A customer journey is the start-to-finish interaction customers have with your brand before reaching a specific goal. Creating a compelling journey helps you stand out and shows customers that you care. It also helps create enjoyable journeys that promote positive engagement, making for more satisfied customers that are more likely to return for repeat purchases. In fact, we’ve found that positive interactions lead customers to spend as much as 40% more.
A customer’s journey should be seen as a multi-platform opportunity for you to interact with your customers before, during, and after a sale. By understanding your customers better, you will be able to provide them with the best possible experience every time they visit your online store. The best way to do this is by creating visual customer journey maps that present all this information about customers at a glance.
The Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map is a visual representation that helps you gain better insight into your customers’ experiences (from start to finish) from their point of view.
There are two vital elements to building a customer journey map:
- Defining your customers’ goals
- Understanding how to map their nonlinear journey
Excel sheets, infographics, illustrations, and diagrams are just a few ways you can create a map.
The important thing to ensure is that you map every point of interaction between your customers and your business.
You might think that creating a journey map is an exhausting process, but don’t underestimate the importance of these visuals. By mapping out a customer’s journey, you are in fact outlining every possible opportunity that you have to produce customer delight. By becoming aware of these touchpoints, you can create engagement strategies. It’s been found that 89% of companies with multi-channel engagement strategies were able to retain their customers, compared to 33% of those that didn’t.
Benefits Of Customer Journey Maps For Companies
The purpose of creating customer journey maps is to create strategies that serve customers at each touchpoint and make them feel heard by providing smoother and better experiences.
For businesses, the journey map gets you into the mind of the customer with tangible insights to better understand their needs and wants, and how they view your product and brand.
Customer journey maps also help brands with:
- Retargeting goals with an inbound viewpoint
- Targeting a new customer group
- Forming a customer-centric mindset
All of these lead to better customer experiences, which lead to more conversions and an increase in revenue.
Choosing The Right Map
There are four different types of customer journey maps, and it’s essential to choose the right template depending on your goal. Each map highlights different customer behaviors as they interact with your business at different points in time.
Current State Template
It is the most commonly used journey map that focuses on what customers currently do, and how they think and feel during interactions. It’s great for highlighting existing pain points and works best for implementing incremental changes to customer experiences.
Future State Template
The future state template for creating customer journey maps focuses on what customers will do, think, and feel in future encounters. It is useful for conveying a picture of how customers will respond to new products, services, and experiences.
Day in the Life Template
This template is similar to the current state template since it visualizes present-day customer behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. However, the difference is that this template assesses how customers behave within a focused area, even if it’s not with your organization. This type of journey map works best for spurring new initiatives by examining unfulfilled needs in the market.
Service Blueprint Template
When creating a service blueprint template, you typically begin with an abridged version of a current or future state journey map. You then add a network of people, methods, procedures, and technologies responsible for giving a simplified customer experience, either in the present or in the future. Current state blueprint maps are beneficial for recognizing the source of current pain points, whereas future state blueprint maps help create an environment that will be necessary for providing a planned experience.
Building A Customer Journey Map
Creating customer journey maps may require you to follow the same steps, but the design and application will vary (remember that customer journeys are as unique as your individual customers).
Step 1: Create Buyer Personas
Before creating a journey map, it’s important to identify a clear objective, so you know who you’re making the map for and why. Buyer personas help define customer goals, providing a deeper understanding of their needs and topics of interest. More detail makes for more realistic personas, which means you’ll need to do a fair amount of market research to acquire this data. (Tools like Google Analytics can help you better understand who your customer is.)
Start by creating a rough outline of your buyer’s persona with demographics like age, gender, occupation, education, income, and geography. When you have that in place, you’ll need to get some psychographic data of your customers. This kind of information may be harder to collect compared to data about demographics, but it is worthwhile to understand customer preferences, needs, and wants.
In short, demographics tell you who your customers are and psychographics provide insights into the why behind their behavior.
Step 2: Select Your Target Customer
After making several customer personas, do a “deep dive” of each to build a more accurate reflection of their experience. Start by analyzing their first interaction with your brand and mapping out their movements from there. What questions are they trying to answer? What’s the biggest priority for them?
Step 3: List Customer Touchpoints
Any interaction or engagement between your brand and the customer is a touchpoint. List all the touchpoints in the customer journey, considering everything from the website to social channels, paid advertisements, email marketing, third-party reviews, or mentions. Which touchpoints have higher engagement? Which need to be optimized?
Step 4: Identify Customer Actions
Once you have identified all your customer touchpoints, identify common actions they make at each. By dividing the journey into individual actions, it becomes easier for you to improve each micro-engagement and move them forward along the funnel.
How many steps does a customer need to take to reach the end of their journey? Look for opportunities to reduce or streamline that number so customers can reach their goal sooner. One way to do this is by identifying obstacles or pain points in the process and creating solutions that remove them.
This is a great time to use the personas you created. Understanding what a customer is like will help you troubleshoot problem areas. An example of this can be illustrated in the case of users who preemptively leave your site. Part of mapping the customer’s journey is anticipating what they will do. Accurate predictions lead to troubleshooting to provide better experiences, which leads to more conversions.
Step 5: Understand Your Available Resources
Creating customer journey maps present a picture of your entire business and highlight every resource being used to build the customer experience. Use your plan to assess which touchpoints need more support, such as customer service. Determine whether these resources are enough to give the best customer experience possible. Additionally, you can correctly anticipate how existing or new resources (such as updated customer service tools) will affect your sales and increase ROI.
Step 6: Analyzing The Customer Journey
An essential part of creating a customer journey map is analyzing the results. Take the journey yourself and see if there’s something you missed out or if there is any more room for improvement. Doing so will provide a detailed view of the journey your customer will take.
As you assess the data, look for touchpoints that might drive customers to leave before making a purchase, or areas where they may need more support. Analyzing your finished map should help you address places that aren’t meeting customer’s needs and find solutions for them.
Follow your map with each persona and examine their journeys through social media, email, and online browsing so you can get a better idea of how you can create a smoother, more value-filled experience.
Step 7: Take Business Action
Having a visualization of what the journey looks like ensures that you continuously meet their needs at every point while giving your business a clear direction for the changes customers will respond to best.
Any variations you then make will promote a smoother journey since they will address customer pain points. You might need to prioritize fixing larger obstacles first before addressing minor ones. Analyzing the data from your customer journey map will give you a better perspective about changes you should make to your site to reach your objective.
Once you implement your map, review and revise it regularly, so you continue to streamline the journey. Use analytics and feedback from users to monitor obstacles.
Customer journeys are ever-changing. Journey maps help businesses stay close to their customers and continuously address their needs and pain points. They provide a visual of different customers which helps to understand the nuances of their audience and stay customer-focused.
Customer journey maps can vary widely, but all maps share the same steps. With regular updates and the proactive removal of roadblocks, your brand can stand out, provide meaningful engagement, better customer experiences, and see positive business growth.