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Relationships are built on understanding. This holds true whether it’s a personal relationship or a relationship between a brand and its consumers. In either case, understanding the other side allows you to communicate better and address their concerns. For brands, these two steps are vital in creating long-lasting relationships with their consumers and developing a service or product they return for.
Understanding how to create a customer journey map will give you a world of potential in your efforts to understand your customers, meet their needs, differentiate from the competition, and boost your sales.
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of how customers engage with a brand, their services, or their products. A customer journey map includes every engagement or interaction the consumer has with the brand. This visual representation tells a story that allows brands to see and understand their customer’s behaviors and buying processes as they move through the sales funnel.
As an example, a retail customer journey map starts with a customer recognizing their need for an item, follows their journey through searching on their phone, and continues through them making a purchase. However, the customer journey map does not end with a purchase. It continues through your communications with a customer, the methods you use to keep them coming back for repeat purchases, and your efforts to nurture the relationship.
Why should you create a customer journey map?
A customer journey map holds precious value for brands looking to boost sales and increase their reach. With a comprehensive picture of your customer journey, your brand can gain valuable insight into what you are doing correctly and how you can improve.
A customer journey map allows you to:
- Gain insights into customer behavior – The best way to meet your customer needs is to understand their shopping and buying behaviors. A customer journey map highlights when they engage with your brand and when they retract.
- Identify gaps and opportunities in the customer experience – A journey map highlights inefficiencies in your user experience, like whether customer service is lacking or if your customers are struggling to find their products online.
- Align marketing and sales efforts – Marketing and sales must go hand-in-hand. Your customer buyer journey will inform how you can adjust your marketing and sales process to speak to customer needs.
- Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty – Your customer journey map will identify potential pain points so that you can resolve them. When customers see that a brand works to alleviate their concerns, they are more likely to stick around.
Steps needed to create a customer journey map
An effective customer journey map will look different for every brand, depending on their service, product, or audience. Still, there are a few steps that are valuable for any business. To create a customer journey map, follow these five steps.
1. Define your customer personas
A customer persona is a hypothetical representation of the current and potential customers of your brand. This representation gives you a comprehensive view of your customers, their motivations, and their desires.
Customer personas should be based on a wide list of factors, demographics, and characteristics, including:
- Job title
- Personal and professional goals
The best personas are developed using a combination of customer interviews, survey data, online analytics, and more. Remember that customer personas are ever-changing, and you must continuously gather new information to keep them up to date.
2. Identify customer touch points
How is your customer engaging with your brand? Are they using social media? Do they browse your website inventory? Maybe they regularly visit your physical store. Gather as much information as you can about your customers’ touchpoints and when they interact with your business so you can get a full picture of their journey. Common customer touchpoints include:
- Customer support
- Social media
- Your website
- Online content, like blogs or videos
- Email marketing campaigns
- Physical stores
- Point of sale
Identifying where these touchpoints are happening, how often, and the value of each of these interactions will help you determine what your customer journey typically looks like.
3. Gather data and feedback
To create your customer journey map, you need information that guides it. Data will allow you to make assumptions based on factors like website engagement, sales numbers, and social media metrics. Some valuable tools and resources you can use for gathering data on a customer journey map include:
- Prospecting tools
- Customer management systems
- Behavior analytics tools
Once you have this data, back it up with customer feedback for context. Only customers themselves can tell you why they are or aren’t engaging with your brand. You can gather that feedback through interviews, email surveys, focus groups, and more.
4. Map out the customer journey
Once you have all the information you need about your customers, you can begin the actual mapping process. To effectively map out your customer’s journey, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions, like:
- Who are they interacting with? For example, these interactions might include customer service reps, reps on the sales floor, or cashiers.
- What are your customers’ attitudes during their interactions? Are they coming to you excited to buy something new, or do they seek your services in a time of stress?
- What is the turning point for your customers? In other words, what is the moment or factor that determines whether or not they will buy or walk away?
- What benchmarks and KPIs can you use to measure the customer experience?
These questions will give you not just a flow chart of consumer behavior but a comprehensive view of your customer wants and needs.
5. Identify pain points and opportunities for optimization
Of all the steps in creating a customer journey map, this is one of the most important. Your ability to identify pain points and opportunities for growth will exemplify the value of your customer journey map.
The purpose of a customer journey map is to highlight areas for growth and make adjustments that improve your potential to boost sales. Therefore, using your maps to identify customer pain points is crucial for developing plans to address them.
Tools and templates for customer journey mapping
The customer journey mapping process may sound a little overwhelming but don’t worry. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available that can simplify the process by providing valuable data, analytics, and insights.
Some of the tools you can use for gathering information for customer journey mapping include:
- Automated email surveys
- Customer service tools
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
- Customer Effort Score (CES)
Once you use these tools to gather all your information, you can use a template to highlight and identify how to compile it all and organize it to your benefit.
