6 Steps to Create a Customer Journey Map
No matter what type of business you own or operate, it’s essential to put your customers front and center. After all, they’re the ones that pay you to provide them with a product or service. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to earn money and thrive.
A customer journey map is a great way to identify strengths and weaknesses in your customer experience. It can help you meet your customer’s needs and preferences and improve your marketing strategy to drive sales time after time.
If you’re wondering how to create a customer journey map, keep reading because we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process below.
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
With a customer journey map, you’ll gain a visual understanding of how customers perceive your business. You can use this tool to understand pain points and improve your overall customer experience. A customer journey map can also give you the opportunity to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and get an idea of what they need to make a purchase.
Once you design a customer journey map, you’ll force yourself to look at how customers actually experience your brand versus how you may think they do. It’ll give you an outside look at your sales process and point out gaps between what your customers want and what they actually receive.
If you’re unsure of what you need to do to gain more customers or maximize your profits, a customer journey map can give you some answers. It’ll make it easier for you to prioritize your efforts and steer your business in the right direction.
Now that you know what a customer journey map is and why it’s important, it’s time to create one. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to create a customer journey map that allows you to meet your bottom line.
1. Figure out Your Goals
Unless you set goals, you won’t know whether your customer journey map makes a positive difference in your customer experience and business. So it’s crucial to sit down with your management team and anyone else who interacts with customers to establish these goals. Here are a few examples of goals.
- Spend less on marketing.
- Improve customer retention.
- Increase profits month over month.
- Remove sales inefficiencies.
2. Perform Customer Research
The more information you can gather about your prospective and current customers, the better. You can interview customers in person or digitally and ask them for their honest opinions in exchange for some type of reward, such as a discount, freebie, or giftcard.
Another option is to speak to employees, such as call center or sales representatives, who interact with customers on a regular basis. In addition, you can listen to customer phone recordings, look at reviews on sites like Google and Facebook, and take advantage of web analytics.
During the research phase, you’ll want to find out how customers learn about your brand; what makes them want to purchase, cancel, or return; how they feel about your website; and whether there were issues your business did or did not resolve. Both quantitative and qualitative information can help you answer these types of questions.
3. Specify Customer Touchpoints
Customer touchpoints show how and where customers interact with your brand. The nature of your business and the way you operate will determine how many touchpoints you have. For example, if you’re a dry cleaner, you’ll have very different customer touchpoints than a restaurant.
The best way to identify customer touchpoints is to think about what your customers see, hear, and do before they purchase, while they purchase, and after they purchase. Here are the most common touchpoints during each of these phases.
- Before Purchase: Marketing, advertising, public relations, reviews, and special events.
- During Purchase: Websites and landing pages, sales team, online checkout, discounts, and promotions.
- After Purchase: Social media, email newsletters, thank you cards, follow-ups from sales team, and customer support calls and emails.
While your customer journey map can be a complex, multi-dimensional model, it can also be as simple as the below example:
|Customer Stage||Before Purchase||Before Purchase||During Purchase||During Purchase||After Purchase||After Purchase|
If you’re concerned that you’ll miss a customer touchpoint, step out of your internal role and pretend you’re the customer. Get into the customer mindset and go through the before, during, and after purchase phases. Take notes while you do so you can later use them to figure out whether you overlooked some touchpoints.
4. Map Your Current Customer State
Now, you’ll want to use your touchpoints to create a customer journey that reflects your current customer experience. While there is no right or wrong way to format your customer journey map, we suggest you include touchpoints, the teams that are responsible for these touchpoints (sales, marketing, customer service, etc.) and what customers see or hear when they get to them.
If possible, use pictures and colors to make it easy for your team to visualize what happens at each touchpoint. Also, give key players the chance to comment on various parts of your customer journey so you can clearly see where you need to improve.
5. Map Your Future Customer State
We’re willing to bet that your current customer state reflects some pain points and issues that you’d like to solve. So it’s a good idea to add potential solutions to your customer journey map and present them to the appropriate parties. Your end goal should be to design a roadmap that outlines what you’ll do to improve your customer experience and what steps your team will take to help you do so.
6. Reevaluate Your Customer Journey Map
After you’ve built a customer journey map and made changes that benefit your customers and organization, you’re not done. It’s important to reevaluate your map every quarter or year to figure out whether it’s changed. For example, if your customer journey map states that customers receive a free in-home estimate but you’ve transitioned to online estimates, you’ll need to modify your map and think about how to improve the online estimate experience. Every few years or so, you may want to start from scratch and create a new customer journey map.
Benefits of a Customer Journey Map
While there are countless benefits of a customer journey map, the most noteworthy ones include:
Better Customer Understanding
You may think you understand your customers, but a customer journey map may reveal otherwise. For example, let’s say you’re a restaurant that changes its menu every week to keep things interesting for your customers.
A customer journey may indicate that the weekly menu changes confuse and frustrate your customers. Many of them would rather you keep the menu the same and only switch around a few entrees or create a special list that changes.
This understanding can give you the opportunity to alter your menu and keep more customers satisfied and returning. Without a customer journey map, you may have no idea that your customers would prefer a more traditional menu with fewer changes.
Insight Into Your Brand Promise
Your brand promise is the experience your customers can expect whenever they interact with your business. You may state that your brand offers an easy checkout process. But your customer journey map may reveal the opposite. Maybe your checkout form is too long or confusing.
Or perhaps the promo code box rarely works. A customer journey map can help you compare your brand promise against reality. If you find out that your checkout process frustrates customers, you can make changes to it and build positive, long-term relationships with your customers.
Valuable Information for Your Teams
A customer journey map can help almost every department of your business. If you have a marketing team, for example, it can allow them to understand pain points and tailor their marketing messages and initiatives accordingly.
If you have a sales team, a customer journey map can improve the way they speak to your customers and increase close rates. Regardless of whether a team interacts with your customers directly or is behind the scenes, they’re likely to find value in the map.
Greater Customer Satisfaction
If you create a customer journey map and forget about it or fail to make any changes to your organization, you’ve wasted time, energy, and resources. On the other hand, if you use it to make strategic changes that lead to a better customer experience, your brand is sure to grow. When you improve the way you operate to meet the needs and wants of your customers, you can enjoy loyal customers, more customers, and long-term success.
Higher Return on Marketing Investment
A strong marketing strategy is often time-consuming and expensive to plan and execute. However, if it’s done right, it can lead to new customers and increased profits. With a customer journey map, your marketing team can ensure they’re using the right messages and strategies to promote your products and services. It can give you a higher return on your marketing investment and ensure marketing efforts pay off.
The Bottom Line
There’s no denying that it takes a great deal of time, energy, and collaboration to create a comprehensive customer journey map. This is not a small project that you can complete in one sitting or a few days. In order to do it right, you’ll need to schedule multiple meetings with the right personnel over the course of at least several months.
Once you create your customer journey, you’ll be able to make informed business decisions that give you a competitive edge and keep your customers happy for years to come. It’s one of those business tools that you’ll be so thankful you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.