Creating customer journey maps: a guide

“Take a walk in your customers' shoes” isn't just a phrase; it's a necessary process that positively impacts your business if done the right way. If you're wondering how to get into your customers’ minds, the most effective way to do so is through customer journey mapping.

Get started with creating your customer journey maps:

What is customer journey mapping? 

Customer journey mapping creates a visual representation of what your customers go through with your brand or product. It helps to understand how your customers see your brand, how they interact with your products and gain insight into the pain points they're facing that keep them from purchasing. Customer journey mapping ensures that you address customer issues for a smooth experience.

Benefits of customer journey maps

Customer journey mapping is a powerful tool that helps brands establish effective communication channels and helps customers make decisions. Some of the benefits of this process include:

Understand how customers interact with the brand

Having a standardized framework to document the customer journey is a great way to ensure all the teams have access to the same information. The structure helps visualize the process and understand how your customers interact with your brand.

Document the different stages of the customers’ journey

By meticulously making notes of how your customers interact with you, you can understand the different phases a customer goes through before making the final purchase. You can use this data to reinforce your communication with the customers, thereby giving them the nudge they need to buy from you.

Find the motivation behind the purchase

One of the main benefits of creating a customer journey map is to uncover your customers’ motivation to buy from you. Understanding this will give you access to problems they need to solve and tailor products to reach a wider audience.

Address pain points to convert potential customers.

During the mapping process, you might find customers turning away from you due to difficulty in getting more information about your product, or they find reaching you a cumbersome process. Either way, the customer journey mapping process will document several pain points that you can resolve to attract and convert potential customers.

Creating a customer journey map

Customer Journey Mapping has two main aspects - storytelling and visualization. To create this powerful tool, follow the steps listed below:

1. Gather qualitative and quantitative data on your audience

The first step of the customer journey mapping process is collecting customer data. You'll need the right combination of qualitative and quantitative data on your audience to create an authentic journey map. Here are some sources to gather your data from:

Website

Websites are a great tool that will provide you with accurate information on what segment of customers are interested in your brand, where they come from, their age, gender, interests, etc. Analyzing your website's user flow or user experience is a critical step in data collection. This provides you with crucial information on the pages and sections your customers access when they arrive at your website. It determines whether they continue to stay or exit, thereby providing you with a pain point to fix.

Social media

Customer demographic data is more accessible through social media. It's essential to compare this data with your website data to check for similarities. Some of the information you can collect are your customers' age, gender, location, interests, and language preference.

Customer-facing team

Speaking to customer-facing teams and getting their input on how your target audience feels about your brand is crucial for customer journey mapping. You can also talk to your customers or ask them to participate in surveys to learn more. After collecting a wealth of data, there will still be questions you need to address, and these customer interviews and surveys are a great way to get the answers you need.

2. Use collected data to build an audience persona and set clear objectives

You have all the data to segment your customers based on common themes/traits/characteristics. Analyze the data for commonalities - 

These commonalities will help build an audience persona and set clear objectives on the issues that need to be addressed. The customer is king, and now that you understand them better, you can keep them at the center of your offering.

3. Identify all the touchpoints

Customer journey maps visually represent all the experiences and interactions customers have with your brand, and every journey is unique to business processes with different touchpoints. It's important to note the touchpoints that your customers use to reach/interact with you. Analyzing the initial touchpoints of your website isn't sufficient; you need to collect data from various sources (social media channels, targeted ads, marketing content), and track how customers navigate through your website. By collecting this information, you gain insight into how accessible you are, and whether there is scope for improvement. Providing your customer with the right information at the right time is a critical component of converting them.

4. Analyze the different phases of the customer journey

The customer journey is generally divided into four important phases, and analyzing each of these is crucial to map the journey your customer has with your brand. You should create a template that covers all these phases and questions asked, to understand all major challenges and touchpoints any potential customer goes through, and keep refining it to map your customer journey. Here is a repository of questions you should ask during each phase: 

 

DISCOVERY PHASE

It all starts when a prospect discovers your brand and tries to understand what you have to offer. At this stage, the potential customers are aware of their pain points and are scouting the market for a solution. Your prospect might start a new business, or their existing business needs help with automating their process, or they have a brick-and-mortar company that needs to establish an online presence for the first time. Here are some of the key questions you should ask:

What's the reason the prospect is searching for a solution like yours?

