What is a customer journey map?


A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience your customers have with you. It helps to tell the story of a customer's experience with your brand from original engagement and into hopefully a long-term relationship. 

At first glance, a customer’s journey is pretty simple. You offer something, they buy it. But once you get into the detail, customer journeys are quite complex and come in many varieties. Your customers can come into contact with your business in a multitude of ways and from many different starting points, for example, marketing, referrals, search, social media, customer service enquiries and above-the-line campaigns.

No doubt you want to make every experience a customer has as good as it can possibly be. So to make sure no interaction slips through the cracks, you need to map out every touchpoint or experience along the customer journey. 


What is customer journey mapping?


Customer journey mapping helps businesses step into their customer’s shoes and see their business from the customer's perspective. It helps businesses gain insights into common customer pain points, how they can improve the customer experience, and define what customers, and prospective customers, need in order to complete a purchase.

From a customer’s perspective, they want their experience with a brand to be connected and seamless. They expect companies to know and remember, across multiple touchpoints, who they are and what they’re looking for, so that the necessary information is available and without the necessity to repeat or clarify their needs. A map helps reveal issues with siloes in your business.

The benefits of a customer journey map include:

  • helping you see where customers interact with your business
  • focusing the business on particular customer needs at different stages in the buying funnel
  • identifying whether the customer journey is in a logical order
  • givings an outside perspective on your sales process
  • showing the gaps between the desired customer experience and the one actually received
  • highlighting development priorities
  • allowing you to concentrate efforts and expenditure on what matters most to maximise effectiveness


Getting the most from customer journey mapping


To make your map as useful as possible, you need to include every point where your customer comes into contact with your business, from packaging and manuals to TV ads and Facebook posts. Maps can contain quantitative elements from things like your website analytics, CRM or call centre software. For instance, by overlaying data, a map might highlight that your call centre provides swift answers and satisfying service, but your live chat is causing frustration. 

As your relationship with a customer develops, your map will also cover the long-term, post purchase journey they take with you. Looking at the completed journeys of many customers can help highlight whether there is a clear route from research and enquiry to sale, mapping potential obstacles and opportunities for the business to improve the journey. 


Benchmarking against your brand promise


A customer journey map also reveals how well the customer experience matches up to your brand promise. For example, you might portray your customer experience as effortless. But when a customer arrives at a store to collect items they have bought online then has to face long queues and confusion about their order, their experience doesn't match up. This kind of scenario will play out in a variety of different ways depending on your product, service or type of business. You need to understand where these mismatches are happening and start to fix the issues – and the map helps you do this.

By optimising and improving the experiences along the journey, you’ll be building towards solid, long-term relationships with your customers.


Safeguarding your future


Many consumers are shifting from offline to online, using a variety of digital tools to help them with their purchasing decisions. Offline interactions are also taking on a digital dimension, with location-based services adding to the experience of visiting a store or taking a flight. And as more ‘digital natives’ enter the world of work and gain purchasing power, online interactions grow in commercial importance. Your customer is likely to use search, online review sites and social networks as a first port of call when evaluating a possible purchase. 

Understanding how these interactions work, and how to take advantage of them, is vital to business success.

A customer journey map is just the first step to staying on top of this change. Businesses need increasingly sophisticated processes and tools and that requirement is likely to increase in future – the number of touchpoints is increasing in number by around 20% a year according to McKinsey. With more touchpoints comes more complexity in servicing customer needs successfully. A map should help highlight areas where technology can ease the burden and challenges faced by your business. 


Is your customer journey the right one?


The only way you will know is to start mapping out the journey and experiences your customers are having with your business. By not taking this first step, not only are you risking unhappy customers but you might also be losing out on opportunities you never thought of before.

Check out the Salesforce Marketing Cloud demo to see how Journey Builder can bring your customer journey maps to reality, and enable you to connect with your customers in whole new ways.