Six Steps to Creating The Complete Customer Journey Maps
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 to actually apply and use it.
If you go with customer journey maps, we highly recommend you keep the two criteria in mind.
What are customer journey maps?
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). These maps illustrate 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 their literal 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.
Mapping the customer journey
In the late 90’s and early 2000s, digital marketers’ understanding of the consumer buying process was heavily based on the traditional, linear customer funnel – which is obsolete.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.
Why we should map the customer journey
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 want their 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.
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 take the knowledge and insights you’ve amassed from your customer journey maps, and apply them to crafting engaging marketing campaigns, high-converting landing pages, and more.
How To Create a Comprehensive Customer Journey Map
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 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 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 login. 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 Hotjar 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 reportThis 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 customer maps 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 engaging with you and learning 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 be doing the same as well. 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 customer journeyLet’s talk about the technicalities. You now know what you should be including in your customer journey map – but how exactly should you bring this map to life?
Most companies find it easiest to draw everything out on a large piece of paper, or digitize the information on a spreadsheet.
Customer Journey Map Examples
To help provide you with a starting point, here are some awesome examples of customer journey maps from other companies.
1. Dapper AppsDapper Apps’ customer journey map has 5 main phases:
These help you systematically organize all your information about how your customer is interacting with your brand, and gain insights from the knowledge.
2. IdeaRocketIdea Rocket’s customer journey map, on the other hand, follows a mostly circular path with 6 main phases:
- 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.
Key performance indicators can help provide the evaluative framework to make your 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 journey maps to help them gain qualitative insights of customer highs and lows. Indicators like “meets/does not meet/exceeds 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?
Journey maps are 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 journey maps 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 process of creating your customer journey map, 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.
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 more effective and satisfying experiences for their customers.
Journey maps are 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!
“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.”
“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.”
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