Today, most of the people reading this article live lives that were once considered fit for kings.
Everything is hand delivered to our residences while we browse more products, more services, find multi-million dollar films to enjoy, or simply order piping hot pizza from the pizzeria down the street.
The web has truly revolutionised our lives. At the same time, it has also revolutionised the way business is conducted. The way brands and customers interact today is totally different from interactions that took place a couple of decades ago.
Think about it, two decades ago, there were only a finite number of places where a customer could discover a new brand. These were commercials on TV, radio, newspapers, and out of home media, or simply when the brand caught their eye while shopping. These days, the game has changed.
From discovering a new brand through social media to reading about it on an online publication, there are literally hundreds of places where a potential customer can discover a new brand.
The incredible thing is, this is just one, in fact, the first aspect of the complex set of interactions that happen between a brand and a customer.
Several touchpoints are involved in converting a prospect into a customer and that means, there are several instances where things can (and maybe do) go wrong, turning prospects into people that may never return to interact with your brand.
Considering that 33% of customers will stop doing business with a brand after only one bad experience, customer journey mapping will allow you to build a happier customer base.
This is why, understanding the customer’s journey has become an important part of executing successful marketing strategies.
What Is A Customer’s Journey?
To put it simply, a customer’s journey can be defined as the sum of all the interactions between a brand and the customer from the time they first discover the brand as a prospect, till the time they become a paying and returning customer.
In other words, a customer journey is the process a customer goes through to achieve a desired goal with your organisation.
Understanding this journey is just as important as understanding who your customer is. In fact, in a way, understanding the customer journey is a part of understanding who your ideal customer is.
This journey will reveal the pain points, needs, and motivations of your prospects that prompt them to purchase from you. Using this information, brands can create more positive customer experiences that produce better conversions and improved customer satisfaction.
What Is Customer Journey Mapping?
As the name suggests, customer journey mapping is the process of visually representing the customer journey with your brand. Just like an SEO checker will tell you what is wrong with your website, customer journey mapping will tell you what is wrong with the overall experience that your brand is offering to its customers.
Customer journey mapping can take many forms, from being recorded in a spreadsheet to being presented in the form of an infographic. Whatever format you choose, the only important thing is that every stakeholder, every person involved in creating the customer experience, should understand it. Customer journey mapping is one of the most popular ways to create a customer-centric marketing experience.
With that said, there are different types of customer journey maps that serve different purposes. Let’s find out what they are:
Types Of Customer Journey Maps
As far as customer experience is concerned, there are four major types of customer journey maps. Each type has a different business focus and purpose.
- Current State
The current state customer journey maps are perhaps the most popular out of the four. As the name suggests, these outline the current experience that your brand is providing to its customers.
Using current state customer journey maps allows marketers to identify points of friction in their current customer experience and mitigate them to improve conversions.
- Day In The Life
Just like the current state map, a day in the life customer journey map also describes the current condition of the customer. However, unlike a current state map, this one presents a more holistic view of the customer’s life, motivations, and pain points. It focuses on understanding the customer as an individual, instead of their experience only with your brand.
Using this map, marketers can identify unmet needs of their ideal customers and can come up with innovative services or products to address their needs.
- Future State
A future state customer journey map describes how your customers and prospects will interact with your brand in the future.
These maps are usually used to show the application and vision for new products or services that you may want to introduce in the future.
Blueprint customer journey maps are actually a modified version of either a future state or a current state customer journey map.
A blueprint of all the people, processes, and policies that play a role in the customer’s journey is associated with a current or future state map.
When associated with a current state map, it helps companies understand exactly what customer pain points are not being addressed with the current processes.
When associated with a future state map, a blueprint allows you to predict what kind of marketing ecosystem will be needed to support the aspirations of that new product or service that you want to introduce to the market.
Now that we have understood what the customer’s journey is, along with the different ways you can track it, it is time to learn how you can create your own customer journey map.
Let us begin:
Steps To Create A Customer Journey Map
Step 1: Identify Your Objective
The first step of creating a customer journey map is to identify your objective. Doing this will enable you to chart out the right path for creating your map. Not to forget, identifying your objective is also critical to understanding which type of customer journey map you want to create. To set a well defined objective, try to answer the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve by creating a customer journey map?
