How to Create a Customer Journey Map
With a smartphone in the hands of over 6.6 billion people, consumer shopping behavior is now more different than ever. Google Consumer Insights reports that 53% of consumers conduct research when shopping to ensure they’re making the best choice.
This is just one of the many sets of actions that consumers take in their journey to making a purchase decision.
Understanding each step of this customer journey helps you better position your products and services in a way that spurs your customers to make a purchase. It provides you with essential information that helps you make the best customer-centric decisions for your business.
This article covers the basics and importance of a customer journey map for your business and equips you with a customer journey template to help you create one for yourself.
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What Is a Customer Journey and Customer Journey Map?
The customer journey in marketing is the path, steps, and touchpoints that customers navigate as they decide to purchase your product.
Customers often don’t make a buying decision the first time they hear about a product or service. It takes a build-up of a series of steps and actions before they make their mind up about whether or not they would like to pay for the product or service.
Consider this customer journey example:
Think about the last time you wanted to buy a gadget. It’s unlikely that you just walked into a store or visited an eCommerce site, selected the item, and paid for it without any prior consideration.
- The first step was hearing about the gadget from a colleague at work,
- Then, you did some research about it to learn its benefits for you and whether it meets the needs, you are looking to satisfy. (Research here may include reading about the gadget, its specifications, features, price, comparing the gadget with similar products, and much more.)
- When you were satisfied with your findings, you looked up where to buy the gadget, visited the store (whether online or brick-and-mortar), and then bought it.
In the scenario above, the customer journey touchpoints that made up your customer journey were:
Colleague recommendation ➤ online research ➤ comparison sites ➤ eCommerce store/physical store ➤ purchase
A customer journey map visualizes all customer interactions with a brand or its products and services. It helps the brand understand its existing and potential customers’ needs, processes, and concerns that influence their purchasing decisions.
Why Is the Customer Journey Important for Any Business?
Customer journey marketing is essential for your business for the following reasons.
1. Helps Understand Consumer Behaviour
By analyzing the customer journey, you’re able to identify how a consumer moves through your sales process and what influences their activities there. It tells you how they feel in terms of satisfaction during the process and how you can improve their experience.
Consumer behavior analysis during the customer journey helps key decision-makers focus on customers’ needs and how they can refocus the brand’s goals to align with them. If there are any hitches during the customer journey, this analysis will also show you how to smoothen them out to attract potential leads.
Customer journey mapping is essential because it helps a brand learn about its customers, improve their experience, and boost retention.
2. Helps Identify Potential Customer Base(s)
Understanding your customer journey gives you a clearer picture of the demographics and psychographics of your customers. Perhaps you’ve been directing your focus to the wrong target audience and leaving a potential customer base untapped.
With a clearly defined customer journey and customer journey map, you can identify and direct your marketing efforts to a new set of customers who are interested in what you have to offer and want to do business with you.
3. Boosts Customer Retention Rate
Knowing your customer journey makes it easier to identify customer pain points and tackle them quickly.
When customers consistently encounter challenges with your business, it makes it easier for them to churn. In fact, one bad experience is enough reason for 33% of your customers to consider leaving you for your competitors.
But when you can identify these challenges, you improve their experience and boost satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is often equal to customer retention.
Not only that, your customer journey helps you identify customers that are on the road to churning so that you can take quick action to bring them back.
Main Elements of a Customer Journey Map
There are different customer journey stages on a customer journey map. Before walking you through the various steps to create your own map, let’s take a quick look at the various stages.
This is the first encounter the customer has with your brand. Usually, at this stage, they may not be interested in buying your product, they may just be looking for a fix to one of their problems, and with a little digging, they find that a type of product or service is the solution they need.
At this second stage, the customer is aware of what they need to solve their problem but is not quite sure which exact product they need to use. This is where they carry out further research to identify the specific product brand that will be most helpful.
At this stage, there’s usually an array of choices. To narrow it down, they conduct more research, such as comparisons, reviews, and feedback from other users. Finally, they identify your brand as their preferred choice and decide to give it a trial.
In this final stage, you convince the new lead that your product or service is exactly what they need. It is at this stage they choose whether or not to stay with your brand or try out another. Customers who are impressed during the trial convert and become paying customers.
Steps to Create a Customer Journey Map
Creating a customer journey differs for every business, depending on your industry and target audience demographics. However, there’s a basic framework that any business can use as a template to design its customer journey map. Here are the steps to take:
Develop Your Customer Persona and Identify Your Goals
Your customer persona is a made-up character that represents your ideal target customer. To identify this character, you need to conduct market and user research to find out who needs your products and services most.
Your customer persona gives you an idea of how your target customers navigate the sales process, so you’re seeing the customer journey from their point of view.
With your customer persona in place, you can then determine the goals your customer journey map is seeking to achieve and what you want to measure. The persona helps ensure you direct your map’s goals toward meeting their needs.
Make a List of Your Customer Journey Touchpoints
Every interaction your customer has with your brand is known as a touchpoint. Having a clear idea of what your touchpoints are, makes it easy for you to observe consumer actions across every touchpoint. This gives a clearer picture of your customers’ experience during their journey.
For instance, what does it mean when your customers use fewer touchpoints than they should on your website? Does this mean your site is easily navigable such that they can quickly find what they need and leave?
Or does it mean the site is unfriendly and complex, making your bounce rates go high?
Your touchpoints also extend beyond your website. Since they include any instance customers engage with your brand, you should also look for touchpoints in your email marketing, offline advertising, social media ads, mentions or reviews, etc.
When you list out every touchpoint, also identify the most common type of action your customer carries out at each interaction. Doing this helps you improve the process at every engagement point, making their journey as smooth as possible.
Identify and Improve Your Resources
Your customer journey map provides a clear overview of your entire business and every resource that is put to use to ensure customer satisfaction at every touchpoint. With your map, you can identify which of these resources need an upgrade or extra support to achieve better customer experience results.
Analyze Your Results and Take Action
After creating your customer journey map, the best way to analyze the results is to take the journey yourself. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and attempt to purchase something from your brand following your identified customer journey.
Look out for shortcomings in your map and any touchpoints that may cause customers to churn before getting to the decision stage, and then use these findings to improve your results.
Your customer journey map should be customizable and should evolve over time to meet your customers’ needs. Go over and revise your map often to ensure there are no loopholes that customers can fall through or obstacles they stumble over during their journey to making a purchase decision.
As consumer behavior continues to evolve, your customer journey is also evolving. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a customer journey map, frequently conducting research and surveys will help you modify your map to align with your customers’ journeys at all times.
You have the power to lead your customers successfully to take the desired action you want for your business growth. Use the free step-by-step guide in this article to get started on your customer journey map.
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Related Article – Customer Success Management Guide
What is customer success management, and why should you actually care? Get an in-depth look at customer success management in our blog post.