We are sure that you, as a business owner or marketer, know the products and services you are advocating inside out. We’re also going to assume that you’re passionate about what you have to offer and that it’s this passion that drives your sales. However, we have found ourselves in a time where consumers are demanding more than the simple trade of cash for goods and services. Customers are looking for an all-round experience that focuses on customer satisfaction that includes perks and a touch of excitement along the way.  

This is why many brands are placing emphasis on mapping out a customer journey to ensure that they offer an ultimate customer experience (CX), with communication and engagement being at the forefront.  

Harvard Business Review defines CX as being: 

The sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer. 

Why Is Customer Experience Important? 

According to research conducted by Walker, “86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.” Another report by Econsultancy uncovered that “64% of companies rate customer experience as the best tactic for improving customer lifetime value.” 

The proof is in the pudding and businesses are fast realising that a positive CX should form the core of each stage of your sales funnel. It’s the driving force that retains customers, prompts purchasing decisions, and secures conversions.  

It’s the reason why brands are turning to customer journey maps

What Is a Customer Journey Map? 

On the surface, a customer’s journey may seem simple – you have a product or service, and they buy it. If you look a little deeper, however, you’ll discover that this journey is far more complex. A good way to organise these complexities is to create a visual representation that will help you to best understand the steps your customers go through when engaging with your brand.  

And that’s where a customer or user journey map becomes essential.  

This “map” outlines how customers are obtained, how they engage with your brand (and why), and it makes suggestions on what you can implement to improve their journey so that they turn to your business again…and again.  

Tip: A successful customer journey map is one that takes your customers’ feelings and motivations into account. It applies an empathetic approach that focusses on satisfaction and a dire need to fulfil buyers’ expectations.  

What are the Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping? 

Whether you are a businesses owner or a marketer, knowing customers can be as essential as breathing. If you can build a relationship with your target audiences, get to know them on an emotional level, and then formulate a strategy based on engagements, then you’ll certainly reap the rewards.  

The Benefits of a Customer Journey Map Include: 

  1. Having a better understanding of your customer base. A detailed map such as this will give you an in-depth peek into the minds of your buyer personas. You will be able to discover what their goals are, what their pain points are, and what they feel during each touchpoint of their customer journey. In turn, you can use this invaluable information to refine your marketing campaigns, your customer services, and your brand engagement.   
  1. The ability to keep up with the times. Processes that have been efficient in the past can be affected by changes as the needs and expectations of consumers evolve. This is why looking for ways to constantly improve your protocols and customer interactions is a great mindset to have. With this outlook and a customer journey map at your side, you’ll be able to tackle any current and future shortcomings swiftly and flawlessly.  
  1. Ultimately creating better experiences for your customers. When you have an outline showing where your customers are coming from and what their needs are, then you can tweak your business strategies to create exceptional experiences for them. These “tweaks” can be anything from selecting a more compelling Call To Action for your Google Pay Per Click Campaign to redesigning your website so that the user experience is optimised to their liking.  
  1. Access to windows of opportunity. A customer map can help you to identify gaps in the market that neither you nor your competitors are responding to. You’ll thus be able to explore new opportunities for your brand which, in turn, can keep your own journey fresh, exciting, and sustainable.  
  1. Reducing expenses while increasing your turnover. Building your business strategies around the customer journey can give insight into where you can cut costs. It can also help you to avoid spending money on campaigns and projects that are of no value. At the same time, you’ll be able to use the data you’ve compiled to implement customer-centric strategies that will increase conversions.  

When Do You Need a Customer Journey Map? 

Customer Journey maps can be useful to nearly any type of business – big or small. If you plan on creating brand awareness and securing your goals, then the mapping process will only be to your advantage – and the sooner it’s implemented, the better.  

As it stands, 63% of marketers use some sort of journey mapping, and this trend is expected to continue.  