- Who is the customer journey about?
- What experiences are you going to consider?
- Which experiences are you trying to improve?
If you haven’t been able to answer the second questions, don’t fret. We will answer it in the next step.
Step 2: Build Customer Personas
A customer persona or buyer persona is a fictitious character that has all the qualities of your ideal customer. Creating such personas is one of the initial steps for many marketing strategies, and for good reason.
A buyer persona enables you to understand who you are selling to. When you ask the right questions, you may also find out what motivates your best customers to make purchase decisions.
While new brands and businesses that are only starting out and have no or a few customers may have to build their personas based on their own assumptions, if you already have a customer base, the best course of action is to take their help to build a buyer persona for your customer journey map.
All you have to do is select your best customers and have them answer the following questions:
- How did you find our brand?
- What do you think about our website?
- How long do you typically spend on our website?/How much time did you spend on our website before making the purchase decision?
- What do you find is the best feature of our website?
- What don’t you like about our website?
- Would you say our website is easy to navigate?
- What problems are you trying to solve by using our product/service?
- Have you contacted our customer support desk? How would you rate your experience on a scale of 10?
- What do you think we can do to improve your experience with our company in the future?
This list is not exhaustive by any measure. In fact, it is supposed to be used as a guide to come up with your own questions that will enable you to understand your target customer better.
Once you have the responses from your customers, you may notice that not everyone has submitted the same answers (obviously!).
In this case, you may have ended up with multiple personas of your buyers. This brings us to the next step in this process.
Step 3: Identify Target Customer Persona
The key to executing this step with perfection is to understand that making your customer journey maps as detailed as possible improves the chances of success for all the marketing efforts you will make in the future.
To that end, you cannot chart out the same customer journey for all your buyer personas. After all, each one of them is a unique individual, who possibly all have very different pain points and motivations.
A customer journey map is the visual representation of a specific customer’s journey towards a very specific goal. For this reason, if you ended up with multiple personas in the previous step, you must choose the most important one in this step, and use that persona to execute the rest of the steps in this process.
Step 4: List Out All The Customer Touchpoints
Since we are tracking a customer’s journey, it only makes sense to list out all the customer touchpoints through which your business interacts with them.
These touchpoints can be the points on your website where your customers can interact with them, your social media and search engine ads, your display ads, your regular social media posts, and third party review websites and business directories like Yelp.
Understanding where all your touchpoints lie, and then comparing it with the way customers interact with your business, based on the research conducted in step 2, you can start understanding your customers’ objectives and the ease with which they take the customer journey.
For instance, if you found out that your customers are using fewer touchpoints than you already have, and are still converting, then it means that you can do away with a few touchpoints and still maintain and even boost your conversion rate.
Step 5: List Out Actions, Emotions, And Pain Points:
During a customer journey, actions result in the customer moving forward in their journey and emotions and pain points are responsible for making those actions happen.
In other words, the actions are the way a customer or prospect reacts to a particular touchpoint and the emotions and pain points are the reason behind it.
That’s why, just like touchpoints, tracking the actions, emotions, and pain points allows you to better understand the journey from a customer’s point of view.
These are all the actions that customers or prospects may perform throughout their journey with your brand. It includes everything from searching for brand-relevant keywords on Google to following your business account on Instagram.
Listing all the actions may result in a long list. Your objective here should be to identify actions that can be eliminated, effectively reducing the number of steps that a prospect needs to take in order to become a customer. However, such optimizations will be made in subsequent steps of this process.
Marketing is all about emotions and it is these emotions that lead prospects and customers to take various actions when interacting with your brand. A prospect feels different emotions at different stages of their customer journey and your marketing communications must adapt to these changes.
- Pain Points
The pain points of your prospects, besides your marketing, also contribute to the emotions that your customers and prospects are feeling. The pain points are also responsible for preventing many prospects from completing the customer journey and turning away at some point.
Making a list of such paint points or obstacles will help you eliminate them and make the customer’s journey more breezy.
