What is a Customer Journey Map? A Guide to Improve Customer Experience and Convert Leads


What drives your business? If it’s not your customers, you’re making a big mistake. In a world where a single poor Yelp review or negative mention on social media lives on the web for all eternity and where a single bad customer experience takes 12 positive ones to make up for it, happy customers need to be your number one priority.

How do you focus on your customers? What is their experience like? How do you turn what you know about them and their experience with your company into actionable information?

Eighty-six percent of businesses use a corporate website, 76% use email marketing, and 91% use social media marketing. Chances are you’re using all of these strategies and more. Wouldn’t it be possible to coordinate your marketing efforts? What if these components were perfectly synced to lead your customers on an enjoyable and satisfying journey with your brand?

There is: It’s called a customer journey map.

What Are Customer Journey Maps?

In the simplest terms, a customer journey map is a diagram of the touchpoints a customer has with your company. The map helps you understand how your customer interacts with your brand in every portion of the sales funnel — and how you might improve those interactions and make them more efficient.

There are many different types of maps. Some look at the entire customer journey, from their first knowledge of your existence to their initial purchase, to their experience with the product and customer support, upgrading, replacing — or (hopefully not) switching to another brand. Others look at a small portion of the journey, such as a customer’s path through the marketing process or their support experience.

Why is customer journey mapping essential?

Customer journey mapping is essential because it is a strategic approach to better understanding customer expectations and is vital for optimising the customer experience. 

Customer journey mapping is just as crucial for small and medium-sized enterprises as it is for larger companies. Customer expectations are changing for all businesses, regardless of size – customers demand an omnichannel approach to customer service, marketing and sales.

One of the most critical aspects of the customer experience is personalisation. 80% of customers agree that a company's experience is as important as its products or services. Customer journey mapping allows SMEs to create personalised experiences across all touchpoints – for every individual, across all channels.

Mapping the customer journey has a host of benefits, such as:

  • Allowing you to optimise the customer onboarding process
  • Benchmarking the customer experience desired by your customers against what they receive
  • Understanding the differences in buyer personas as they move from prospect to conversion through the buying funnel.
  • Creating a logical order for your buyer journey.

However, the most significant benefit is simply understanding your customers more. The better you know their expectations, the more you can tailor the customer experience to their needs.

How does customer journey mapping enable omnichannel marketing and customer service?

Today’s consumers want a highly personalised experience, including your marketing and customer service efforts. This interconnected approach is called omnichannel marketing and omnichannel customer service.

In marketing, customer journey mapping plays a pivotal role in this process, as marketers can target one prospect across multiple touchpoints. For example, a customer browsing a product on a website can be retargeted with a social media ad later.

To offer the best possible customer experience, omnichannel marketing is often backed up by omnichannel customer service. This is where the customer can receive customer support across any channel, such as on social media, messenger apps, or live chat. Again, customer journey mapping can allow your customer service team to understand the customer experience better and improve their ability to resolve issues.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

How do you tell the story of a customer’s journey? After all, isn’t every customer’s experience different? Of course it is. You couldn’t possibly build every customer’s journey map, but that’s what data is for. It will help you outline several potential customer journeys, including common touchpoints, to focus on.

Gather Existing Data

You’ve already collected data from your website analytics, marketing platform, CRM, sales data, and other sources. Once you have collected this data, patterns will emerge upon analysis.

Collect Relevant Data

Armed with the above knowledge, you can set about collecting data confidently. How, when and where does your persona engage with specific content? Your objective is to comprehensively understand how they interact with your brand.

Ensure you have both kinds of data: analytical and anecdotal.

  • Analytical Data
    There’s a good chance that what you have so far is analytical. These are great starting points for choosing specific customer journeys to focus on because you can compare them directly with the data points of other customers and discover broad trends.
  • Anecdotal Data
    Without anecdotal data, you miss the details that fill in the full picture. Anecdotal data is based on direct customer stories and experiences. Unfortunately, it can’t be aggregated into a single chart. Pay attention to what people say with social media monitoring (not just whether they Like or Share your posts) and conduct interviews. You can still get some analytical data in an interview by asking questions like, “On a scale of one to ten, how do you feel about our brand?” But the point is to understand individual journeys.

