A customer journey map is a visual representation of the process someone goes through to accomplish a goal with your product or service, as well as what they do and how they feel at each stage of that process. 

You’ll visualise the story of your customer so that you can include a lot of information succinctly. You’ll also be able to create a shared vision among the marketing organisation and between marketing and other stakeholders. 

In creating the customer journey map, you’ll be able to see how your customer relates to your brand through interaction points. You’ll develop a deep understanding of how a customer engages with your product or service, see your brand from a customer perspective, and define the qualitative factors that shape their ability or willingness to engage.

 

Common types of customer journey maps

  1. Current state: Based on the experiences you provide right now, this type identifies current pain points so that you can incrementally improve.
  2. Future state: Based on the experiences you will provide in the future, this type helps communicate a vision and drive a defined change.
  3. Day in the life: Current state, with a broader view of the customer, examining everything they do along the journey whether it involves your company or not. This is where marketers can uncover unmet needs and drive innovation that is not yet defined.
  4. Service blueprint: A simplified current or future state journey map, with people, processes, policies and technologies that deliver that experience layered on, this type’s primary purpose is assigning ownership for specific experiences and interactions.

And there are many ways to present each type. At its simplest, a customer journey map is a table, with steps through time on the horizontal axis and themes for analysis on the vertical axis.

 

When to create a customer journey map

We create journey maps any time we need to understand our customers and their relationships with our company, particularly if we need to:

  1. Drive customer-centricity, shifting perspective from inside-out to outside-in
  2. Break down silos to create one shared, organisation-wide vision
  3. Assign ownership of customer touchpoints and interactions
  4. Target and speak to specific customers

 

Structure of a customer journey map

Keep it simple – you’ll have a header section that contains who the customer is and what their goal is. From there down, it’s a big grid. Moving left to right is simply the passage of time, usually broken into phases – think of each stage for your customers as they move from awareness to advocacy.

From top to bottom, there are commonly three more sections:

  1. Their chronological journey with your brand
  2. Their tasks, thoughts and emotions as they interact
  3. Your opportunities to remove friction and improve experiences (as well as, if applicable, responsibility for the touchpoint)

 

How to create a customer journey map

Start out by understanding that the point of creating a customer journey map is not actually ending up with the map. It’s also the discoveries along the way. You’re gathering data, deriving insights from it, and identifying actions to take based on those insights.

Put more nicely, you’re getting to know customers, their needs and how those needs are met, or not, through interactions with your brand. You’ll uncover insights, and form and test hypotheses. Those insights, brought together with your company goals, will provide moments of inspiration that springboard into your greatest creative campaigns, or form the basis for ongoing and cumulative improvement.

The first step, then, is discovery – conduct your research. The methods of enquiry will depend on your product or service, but should include at least quantitative research with customers and the public (within your target demographic), and qualitative research with internal stakeholders. You may also observe users interacting with your product if that’s relevant for your brand. 

Using that research, you’ll identify your persona, the scenario in which they interact with your brand, the touchpoints, and insights from your research about their actions and emotions at each touchpoint.

This actual mapping should be conducted in collaboration with other stakeholders from all levels and functions of the organisation who can offer varying insights and expertise. In a three-hour workshop, for example, you might offer a recap of your research, propose a persona for discussion, refine it, and map the journey collaboratively.

After the workshop, design the customer journey map, with a focus on succinctly presenting the story. Distribute it to all stakeholders, and – very importantly – never let it gather dust. Use it, iterate, use it more.

 

How to use your customer journey map

You’ll want to create personalised omnichannel customer experiences for each of your personas, based on everything you found. For that, you’ll need Pardot. 

Pardot is a powerful marketing automation software, built on the world’s #1 CRM. To learn more about how Pardot can help you, watch this demo.

 

This post originally appeared on the A.U.-version of the Salesforce blog.