A customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s interaction with a business or website. It is used to define which parts of this process might not be working as smoothly as they should be, thus improving the customer’s experience. When used properly, it can engender customer loyalty, positive word of mouth and a more efficient business model.

What Is A Customer Journey Map?

The customer journey map is a (mostly) visual tool that helps businesses understand what a customer goes through when buying a product or service from them. It maps out in clear, concise, visual terms, the journey each customer is likely to experience through buyer personas and user data.

Buyer personas are at the heart of a customer journey map tool and are broad representations, presented as fictional characters, based on real-life data and customer feedback. Typically, each project will create between three and seven buyer personas, each of which will require its own customer journey map.

The point of the customer journey map is to understand, as clearly as possible, what a customer will encounter when using your service. It will also help you improve the elements that are not functioning properly, are not easy to navigate and show you how to make the entire experience more satisfying.

Each persona, and therefore the journey map itself, is not meant to be a perfect illustration of actual interactions. Rather it is a broad representation of the experience from the persona’s perspective.

In essence, the best customer journey map is a story, brought to life visually, of the customer’s experience.Click To Tweet It should be noted, however, that more complex information on the map may require text.

The map itself highlights “touchpoints, which are specific elements of the customer’s interaction with a business. Each of these touchpoints – for example, seeking a product, researching its content, buying the product, waiting for delivery and returning it if unsatisfied – can be judged as negative, neutral or positive from the customer’s perspective.

Customer journey maps require various research techniques that include hard data, customer feedback, and creative thinking. As such, no two maps are the same and each one will depend on many different factors that can’t be simplified or stereotyped as a matter of course.

Who Can Benefit From A Customer Journey Map?

There are many reasons why a customer journey map can be useful to a business. Modern day marketing is hugely focused on the individual, with personalization gaining traction in almost all sectors.

This means that customer satisfaction is more important than ever to a business and tied to loyalty to an extent that has not previously existed. Customers are more demanding, aware of their options and willing to shop around.

By mapping each of the previously mentioned touchpoints, a well-designed customer journey map template can highlight any problems that clients might experience in the process of interacting with a business and help foster a relationship with an organization, product, service or brand. This can occur across multiple channels and over a long period of time.

Once a customer journey map template has been designed, the entire enterprise can keep the customer at the forefront of the decision-making process. With a focus on the customer and their experience, or user experience (UX), any kinks, holes or brick walls within the timeline’s touchpoints can be ironed out.

Bringing Together All Aspects Of The Business

Another way in which a customer journey map can help is by bringing together departments with a focus on customer experience. To begin with, all departments can be engaged to discuss issues that customers may face when dealing with them. This is no small thing as many departments may not be used to dealing with customers, yet the decisions they take may have a profound effect on UX. By creating an understanding of how each touchpoint affects UX across the entire business, decisions can be made from an empathetic perspective.

Traditional marketing stops at the point of purchase, but customer experience does not necessarily end there. For example, perhaps the purchase was not to their satisfaction and they want to return the goods. Departments that might not typically be involved in touchpoints before purchase now have a central role to play. How easy is it for the customer to find the return information on a website? If they need information on delivery, or collection times, how likely are they to get a response that will satisfy them? This all requires forethought and a policy that keeps customer experience central to design and organization.

How To Create A Customer Journey Map

Customer journey mapping templates appear complex at first glance, but there are some tried and tested, step by step methods that can simplify the process immeasurably.

These are:

  • Building personas
  • Defining touchpoints
  • Aligning goals against each touchpoint
  • Deciding where these goals are and are not being met
  • Prioritizing changes

Building Personas

Building personas is in itself a skill, into which we won’t go into minute detail here, but broadly speaking, this is the most time-consuming part of the process. It requires detailed research, including qualitative and quantitative data, and is the foundation of the entire process. A persona is a highly relatable and rounded fictional character, generalized, but not stereotyped.

Defining Touchpoints

All customer journey mapping examples are unique. This is because every sector, every busine, s and every website is, to some degree, unique. Therefore, touchpoints on one map are unlikely to work for another. In fact, every business needs to update its buyer personas and customer journey maps as their business changes. Even quite subtle changes can have profound effects on the customer journey map template.

As previously described, touchpoints are places on the map where the customer is interacting with your business or website. These should be thought about carefully and involve all aspects of the business. There is a good chance you will be surprised by the input of seemingly irrelevant departments when it comes to UX.

Aligning Goals Against Each Touchpoint

Depending on the nature of the map, this is often considered the most difficult part of the entire process. Defining is based on the previously described data and needs to be mapped onto the previously described touchpoints. Think of it like those handheld toys where you have to align each silver ball with a hole, every time one falls into place, another pops out.

The main reason this is often a difficult process is that customer goals have been largely overlooked when designing websites, with attention grabbing elements, upselling and site engagement prioritized over ease of use and efficiency of the process. Getting this balance right is essential for a customer journey map to be effective.

Deciding Where These Goals Are And Are Not Being Met

Now you have your data, customer journey mapping template, touchpoints and goals, it’s time to put it all together and define where the UX is meeting expectation and where things can be improved. It is important to note that mapping where things are going well is almost as important as defining what isn’t. Some elements of the journey can be spread to other areas and you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

One of the best ways of understanding where things are not going to plan is through customer feedback. This is typically done through surveys and customer support transcripts. It is a foolish business that pays little attention to what its customers are telling them.

Prioritizing Changes

No matter how positive you may think customer experience is going, the chances are you will now have highlighted more than one blind spot. At this point, it is important to prioritize which touchpoints should be acted upon. Occasionally this will be obvious, such as a convoluted check out process where customers are abandoning their carts at a higher rate than is normal, but not all roadblocks will be so easy to define or prioritize.

One of the best ways to define which parts of a website needs changing will be the cost effectiveness of a page. Tweaking aspects of the most important parts of the website, which can involve some trial and error and detailed customer feedback, based on hard data, A/B testing and other methods, can produce instant results.

Best Practices

While each website is different, depending on a variety of factors, there are some universal truths that can generally be applied to all.

Customer journey mapping definitions rarely align, but put simply, they are designed to get the customer from A to B as smoothly as possibleClick To Tweet. Customer journey maps are therefore about simplification and the same is true for the maps themselves. The whole point of visually constructing a map is so it is easy to comprehend issues, which are easily highlighted and acted upon. These maps are not complex collages, in fact, they can be little more than color coded, linear lines with dots as touchpoints. However you construct the map, it should be easy to follow.

Customer Journey Map Examples

Customer journey map templates are varied, some appear like works of art, while others the work of a child, but as long as they are clear and concise, they can be effective.

Customer Journey Map Examples

This customer journey map for the charity ‘The Samaritans’ is a highly empathetic map, focused on the purpose of the charity itself.

Note how the text is highly visual and therefore makies it easy to relate to the image of the map itself.

Another example of customer journey map

This is an example of a map that gives the impression of a journey, rather than a linear UX. This can help push home the point that customer experience is rarely easy to define as a journey from A to B.