Try to find out the main challenge that your prospect was facing without your product. What led them to look out for a solution in the first place? Collating the main reasons can help you find the biggest challenges.

Where did they hear about you?

What was the source through which they came to know about you? Did they find your website via an internet search, or did someone recommend your product? Did they discover you while scrolling through social media and thought if your product was a good fit for them?

What actions did they take once they found you?

Now that they're aware of your existence, what did they do to interact with you? Did they come to your website and leave information, or did they reach out to you on social media? Basically, understand all the initial probable touchpoints for a prospect at this stage.

What are their pain points?

Apart from their main challenges, what are your prospect's general pain points? How can your product/service solve these problems for them?

What information are they seeking?

What is it that the prospect wants to know about you or your brand? Did they download a whitepaper, or were they just interested in a topic you covered? You can also track your website to see which pages your visitors are going after, to understand the information that they are looking for. This will help you create an extensive journey to cover all important informative pages and map them correctly.

How are they feeling? 

A prospect's feelings can affect their entire experience with your brand. Learning about their feelings before ever discovering your brand can help you assess the desperation. Were they stressed and overwhelmed by the thought of making a business change? Were they excited? Document how your customer was feeling throughout the entire experience of discovering your brand.

How has the experience been? 

 Look at the possible interactions a prospect can have with your brand and recognize how things are going? Are they satisfied so far? If not, why? Are they satisfied with the amount of information they have on the solutions they could choose from?

What questions do they have? 

Do they have any additional questions to start considering your product? Collating these questions can help you create a proactive experience with all this information readily available on the website.

Any suggestions you can personally add? 

From all the research you've done, did you find ways to optimize the experience for your potential customers? Jot down all the recommendations you have. 

CONSIDERATION PHASE

Once you recognize your customer challenges and ask the questions that you ought to have answers for, you can transition to the next phase. In this phase, prospects are aware of your brand and the solutions you can offer them. They're weighing in options and considering your brand along with others, and you need to establish yourself as the best option in the market. Make sure that everything they need to hear to make their decision is easily accessible. The prospect knows about the main problems that you will solve for them, so questions to consider in this phase would be:

What is motivating them to learn more about you? 

What prompts the prospect to continue to be intrigued by your offerings, and ask for more information?

What actions did the prospect take? 

Your prospect is motivated to learn more about your product and is considering going ahead with you. You have to ensure that you engage your prospect and give them more and more information. Try to identify how they interacted with you and your brand. Find out if they read up more about how your solution works or looked at your 'About us' page. Did they create a free account? Basically, layout every action they could take while considering your product.

What are their touchpoints? 

Which pages would they have clicked on to consider you and learn more about you? List down the touchpoints they could have used - home page, contact us page, blog articles, etc. Understand these touchpoints, and ensure they have the right information about you.

How are they feeling now? 

What are the emotions that the prospect feels while interacting with your product? Are they excited because of its capabilities, or nervous about taking the plunge? Are they confused because they don't understand? Are they worried because they think it's complicated? You can amplify the positive feelings and optimize future experiences to eliminate negative emotions.

How's the experience so far? 

It's all about customer experience. Understand the gaps that might be there in their journey, and you will be able to get ahead of problems and fix them. You can also track their experience on your website to understand this. For instance, are they spending too much time on your page? If yes, then your CTA or value proposition is unclear.

What are their current pain points? 

Are they more interested in your product, or inclined towards another one? Understanding their pain points will help you learn why they might be choosing another brand over you.

What are the questions that they have during this phase? 

They want to learn more about your product and capabilities. Knowing their questions can help you anticipate them in the future, and make answers to them more visible.

PURCHASE PHASE

After you gain insight into what your prospects think of you and how they interact with your brand, there might be a purchase. Your customers have assessed all the possible solutions and are convinced to buy your product. It would be best if you continued mapping their journey to ensure they have a smooth experience purchasing from you. Some questions you need answers to are:

What motivated them to make the purchase? 

What made them choose you? Why did they choose you over the other options they had, and what was the final push? If your potential customer went for another brand, what tipped the ball in favor of your competition? Understanding their motivation can help strengthen your messaging even further.

What actions did they take while making the purchase? 

