You may think the customer journey is simple - a brand offers a product or service, the customer then purchases it. If only it was that linear. The customer journey, especially in this day and age, is far more complex. A customer will usually have several brand interactions before choosing to purchase, they might see a social ad, receive an email or speak to a current customer or sales representative. Each of these interactions can cause an effect on the customer's journey.
“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.”
This is where customer journey mapping comes into play, it allows you to get a bird’s eye view of the potential paths your customers could take.
When executed correctly your customer journey map will lead to a more profound understanding of how your customers interact with your brand, plus the discovery of any ‘low hanging fruit’ improvements.
Customer journey mapping definition
It is a visual representation of the customer’s experience with your brand from the awareness stage to purchase and everything in between. The customer journey map will include every touchpoint that a customer interacts with through your sales funnel to provide a greater understanding of the needs and barriers faced by customers, and what directly motivates or inhibits their actions.
There are four popular types of customer journey maps to use:
Current state: This is to visualize how a journey operates currently. It helps identify where people drop off and the opportunities you have for improvement.
Future state: When you want to build a specific journey and you need to plan what it takes to get there. This type of map works when building your strategic goals or vision.
Day in the life: This provides a wider lens on the day-to-day your customers face. Work out where all your touchpoints fit in with a customer's typical day that will influence their interactions with your brand. This is best used when looking at unmet customer needs before they know an issue exists.
Blueprints: Use either your current or future state journey map and overlay with your company's people, processes, policies and technologies. This type of map is great to use to identify the steps needed to take to achieve any desired future customer journeys.
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 a consecutive order.
Customer journey mapping benefits
When you dedicate time to building a comprehensive customer journey map, your customer’s experience will improve along with better conversion and retention rates. And that’s just the beginning, as you continue to read this section you’ll be asking yourself, why you haven’t mapped your customer journeys previously.
Mapping is a valuable resource to you and your team to visualize a complex journey, and understand how customers are interacting at each touchpoint - the good, bad and ugly. It’s the gateway to embracing a customer centric business model.
Gain a deeper understanding
When developing your customer journey map, start by thinking of all the different interactions your potential or current customers have with your business. It will help you see the importance each touchpoint has when influencing an action and how each touchpoint relates to the others.
You may have previously underestimated certain customer touchpoints, but as you map out and visualize the journey, while keeping an eye on your customer journey analytics, you can zoom in on touchpoints that are business critical and need to be optimized.
For example, once you have completed your own journey map, you may discover that the majority of younger shoppers will visit your brick-and-mortar store to try out the product, however will purchase online. You may have been unaware of this pattern previously, which will lead you to modify the store experience, find ways to bring the in-store and online experience together with loyalty cards or customer surveys, or ensure certain stores aren’t closed down as they indirectly drive sales.
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 special insight into where your customers visit and what actions they take at each touchpoint. This will enhance your ability to provide personalized experiences for them through 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).
Know your customers pain points and improve retention
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 refine these barriers, you are creating a cleaner and frictionless experience for them. This will entice them to stay loyal to your brand.
When done correctly, customer journey mapping can also pinpoint the customers who are on the path of churn. Picking up on these typical churn customer behaviors or actions can trigger your marketing system to try a new journey focusing on retaining them as a customer, whether it’s further discounts, extra customer service support, or optimizing content.
Create a customer-centric mentality
Departmental silos can be crippling to a business. The 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 each step can be mapped out from awareness to post purchase, providing the whole team with access to the same information and goals regardless if you’re in sales, marketing, or customer service.
4 factors to consider when mapping your customer journey
There are four core factors that need to be considered when building your customer journey map. We touch on them below:
Emotion: Ultimately, there is a person at the other end of your channel who will be making the decision to convert. It doesn’t matter if you're working in B2B, B2C or SaaS, speaking to a customer's emotion - addressing problems, educating, laughing or alleviating fears - is pivotal for effective marketing.
Moments: Identify the most crucial moments within the customer journey. These are moments that are likely to have a more powerful influence on the customer's perception of your brand. Exceeding these expectations will be key to your business’s success.
Empathy: Think about how a customer will feel during this journey. Try going through the journey yourself, and experience first-hand the pain points and reasons behind them.
