When customers interact with your brand, you want to create a memorable first impression and a positive user experience. Regardless of where your customer is in the buying journey, creating seamless user experiences makes you memorable and keeps you top of mind.
But to create this positive user experience, you have to understand your customers buying journey in the digital world. What channels and touchpoints do your customers use to interact with you? Are their interactions with your brand pleasant or is there room for improvement?
Customer Journey Mapping is a potent technique that allows you as a brand to understand your customers’ motivation including:
- Their needs
- Their fears
- Their hesitations and objections
While many brands are excellent at gathering data, data on its own is not enough to reveal your customers’ experiences and frustrations. However, creating a customer story through a customer journey map complements the data you might have collected about your customers.
The most elaborate customer journey maps use visuals and storytelling to illustrate your customers’ relationship with your brand over a particular period. When telling this customer-brand relationship story, you tell it from the perspective of the customer.
For your brand and your team, a customer journey map helps you understand and address your customers’ pain points as they interact with your company. In other words, it allows you to see how your customer progresses from the first time they come across your brand to the point where they go through the sales process and buy from you.
Why Do I Need a Customer Journey Map?
Every business owner has one goal for their brand – growth. But to grow your brand and customer base, it’s essential that you improve your customer’s experience. Making your customer journey and experience consistent and seamless on all touchpoints and channels improves your brand image.
So, how exactly does a customer journey map help your business improve your customer journey? Here’s a list:
- It provides an overview of your customer’s journey
- Helps you improve customer conversions and minimizes negative customer experiences by identifying key decision points and steps
- Improves customer retention by allowing you to understand their transition from a target to a buyer
- Allows you to attract customers who might have fallen through the cracks of a bad customer experience
- Reveals gaps between different channels, touchpoints, and departments, allowing you to prioritize appropriate actions to improve the customer experience
- Fosters teamwork as every department of the company chips in to provide insight on customers’ pain points when interacting with that specific department
How to Create a Customer Journey Map
Before creating a customer journey map, here are some basic concepts to analyze and evaluate:
- What you want your customer to do: purchase, order, inquire
- Where your customers and your business interact: social media, website, review sites, traditional media (TV, radio, etc.)
- How and when your customers are contacting you: on the web, telephone, service interactions, email, etc.
While customer journey maps take a variety of forms, the goal for all of them is similar – to identify and resolve your customers’ pain points, especially as they interact with you from the first contact to purchase.
Steps to Create a Customer Journey Map
Step #1: Describe Your Buyer Persona
A buyer persona or customer avatar is an important strategic tool that provides a deeper understanding of:
- Who your target customers are
- Their needs
- Their motivation
Most importantly, a buyer persona allows you to share insights across the company so everyone understands their role in attracting in this customer. The bulk of the information that’s essential to create an effective customer journey map comes from your definition of your buyer persona.
Defining your buyer persona involves understanding your ideal customer:
- What are their goals?
- What motivates them?
- What do they want to accomplish?
- What are their current pain points?
That’s why defining a buyer persona takes precedence when you are creating a CJM.
However, when creating a CJM, you need to first decide whose journey you’re mapping: a specific persona (customer type), a target (potential) customer, or a certain demographic (segment). Of course, the persona will depend on why you’re mapping their journey:
- To understand how your customer moves through your sales funnel
- To optimize the process of onboarding your customers
- To create a logical order to your buyer journey
- To improve the customer journey
- To plan future product launches
More importantly, remember that every buyer persona has a unique customer journey. Thus, you can have multiple customer journey maps depending on how many buyer personas you target with your products or services.
Step #2: Define the Buyer Phase
Typically, the customer journey map is organized based on your customer’s stage in your sales funnel. Each stage of the map embodies a key goal that your customer is looking to accomplish by the end of their journey. With that in mind, the stages in your CJM should be a representation of your customer’s goals rather than your in-house sales funnel process and steps.
At this point, what you’re looking to determine is the journey your target customer goes through from the time they’re considering making a purchase to when they actually go through with the purchase. Your CJM defines each step of that process from where and when they:
- Notice your company
- Start researching your products and services
- How and why they pick you over your competitors
- Why they buy from and maintain a relationship with you
Basically, this is the phase where you figure out what the process looks like in your customer’s lifecycle.
The typical customer lifecycle is:
Step #3: Define what Touchpoints Your Buyer Uses to Interact with Your Company
Customer touchpoints are the points of contact between your brand and your target audience from the initial interaction to purchase. For instance, your customer touchpoints might look something like this:
Find your business online see a few ratings and reviews visit your website make a purchase or contact your customer support
While these barely cover all your touchpoints, they are among the most significant in the buyer journey. Identifying these and any other touchpoints you have is crucial for creating an effective and customer-centric customer journey map.
Step #4 Conduct Market Research
You’d be surprised how many customers would be willing to help you in your research by providing genuine feedback. But that will only happen if you help and clarify why you need their contribution. When you convince them the insights you get from their feedback will improve their experience and solve their pain points, they’ll be more than happy to help, even without an incentive.
For each phase of the customer journey, try to find out:
- What your customers’ goals were and what they wanted to achieve
- What expectations they had for their customer journey with your brand
- The touchpoints they used to complete every step of the journey
- What their emotional state was at each touchpoint
- What they thought at each phase of the journey
- How long they took to complete the customer journey
Step #5 Identify the Roadblocks
At this point, you understand your customer’s goals and have noted their touchpoints. The next step is to evaluate their overall experience when interacting with your company. For the best results, gather your team and walk through each step of the journey together as you identify roadblocks within the customer experience and refine the CJM.
How easily are your customers able to reach their final goal? What roadblocks do they encounter and what action do they take once they come against these roadblocks? At what point do they abandon their goal and why? What makes them not complete a specific step or the whole process to achieve their goals?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself as you seek to refine your customer journey map. Then you’ll have a better understanding of the changes or improvements you need to make to improve your buyer’s journey.
Step #6: Recommend Resolutions
And now comes the functional part. Customer journey mapping isn’t meant for illustration only. It’s meant to help you identify opportunities and quick fixes that will boost and improve how customers interact with your brand to achieve their goals.
When recommending resolutions, prioritize the touchpoints that need the least tweaks to improve user experience. For instance, assuming your services are renewable each month, the customer journey map might reveal that customers are afraid of being locked into a specific plan once they sign up.
In this case, you might only need to rewrite the copy on the pricing or product page to overcome this objection.
The goal of creating a CJM is to understand customer’s interactions with your site, where they get stuck, and how to address those obstructions that prevent them from taking the final actions.
However, it’s essential that while you get as granular as you like, you don’t lose the at-a-glance appeal.
What this means is that your CJM should be easy to understand and follow for anyone in your team. Often, brands fall into the trap of branching into endless paths when mapping the customer journey. The problem with this approach is that while it is more elaborate, it creates too much clutter that makes understanding and implementation a nightmare.