Step 6: Step Into Your Customers’ Shoes
By this step, you must have collected all the information you need for a customer journey map. Now, it is time for implementation.
To be able to truly identify the points of friction in your customer’s journey, there is no better way than to take the journey yourself. From discovering the points where your customer’s needs are not being met to finding ways you can improve the entire customer experience, this step of the process is truly revealing and can provide you with some incredible insights.
Some would even say that this is the most important step of the process of charting out a customer journey map.
Once you have identified areas that need your attention to be improved, you can move on to the final step of this process.
Step 7: Make Changes To Your Customer Experience
Based on your findings in the previous steps, it is now time to implement changes that will allow you to make the customer journey smoother in ways that contribute to the bottom line of your business.
With that said, you must take a systematic approach to these changes.
Begin by making a list of all the tools and resources you will need to introduce desired changes to your customer experience.
Once you have the list, and have acquired the necessary tools and resources, systematically introduce changes to your customer journey.
The best way to do this is to introduce one change and test out the results. Every time you see positive results sprouting, you can move on to the next touchpoint and introduce changes there.
Ways To Use Customer Journey Mapping To Your Advantage
Here are just a few of the ways you can utilise customer journey mapping to improve a prospect’s experience with your brand:
Let Customers Find You
Outbound marketing that disturbs your prospects, irritates them, disrupts their days, only to convert a few of them into paying customers, is a thing of the past.
These days, customers don’t take it lightly when an ad disrupts their day. Moreover, these days, smart brands don’t disturb their customers.
Instead, smart and successful brands position themselves on the web in a way that allows interested prospects to find them and customer journey mapping allows you to do exactly that.
With the help of the information in your customer journey map, you can find out where on the web you potential customers like to hang out and about the things and topics that interest them. With this information, you can tailor your marketing communications and content to the needs and pain points of your customers, helping them find you as a solution to their problems.
Similarly, even after the sale is concluded, you can continue producing content that enables you to keep your customers loyal to your brand.
Create A Customer-Centric Brand
While some departments of your organization, particularly the ones that interact directly with the customers, may be customer-centric, it can be difficult to induce the same thinking in the other departments.
However, with customer journey mapping, you can pinpoint the exact role each department plays in converting a prospect into a paying customer. This way, you can ensure each department of your organization knows their role and that that role is being executed in a customer-centric way.
Identify New Target Customer Personas
As mentioned in step 2 and 3 of the customer journey mapping process, when you conduct your research, you will be able to identify various customer personas, even some that you didn’t even know existed.
When you have a wider variety of customers to attract, your chances of success can improve dramatically. This is especially true for the organizations that will take the time to map out the journey of each buyer persona they discover.
With brand experiences tailored to different varieties of personas, you can ensure that your brand is not missing out on any opportunities and the entire customer experience that you offer has something to offer to every kind of customer.
Implement Proactive Customer Service
Customer journey mapping allows you to identify the pain points of your customers. With information about these pain points, you can create a customer service experience that is prepped and ready to address the concerns that rise because of said pain points.
Knowing where your customers may face friction during their interaction with your brand will help you create a proactive customer service strategy, enabling you to identify the ideal times when a customer service rep should intervene in order to improve the customer’s experience with your brand.
When done right, a proactive customer service approach will enable you to present your brand as reliable and professional. For instance, when you expect a surge in customer queries, you can send a pre-emptive communication to your customers, informing them about the different ways they can avail customer service.
Improve Your Customer Retention Rates
Finally, customer journey mapping is all about finding points of friction in your customer’s journey. It is all about looking at your brand experience from the eyes of your customer.
When you make improvements based on the findings of customer journey mapping, you can be sure that the improvements will lead to a better customer experience.
When it is 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a customer than to retain one, this can help you save some serious money from your marketing budget.
Whether you are a service based business like a digital marketing agency, or a product focused business, customer journey mapping can reveal some truly telling insights about your brand.
Have you created a customer journey map after reading this article? Did you face any challenges? Share them with us in the comment section and we will be happy to help you overcome said challenges.