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How to make a customer journey map

Last updated

8 March 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

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Satisfied customers can make or break a company. Whether or not customers have positive experiences dictates whether they’ll come back, and whether they’ll recommend you to others.

So, providing satisfying customer experiences is critical for all businesses. But how do you ensure that customers enjoy their interactions with you? Creating a customer journey map is a good way of doing this.

Let’s take a look at what a customer journey map is and how to create one.

What is a customer journey map?

A custom journey map shows the path a customer takes to complete a task with your company or product. It’s a visual representation of all the steps the customer will take.

The journey begins with the first interaction the customer has with your business and moves through the various touchpoints until the task—such as a purchase—is complete.

A customer journey map shows how a customer gets from A to B, including their decision-making and emotional responses. It highlights moments of potential friction and aims to make experiences satisfying for the customer.

Generally speaking, the main customer journey map stages are:

  • Awareness

  • Consideration

  • Conversion

  • Loyalty

  • Advocacy

However, these stages can vary depending on the business and product.

Why customer journey maps are important

Customers want to have a smooth, satisfying experience.

According to Salesforce customer research data, 91% of those surveyed are more likely to purchase again if they had a positive experience. And 71% of people said they’d made purchases based on the experience itself.

Put simply: customer experience matters.

Regardless of what journey the customer is undertaking, there will be many potential drop-off points. If things get too hard, the customer might decide to quit the process. This could be because of too many ads, too many clicks, time-outs, password problems, confusing steps, or slow load times.

Ultimately, pitfalls create friction and negative experiences for customers.

Customer journey maps allow you to create logical journeys for your customers, helping buffer out those moments of friction.

Examples of customer journeys

While customer journeys are most commonly associated with purchase sequences, it’s important to remember that every time a customer interacts with your business, they’re undertaking a journey.

That journey could be to get help from a customer service representative:

  1. Initial contact

  2. Receiving a response

  3. Getting help with their task

  4. Resolving their query

Or, a customer journey could be a business representative onboarding their company to a new email marketing platform:

  1. Signing up

  2. Entering their payment information

  3. Setting up their team on the platform

  4. Creating an account from which to send marketing emails

Another customer journey could be a consumer purchasing a T-shirt online:

  1. Choosing the T-shirt

  2. Putting it into their virtual shopping cart

  3. Entering their shipping and payment information

  4. Confirming the purchase

Keep in mind that almost every experience a customer has with your company involves a journey.

Types of customer journey maps

There are four main customer journey types:

Your task at hand will determine which journey type you use.

Current state

The current state journey looks at where the customer experience is now and details the process of a customer completing an action or reaching a goal.

Future state

A future state journey is based on the ideal or best-case scenario for customers. These types of maps tend to be roughly based on the current state journey, but are optimized for a more seamless experience.

Day in the life

Day in the life customer journeys take a more zoomed-out approach. They cover what a consumer does in their daily life, including when and how they interact with your business.

This journey helps you to understand and empathize with your customers. It also shows where the business journey fits in with the customer's personal journey.

Service blueprint

The service blueprint shows the behind-the-scenes processes that bring the customer-facing journey map to life.

The blueprint details the processes and operations that help to make the journey satisfying for customers. Ultimately it tells much more of the story and helps the business gain clarity on processes that need to be included to create a seamless experience for the customer.

How to create a customer journey map

A customer journey map outlines the milestones the customer will hit to achieve their intended goal. The specifics will be entirely individual depending on the journey and what the customer wants to do.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a customer journey map.

1. Decide on the journey

Before creating a customer journey map, you must be clear on which journey you’re going to map out. From there, consider the necessary stages the customer will need to progress through to achieve their goal.

Be clear on the customer journey map stages to make the process as smooth and seamless as possible. Setting out these steps helps to highlight any roadblocks, pitfalls, dead ends, and clunky areas.

Asking the following questions will help you to work out which journey to map:

  • What journey are our customers on?

  • What is the precise journey we are mapping out?

  • What are the goals and objectives of our customers?

  • Where are the potential areas of friction as the customer moves through the journey?

  • How can we please our customers while they’re on this journey?

2. Set your goals

Without goals, there’s no clear direction of travel. When mapping out the customer journey, it’s important to clarify what the business's goals are as well as those of your customers.

Some common business goals include:

  • Increasing retention

  • Increasing sales

  • Improving customer reviews

  • Reducing load and wait times

  • Increasing speed of purchases

Setting goals for the business will ensure any decisions about changes to the customer journey make business sense. Complement your business goals by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), which can also be part of the journey map.

