send email surveys to validate the insights we got from JTBD.

All this yields so much insight that helps us see the different steps taken by customers.”

Matthew Fairweather, director of Matthew Fairweather Ltd, says:

Customer journey mapping is really a mixture of art and insight… But that’s just a visual aid. The real work in customer journey mapping is using all of the customer information and data available to you from across the business and delivering a process and structure to their experience.

Here’s what you need to understand about customer journey maps:

There isn’t an official template which you should be using… simply because no two customer journeys are the same!

Depending on the business, product, or service which is being mapped, best practices and design may vary. This means you have a great deal of freedom to explore and be creative – so construct your basic customer journey map using the following steps, and then go ahead and embellish it all you want.

1. Nail down your buyer persona

The first step in creating a customer journey map is understanding who your customers are.

Shay Namdarian of Collective Campus explains:

To best understand the customer, organizations need to develop personas. Really get into their shoes so you understand how they behave (including likes and dislikes) and why they do what they do. Although everyone is unique, these customer profiles provide guidance and input for the journey mapping.

If you haven’t already done so, get started on developing your buyer personas.

Whilst doing this, keep in mind that it isn’t sufficient to have just one buyer persona. People at different buying stages will behave differently and interact with your business differently, so it’s worth distinguishing between someone who has been doing market research for a few months and is ready to make their purchase, and someone who has only recently begun thinking about solving his/her particular need (by trying your product/service).

2. Understand your buyer’s goals

Once you have your buyer personas built, the next step is to dig deep and understand what each of them hopes to achieve as they go through the customer journey.

Think about what your customers’ ultimate goals are in each phase (and remember that these may change as the process unfolds).

Some examples might be:

  • Researching the different options that are available
  • Ensuring that s/he is paying a fair price
  • Seeking reassurance that s/he has all the necessary information about the product

A great way to go about doing this is to first identify the paths that your visitor may take on your site. If your visitor is a member or pre-existing customer, the first thing that they might do is to log in. Other activities include browsing, searching for products, comparing products, and more – once you’ve nailed down a full list of these activities, you’ll be able to identify all your touchpoints and the goals associated with each touchpoint.

The next step is to determine the goals for each customer phase clearly on your map (as demonstrated in this sample map from Heart of the Customer).

By doing this, you’ll be able to examine how well you are meeting those goals and answering customers’ questions.

Different ways to understand customers’ goals

  • Survey/interview different customer groups
  • Get user testing feedback
  • Study customer support emails/transcripts
  • Identify customer questions in each phase
  • Use customer analytics tools like FigPii to gather information

3. Map out buyer touchpoints

A “touchpoint” refers to any time a customer comes into contact with your brand – before, during, or after they purchase something from you. This also includes moments that happen offline/online, through marketing, in person, or over the phone.

Some touchpoints may have more impact than others. For example, a bad check-in experience at a hotel can taint the entire stay.

You’ll want to take all potential touchpoints that occur between your customers and your organization into account. That way, you won’t miss out on any opportunities to listen to your customers and make improvements that will keep them happy.

How to identify touchpoints

Because there are so many different ways for customers to experience your brand, the idea of figuring out all potential touchpoints may seem daunting at first.

However, you can make this task easier by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and walking yourself through their journey step-by-step.

Ask yourself the following:

“Where do I go (and how do I get there) when…”

  • …I have a [problem that your product/company solves]?
  • …I discover the product or business that solves my problem?
  • …I make my purchase decision?
  • …I encounter the business again after the purchase?

This should reveal all touchpoints pretty clearly.

Another way of accomplishing this task would be to ask customers directly about their experience with your brand – or put the above questions into a survey.

Additional tip: Use Google Analytics

If you have Google Analytics set up for your website, there are two reports which you may find useful:

1. Behavior flow report

This report displays how a customer moves through your site, one interaction at a time.

It’s great for helping you understand how customers behave, what paths they take while navigating your website, and which specific sources, mediums, campaigns, or geographical locations they come from.

Additionally, it can help you identify any pain points on your site where users may be struggling.

2. Goal flow report

The goal flow report displays the path your visitors follow to complete a goal conversion.

It helps reveal how traffic navigates through your funnel, and whether there are any points with high drop-off rates or unexpected traffic loops that need to be addressed.

4. Identify customer pain points

At this point, it’s time to bring together all your data (both quantitative and qualitative) and look at the big picture to identify potential roadblocks or pain points in the customer journey. You may also want to note down areas where you’re currently doing things right, and figure out ways to improve.

To do this, ask yourself questions, and interview customers and customer-facing staff.

Some potential questions might include:

  • Are my customers achieving their goals on my website?
  • Where are the main areas of friction and frustration?
  • Where are people abandoning purchases (and why)?

Once you know where the roadblocks and pain points are, mark them down on your customer journey map.

For example, take this chart from UserTesting, which depicts positive and negative customer experiences by color code.

 Image Source: Mapout

5. Prioritize and fix roadblocks

If you look at it from a micro perspective, here are some questions you can ask yourself: What needs to be corrected or built? Is there a need to break everything down and start from scratch? Or are a few simple changes all that’s necessary for a big impact?

For instance, if customers frequently complain about how complicated your sign-up process is, it’s probably time to revamp it and make things easier.

After you’ve identified these roadblocks, take a step back and look at the big picture from a macro perspective. Recognize that the end goal is not to optimize each step or touchpoint just for the sake of optimizing it, but so that you can push your customers down the funnel, and bring them one step closer to converting.