Although templates can be helpful, the key is to customize those templates to fit your specific brand and industry. Of course, the customer journey is going to look different for a SaaS brand than it is for a brick-and-mortar product store. Think about how a customer journey map will look based on your brand and adjust your template accordingly.
Best practices for effective customer journey mapping
Although a customer journey map is a powerful tool, it is only as powerful as you make it. By keeping a few best practices in mind, you can make the most out of your customer journey map and use it to inform your practices in a way that benefits your brand.
1. Collaborate with cross-functional teams
To gain a full context of your customer buyer journey, it helps to have insight from across your organization. To do so, combine information from all your customer touchpoints. For example, including both the sales and customer service teams can allow you to identify what issues customers are having during the sales process so that both teams can have this context as they support potential customers in the future.
With this collaboration, you can create a better customer journey map with more context. After all, all your systems work together to find leads, nurture them, and encourage them to make a purchase. Collaborating allows you to tie everything together.
2. Conduct user research and interviews
User research and interviews are invaluable tools in understanding your customers and understanding how and why they interact with your business. Data and metrics are important, but hearing from your customers directly will provide valuable insight into their behaviors, goals, and motivations. You can conduct this research through focus groups, conducting customer surveys, and offering incentives for customer feedback.
Keep in mind that user research and interviews are just one piece of the puzzle that is each of your customers. Interviews often provide information about one touchpoint or experience in the customer journey.
You can gain more relevant information by being meticulous about the questions you include in your interviews. However, for a more complete picture, you’ll need to combine this information with data that provides additional context to their answers.
3. Use data and analytics for insights
After conducting research from users, you can use data and analytics to gain further context of how those motivations play out in the buyer journey. In this process, you’ll want to gather both solicited and unsolicited data to fill in as many gaps as possible.
Solicited data comes from the customers themselves through methods like surveys or customer service questionnaires. Meanwhile, unsolicited data is the information you gather about the customer from less direct methods, like purchasing data, customer service representatives, customer chat transcripts, third-party sources, and more.
4. Continuously update and iterate the customer journey map
The customer journey is far from static. Anything from the season to social trends can influence your buyer journey. Of course, your brand actions and adjustments will also impact how customers interact with you. As you make changes to improve your buyer journey, your customers will change their habits too.
Since there are so many factors that can affect the customer journey, you’ll need to continuously gather data and adapt your customer journey map to make up for it.
Case studies: Successful customer journey mapping examples
Customer journey mapping is not just a good idea—for many brands, it is an essential part of their process. This tool is far from industry-specific and can benefit brands across fields. The following cases are just a few examples of how customer journey mapping can be useful.
Enhancing the online shopping experience
User experience is everything for ecommerce brands, as consumers expect a fluid experience to reach the point of purchase. One of the ways a customer journey map can assist is by helping you address the issues that your customers might experience through your online store.
If you notice that you lose customers after the website touchpoint, you can improve the experience to address those concerns. The journey map will also highlight what avenues customers prefer, allowing you to make adjustments that respond directly to these preferences.
For example, if more customers visit your social media pages than your website, then you’ll want to make the purchasing process through your social media accounts smoother and more direct to pull in more potential leads.
Improving customer support and communication
A customer journey map may also highlight ways you can improve the support you provide customers. For example, you may notice from your website analytics that the customer journey ends when they visit your site. Then, after gathering customer feedback, you may learn that customers run into a common issue navigating your site.
This takeaway will highlight that you need a customer support chat box or frequently asked questions (FAQ) section easily accessible on your website. Based on your research, the added support will likely lead to more sales across the site.
Streamlining the purchasing process
In another case, customer journey mapping may highlight that the purchasing process could be more efficient. Maybe your customers are ready to buy after seeing an ad for your company on social media, but your sales funnel leads them to blog content.
If your customer journey map demonstrates that you lose customers at this stage, or somewhere in between, it highlights that you need to move the purchasing process farther up the funnel. Meanwhile, if you notice that customers are frustrated with the purchasing process itself, then you may need to reconsider your payment integration software or simplify the payment process.
Start using customer journey mapping to your benefit
Customer journey mapping is a powerful tool for understanding how your customers move through the funnel and how they arrive at the point of sale. An effective customer journey map allows you to make any improvements and increase the chances of getting consumers not only to make a purchase but to come back and spend more.
At PETERMAYER, customer journey mapping is a significant step in supporting brands in their marketing campaigns, allowing us to target customers in a way that works. We’ll help you craft buyer personas and customer journey maps that allow you to understand your customers and build your campaigns accordingly. We are all about crafting a message that will resonate with your audience.
Contact us today to set up a discovery call and learn more about how to create a customer journey map for improving your customer reach.