Customer journey mapping 101

6 min read

Customer journey maps are an essential tool for businesses to understand the experiences that customers have with their company. In this article, you’ll learn what customer journey maps are, why they matter, and how to create a customer journey map of your own.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visualization of a customer’s experience with your company across all touchpoints, from awareness to purchase and beyond.

Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a visual representation of the customer journey. It is a diagram that takes all customer needs, wants feelings, and perceptions as they interact with a business and combines the information into a visual map. What the customer does and feels as they progress from one touchpoint to the next along their journey, forms the overall customer experience.

Customer journey maps are an essential tool for businesses to understand the experiences that customers have with their company. A detailed customer journey map allows you to spot issues, gain actionable insights and identify opportunities to improve the experience your customers have with your company.

Why do you need a customer journey map?

Successful, long-term customer relationships are built on empathy and trust. Mapping out the customer journey is a first step towards creating a shared understanding of what your customers do, think, feel as they interact with your brand. A customer journey map can help your teams align around identifying customer pain points, solving known issues, removing barriers to your customer’s success, and creating consistency in their experience. Specifically, customer journey maps help you:

Visualize end-to-end customer experience

Customer journey is rarely a linear one. A customer journey map helps your teams understand multiple customer pathways and complex user experiences a customer has with your organization. Understanding customer pathways, allow you to create a more seamless and enjoyable experience for them.

Uncover and solve pain points

The best way to improve your customer experience is to identify situations where customers may feel lost, confused, or frustrated. Then, work on solving those specific problems. In other words, visualizing customer journey as a map helps you be proactive and find ways to make their experience better from start to finish.

Highlights gaps in the user experience

A customer journey map can also highlight gaps in their experience as customers transition from one touchpoint to the next between channels (like social media, your website, online store, or in-person), devices (mobile to desktop), or departments (marketing, sales, service).

Establishes key customer experience metrics

Journey mapping allows you to identify key metrics for each touchpoint, so you and your team know where to focus your efforts. The customer journey map combines qualitative metrics like Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) and quantitative data like product usage to uncover how well customer experience fits with your customer expectations.

Builds a customer-centric organization

Being a customer-centric organization means every value, system, and process within a company is centered around creating great customer experiences for its customers. A customer journey map is a key to shifting from a company-centric to a customer-centric mindset, uniting employees at all levels and departments around customer-centric vision and breaking down internal silos.

Deliver personalized customer experiences at scale

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to customer experience. When you understand your customers and their journey with your company, you can begin personalizing experiences to the specific customer personas. It can be done across different steps of the journey, touchpoints, channels, and devices.

Types of Customer Journey Maps

There are several different types of journey maps.

  • Current state journey maps, the most common type of journey map, illustrate what your customers do, think, and feel as they interact with your business today. The goal of this journey map is to highlight existing pain points between your customers and your product or service. They’re best used to drive near-term incremental improvements to your customer experience.
  • Future state journey maps illustrate what your customers will do, think, and feel as they interact with your business at some point in the future. They build on current state maps but offer a higher level of innovation opportunity since they are free of existing constraints and are best positioned for communicating your vision for the future customer experience.
  • Day in life journey maps are similar to current state journey maps, but help paint a more detailed image of your customer or prospect by including their day-to-day activities unrelated to your company’s product or service. The purpose of these maps is to highlight existing pain points in your customers’ and prospective customers’ lives, helping you uncover new possibilities to drive innovation and meet customers’ changing needs.
  • Tactical situation journey maps also illustrate what people do, think, and feel today. They zoom in on a particular aspect of an experience such as user sign-up, onboarding, or product unboxing and take a deep dive into everything customers or prospects do at that time.
  • Service blueprints start with a simplified version of either a current or future state journey map. Then they layer on systems,  people, processes, and policies that are responsible for delivering experiences today - as well any technology you have or may need in order to make these experiences happen. Journey blueprints are a great way to map out your customer's journey and identify where they're having trouble today. You will do this with the blueprints built on the current state journey map. But it doesn't end there! You can also use them as an opportunity for innovation, by imagining what the future may hold in store so that you know how much work needs to be done now or down the line before people start experiencing problems with these features of your product or service. You will do that with the help of the future state journey maps.

Regardless of what type of journey map you are building, you can create a simple or detailed journey map.

Simple Journey Map has only a handful of touchpoints and focuses on the interaction between the customer and the business at each stage of their overall experience with that business. It does not include personas or other data.

Detailed Journey Map is a more complex version of the simple journey map and includes more detailed information about each customer persona, the touchpoint, as well as information about how customers interact with your business at those specific touchpoints.

Elements of a Customer Journey Map

So far we covered what journey maps are, why every business should create at least one, and what are the main types of customer journey maps. But before we can start developing the journey map, let’s take a look at the elements of the journey map. Every journey map should have all of the following elements:

Customer Persona

A customer's journey map is a representation of your customer’s path through your product or service. The more details you know about the customer, including who they are, and what they want to achieve with your product your service, the better equipped you will be to provide an engaging and frictionless experience for them on every level!

Phases

A customer's buying cycle can be broken down into five phases: awareness, research, consideration, purchase, and support.

Touchpoints

The touchpoints of a customer's journey will depend on your marketing and sales approach as well as the type of product or service you are offering. Examples of touch-points include:

  • Content like blog posts, case studies, customer stories and testimonials, infographics, product documentation
  • Digital properties like website, web app or mobile app
  • Advertisement both online and print
  • Social media content including first-party social media profiles and third-party  user-generated content
  • Purchasing experience, whether in-person or online
  • Customer service and support experience, whether in person or online
  • Company communication, like welcome emails, onboarding sequences, and follow-ups

Customer Thoughts, Actions, and Emotions

Customer Satisfaction Surveys, (CSAT), NPS (net promoter score) and Customer effort score (CES) are a great place to start understanding what your customers do, think and feel at every steps of he customer journey. Once you collect some data, you can plot iton your customer journey map.

Opportunities

Last but not least, look at your journey map and note opportunities to improve the experience. Opportunities are all the ways you can remove pain points, streamline the process and improve the buying journey for your customer.

How to get the most value out of the journey mapping process

Don’t view journey mapping as a one off project. Journey mapping is a continual process. Share it with your peers, executives and all stakeholders who impact the customer journey.

The customer journey map is a valuable tool because it can help businesses understand the customer experience and identify areas for improvement. The map can be used to track customer interactions with an organization, as well as their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. By understanding where customers are experiencing friction or confusion, businesses can make changes that will improve the customer experience. Journey maps can also help businesses develop marketing strategies by identifying points in the customer journey where they could introduce new products or services.

So, what can you do with this information? Start creating your customer journey maps! The process of doing so will help you to better understand the needs and wants of your customers, as well as the various touchpoints they encounter along their way. Once you have a good understanding of the entire customer experience, you can begin to make changes and improvements that will result in happier customers and more sales. Are you ready to get started?

Victoria
I love to write with one goal in mind - to help you build amazing customer experiences. Our content is tailored to help you understand your customers, design great products and deliver world-class customer self-service. I share my knowledge and experience through my articles, videos, podcasts, templates, and more - so you can take your customer experience to the next level.‍

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