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Customer Journey Mapping: Guide to Designing Superior Customer Experiences

Apr 30, 2021
  |  
Customer Experience
  |  
9 min read
customer-journey-mapping

Customer journey mapping. Sounds like a fun exercise, but is it actually helpful? 

Done well, a customer journey map can be many things: a blueprint for business decisions, a shared vision for your team, and a yardstick to measure progress.

In this piece, we’ll unpack how you can create a customer journey map that’s actually useful, and best practices to make it more powerful. 

Let’s go. 

Table of Contents

What is customer journey mapping?

A customer journey map helps you understand how customers experience your product. 

You trace the customer’s footsteps throughout your product, and use feedback and other qualitative data to identify points of friction and delight. The goal is to enhance the overall product experience. 

As per one report, customer experience beats price when it comes to buying decisions. Another PWC report found that 73% of customers consider customer experience as a key factor when purchasing a product. 

Customer journey maps help you take that first step towards delivering a great experience

The process starts with marking different customer touch points – your website, landing pages, product pages, Help documents, payment gateway, social media, chat, or phone support. 

Then, at each stage, you label customer emotions based on feedback from surveys, social media, and support. 

All of this comes together visually in a customer journey map that provides a complete picture of the customer’s frustrations and wins.  

Types of customer journey maps

Depending on the scope of your map and types of insights you’re looking to mine, customer journey maps could take different forms. 

These include: 

Current state customer journey maps:

These maps reveal improvements you’ll have to make to your product, based on recent customer experiences. 

Day in the life customer journey map:

These provide you with snapshots of your customer’s day: their actions, touchpoints, and emotions. It may or may not involve your brand. 

The idea is to get a general sense of your customers’  frustrations and motivations on a day-to-day basis. This helps you design moments of delight and remove friction from  your product. 

Future state customer journey maps:

While current state journey maps aim to uncover problems, future state journey maps are about envisioning the future. Ideally, you take existing journey maps and forge new paths to see if you can create new experiences for customers. 

For example, if you have a website, you might want to create a future state map of how an app for your product might help customers.

Four benefits of customer journey maps

A customer journey map is a window into your customer’s world. But it offers other benefits too, for your team and business. Take a look. 

customer-journey-mapping
Why customer journey maps are so essential | My Customer

Help you align teams

60% of global respondents believed that misalignment between sales and marketing could damage financial performance. 

Often, marketing has no clue about the questions sales has to field, while support may fail to convey customer frustrations to other teams. 

A customer journey map helps you fill in the gaps and build a sense of alignment among teams.  

Increase customer retention

We’ve belabored the importance of customer experiences, but here’s another important finding: 91% of customers who have a poor customer experience won’t willingly do business with a company again. 

Customer journey maps unveil the causes of poor customer experiences and reduce customer churn

Build moments of delight

As important as averting bad experiences is, it’s equally essential to sneak in moments of delight in your product experience. These convert customers into fans and advocates. 

Ease of use, proactive customer service, empathetic copy – all these are examples of weaving in ‘wow’ moments in your product. 

Improve your messaging

Customer journey maps show you the different pitstops customers make, and if you’re providing enough direction to guide customers. It might help you find missing information in one of your product catalogs, or unclear messaging on your pricing page. 

You can also gauge if you’re telling a cohesive brand story across different customer touchpoints: your social media page, website, product catalog, and emails. 

How to build a customer journey map

We’ve seen why customer journey maps are important. But how do you actually build one that’s a source of truth for all teams, and not another vanity project? 

Take a look. 

1. Define the scope of your customer journey map

Before you start lining up the wall with sticky notes, you’ll need to ask a few questions. 

  • What’s the main goal of creating the map? Identify customer frustrations, discover product problems, or innovate? 
  • Which buyer segment are you targeting? There are many ways to segment buyers: frequency of purchase, value to your business, demographics, and professional status. 
  • How do you plan to implement changes? Without a solid action plan, customer journey mapping is futile. 

Once you’ve set goals and objectives for your map, it’s time to get down to business. 

2. Compile customer data

Depending on the buyer segment or persona you choose to focus on for your map, it’s time to go a-fishing for data and feedback

What are we looking for? The different routes customers take inside your product, the ways they find your brand, and clues into how they feel while using your product. Here are some reliable sources to find this information: 

  • Website: Your website is a treasure chest of customer data. It helps you drill into user flows, most visited pages, points of entry, and exit pages. It also helps you identify pages that don’t get as much attention. 
  • Surveys: These help you learn about why customers may be frustrated with your product. You may also find useful nuggets for improving your product in some responses. 
  • Social media: If you have a bustling social media presence, make a note of the way customers interact with your brand and the most common complaints you see. Remember, most social media criticisms are escalations. They happen because customers waited too long to get a response from your support team or failed to get one at all. So pay careful attention to these. 
  • Customer service requests: The last and final piece of the puzzle is customer support data. If you look closely, you’ll find a can of broken features, inefficiencies, feature requests, and customer struggles spill over.

If you use a customer support tool such as Hiver, you can easily create detailed reports to reveal trends in your customer service data. 

3. List all possible customer touch points

Let’s say you run an e-commerce website that sells second-hand furniture. Some users may land up on your website through a social media post. These customers may casually browse through your product catalog and sign up for your newsletter.

