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What Is Customer Journey Mapping?

At first thought, you may wonder why customer journey mapping is so important. After all, it’s not complicated—at least in your eyes—for customers to visit your website, find your product, and complete their purchase.

Before you put customer journey mapping on the backburner once again, it’s important to dig deeper. Doing so will help you realize that there’s more to the customer journey than what you initially see.

According to Forbes, “89% of companies that lead with customer experience perform financially better than their competitors.” 

This one statistic proves that providing a high-quality customer experience, from beginning to end, is critical to your success.

So, what is customer journey mapping?

A customer journey map is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a visual representation of the customer journey that tells the story of how customers experience your brand. 

You can map the customer journey regardless of how you interact with your audience. This holds true of social media, live chat, email, direct mail, or any other forms of communication. 

What are the Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping?

You don’t create a customer journey map for the fun of it, although it can be an exciting, rewarding, and eye-opening experience. You create it because of the positive impact it can have on your business. 

Here are some of the top benefits of customer journey mapping:

1. Step Into Your Customer’s Shoes

Even if you already have a solid understanding of how consumers find and buy your products and/or services, you can learn even more when you step into your customer’s shoes. And that’s exactly what you’ll do with a product journey map.

Your goal is to compare the actual buyer journey to what you think happens. This helps you better understand what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong and the pain points that are bogging down your target audience. 

2. Something to Share Across Departments

A customer journey map can be used by almost every department within your company. This includes but is not limited to sales, marketing, customer support, and product design and development. 

With a detailed, well-thought-out map, you’re sharing the same data with every team member and every department. 

3. Predict Customer Behavior

The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to provide the right information and guidance at the right time. You can also predict buyer behavior at touchpoints from start to finish, allowing you to adjust your approach accordingly.

Customers in the beginning stages of researching your product aren’t in the same frame of mind as those toward the end. And for this reason, predicting customer behavior at each stage is essential to your success. 

How Do You Start Creating a Customer Journey Map?

Now that you understand some of the many benefits of customer journey mapping, it’s time to turn your attention to the process itself. 

Here’s a basic overview of the steps you can take to create a customer journey map:

1. Get the Right People to Help

Maybe you’re the only person in your company who needs to have their hands on the customer journey map. Or perhaps you need representation from multiple departments. 

If other departments will be relying on the map or have insights to share, it’s critical to bring them into the conversation. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake that could have been easily avoided by consulting with another team member. 

2. Look at it From the Customer’s Perspective

The biggest error you can make is creating a customer journey map based on how you want your audience to engage. You need to take the opposite approach. You need to look at it from the customer’s perspective, as that will give you a better understanding of the current user experience and where it can be improved.

Your customers’ needs are more important than anything else, so every step in the process should be looked at from their angle. 

3. Map the Entire Journey

Don’t map one part of the journey. Map out every last step from start to finish. And if something changes in the future, revisit your map (see below) and update it accordingly. 

This is the only way to visualize the entire cycle from your customer’s perspective. Once you have a high-level map in place, you can create micro-journeys based on different products, target customers, and demographics. 

Tip: Use customer journey map templates to give you a jumping-off point. 

4. Speak With Real Customers 

It’s one thing to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. It’s another thing entirely to connect with real customers to ensure that you know exactly how they approach the buying experience.

Ask questions such as:

  • Can you explain the actions you took during your buying experience?
  • How did you feel during different parts of the journey?
  • Were there any pain points that bogged you down?
  • How would you best describe your buyer persona?
  • What is your overall level of customer satisfaction?

5. Revisit as Necessary

Things can and will change when it comes to your customer journey map. And for that reason, you must revisit your map, as necessary, to make adjustments. 

Here are just a few times when you’ll want to review your map for potential changes:

  • If your business goals change
  • If new customer pain points come to light
  • If you discover a new mapping process that better suits your company
  • As you gain a better understanding of your customer
  • As you receive customer feedback (both positive and negative)

In an ideal world, the map you create today would work for your business until the end of time. However, in the real world, this isn’t likely to happen. There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself making regular changes to keep up with internal needs, as well as those of your customer base. 

Customer Journey Mapping: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Regardless of the steps, you’ve taken in the past and what you want to accomplish in the future, you’re likely to have questions about customer journey mapping. Here are seven of the most important to answer:

  • Who should you include in the process of creating a customer journey map?
  • Are there any customer journey mapping tools that can make your life easier?
  • Are there any roadblocks stopping you from creating a map?
  • Have you had the opportunity to view maps created by your competitors?
  • What type of digital experience are you trying to provide?
  • Have you conducted all the market research necessary?
  • What is the end goal of creating a customer journey map?

Summary

According to the 2019 Gartner Customer Experience Management Survey, organizations that create and use customer journey maps are twice as likely to outperform those that don’t. 

With a statistic like that, there’s never been a better time to review your current maps or create your first one from scratch. When used properly, a customer journey map can help you better understand your customers, their wants and needs, and how to appeal to them at every touchpoint. 

Related List of Tools: Customer Success Software For CX Teams

By Chris Bibey

Chris Bibey is a content writer and online marketing strategist from Pittsburgh, PA. He loves all things ecommerce, with a particular affinity for data.

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