The customer journey is anything but simple. Before a lead even becomes a customer, they might see a social ad, receive several emails in a nurture journey, speak to a sales representative, visit your website multiple times, and read reviews on third-party websites. Each of these interactions contributes to their perception of your brand and, ultimately, whether or not they go on to become a loyal customer.
“With the number of touchpoints a customer has with a brand increasing with the proliferation of technologies and channels, the need to create a consistent experience is critically important.”
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer’s experience with your brand from awareness to purchase. It should include every major touchpoint throughout the sales funnel, highlighting the barriers along the way, and the channels or messages that motivate them to take the next action.
Four types of customer journey maps
There are four key types of customer journey maps, some of which may be more relevant to your business and goals than others.
Current state: This is to visualize how a journey operates currently. It helps identify where leads or customers drop off, where the bulk of conversions or upgrades happen, and the opportunities you have for improvement.
Future state: This is a strategic journey that should be built when you want to nudge leads or customers to take a specific action and you need to plan what it takes to get there. It often involves taking your current state journey and adapting it to fit your goals.
Day in the life: This provides a view of your customer’s typical day-to-day, allowing you to identify where your brand can show up with relevant messages or activations, or even where you could build new features or products to address unmet needs.
Blueprints: In a blueprint, you will take either your current or future state journey map and overlay it with your company's people, processes, policies, and technologies to identify the tangible steps needed to reach a certain goal.
Every map is slightly different, however, they will commonly include factors like customer touchpoints, friction points or barriers faced, actions taken, and customer sentiment, all plotted in consecutive order.
Experience map vs. customer journey map
An experience map is similar to a customer journey map in that it tracks a customer’s movements from awareness through to purchase and beyond, but it takes a much wider lens. The experience map will start with the overarching query or goal a customer has before they’ve even identified your product as a potential solution.
For example, an insurance company’s experience map might include things like search queries (and results), research, referrals and reviews, and competitor advertisements or messages. It is essentially mapping the experience of finding a solution to a problem and can reveal specific pain points or places your competitors show up more prominently.
Customer journey mapping benefits
When you dedicate time to building a comprehensive customer journey map, you will identify ways to improve your customer experience along with your conversion and retention rates. It’s the gateway to embracing a customer-centric business model, with benefits including:
1. Prioritize marketing channels and messaging
By thinking of all the different interactions your potential or current customers have with your business you will start to see the importance each touchpoint and message has when influencing an action and how each touchpoint connects to the others.
You might find you had previously underestimated certain customer touchpoints and overestimated the importance of others. By zooming in on the touchpoints that are business-critical, you can re-prioritize to focus on the things that actually contribute to business outcomes.
2. Create a personalized omnichannel experience
Based on a survey conducted by Econsultancy, 88% of businesses reported that customer mapping positively impacted their ability to deliver a personalized customer experience. Mapping out your customer journeys will give you insight into where your customers are and what actions they take at each touchpoint. This will enhance your ability to provide personalized experiences for them in two ways:
Customize the content at each touchpoint with relevant messaging that speaks to that customer on that specific channel.
Make sure your customers have a seamless connection with their preferred channel. This includes both the customer-facing side (what the customer experiences) and at the backend (the data that underpins them).
When you have a holistic view of the customer journey, it’s far easier to see the areas that need improvement. By taking the time to remove barriers to entry or speed bumps, you can create a frictionless experience that reduces the sales cycle.
On the other end of the journey, your customer journey map can help you pinpoint how and why churn happens. Picking up on typical churn behaviors or actions can help you set up more successful retention journeys — a crucial part of marketing in the age of skyrocketing CACs.
4. Create a customer-centric culture
Departmental silos can be crippling to a business. The entire team needs to be working together, towards the same goals, with access to the same company data. By building a comprehensive and clear customer journey and communicating it to the wider organization, your whole team will benefit from a deep understanding of who your customers are and how their day-to-day work can positively impact the journey.
How to create a customer journey map
Customer journey mapping may seem like a daunting task, but if you take it one step at a time you’ll be surprised by how quickly it comes together — and how beneficial it is to your business.
Follow these steps to map your customer’s journey:
Step 1: Identify your ideal customer profile (ICP)
If you don’t have ICPs already, you will need to identify them before you start to map. Aim to be specific without narrowing your total addressable market (TAM) down so far that your business becomes unsustainable.
Step 2: List customer touchpoints
This is where things get detailed. Your map needs to show all the points of contact your customer has with your brand, from awareness through to purchase (and beyond — but depending on your goals, you might wish to attack this in parts).
Gather key team members in a room and list every touchpoint you can think of. Missed touchpoints can translate into missed opportunities, so be incredibly thorough, even if a touchpoint feels irrelevant or insubstantial.
Here are a few examples of touchpoints that are likely to be missed:
Any 404 errors on your website
Transactional emails (e.g. receipts and invoices)
Customer reviews on third-party sites
Person-to-person interactions (e.g. customer service agent, in-store sales representative, or repair technician)
As you map these out, add detail about the touchpoints that have higher engagement or those where performance is waning.
Step 3: Identify customer actions
Map the actions your customers take alongside the touchpoints and you will quickly identify where roadblocks or speed bumps occur, and where new initiatives could help nudge them down the funnel more efficiently.
Once you’ve done this, make note of the total number of actions a customer takes before they convert. Your goal should be to reduce this number by removing obstacles in their way, both to create a better experience for your customers and to improve business outcomes.
Step 4: Analyze core metrics
Now that you have identified all your customer touchpoints and actions, it’s time to look at performance. The common metrics to find at each touchpoint include:
Even with all the data points in the world, nothing beats hearing directly from your customers. What the quantitative data can’t show are the emotions felt at each touchpoint, where words can paint a clearer picture of what the customers loved or hated.
Interviewing customers, and asking about their experience as it occurs will be worth its weight in gold when building and validating your customer journey map. Here are a few key questions to get you started:
How easy or difficult did you find using our website/app/platform?
Are you satisfied with the (onboarding/ check out/ billing) process?
How did the product/ brand help you? Were there any problems that were not solved by our product/ brand?
Is there anything we can do to support you or better your experience with us?
Step 6: Formalize and circulate your map
By this point, you likely have a draft map out on paper. Now you need to formalize this document in a platform like Miro or Figma and get it in front of key stakeholders across the business to generate feedback and ensure accuracy.
Once you have a beautifully visualized customer journey map, circulate it with the wider company and set time to walk them through each step, and answer any questions.
A customer journey map will provide you with a holistic view of the path your customers take, and how you can improve upon it to fast-track their path to conversion. It will help you prioritize marketing and customer initiatives, identify areas for improvement, gain a deeper understanding of your customers, and audit how your brand shows up.