Improved customer service, customer loyalty, and increased ROI; 3 things that every organization wishes they could achieve overnight. It’s possible, although not overnight, but with the right tool and the effort.
One such tool is the customer journey map and it’s there at the top with the other powerful tools that help drive customer-focused change effectively.
In this guide, we’ll explain the steps you need to take to create a customer journey map that drives the expected results while avoiding the common mistakes others make.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
Customer expectations are on the rise and it will continue to grow, forcing companies to reinvent themselves constantly in order to survive. Reason? The availability of multiple products and services under different brands and offers. Furthermore, the presence of online platforms, especially social media, has given greater control over to the customer in decision-making.
It’s in such a situation that the customer journey map has become so popular. This tool, which is also known as the customer experience map, visualizes the experience of the customer of an organization.
It chronologically represents each step of interaction the customer takes with your business. A customer journey map usually starts with the initial step of when the customer discovers your product/ service and depending on your goal it can extend as long as you want to.
It reveals customer actions, emotions, pain points and expectations along the customer journey. And it helps the business see things from the customer’s perspective which in turn helps the business gain a deep understanding of the needs of the customer.
There are many benefits to customer journey mapping. It helps,
- Identify the areas the business should prioritize investing in and spending effort on
- Get valuable insight on what the customer is expecting from your brand, their internal motivations, and needs which will, in turn, help you improve your customer experience
- Discover the gaps between customer expectations and current customer experience, by using the RATER Model.
- Identify serious issues in your customer experience and eliminate them proactively
How to Create a Customer Journey Map in 6 Steps
At a glance, a customer journey map may look easy to make. But there are many details you need to pay attention to when creating one. In the following steps, we have simplified the process of creating a customer journey map.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that customer journey maps may differ from company to company based on the product/ service they offer and audience behavior.
It’s also important to have the right kind of people who know about your customer’s experience in the room when you are mapping the journey.
Step 1: Build Your Buyer Persona
Creating a customer journey map begins with defining your buyer persona, which profiles your target customer based on extensive research.
The buyer persona usually consists of demographic data such as age, gender, career, etc. in addition to other behavioral and psychographic details like customer goals, interests, lifestyle, challenges, etc.
Your business can have one or many buyer personas depending on how many audience segments you are targeting. And to avoid creating a customer journey map that is too generic, you need to create separate customer journey maps for each of the segments you identify.
You need to also be careful to rely on real data rather than assumptions to avoid creating an erroneous customer profile that won’t do much for you.
You can gather as much data as you want from online research, questionnaires, surveys, direct customer feedback, interviews and with tools like Google Analytics.
Here’s our guide on creating a buyer persona. Refer to it to create your own buyer persona in 4 simple steps. Start with a template to save time.
Creating the buyer persona will also shed light on the goals of the buyer, which is another thing you need to pay attention to when mapping your customer’s journey.
Step 2: Map Out the Customer LIfecycle Stages and Touchpoints
What are the stages your customer goes through to come into contact with your product/ service? Breaking down your customer journey map into various stages will make it easier to understand and refer to.
Now, these stages may vary depending on your business situation, sales funnel design, marketing strategies, etc. but usually, it would contain – Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Retention.
Map out the touchpoints to clarify the customer lifecycle stages even better. A touchpoint refers to any moment in their journey when a customer comes into contact with your brand (i.e. website, social media, testimonials, advertisements, point of sale, billing, etc.).
The data you collected during your buyer persona research will give you a pretty good idea about the customer touchpoints along the lifecycle stages; these include the steps they take when they first discover your brand to purchasing your product and subsequent interactions.
Identifying all potential touchpoints may sound overwhelming, but you can always rely on tools like Google Analytics which will generate behavioral reports (which show the user path throughout your website) and goal flow reports (display the path a user takes to complete a goal conversion) for you to work with.
Or you can follow the traditional method and put yourself in the shoes of your customers and take yourself through the journey to identify the actions.
At the same time try to determine the emotional state (delighted/ frustrated) of the customer as they take each action. Knowing how they feel will help you understand whether they would go from one stage to the other in the journey.
Step 3: Understand the Goals of the Customers
This is where you need to focus your attention on understanding the goals your customers are trying to achieve at each stage. When it comes to optimizing your customer’s journey, it will help immensely if you know what your customers are trying to achieve.
Some methods you can use here include survey answers, interview transcripts, customer support emails, user testing, etc.
Once you know the goals your customers are trying to gain at each phase of the journey, you can align them with the touchpoints.
Step 4: Identify Obstacles and Customer Pain Points
By now you know what your customer is trying to achieve at each stage of the customer lifecycle, and each of the steps they take to get it done.
If your customer journey is perfect, then you won’t have your customers abandoning their purchases, leaving your landing pages without filling the forms, clicking the CTA only to close the tab, etc. If your journey didn’t have any roadblocks at all, then you wouldn’t be needing this user journey map in the first place.
But that’s not the case here, is it?
There might be many things that you are doing right to make your customer experience a smooth one, but there can still be many roadblocks that frustrate your users. In this step, you need to work on identifying what these roadblocks and pain points of customers are.
Maybe the product price is too high, or the shipping rates are unreasonable, or maybe the registration form is a few pages too long. Identifying such roadblocks will help you apply the suitable solutions to improve your customer experience.
You can rely on the research data you gathered to create your buyer personas here as well.
Step 5: Identify the Elements You Want to Focus on
There are several types of customer journey maps and each focuses on a variety of elements. Based on your purpose, you can select one of them.
Current state: These maps show how your customers are interacting with your brand currently.
Future state: This type of map visualizes the actions that you assume or believe will be taken by your customers.
Day in the life: This type of map tries to capture what your current customers or prospects do in a day in their life. They will reveal more information about your customers, including pain points in real life.
Step 6: Fix the roadblocks
Now that you know the issues/ roadblocks your customers come across as they interact with your brand, focus on prioritizing and fixing them to improve each touchpoint to retain customers at all stages of the journey.
Customers are constantly changing, so should your customer journey maps. Test and update your customer journey maps as often as necessary to reflect the changes in your customers as well as in your products/ services.
Here are some templates you can start with right away.
Ready to Map Your Customer’s Journey?
Customer journey maps are a great way to gain deeper insight into your customers and their experience with your organization. Taking the time to understand how your customers interact with you, what they feel and what they want to achieve can go a long way toward retaining them.
Follow these 6 steps to get your customer journey map right. Use a template to save time.
And don’t forget to leave your feedback in the comments section below.