Why you should build a customer journey map

6 min read
Emma Fletcher

No matter what business you’re in, providing an excellent experience to your customers is essential to bringing them back again and again. One of the best ways to improve your customer experience is by creating a customer journey map for your business.

A customer journey map is an illustration or visual representation that tells the story of your customers’ interactions with your business.

Customer Journey Map Man Diagramming on White Board

From their initial discovery of your business through to making a purchase and beyond, it outlines all the different steps a customer takes when they do business with you. It also documents the emotions, thoughts and questions they might have as they go through that process.

Customer journey maps are useful for almost any type of business and can be complex or simple. They can help you identify:

  • Gaps where the experience may be disjointed or confusing
  • Opportunities to improve the experience for your customers

You can use this information to smooth their way, resulting in happier customers and more sales.

How to create a customer journey map

Here we’ll break down the steps to creating a customer journey map for your business:

  1. Define your objectives and scope.
  2. Create a buyer persona.
  3. List the buyer’s actions.
  4. Identify the touchpoints.
  5. Troubleshoot and make changes.
  6. Update and improve.

Knowing all the twists and turns a customer takes before buying from you can show you where they’re struggling and suggest how to help them.

1. Define your objectives and scope

The first step is to work out the purpose of your customer journey map and identify the information and elements you want represented.

  • How detailed is the map going to be?
  • Is your goal to gain insight into the overall customer experience?
  • Or do you want to zoom in on a particular step in the process?

The path a customer takes towards purchase is rarely a straight line from A to B. It can often be a meandering, cyclical trail that goes back and forth for some time while they do their research and come to a decision.

Generally speaking however, there are three key stages that a customer moves through:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision (purchase)

Following the moment of purchase, however, are two equally important stages:

  • Retention
  • Advocacy

These stages are where first-time customers become return customers, happily spreading the word to others about your business.

What do you know about your customer at each of these stages? What problem are they trying to solve? What drives them to move to the next stage? This is where the detailed buyer persona comes in.

2. Create a buyer persona

If you’re not familiar with the term buyer persona, it’s a bit like casting your ideal customer as the main character in the story of your business.

Customer Journey Map Woman Sniffing a Sachet

A persona is a fictional character who represents the person most likely to buy from you.

Now it’s time to get inside the mind of your ideal customer. Identify their needs and motivations.

  • What are their pain points?
  • What is holding them back?
  • Who is influencing their decisions?

This is where in-depth research into your target market is vital.

The best way to discover your customer’s journey is by talking to them. You can ask your existing customers outright about their experience by sending them a customer survey made with tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform.

You can also analyse social media and look at your website analytics to see where users have come from and what they’re searching for in Google.

3. List the buyer’s steps

Map out the buyer’s actions at each stage of the process and the steps or activities they take that leads them to your business.

This could be searching for a keyword you rank for in Google or clicking on a social media post. Look at the number of steps involved:

  • Are there too many?
  • Are you making it easy enough for your customers to find you?

This whole process is about understanding and connecting with your customer at a personal, human level. Go through the steps as if you were the customer.

Do you feel valued? Do you feel taken care of? Do you feel confident in your purchasing decision?

4. Identify the touchpoints

Touchpoints are all the moments of communication or interaction between your customers and your business. Depending on where your customer is encountering your business, these touchpoints may occur on different channels, such as:

Compile a list of all the critical touchpoints where your customer makes contact with your business. Categorise them into the relevant key stages of user interaction so you can identify if there is any overlap.

5. Troubleshoot and make changes

Now it’s time to analyse what you’ve learned and see where you need to make changes. Look at where there are breaks in the lines of communication, where your customer might be feeling confused or ignored. Examine the entire timeline and improve it every step of the way.

Customer Journey Map UXPressia Template
Template: UXPressia

You can start off compiling the data for your map in an Excel spreadsheet or you can use a diagram or infographic to show the relationship between different elements — whatever makes the most sense.

There are lots of online tools that can help you create the right visual map for your business, such as UXPressia, Canvaniser and Mural.

6. Update and improve your services

Customer journey maps help you pinpoint the weakest links in the chain. This gives you a valuable opportunity to improve your services. This final step is key, because without implementing the changes you’ve identified, the entire point and potential of the customer journey map is lost.

End point

Even if you’re a small business and you don’t have endless resources, creating a customer journey map can be useful in understanding the wants and needs of your ideal customers.

By turning the process into a visual representation, it gives you a bird’s-eye view of the customer journey as well as details of each step along the way. Crafting a great customer journey map is ultimately about caring for your customers, which can only reap rewards for both your business and your customers in the long run.

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