At the end of the day, you want to be getting more conversions. So everything you tweak in each customer touchpoint should all be contributing to that one goal.

A case against customer journey map

Whilst fixing your roadblocks here’s something to consider: most customer journey maps are company-centric in the sense that they look at touchpoints based on the company’s perception of where the customers should be (as opposed to where customers are actually at).

Bearing this in mind, it makes sense to try and shift from this older, more traditional style of mapping to looking at a customer journey map as a model in which you can identify points to educate your customer. The key here is to build a content marketing strategy and an inbound marketing strategy that is so compelling it will draw your customers to engage with you and learn more about your products and your brand.

6. Update and Improve

Your customer journey map shouldn’t be left to gather dust on the shelf once it’s completed. Because your customers are constantly changing and evolving, your customer journey map should also be doing the same. Consider it a living document that will continue to grow and develop.

If possible, test, update, and improve your customer journey map every 6 months or so. In addition, customer journey maps should also be tweaked accordingly whenever you introduce significant changes to your product/service.

Visualizing your entire customer journey

Let’s talk about the technicalities. You now know what you should include in your customer journey map – but how exactly should you bring this mapping to life?

Most companies find it easiest to draw everything out on a large piece of paper or digitize the information on a spreadsheet.

Plenty of tools are available to help you map out your customer journey, like Touchpoint Dashboard or UXPressia.

Customer Journey Map Examples

To help provide you with a starting point, here are some awesome customer journey mapping examples you can use as a customer journey map templates to create your own:

1. Dapper Apps

Dapper Apps’ customer journey map has 5 main phases:

  • Research
  • Comparison
  • Workshop
  • Quote
  • Sign-Off

These help you systematically organize all your information about how your customer is interacting with your brand, and gain insights from the knowledge.

2. IdeaRocket

Idea Rocket’s customer journey map, on the other hand, follows a mostly circular path with 6 main phases:

  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Evaluation
  • Pre-Production
  • Production
  • Video Usage.

While simple, it clearly outlines their process during each step of the customer journey. Based on insights from their SEM lead generation, the company focuses their CTAs for each phase according to what is appropriate for the visitor’s circumstances.

Evaluating your customer journey map

Customer journey maps need to have a purpose and should be actionable, measurable, and dynamic. This allows you to ensure their effectiveness and determines success.

Include KPIs

Key performance indicators can help provide the evaluative framework to make your customer journey map actionable.

For instance, one of the main functions of a customer journey map is to pinpoint opportunities based on qualitative research of your customers’ perceptions and experiences.

Many companies use a customer journey map(s) to help them gain qualitative insights into customer highs and lows. Indicators like “meets/do not meet/exceed expectations” are used to effectively visualize opportunities for improvement in the customer journey.

Image Source: improvement

Other helpful metrics you could track include:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer satisfaction measures
  • Quantitative assessments of customer emotions
  • Measures of the importance/helpfulness of specific touchpoints

Whatever metrics you decide to use, they should help you measure the health of your customer experience, now and in the future.

When should you create a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is typically generated early on (often in the research phase ), and should always be created to support a known business goal. Maps that don’t align with a particular goal usually won’t result in applicable insights.

Examples of potential goals to apply a customer journey map to:

  • Shifting a company’s perspective from inside-out to outside-in
  • Assigning ownership of key touchpoints in the customer experience to specific departments
  • Learning about a specific customer persona’s purchasing behaviors

If you don’t have a particular business goal for creating a journey map, it’s best to stop before you begin. Don’t create a journey map simply for the sake of making one – or you’ll find the entire exercise a major waste of resources, time, and money.

Applying your journey map to your business

Finally, it’s time to take everything you’ve learned through the customer journey mapping process, and use the insights and opportunities to make meaningful business changes.

You’ll also want to share this information with others so that your entire organization can reap the benefits. Consider transforming your journey map insights into a user story, requirement description, KPI, design objective, or measurement opportunity. This will help you to better communicate and distribute the knowledge you’ve gained from departments, teams, and stakeholders.

Final Thoughts

We’re entering an age where businesses are all about the customer experience.

By shifting the focus to the customer’s perspective, brands can better understand consumer wants and needs. This allows them to create a more effective and satisfying customer experience.

A customer journey map is a proven framework for helping drive greater customer insights and improving internal efficiencies. While they are by no means a “silver bullet”, they are still exceptionally effective tools for helping brands to identify engagement and enhancement opportunities, increase conversions and bring in eye-popping ROI.

Are you using customer journey maps for your business? Feel free to share any tips we may have missed in the comments.

We’d love to hear from you!

Key ideas

“Customer journey mapping gives businesses a way of getting into their customers’ heads, helping them gain valuable insight and understanding regarding common customer pain points.”

“You’ll want to take all potential touchpoints that occur between your customers and your organization into account. That way, you won’t miss out on any opportunities to listen to your customers and make improvements that will keep them happy.”

“Customer journey maps need to have a purpose and should be actionable, measurable, and dynamic. This allows you to ensure their effectiveness and determines success.”

Additional Resources

1.What are customer journey maps, and how to improve them?

2. The importance of providing a great customer experience.

3. The importance of customer experience management.

4. 5 Usability design tips for a better user experience.

5. Stop confusing usability optimization with conversion optimization

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Lisa Ross

Lisa Ross

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