How To Create an Effective Customer Journey Map

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 25, 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 effective strategy for companies to better understand their customer needs, motivations and dislikes. This tool can provide insight into how buyers interact with your products and why certain problems exist within the customer experience.

In this article, we discuss how to construct your own map, which will allow you to make significant improvements to many areas of your company, and more importantly on customer satisfaction.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of how customers interact with your company. Mapping can take the form of infographics, various illustrations and diagrams, essentially whatever visual expression that helps the company and its employees gain a deeper understanding of the customer experience with both brand and products.

Sometimes, customer behavior can seem confusing, leaving many companies at odds as to how to better the customer experience. Creating a customer journey map can help you solve puzzling buyer conduct.

For example, you may want to understand why a customer tries on many items of clothing and then purchases none. You can also study why online shoppers fill their carts only to close the browser without completing a sale.

Related: What is Strategic Planning? Definition, Techniques and Examples

How to create a customer journey map

Here are a few key steps for creating a customer journey map:

  1. Clearly state your objectives.

  2. Profile your customer persona.

  3. Perform research.

  4. Identify customer touchpoints.

  5. Experience the customer journey map for yourself.

  6. Make changes and resolve.

1. Clearly state your objectives

Be sure to set a few goals when designing your customer journey map. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve. It might be that you're making a map to improve the customer's online experience, in which case focus should be placed on SEO or mobile apps. It's also important to keep in mind who the customer journey map is for. Who will be using the map and extracting information from it?

If the map is for a group of executives or stakeholders, you may want to be selective about which data you include and how best to illustrate the customer journey for them. Keep in mind the areas of the company that the executives have the most control over. It might be that they are interested in seeing a performance metrics update on how customers are interacting with specific touchpoints. Identifying the key objectives at the beginning stages of the customer journey map will help streamline the process and provide clearer results.

2. Profile your customer persona

Now that you've pinpointed who will be using the map, it's important to identify who the customer journey map is based upon. Consider tailoring the map to your most popular customer persona, based on their goals, needs and expectations.

Modeling your journey map after an individual persona will supply your company with specific customer insight and generate a better understanding of how that customer interacts with various touchpoints.

Create a customer persona based on the age and demographics of your most regular customer. It might be that you have many types of customers interacting with your company, in which case you can create multiple customer journey maps.

3. Perform research

Conducting research will ensure that your customer journey map isn't just based on internal data, either hypothetical or collected through staff members. Getting feedback from real customers who are genuinely interested in your company will help shape your customer personas and create a more realistic customer journey map.

Consider performing anecdotal research via phone or in person, where data is collected by listening to individual customer stories or experiences, as well as personal feedback.

Questionnaires and user testing are also a great way of gaining valuable and authentic information. You can even examine existing research and determine its usability within your map.

Website analytics is also a useful research tool that provides insight into how customers interact with your website.

Such a resource can offer information on where your customers are located, how long they dwell on a page, the number of clicks performed and what is being clicked on. Website analytics may indicate if a customer is confused during their online experience.

Social media can be used as a great research tool to see if your customers are generally happy with your company. Are customers tagging your company in positive stories and photos? What is being said about your products?

4. Identify customer touchpoints

The term touchpoint refers to any areas of contact that customers have with your brand. Touchpoints are a form of customer contact that can take the form of clicking on your ad, calling customer service and shopping your online store, among many others.

Your customer journey map should clearly display all the touchpoints that current shoppers are using from the very beginning of their experience to the end, as well as the touchpoints that you feel should be used. By illustrating your company touchpoints, you'll be able to single out the problems and provide a better customer experience.

Related: 9 Ways To Provide Excellent Customer Service

5. Experience the customer journey map for yourself

By taking the customer journey yourself, you'll be able to understand the buyer experience from their perspective. This exercise will equip you with solutions to reoccurring customer problems and provide guidance on ways to make improvements.

Follow the touchpoints created for each of your personas and make note of the pain points, or the areas of the journey that cause challenges, such as general frustration, an incomplete online purchase or an inability to navigate your website optimally.

Test out the journey map to see if there are any gaps in the stages leading up to a potentially successful experience. This might mean taking the journey through social media or a Google search.

Perhaps you have failed to include additional steps in certain stages of the customer experience, such as the research or the post-purchase phase.

Related: Workplace Continuous Improvement Plan: Definition, Techniques and Examples

6. Make changes and resolve

The final step in creating an effective customer journey map is to utilize all of your collected data and make the necessary changes. This might mean addressing the pain points that you noted from customer feedback exercises or simply adding another step to one of your persona journey maps.

Changes can take the form of including better, more detailed images of your online products to hiring friendlier and more support staff in your customer service department.

A customer journey map is about making targeted and actionable improvements to the customer experience, based on concrete information gathered from the customers themselves. Changes are made with the customer in mind, rather than ideas based on hypothetical reasons. The results are immediately reflected in the buyer experience.

Changes can be made to your customer journey map as frequently as you think is necessary. Your company is always evolving, and so are your customers, which is why it's important to revisit the journey map. New products or a new brand makeover are great reasons to test out your customer journey maps once again.

Types of customer journey maps

There are different types of customer journey maps that can be used based on the various needs of a company:

  • User experience map: This type of map is best used by companies that have a large online presence, and whose customers rely on the use of websites and online applications.

  • Sales automation journey map: This map is geared towards the sales and marketing teams who use email marketing and social media to understand the company's current customers and to optimize sales strategies.

  • Customer experience journey map: This type of map is the most common, and it tracks the entire experience of the customer from the awareness stage to sales and feedback.

  • Future state journey map: This map is used by companies that wish to make upgrades to sales tactics, create new experiences for their customers and understand how a customer might behave at certain journey points in a future time.

Customer journey map example

Here is an example of a customer journey map:

Objective

To understand why customers are not completing their purchases on the company website. This map is geared towards the marketing and web department.

Customer persona

Elizabeth is in her early forties and lives in an upper middle-class neighborhood in Seattle with her husband and two children. She works from home as a graphic designer and doesn't have time to purchase home furnishings at a physical store location but relies instead on online shopping. The household enjoys a comfortable income.

Data

Elizabeth visits the company website once a week to browse home decor items and unique pieces of furniture. She usually has an average of 15 items on her wishlist but fails to ever transfer them into her shopping cart. She has a very specific taste and doesn't want to deal with any hassles regarding the shipment and return policy if she chooses the wrong item. Research shows that the average customer, such as Elizabeth often clicks on the photos of each item and dwells on them for up to a minute.

Touchpoint

Elizabeth has called customer service in the past to ask questions about the type of fabric used to make the furniture and to inquire about the details of some items, such as the exact color.

Personal experience of the customer journey map

There are not enough photos of the items, or the items are poorly lit, causing uncertainty in myself as a buyer and an inability to imagine what the product would look like in my own home. The images do not expand to an appropriately large size, leaving me confused as to the visual details of each item. The result is that I put the items into my wishlist, but don't have enough confidence in the item to complete the purchase.

Changes and resolutions

Hire a professional photographer to re-take photos of the items we wish to sell on our website. Ideally, the photographer should have experience in furniture photography and photo editing software. Also, offer new directions for the web developer to ensure that priority is given to image quality and accessibility.

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