Put It All Together

Once you know how you interact with leads and customers online and offline, you need to put it into an easy-to-understand graphic representation — a map — to share with your teams. Most customer journey maps follow a basic structure. Time, or the different stages of the customer lifecycle, will form a spine to structure the map.

Your map’s spine might have areas such as:

  • Inquiry - The customer decides to shop for your product or service.
  • Comparison - The customer investigates several competing brands to find the best one for their needs.
  • Purchase - The customer decides on a brand and takes action to buy the product or service (successfully or not).

Add customer interactions along the spine. Start from the beginning, when your customer realises they have a need. What specific needs does your company fulfil? Then list the ways customers may become aware of your brand, like:

  • Searching for general information on Google
  • Asking a friend for advice
  • Speaking with a consultant from your brand

Include how you engage, educate, and entertain your audience before and after the relationship is formed and the purchase is made. Through every stage, important thoughts and emotions drive customer behaviour (we discussed such factors in the anecdotal customer discussion above). Chart these as they come up along the spine of your map, and identify where you can make the process more enjoyable for your customers.

Consider Your Map From A Customer’s Point of View

The last step is the most important: annotations and interpretations. Take some time to study your customer journey map: Pinpoint a customer’s most positive moments and where they struggle most. Where are those points in the journey? How can you reshape those touchpoints at each stage to make the journey easier, faster, or more pleasant?

Write your recommendations on the map right next to their touchpoints. Now you have a baseline customer journey map that anyone in your company can understand in minutes. Use this map to guide the creation of maps for other segments of your customer base, or try to create a map that helps you understand the most common journey customers take from awareness to relationship with your company.

How to Use Your Customer Journey Maps

You’ve put together your customer journey maps that focus on getting consumers from discovery to “yes.” It’s a lot of work, but some tools make it easier. Don’t let your efforts go to waste. Here’s how to get the most out of your customer journey maps.

Identify Gaps in the Customer Journey

As mentioned above, one of the primary benefits of a customer journey map is to help you identify gaps in the customer experience that are disjointed or challenging for the customer.

These could include gaps between:

  • Devices where the user is prevented from switching seamlessly between phone, desktop computer, laptop and tablet when completing a task.
  • Departments that might lead a user to give up on the purchase altogether.
  • Channels where context might not be preserved when moving from social media to email, for example.

Sealing these gaps will allow the customer to achieve what they want more quickly and prevent the brand from being viewed as a siloed organisation - which is increasingly important as customers grow accustomed to interconnectedness in other areas of their lives.

Drive Change

With a customer journey map, you can see how everything your company does affects your customers. An official, well-researched, beautifully executed map could be the difference between data reports that gather dust on a shelf or company-wide policy changes that put the customer first. In today’s digital marketing ecosystem, that’s the difference between folding up shop or taking the market by storm.

Keep On Keepin’ On

Don’t forget that your customers’ expectations and feelings toward your brand are constantly in flux. Customer journey maps aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. Invest in gathering new data to fine-tune your customer journey maps regularly. Revisit your maps when you introduce a new product or service, change the purchasing process, or launch a new marketing campaign. Any time you make significant changes in any of your touchpoints, ask for feedback. Keep gathering and analysing data, so your company stays dynamic, relevant, and powerful.

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Answers to frequently asked questions about
Customer Journey Map.

A customer journey map helps companies evaluate the quality of the experience their customers receive at each touchpoint. This provides a better understanding of your customers' expectations and the reality they experience. Use your customer journey map to identify gaps in customer experience across devices, departments and channels.
Customer journey mapping is needed to overview a customer service operation's success. It offers objective insights into the end-to-end process, allowing companies to detect deviations between desired and actual experience, understand how customers interact with a brand and learn whether the shopping journey is logically ordered.
Customer journey mapping is considered when strategic planning is made for a company. Understanding how a customer interacts with a brand should be considered when any marketing effort is made.

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