Are you looking for a way to create a better user experience, improve website effectiveness, and provide key insights for marketing decisions? Customer journey mapping (also called experience mapping) might be just what the website doctor ordered. It’s a technique that identifies every key point where customers interact with your business and pins down the path traveled across them by a typical customer.
A customer journey map is a powerful tool that allows you to identify potential pain points and spot UX improvement opportunities.
A customer journey map can be created at the highest business level, looking at multiple product lines and services, or it can hone in on a particular area, such as your online presence. It’s a powerful tool you can use to more easily identify potential pain points and spot UX improvement opportunities.
A map can take many forms. Here’s one of them:
This spells out what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling throughout their journey. Don’t let all of the arrows and loops intimidate you. It’s just one way of representing the data in a visually interesting fashion.
Key benefits of customer journey mapping
During the creation of your map, you’ll generate a slew of useful information. You’ll be able to:
- Identify crucial touchpoints that can make or break customer satisfaction.
- Create an encyclopedia of the needs and wants of your users.
- Generate a visual presentation of the path followed by users, which will be extremely useful to your development and marketing efforts.
- Get inside your customers’ heads so you can recraft your site to be more customer-centric.
The process of creating the map will give you a much deeper understanding of your customers’ wants and needs. The end product will serve as an at-a-glance summary that can be provided to anyone who needs to know more about your users and their behavior.
How to create a customer journey map
If you’ve never created a customer journey map before, the process might seem a little daunting. The good news is that it can be broken down into steps you can easily follow. There are actually a variety of ways to go about it, depending on which experts you follow, but the basic steps go like this:
Create a user persona (perhaps more than one).
Generate a list of activity phases that the user performs during the journey.
Identify customer goals at each stage.
Map out touchpoints.
Let’s look at each step in more detail.
1. Create a user persona (perhaps more than one)
A user persona is a fictional user that serves as a stand-in for all customers. Derive this persona from your existing customer data, not from guesswork. It’s possible that you might need multiple personas if your customer base is diverse. The process of creating user personas is worth of an article of its own, and we’ve got one for you.
2. Consider channels
Channels are the means of interaction between you and your customers. If you’re working solely on your website, then that’s the only channel you need to be concerned with. However, you might want to include additional channels, such as email and social media, to get a more complete picture.
3. Generate a list of activity phases that the user performs during the journey
This typically includes things like:
4. Identify customer goals at each stage
What do your customers want to achieve as they move through each activity you’ve pinpointed? What is the customer likely feeling, thinking, and doing at each stage?
5. Map out touchpoints
Which pages of your site correspond to each of the customer activities? Common examples include a product description page, a contact form, and a FAQ page. You can use Google Analytics to help you identify key pages. The Behavior Flow report, for example, provides a graphical illustration of the paths users take through your site. This is also where your additional channels can come into play. For example, Discovery might happen via your website or through social media.
Customer journey mapping tools
Once you’ve completed the above five steps, you’re ready to create a visual representation of your customer journey.
Don’t panic, you don’t have to be Leonardo da Vinci to turn out a solid customer journey map.
There are plenty of useful tools and customer journey mapping templates to help. Here are a few favorites:
This site has a variety of free and paid templates. You can fill them in on-site or download the template as a PDF and work with it locally. If you want to use the site tools rather than download, you’ll be able to create one customer journey map for free. For additional maps, a paid account is required.
This handy free online tool allows you to create a customer journey map from scratch using mapping tools. Each project you create will have a unique link that you can share with collaborators or stakeholders.
A simple spreadsheet can also do the trick. List activity phases across the top row. Then add rows beneath for customer thoughts, goals and touchpoints. Now you have a grid where you can fill in your key data.
Customer journey mapping examples
Because there are so many forms a customer journey map can take, it’s helpful to search out examples that are a good match for your business needs. Good places to look include:
Turning your map into action
The process of creating a customer journey map is valuable in and of itself because it puts you in closer touch with your customers, but its other great value comes in identifying opportunities for improvement. How well are you meeting your customers’ needs at each touchpoint you identified? Look for roadblocks. Are people abandoning a purchase before completing it? How about clicking to the subscription form for your newsletter but not subscribing? Google analytics can help with identifying trouble spots, but it’s up to you to make the qualitative assessment to figure out why.
The payoff for mapping out your customer journey can be enormous.
An excellent customer journey is what gets people to repeat a purchase, spend more, and recommend you to their friends. By building an ideal customer journey, you can write your own prescription for success.