A small number of those who sign up may open your newsletter. From there, they’ll probably click on a sale item and proceed to purchase. But, the journey isn’t over yet. The updates they receive on their purchase and the feedback they leave, if any, counts too.

Each of these stages – from social media to catalog to newsletter and onward – is a touchpoint in the customer journey. Every customer will forge a unique path inside your product. For instance, some customers may chance upon a PPC ad, browse your catalog, and head off from there. Others may become repeat customers. 

Your goal is to visualize as many possible paths a given buyer persona may take, and note down all touch points along the way. It also helps to divide the buyer journey into three phases: before, during, and after purchase, to better segregate touch points.

  • Before purchase: social media, review websites, blog posts, newsletter, whitepaper download, videos, and testimonials. 
  • At the time of purchase: website pages, product catalogs, payment gateway, live chat, and points of sale.
  • After purchase: transactional emails, customer support, thank you pages, and knowledge base.

4. Connect the dots

You’ve got your data and you’ve got a list of touch points, now it’s time to put two and two together. For each touchpoint, see if you have any customer data and qualitative feedback to analyze.  

Let’s start with social media. Are customers aware of your presence? How much traffic does it drive to your website? It doesn’t matter if you have more escalations or shoutouts, you’re looking for ways to improve the touchpoint itself to add more value. 

Look at your website next. How do customers land on it? Which pages do they click on most? Conversely, do they ignore prominent pages? 

Then, dig deeper into the reasons. Is your website design user-friendly? What about site speed? Any complaints about your check out process? Pages with 404 errors? 

Another important question you want to ask: are there too many hoops customers have to jump through to get where they want to? Touch points where customers drop off are a good place to investigate this. 

You’ll start to see a pattern of customer emotions emerge for each touchpoint in the journey. In certain areas, you’ll also find insights about why customers feel a certain way and how to improve their experience.

customer-journey-mapping
A customer’s journey mapped across different touchpoints | Rittman Analytics

5. Take the journey yourself

The process of customer journey mapping will remain patchy if you don’t step into your customers’ shoes. 

To get a realistic sense of customer frustrations, obstacles, and pain points, revisit each customer touchpoint yourself. Check if your emotions are in sync with those your customers may be feeling. 

6. Make it visual

There’s a reason why visuals have a special place in marketing: they’re processed faster, they’re easily comprehensible, and they boost recall. 

Thus, the best way to make your customer journey map easily accessible to all teams, is to compile all of your findings and inferences into a handy map. 

If you work on-site, you may do this with the help of post-it’s on a wall. 

If you’d rather have a virtual copy of your customer journey map, use an online tool such as Google Sheets, Trello, or a dedicated mapping tool such as MindMeister to create your map. 

7. Let your team pitch in

Customer journey mapping is incomplete without your team’s perspective.

Each team has their own set of data points and experiences to add more nuance to your findings. 

The product team has a pulse on the features customers need, while your marketing team has a better handle on the optimum number of touch points. Your support team can add more color to customer feedback, explaining the backstory behind each request. 

With your team’s help, you can build a more comprehensive customer journey map. 

8. Share results and next steps

Once you’ve built a complete picture of your customer’s journey, it’s time to identify roadblocks and come up with suitable solutions.

In some areas, the fix may be easy: bumping up website speed, fixing bugs, improving checkout processes. 

Other problems may need more reflection: improving support resolution times, making your marketing memorable, launching a new app. 

No matter what, don’t leave this exercise without assigning specific, actionable steps to each team.

Review your progress periodically and see if the journey becomes more fun and less of a hassle for customers.

customer-journey-mapping
How you can leverage data from customer journey maps | My Customer

Three best practices for customer journey mapping

Here’s a set of cheat codes to help you get the most out of your customer journey mapping exercise: 

Map journeys for all customer personas

It’s not enough to map customer journeys for your most profitable customer segments, though that’s a good starting point. 

Once you’ve mastered the art of building a customer journey map, repeat the exercise for  different customer profiles. This will help you add more brand advocates and reduce detractors. 

Make it accessible to everyone

A smooth customer journey requires teamwork. Don’t let your customer journey map be siloed from your team. Let it be the single source of truth guiding all decisions in your business. 

From customer support to product development to marketing, each team benefits from a closer view into customer actions and motivations. 

Update journey maps regularly

A customer journey map should be a living, breathing document, that evolves just as your business does. 

Add fresh insights, data points, new touch points, and feedback as often as possible. 

Customer journey maps are the path to customer-centricity

Each team has their own definition of what customer-centricity means. 

A customer journey map helps you bind all of these different viewpoints into one, cohesive narrative. It serves as a single reference point for all proposed changes your product may or may not need. 

The next time you’re unsure about introducing a feature or wondering why a launch didn’t go as planned, look to your customer journey map and ask, “How did it affect the customer’s journey? How did they feel about it?” 

That should give you some direction. 

Hiver HQ
Farheen Gani is a content marketer and writer for SaaS companies. She helps businesses grow with customer-focused content. She loves geeking out about content marketing on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FarheenGani) and her blog (https://www.farheenganiwrites.com/blog/).
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