A customer journey map is a visual aid to help you understand the customer journey, or the series of interactions a customer has with your company over the course of their customer lifetime. Mapping the customer journey helps you identify which customer interactions, also known as touchpoints, result in your desired outcomes and which ones could use some work.
The benefits of customer journey mapping include customer experience (CX) insights that are specific to your customer base, better customer service, and increased customer retention. We especially recommend customer journey mapping for small-business leaders who have been struggling with customer acquisition or finding it difficult to compete with similar businesses.
If this sounds like you, read on to learn how to create a customer journey map. To make it even easier, we’ve included a free template for you to use.
Before we get started with our steps to creating a customer journey map, you should first get acquainted with the five stages of the customer journey. This will help you envision where your customers are in their journey, and how you can assist them based on their needs at that time.
The awareness stage refers to the moment an individual becomes aware of your brand. The consideration stage is where a prospective customer decides whether they want to give you their business. They might browse competitor sites, read reviews, compare price points, or sign up for a trial at this point. They also might add an item to their cart and let it sit there a while.
The purchase stage is when a customer makes a purchase, and the retention stage involves everything you do to keep that customer. Advocacy is the end goal, where the customer so strongly believes in your product or service that they tell all their friends and continue to be a loyal customer.
Now that we’ve covered the five customer journey stages, let’s discuss the first step you should take toward creating a customer journey map: setting goals with your team.
For your first step toward building a customer journey map, Gartner recommends identifying participants and setting goals. The table below gives you an idea of what these participant roles might look like.
|Customer Relationship Leader||Align map-building goals with overall customer experience strategy.|
|Project Manager||Oversee preparation and execution of map building as well as implementation of proposed changes.|
|Customer Experience Analyst||Gather and process necessary customer data for map building.|
|Internal Stakeholders||Provide process and customer activity level input.|
If your operation is on the smaller side, or if you aren’t sure who to appoint to these roles, look to leadership as well as those on your marketing, sales, and customer service teams. It’s important to have representation from different points of the customer experience, and from those who can offer unique perspectives and insights from their vantage points.
Once you’ve assembled your team, hold a meeting to discuss your goals for building a customer journey map. Without goals, it will be difficult to determine your map’s impact on customers as well as on your business. Ask your team questions such as:
What do we hope to achieve by creating this map?
What customers should we focus on first?
Where are improvements needed?
How will improvements be measured?
Once you gain some clarity on these questions, your next step will be to create customer personas.
A customer persona, also known as a buyer persona, helps you split your customer base into subsets who share similar goals, needs, and motivation factors. A persona is a powerful tool for marketing and CX planning that offers insight into what customers want and how they behave. It can be used to design products and services to meet customer needs and expectations.
Customer personas can be grouped by demographics, goals, values, and interests, and can include both current and potential customers. You’ll want to create a journey map for each of your personas to help that subset achieve its unique goals. There are several ways to research and collect data on each persona so that your map is tailored to their interests and needs:
Browse customer interaction logs.
Listen to recorded customer service calls.
Monitor discussions about your business on social media.
Check Google Analytics to find out the demographics of those browsing your website.
Use metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).
Pay attention to reasons customers are either satisfied or dissatisfied, what makes them purchase versus return items or cancel subscriptions, and other problems discussed with customer service representatives (CSRs). It’s important to gather both qualitative and quantitative data to make sure your decisions are based on real customer feedback.
A touchpoint is any point at which a customer interacts with your business. It can include telephone, social media, web chat, website visits, or a visit to your storefront, if you have one.
The example below was created with the following persona in mind: a 25- to 35-year-old car owner, motivated by discounts, lives in the city. Each customer touchpoint is in bold to emphasize where exactly the customer is interacting with the business, which in this case is an automotive shop.
Identifying customer touchpoints is essential to improve customer experience because it narrows down where and how each interaction took place, and what actions happened as a result. Some actions that can result from customer touchpoints include:
Entering an email address or phone number
Downloading an eBook or other asset
Subscribing to your newsletter
Requesting a quote
Clicking on an FAQ
As we mentioned earlier, mapping the customer journey can help you identify which touchpoints are resulting in your desired outcomes and which ones could use some work. It’s important to keep track of touchpoints so you know which ones to invest more time and resources into.
Next, you’ll want to note how your customers feel at each touchpoint.
In the previous step, we referenced a successful experience at an automotive shop. But the truth is that customers don’t always make it past the consideration or even awareness stage.
Our fourth step considers where your customers are experiencing pain points, or any point at which an interaction does not go as planned. Perhaps this customer traveled to the automotive shop only to find that it was closed due to equipment problems.
As you can guess, a customer who isn’t able to complete their desired action will likely not proceed further. It’s likely they’ll abandon the task entirely or take their business elsewhere. And even if circumstances are beyond your control, this doesn’t bode well for the purchase, retention, or advocacy stages in the future.
Luckily for you, events such as this are the entire reason to create a customer journey map in the first place. If every customer interaction went smoothly, there would be no reason to map the customer journey. Instead, identifying pain points can help you to keep those customers who might otherwise exit the customer journey.
We offer some solutions in the image above for this particular scenario: communicating with your customers on social media and updating your website as short-term solutions, and updating your info on Google if you need to stay closed longer. But you can brainstorm solutions with your journey mapping team that will improve customer experience for your business.
Our customer journey map template is a great resource if you’re new to the journey mapping process and need a solution fast. It’s known as a current state customer journey map template, which visualizes the user's current experience with your product or service. But as you grow your business, you might find that a different type of journey map better suits your needs:
Future state customer journey maps visualize a user’s future experience with your product or service.
A day-in-the-life customer journey map reflects all the thoughts, feelings, actions, needs, and pain points a customer has in their entire daily routine.
Service blueprint journey maps focus on factors that impact customer experience, such as people, policies, technologies, and processes.
A circular map visualizes the customer journey as a circle or loop to reinforce the importance of customer retention and lifetime value.
Empathy customer journey maps create a shared understanding around the wants, needs, thoughts, and actions of a customer.
Or, come up with a combination that suits your business’s unique needs. Customer journey mapping tools can help you build a map and keep track of customer data and interactions.
Our final step is to revisit and revise your map for a smoother customer experience, especially after major product releases or updates to your services, but at least once or twice a year. By maintaining a focus on customer pain points, you and your team can be more proactive in formulating a customer service strategy that will anticipate customer needs.
You’ll also want to ensure that your map is accessible to employees from different parts of your organization. Insights gained from a customer journey map should be used to improve all aspects of your business–not just customer service, marketing, or sales. We recommend meeting with employees each time you revisit your map to allow them a chance to weigh in.
Now that you know how to create a customer journey map, you’re probably thinking of other ways you can improve customer experience. We suggest looking into tech tools such as customer journey mapping, customer relationship management (CRM), or customer experience software, all of which are designed to manage customer interactions to improve their relationship with your business.
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