3. Create customer personas

Customer (user) personas help you deeply understand and empathize with your users. They allow businesses to create products or services with a specific person in mind—rather than designing too broadly.

The process of creating user personas helps teams to clarify who they’re creating for. It can also highlight knowledge gaps about the intended audience.

A user persona is typically a one- or two-page document that includes information such as:

  • Key attributes

  • Motivations

  • Goals

  • Pain points

  • Personality information

Research is crucial to learn more about your customers and create relevant, accurate user personas. Customer interviews, surveys, user testing, and web analytics are just a few research methods you could use.

When developing a customer journey map, consider the user personas you have created. These will help you think of the real people who will be using your platform, product, or service and ensure you create experiences for them specifically.

4. Consider all touchpoints

It’s also helpful to list all the necessary touchpoints the customer will encounter along the journey you’ve set out.

Customer touchpoints are any moments when your customers have contact with you. Think broadly to decide what these touchpoints are; every touchpoint is an opportunity for a customer to form an opinion of your business.

Typical touchpoints include:

  • Social media

  • Online and physical ads

  • Website

  • App

  • Customer service

  • Physical stores

  • Reviews

All these touchpoints should be taken into account when considering the steps the customer will take to complete their task—and each touchpoint should be a positive experience for the customer.

5. Consider personalization

The customer experience bar is always rising, and these days customers expect better experiences than ever before.

According to Mckinsey's Next in Personalization 2021 report, 71% of customers expect businesses to provide personalized experiences, and 76% are frustrated when personalization isn’t provided.

Companies that embrace personalization have the chance to delight their customers, while those who don’t could get left behind.

Personalization can help customers in many ways. It ensures they can:

  • Quickly locate products they like

  • Receive relevant recommendations

  • Speed up the journey to complete tasks

  • Find promotions in line with their interests

  • Feel like a person, not just a number

Because personalization is so important to customers, it shouldn’t be an afterthought, Bake it into the customer journey by considering the following:

  • Where can you recommend products to customers that are similar to what they’ve previously searched for?

  • How can you make the process faster for customers who have visited before?

  • Where can you use a person’s first name to make them feel welcome?

  • How can you personalize communications with your customers?

6. Start where you are now

If you already have a customer journey—it’s helpful to take stock. This will mean you’re clear on where you are now.

Start by mapping every single detail of the journey, every touchpoint the customer comes into contact with, and every possible choice they have as they move through the stages. This is a current state journey.

By knowing where you are to begin with, you’ll have a better chance of improving the process.

There’s no single right way to create a customer journey map, but it’s typically a visual representation including symbols, colors, labels, and charts as needed. Flow charts are commonly used to create customer journeys.

7. Map out the ideal customer journey

Once you have a deep understanding of the current journey, you have the chance to improve on the process.

Highlight areas on the current journey that feel clunky, slow, or unsatisfying. Begin mapping out a new process that removes those areas of friction.

As you map out the new process, ask the following questions:

  • Where can we make the process simpler?

  • How can we surprise and delight our customers?

  • Where can we bake in personalization?

  • What if our users have never completed a journey like this before? How can we make it easy for them?

  • How can we make the journey more accessible for everyone?

8. Conduct user testing

Once you’ve mapped out the new customer journey, test it to check it really does help customers have a better experience of your product and your business.

Trying it out internally is a great first step, but don’t stop there. Thoroughly testing the journey is critical to ensure your target customers can enjoy the experience.

Invite a small representative sample of your customers to help. Ask them to walk through the steps of the journey you have mapped out. If you’re testing a digital product, ask your participants to think out loud while engaging with it. Taking users through the customer journey will help generate feedback for designers and developers to iterate and optimize where needed.

Use real customers to go through the journey, ask them questions as they go from step to step, and don’t assume any prior knowledge.

Once you gain feedback, it’s essential to iterate and test again. That way, you’ll ensure the process is as positive and satisfying as it can be for your customers.

Improve your customer journey

Delivering great customer experience is critical for your business to thrive. If the journey for customers is seamless and satisfying, there’s a greater chance of customers coming back—and telling others about their positive experience.

A customer journey map can help your business to remove clunky steps, elevate emotional dips, buffer out moments of friction, deeply empathize with your customers, and come up with new ways to satisfy customers’ wants and needs.

By clearly mapping out the customer journey with best practices, you gain the chance to iterate, optimize, and streamline the experience.

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