There is a process every person goes through while purchasing on your website. Jot down the flow of the purchase. The customer would have filled their purchase information, card details, shipping, and billing address. Did they try a coupon to save money? Was it a successful transaction? Did they receive an order confirmation after the purchase? Was the email opened?

What were the touchpoints while making the purchase? 

Which pages did they go through while making the purchase, and how did they interact with your website? Did they check FAQs? Did they send a query because of concerns?

How do they feel about the purchase?

Does the prospect feel confident about their decision? How excited or overwhelmed are they? Understanding their feelings can help you better their experience. 

What was their experience buying your product? 

How was their experience speaking with your representative? Did the transaction take place smoothly, or were there any snags that need fixing?

Were there any challenges? 

Was the buying process easy for the customer? Understanding challenges can help you refine the process.

Do they have any questions? 

Your customer will have a lot of questions after making the purchase, as anyone should. They would want to know about other fees, what all they will get, is the purchase refundable or exchangeable, and more. Having a repository of such questions will help you tackle them, and proactively respond to them in the future.

RETENTION PHASE

The last step of the customer journey mapping process is ensuring the satisfaction of your customers. Providing the best and timely solutions to their problems helps them remember you and makes them brand loyal. 

Did you know, 65% of a company's business comes from existing customers?  Those are some incredible statistics. In the retention phase, you give your customers more reasons to love you, so that they continue to buy from you and become customers for life. Questions to ask in this phase:

Are they motivated to purchase from you again? 

What is prompting your customer to continue buying from you? You ought to recreate the motivation again to reduce churn. Did a follow-up email you sent convinced them? Were they happy to buy more because of the special offers or coupons that you sent them? Are their problems solved that they continue purchasing from you? Maybe you are providing them with a high ROI, that they keep coming back.

What actions did they take after the first purchase? 

Did they keep using your product, or were they unhappy? Was the experience so incredible that they left you a review? Did they use the product? Did they reach out multiple times because of confusion, or did everything run smoothly? Understanding the actions your customers take after the first purchase gives you an idea of how to make that experience better.

Have they established any new touchpoints with your brand? 

You need to track how a customer interacts with your brand after the purchase. To provide excellent customer support in the long run, you need to identify every touchpoint and channel they use to communicate: 

  • Emails, 

  • support calls, 

  • chat queries, 

  • surveys, 

  • feedback forms, etc

What was their entire experience like? 

Even if the customer experience was brilliant in the beginning, the overall experience matters the most. Understanding your customers' overall experience with your brand is crucial in determining the success of your product.

5. Take the customer journey yourself

The customer journey map remains incomplete if you don't take the journey yourself. Analyzing the mapping process is necessary, but making an effort to try it yourself adds the finishing touches to the process. Follow each of the personas you created through the four phases of the process, and add any new information you find along the way.

6. Optimize your customer journey map

Now that you have the full customer journey map, complete with your own experience of the journey, ensure your official channels (websites/social media/marketing material/ads) are your customers' initial touchpoints, so they have the right information about you. Address the issues that came to light during the customer journey mapping process to ensure your customers have a hassle-free experience with your brand.

Customer journey mapping tools and software

Any digital company must set architecture or map of how the customer experiences different steps in their lifetime. Now that you know what it takes to build your customer journey map, are you ready to build one? Here are some tools that will help you visualize the customer journey:

 
Freshmarketer 

A cloud-based software that helps you create comprehensive customer journey maps effortlessly, Freshmarketer is an intelligent marketing automation tool. With a user-friendly interface that allows you to make easy segmentation, you can create a robust customer journey map within minutes. Not just for architecture, but with Freshmarketer, you can create interactive customer journeys with unique triggers, conditions, actions, and delays. Automate your entire customer journey with Freshmarketer. 

 
 
Microsoft Visio

Diagramming complex processes like customer journeys is a breeze with Vizio. Build intuitive flowcharts, floor plans, engineering designs, and more from scratch with Visio.

 
 
 
LucidChart

Bring your data alive visually with LucidChart. Create journey maps and collaborate with your teams in real-time.

Conclusion

Customer journey mapping is an excellent process that helps brands become more customer-centric. Addressing the issues customers have in their journey and understanding their motivation will give you a more in-depth insight into what they want from you, and this will help you serve them better.