How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published July 10, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published July 10, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creating a customer journey map is an excellent way to establish how to best serve your customers and help them reach their goals. Many sales tools exist to help salespeople connect with and assist customers on their purchasing journeys. However, you'll need a deep understanding of how the customer arrives at their decision to buy a product or service for these tools to operate at their full capacity. In this article, we explain what a customer journey is, describe how to create a customer journey map and offer a template and example for your own customer journey map.

Related: What Is the Buyer's Journey?

What is a customer journey?

A customer journey is the customer's process for interacting with a company to achieve a goal, which is usually the purchase of a product or service. While every customer's journey may be slightly different, often, their journeys feature similar touch points. Rarely are these journeys linear. A customer might learn about your brand from a friend, see an ad on their social media, check out your website, see another ad on social media and finally go to your brick-and-mortar store to purchase. Another customer might have a different journey, but more than likely, the two visit many of the same touch points.

Related: What Is a Journey Map? Definition, Elements, Uses and Benefits

Common touch points

Depending on your business's industry, size and goals, your touch points might differ from other companies. However, almost all customers go through these stages and associated touch points when making a purchasing decision:

  • Out-of-market stage: In this first stage, the customer is aware of a pain point, but has not yet started to look for a solution.

  • Trigger stage: In the trigger stage, the customer starts to actively look for ways to address their pain point. This might mean searching online or talking with friends about possible solutions.

  • Brand consideration stage: After determining possible solutions, the customer begins looking for products or services to meet their needs. This is where the customer will encounter your brand. More likely than not, this will happen online.

  • Evaluation stage: In the evaluation stage, the customer compares various companies, products and services to see which will best meet their needs.

  • Decision stage: In the decision stage, the customer makes a purchase and receives their product or service.

  • Experience stage: The experience stage often includes actions like calling customer service for support and getting to know the functionality of the product or service.

  • Loyalty stage: The loyalty stage quickly follows the experience stage. In it, the customer is comfortable with their product or service and may even share their satisfaction with friends or in a positive product review.

While these stages appear linear, they're often not. Many customers move back and forth between stages or skip some altogether.

Customer journey map

A customer journey map is a useful tool for representing the most common path your customers take to reach their goals. It's usually a visual representation of some kind that helps you and other employees see how customers think and react to your marketing and guidance. With an acute awareness of the stages and touch points of the customer journey, you'll be better equipped to optimize those touch points and increase sales.

Customer journey maps are unique documents that can take any form. Some companies like to use spreadsheets or other word processing tools. Others like putting sticky notes on a wall for easy interaction. Some additional favorite methods include literal maps or other infographics that help illustrate the customer journey in an eye-catching manner.

Importance of customer journey maps

Customer journey maps are valuable tools for companies. Benefits of customer journey maps include:

  • Optimization of the customer experience

  • Increased sales

  • Additional customer leads

  • Understanding of customer pain points

  • Awareness of customer desires

  • Shift to the customer perspective for employees

  • Focus on appropriate demographics

Related: What Is the Buying Process? 6 Steps You Need to Know

How to create a customer journey map

If you're interested in making your own customer journey map, follow these steps to help you create a useful, interactive document:

1. Identify objectives

Begin by determining your goals for your customer journey map. Common objectives to consider include creating a customer-focused workplace, increasing sales and identifying new demographics for marketing focus.

2. Collect customer data

Next, collect data from your customers. Send out surveys, make calls or ask questions on social media to find out how customers discover your brand, whether they visited your website before making a purchase and why they chose your product or service over another. It may take some time to gather enough useful data, so devote several weeks to survey customers before moving on in the process.

3. Create and define customer personas

Once you've reviewed your data, establish some customer personas that closely align with the most frequent customer journey touch points. Make these personas as detailed as possible to help you better understand and visualize the customer's journey.

4. Find all touch points

Identify all the touch points your personas encounter on their purchasing journey. Some might be outside of your control, like speaking to a friend about your brand. However, most should be within your realm of control, allowing you to optimize customer experience within that touch point.

5. Select most important touch points for the customer journey map

Once you have your full list of touch points, establish which you'd like to focus on to optimize customer experience. The number you choose will depend on the size of your team and your goals. Make sure you select enough touch points to make a difference in the customer journey, but not so many that your team can't manage them.

6. Create your map

Establish your ideal customer journey map using the information you acquired from your customer data. Highlight the touch points you plan to address and improve. Your map can take whatever form you'd like. If your team is visually minded, consider an infographic. If you want to design something quickly, a spreadsheet might be the best choice.

7. Take the journey

Simulate the customer's journey on the map. See if it makes sense and if you're inclined to purchase at the end of the journey. Make notes on the effectiveness of each touch point and identify specific strategies for improving customer experience.

8. Edit as needed

Edit your customer journey map as needed to reflect any updates or changes you make to touch points. Continue to poll your customers after modifying any touch points to see if the existing customers find the updates appealing and to see if you've acquired new customers.

Customer journey template

Use this spreadsheet template to help you structure your own customer journey map and improve your conversions and sales.

Customer Journey Map: TemplateOut of marketTriggerBrand considerationEvaluationDecisionExperienceLoyalty1.2.3.4.5.6.7.

Customer journey example

Review this example customer journey map to see how you might create your own for improved customer outcomes. This example customer journey map follows Alex's path to purchasing a new lamp.

Customer Journey Map: Purchasing a LampOut of marketTriggerBrand considerationEvaluationDecisionExperienceLoyalty1. Alex's bedside lamp breaks.2. Alex is at a friend's house and admires their table lamp.3. Alex looks at lamps while out shopping. 4. Alex looks online for better pricing on a few lamps they liked.7. Alex selects a new bedside lamp and makes the purchase.8. Alex calls customer service to see what wattage light bulb is best for the lampshade. 9. Alex writes a positive review about his lamp buying experience and satisfaction with the lamp.

  1. Alex asks his friends which lamps are their favorites.

  2. Alex compares the prices on his top two favorite lamps.

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