Segmentation: It’s important to remember that your customer journey map is not a one-size-fits-all visual. Your audience is made up of different people who will experience it differently. Think of it like this, are you the type of person who spends weeks researching different products and brands before purchasing, or are you a bit more trigger happy and head straight to the checkout?
You will need to make multiple versions of your journey maps depending on your target groups and the variety of products and services you offer.
Customer journey mapping steps
With the basics covered, it’s time to start mapping. This may seem like a daunting task however, we recommend starting out small by choosing one persona and one customer scenario. Then keep focused on the one journey as they have been known to become complicated quickly.
To help with this process we have five steps to ensure success.
Step 1: Set goals
This will help you get started on the right foot. Without a goal, there won’t be a finish line, and you won’t be able to understand the actual effect customer journey mapping has had.
When goal-setting, pick the type of map you want to create (mentioned above under ’ What is customer journey mapping’), then identify your existing and future customers to set goals specifically for those audiences at each stage of their experience.
Include key stakeholders from other departments, as they will have access to different customer experience touchpoints. You will be able to gather their unique insights and understand where improvements are needed. This will ensure that a comprehensive map will be achieved.
Step 2: Determine all touchpoints and channels
This is where things get detailed. Your map needs to show all the points of contact your customer has with your brand, on that specific journey and to achieve the desired goal. If you do miss a touchpoint then you will likely miss out on an opportunity to optimize or not notice a barrier faced by your customer.
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)
Step 3: Analyze core metrics across the omnichannel experience
Now that you have identified all your customer touchpoints it’s integral to pull up all the data you have about them. The common metrics to find at each touchpoint include:
Aligning these metrics with your map provides you with a bird’s eye view of the friction points or areas that are fundamental to that journey.
Pulling these metrics is made much easier with a platform like Ortto, as it unifies data from each source and channels it into one platform. This means you don’t need to stress about manually going to each touchpoint to gather data, it will collect and collate the data for you.
Even with all the data points ever collected 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. We’ve added a few key questions to help 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 5: Time to map
By this point, you are likely to have a solid understanding of your particular customer journey. Now you just need to put it all down on ‘paper’ (or your chosen platform) and see this map come together. Plot the route the customer needs to take to achieve the goal, add all the touchpoints the customer can visit along the way and invite input from your other stakeholders to ensure accuracy.
Once all your information is down, you can then work on aesthetics, so anybody within the company can understand the customer journey map visualization at a glance.
Bonus step: Optimize
Congratulations on building your customer journey maps, however the job is never quite done. Be vigilant and always keep an eye on your journeys, especially if there are any specific problematic touchpoints.
Testing alternative journey versions, messaging or content used will help you understand your customers on a deeper level.
Customer journey mapping examples
There is no universally agreed map template, each company and industry will have variations to explain and visualize their customers' experience differently. We have collected a few versions to inspire your own customer journey template.
Version 1: Line chart
This robust map outlines all the possible steps that can be taken by the customer, the pain points and points of satisfaction or delight. This sort of data is great to use when looking at customer behavior and improving the website. This version of map works when there is only one possible way for the customer to act.
Here is a very comprehensive version of the buyer's journey. It outlines the stakeholders, customers needs, influencers and the best content to use per stage of the journey.
The classic chart is great when wanting to supply a large amount of information into the map. The first example is lacking visually and comes across as overwhelming, where the second example shows the impact of design and branding when building your chart. You’ll find what works best for your team.
This is a very useful chart for an emotive journey for example purchasing a home. In the example below, they use the process of doing taxes and the anxiety felt by the customer. The map shows the buyers' thoughts sna emotions at the individual stages.
A customer journey map will provide you with the holistic view needed to ensure your customers are going down the right path seamlessly with little to zero barriers or pain points faced. This activity will ensure you are providing the best customer experience possible across their entire journey.
Now that you have the knowledge it's time to start building your own customer journey map and implement today.
What gets measured, gets managed. Embed these three customer feedback popups into your site, store, or app to generate more customer feedback.
“We were looking for a solution that was really easy to use, didn’t require a tech team, and would have a robust integration with Salesforce so we could trigger sales communications in a smarter way. Nobody else out there has what Ortto has.”