Of course, the complexities of each map will vary depending on the products or services you’re offering. These complexities are generally based on several factors, with the most common ones being: 

  • Who your target audience is 
  • Your business’s sales process 
  • The length of your average buying cycle 
  • The level of post-sales interaction with customers 

For example, a business to consumer product may benefit well from a simple digital advert that leads to a sales page. The journey is a quick one and more focus may be placed on post-sales interaction with customers so that they feel inclined to repeat their action. On the other hand, if you’re selling a high-price software product to a corporation, your map will include many touchpoints and it could take several months for the “journey” to be complete.  

And this brings us to our leading question…how do you create a customer journey map

How to Create a Customer Journey Map 

Neil Patel, popular web and business influencer, says

Each type of customer will have a different buyer path, objections, and challenges. Focus on your most profitable customers first and find the unifying threads that tie them together, then build on that persona. Once you have those down, start working down the list until you have all your customer journies mapped. 

When it comes to creating a customer journey map, there’s no one official template. This is because no two businesses or two customers are going to be the same. This means your very own user map is going to need a certain amount of innovation so that you can bring your data “to life”. 

The good news is that there are guidelines that can help to set you in the right direction. We’ve divided these guidelines into 7 useful steps that will help you to create a journey map that’s tailored towards your brand and your target audience.  

What Are the 7 Steps to Map the Customer Journey? 

The steps are as follows: 

STEP ONE – Identify Your Targets 

This step includes finding answers to the following questions: Why are you making this visual representation? Whose perspective will it be from? What type of experiences should you be factoring in?  

To find your answers, you’ll first need to set yourself some goals or targets. This process will give you the clarity you need to implement the next steps, which are a little less thought-provoking and more data-driven.  

STEP TWO – Create Buyer Personas 

A buyer persona is a fictional character which depicts a target customer. When creating buyer personas, we suggest that you consider (and make note of) the following characteristics: 

  • Background 
  • Demographics 
  • Lifestyle 
  • Personality 
  • Information sources 
  • Shopping preferences 

You can use market research strategies such as surveys and interviews to compile the information. The more information you can collect, the more you’ll be able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes as you continue to map out their needs vs. experiences.  

* Try to limit each customer journey map to a maximum of two personas.  

STEP THREE – Establish Motivations and Pain Points 

This step feeds off of step two but with the difference being that you are now technically going to “introduce” the persona to your brand.  

For example, do they have fears and reservations about engaging with your brand? If so, how can you console them?  

It’s during this stage of the mapping process that you need to delve into what it is your customers want to feel good and motivated – and how can your brand help? 

STEP FOUR – Define the Stages of Your Customer Journey 

Here you can create an overview of the journey your customers experience when they engage with your business, your product or your service. 

An example of a BASIC user journey can be mapped as follows: 

  1. Discovery 
  1. Research 
  1. Purchase 
  1. Delivery 
  1. Aftersales 

Depending on the complexities of your business, there may be more stages to add, such as “set-up” and “troubleshooting”, for example.  

STEP FIVE – Study Touchpoints 

Touchpoints are the many channels through which a customer may come into contact with your business. They are important because they are the moments where your audiences “experience” your brand. During this step, you need to familiarise yourself with the touchpoints of the buying cycle. You can observe patterns and behaviours and establish an empathetic mindset so that you’re “living” the customer experience from the point of discovery through to aftersales.  

STEP SIX – Strategise and Improvise 

Now it’s time to find ways to ultimately improve the customer journey taking each touchpoint into account.  

For example, if customers seem to load their eCommerce trolleys but hesitate to complete their order – find out why and then implement a solution. Perhaps users are unsure if their order is going to arrive on time or maybe they aren’t familiar with your return policy and they’re worried they’re going to be left with a product they’re not happy with. By providing them with this information before the point of payment, you may console their concerns and prompt them into the purchasing phase.   

STEP SEVEN – Revise 

It’s time to reflect and revise. 

Don’t expect to get everything right on the first try! This type of mapping does include trial and error. Just remember to remain patient and continue refining your process until it’s optimally perfect.  

The bottom line… 

Customer journey mapping is not a one-time thing. REMEMBER – the customer journey can change and your business must be ready to adapt.