Why Customer Journey Maps are critical for creating experiences that engage users

by | Apr 24, 2018

Understanding brand interactions from your customer’s point of view is critical to improving your sales process.  Customer journey mapping can help you visualize and better understand the customer’s experience. The process of putting together a customer journey map can be a little intimidating.  Here’s how to get it done. 

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

A customer journey map is a visualized representation of the process that a prospect goes through en route to becoming a customer. The goal is to help your company develop a deeper understanding of your customer’s needs, pain points, and the issues that they run into throughout the process.

Think of a customer journey map as a sales funnel from the customer’s perspective. It outlines the steps that they take on their way to buying your products. Customer journey mapping shouldn’t be an intimidating experience. Remember, you don’t have to hit the nail on the head for every customer. It’s impossible to map the nuanced, unique journey that every customer goes through on their way to buy your product.

Instead, your goal should be gain an understanding of the average buying process and the most basic steps that a prospect takes on their way to becoming your customer. Giving yourself space to breathe and put together a customer journey map that isn’t one hundred percent accurate for every case can make the process less overwhelming and provide direction.

Customer journey mapping starts with mapping a series of events and actions into a timeline. What does a customer first do when they discover your business and product? How does one action typically lead to the next, on their way toward buying your product? As you map the customer journey, you flesh out the map with customer thoughts and data to create a narrative that you can use to optimize and improve the buying process.

Customer journey maps are timelines of the average customer’s interaction with your company. The narrative that you tell in a customer journey map is used to visualize and communicate information that will influence your design and sales processes with the ultimate goal of improving conversion rates and generating more sales. To cater to your ideal customer, you have to know them. To understand where improvements can be made, you have to have to see interactions with your company from the customer’s point of view.

Here is a simple example of a basic customer journey map that can provide you with some direction as you begin:

Customer Journey Map Template

Source: BoagWorld

Customer journey maps don’t have to encompass every persona that you are targeting. In fact, customer journey maps are their most insightful when they represent a specific persona. Understanding the steps that customers from all walks of life take individually can provide insight into how you are under-serving particular segments within your customer base.

Why is Customer Journey Mapping important?

Customer journey maps are important for supporting a business goal. Whether that goal is simply to improve the customer’s buying process as a whole or to target hangups that specific personas are experiencing — a customer journey map is one of the best tools that we have for getting inside the mind of your customers.

Shift your company’s perspective

Marketers and salespeople know that the key to success is being able to get inside of the mind of a customer and truly understand their way of thinking. However, it can be easy for this pillar of business to get lost in the shuffle. We naturally see things from our own perspective. Over time, the company’s perspective can begin to seep into the work.

If you let internal processes and decisions dictate the type of experience that customers have with your company, you are destined to run into problems. A journey map can help to re-shape the perspectives that lead to this line of thinking. It can help to refocus thoughts and processes within your teams toward being more customer-centric. It’s human experiences that lead customers to make the decisions that they make, and without understanding their frame of mind it’s impossible to improve those experiences.

Unify your Organizational Vision

As companies grow, it’s easy for an organization-wide vision to break down into several silos of thought. Are all departments within your company working toward the same goals? Do they have the same understanding of the customer? Customer journey maps are a useful collaboration tool, helping to foster conversation and get separate departments on the same page.

A well-crafted customer journey map can be the first step toward a company-wide effort to improve customer experience. They provide insight that can help to lead to actionable recommendations at each stage of the customer journey.

Improve the Experiences of Specific Personas

Companies that find that their product isn’t connecting with certain specific customer segments may find customer journey maps for that particular segment extremely useful. While the journey of one type of customer might be a good fit, seeing it from the perspective of another can open your eyes to issues in the process. Perhaps the messaging is off at certain stages, leading those customers to believe your product isn’t a good fit for their situation.

Customer journey maps aren’t just useful for understanding your entire customer base. They are excellent tools for digging into each customer type and persona and gaining insight into how they react to each stage of the sales funnel.

Provide Context to Data

Customer journey maps are most useful when paired with data. Data can help to identify and validate issues in the sales process. The customer journey map can provide important context for the data that you collect. For instance, if you see that certain types of customers are being bottlenecked at a certain point in your sales funnel, a customer journey map for those customers could help you identify the issues that are causing the bottleneck.

An Organization-Wide Tool

Customer journey maps are useful at all levels of your organization. From executives to entry-level marketers, journey maps help to provide clear direction and identify issues. Designers can use them to better understand the context that user’s see. It can help them to focus on what they are trying to achieve and align that with customer needs. Copywriters gain insight into the types of questions that prospects may have at certain points in the process and better understand how the customer feels at each stage. Managers gain a top-down view of the customer’s experience and better understand the issues they encounter throughout the sales funnel. A customer journey map isn’t just a document you send to your marketing and sales departments. It can help everyone keep their eye on the ball.

Customer Journey Map Examples

We wanted to be sure to provide some examples of excellent customer journey maps to give an idea of what a finished product might look like. Although each company’s process is different, customer journey maps typically cover a range of topics at each stage in the sales process including discovery, research, purchase, and after sales.

Let’s start with an example from Lego. While this example isn’t one that they use with their own products, it was created to provide insight into what a customer journey map might look like and what it may include.

In this example, which Lego titled “The Experience Wheel,” the company focused on the experience of a customer that was booking a flight to New York City. It breaks down all of the separate steps that your average customer would encounter during the process, identifying important moments and steps that could require an additional look to create a positive experience.

Lego Customer Journey Map

This is a great example of how a specific customer process can be broken down into many steps to be better understood. Ultimately, this exercise could help any company to identify opportunities to improve the experience.

Here’s another example from French cosmetics company Lancome. This customer journey map outlines the experience their average customer has, including realizing that they need to buy new cosmetics, going through the research process, weighing options, and ultimately making their purchase.

Lancome Customer Journey Map

In this customer journey map, you can see that the company is pulling a great deal of the information from actual customer reviews and feedback. This is an excellent example of using feedback and data to inform your customer journey map. They break down the biggest concerns that their customers have at each step in the process and even go as far as to list the resources that their customers use to gain additional insight into their products and industry.

In this last example, I wanted to highlight that customer journey maps don’t have to be boring grids of text. In this example map from Digital Experiences, they’ve gone the extra mile to make it visually appealing. You could hang this on the wall in every department of your company. But, the key here is that they don’t sacrifice depth and details for the sake of an appealing final product.

Digital Experiences Customer Journey Map

This customer journey map provides insight at every stage of the journey, helping teams to hone in on the most important aspects of the customer experience. Working with your design teams to translate your customer journey map into a visually appealing piece can help to increase its attention and provide a professional final product for your teams.

Journey Maps Are the First Step Toward Better Experiences

Customer journey maps are the first step in the long process of improving the experiences of your customers. They are useful tools for identifying issues in the buying experience, providing context to data, and helping your teams to re-focus their efforts on the most important aspects of their jobs. Effective customer journey maps dig deep into the buying process and frame of mind of your customers at each step to shift perspectives and improve sales experiences.

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