What is customer journey mapping? And how can you build your own customer journey map?

Losing customers midway into the sales funnel? Here’s how to construct a customer journey map so that nothing falls through the cracks ever again.

It can be confusing and frustrating when you see one of your potential customers spend a long time browsing a certain section, putting a few things in their cart and then disappearing. 

Or they might take several steps to get from point A to B, when they should have taken only one step. So what went wrong?

The reason might have to do with the fact that your customer journey isn’t accurately mapped out. 

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of how a customer interacts with your company to achieve a goal. It details all the steps involved from when a customer hears about your brand to conversion, and ultimately a long-term relationship with your company.

Your customers can come into contact with your business in a multitude of ways from referrals, organic searches, social media, customer service inquiries, etc. After that, they go through several processes of the sales funnel, like comparing products, consideration, trying out demos, etc. to the final stage. 

A customer journey map tracks all these touchpoints and aims to optimize its efficiency to provide the best customer experience possible. 

Three reasons why a customer journey map is so important

Here are three reasons why you need to design a customer journey map if you don’t already have one.

1) You’ll optimise your marketing resources

Outbound marketing is costly and often ends up targeting the wrong people who aren’t going to buy your product anyway. Inbound leads, on the other hand, made their way to your website because they had intent in mind.

These are the kind of leads you want to nurture because they have a high potential of turning into customers. Your customer experience map should ensure that the people who are already interested stay interested.

2) You’ll understand your audience better

If the majority of visitors spend a significant amount of time reading a blog or a particular page, then it’s clear the content of that page is appealing to every visitor. The content probably addresses a major concern or pain point of your audience.

It is these pain points you aim to resolve with your products. So a customer journey map helps you understand what is more important to your customers.

However, a customer journey map should always be an essential part of your customer experience strategy. But it’s not the only thing. Here are a few tips to implement a killer customer experience strategy.

3) You’ll find flaws in your own game

That problem we mentioned about people dropping off on a certain touchpoint – is it a problem of that touchpoint itself? Or did the only ones who drop off there come from a specific previous touchpoint?

So perhaps, the problem lies there. There is no way for you to know until you draw a chart of all possible routes customers might take from the time they first get to hear about your product. 

How to create a customer journey map

Here’s how to create a customer journey map in four steps.

1) Create a customer persona

Customer journey maps are all about making your business more customer-friendly. Hence you need to put in the effort to get to know your customers. There are two ways you can do this.

1) Website analytics

Website analytics software gives you a good idea of where your users have come from and what they wish to achieve. Search data and social media data are also treasure troves of information about your audience. Make Google Analytics your new best friend. 

2) Use questionnaires

It’s easy to misinterpret analytics data, so your best bet is to reach out to your existing customers and prospects, in a non-intrusive way. They are the most reliable sources of information.

Here are some excellent examples of questions to ask:

  • How did you find us?
  • What are the problems that you are trying to solve?
  • How long do you typically spend on our website?
  • Have you ever made a purchase before, and what was it?

Here is a more comprehensive list of questions you may wish to include.

2) Identify the critical stages of user interaction

In a map there are locations, and then there are paths to that location. The ‘locations’ in this context are the most important stages that a customer will pass through when interacting with your brand.

These stages will include:

  • Discovery (awareness)
  • Research (comparison)
  • Purchase (conversion)
  • Delivery (business operations)
  • After-sales (customer retention efforts)

Depending on the nature of your company, it might have some or all of these stages. However, it’s important that the stages don’t go in circles or double back on each other. 

The reason you are doing this is to get a clear picture of the experience your customers go through and if possible, reduce the number of steps involved. Be wary though, that in expediting the process, you don’t lose out on key steps in the sales funnel. Here is a list of the common mistakes people make in their conversion funnels

3) Identify the information you want to map

In each of the stages mentioned above, your customer is going through certain mental processes and considerations. The map should capture how the customers feel at each stage of the process. This is the information that will help you make your business more customer-friendly.

Each stage should have associated with it the following details:

  • Objectives: What is the customer trying to achieve at this stage? For example, the action could be”Adding to cart.”
  • Questions: What information does the customer want at this stage? For example, what discounts are there, delivery time, etc?
  • Touchpoints: How can the user interact with the company here? They can interact through form fills, customer service, etc.
  • Feelings: What is the customer feeling here? The content of your blogs, the nature of your infographics influences the emotions of the customer.
  • Obstacles: What are the obstacles in the process here? For example, a user might add a product to the cart, and then drop out after finding it has exceptionally high shipping fees.

4) Create a grid

It’s time to map all that information according to the stages. There are several ways to do this, but the simplest way is through a 2D grid.

On the top of the grid, write down all the stages from awareness to after-sales. These will be your columns.

On the left-hand side, write down all the information – from objectives to obstacles. These will be your rows. 

Depending on the specific purpose of your grid, you can have specialized ones like current state (which visualizes the current process), future state (visualises the future ideal process), etc. Check out the types of customer maps here.

Test your finished customer journey map

After you finish your map, it’s essential to take the customer journey yourself from several different starting points and through several different routes. Only then will you be able to work out where changes need to be made.

Photo by Daniel Gonzalez