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6 Steps to creating a Customer Journey Map

Shannon Ah Tow / September 15, 2022

Customers are spoiled for choice and are endlessly looking for more value for their buck on top of excellent engagement and appreciation. The customer journey begins with the very first interaction customers have with your business, and the goal is to ensure that a long-term relationship between you and your customer develops. 

However, it’s not always a simple goal – especially when you factor in how every person varies in terms of preferences and expectations. The purpose of a customer journey map is to aid companies in understanding what ticks and what doesn’t. Through a collection of insights, it encourages a customer-centric shared view across the organization and understands how to better fulfill customer needs

The Customer Journey explained

So, what is the customer journey, and what does a map have to do with everything? You may have heard the phrase before, but might not know what a customer journey map actually is. 

Essentially, this is just the visual representation of the engagement your customer has with your brand from the time they know they need a product to the point of making a purchase. 

The timeline itself doesn’t need to include any fancy graphics, and could simply be a list that highlights the various points of the customer journey. The map needs to lay out all the stages the customer will work through when buying, along with helping to identify the pain points during the journey, as depicted in the figure below:

What follows are six simple steps that can guide you towards creating your customer journey map. Bear in mind that this is just one way to create the customer journey, and can be a good starting point for your business. Graphically, it can be anything that makes sense to you and that will work for your business. Once created, you can put it to use and start gathering information that can help your company enhance the overall customer experience.

1. Understand your goals and set your targets

First and foremost, you need to consider what your goals are for creating a customer journey map. What targets are you hoping to reach? When you know the goals and targets, you will have a destination that you want to reach. Having a set of goals will make it much easier to narrow down the best ways to achieve targets. The goals will help you to keep on track.

Here are questions to ask yourself when creating the goals and targets before you get too deep into creating the customer journey map.

  • Why are you making the map?
  • What do you want to find out from the map?
  • What do you want/need to achieve?
  • Whose perspective will the map be from?
  • What experiences will be factored into the map?

You will likely need to have more than just one customer journey map for your business. This is because you may need to cover different types of services or products, or because you have different types of customers. The next step will help you with this.

2. Create your Customer Persona

Most companies that have done any sort of marketing will have an understanding of buyer personas and their importance, since you want to engage with your specific target market. When  putting together a buyer persona, you need to make sure to consider and include important characteristics such as:

  • Demographics
  • Background
  • Lifestyle
  • Personality
  • Shopping preferences (Likes & dislikes)
  • Information sources

It’s a good idea to use only one to three in total when creating the buyer personas. You want to avoid using any more than this, or it will dilute your focus. You won’t end up getting the information that you need when it comes to narrowing down pain points, needs, etc.

3. Identify what motivates your customer

Once you have predefined customer personas you will be using for your map, you then need to consider the motivations of the buyer persona which essentially leads them to commit to a purchase with you.  Keep in mind that the motivations will vary based on the persona and the product or service involved. By simply putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, could allow you to peer into what they could prospectively be thinking about when they are looking to buy.

Just as you need to know your own goals when creating the customer journey map, you also need to know the customer goals when it comes to their journey. 

Why do they need to buy? What is it that has caused them to come to the decision that they need whatever it is your company—and your competitors—are offering?  Could it be the location of your business? Is it word of mouth, or price? Think about it from the consumer perspective as much as you can.

4. Pinpoint the Pain points

Every buyer persona varies across the board when you consider just how multi-faceted your customers are, what goes for the goose does not always go for the ganter. Another area of consideration would be just how uniquely standard is measured within a geographical perspective. An example of this would be that you could be exceeding the expectations of 0ne buyer, but on the spectrum may not even be scratching the surface of another. 

When you can see the pain points, you should consider this as an advantage over your competitors, using it as an opportunity to improve and enhance what it is you are already doing and limit those pain points. If the customer is nervous about spending the money, you can mention that you have a return policy, or you could talk about all the benefits that the product or service offers that will make their lives easier. Think about the ways that your brand can help.

Examples of customer pain points could include;

    • Delayed response times 
    • Issues pertaining to the purchase with you
    • Rude or inefficient customer service and/or represents 
    • Lack of solutions
    • Poor service recovery, and so forth.

5. Understand the journey the buyer takes

This comprises the first three steps of the customer journey, namely awareness; consideration, and decision. The initial interest materializes in the form of either want or need, what follows thereafter, is essentially where you want to get to and that is customer loyalty for long-term retention. The buyer’s journey allows you to understand the kinds of questions your customers could potentially ask, by having a curated response you can leverage any doubt they may have through reassurance and by gaining their confidence.

6. Review the customer touchpoints

When we consider how vastly we have shifted to digitalization, customer touchpoints have become rather expansive too. Reviewing your touchpoints could be an effective way to stay on top of things, especially when you have ruled particular pain points out as mentioned in point four. While most may revolve around traditional touchpoints you want to include all areas that your customers might experience.

You need to continue to revise and update the touchpoint map as new purchasing paths are created and new marketing platforms are introduced. To effectively use touchpoint mapping as a way to create better customer experiences, make it a continual priority.

Don’t treat this process as a one-time strategy. Put in the up-front work, and then set a plan to execute and continue to refine your touchpoint mapping to get the best benefits and results.

Mapping the customer journey is not something that you are only going to do once. This is something that you need to watch and update regularly. If the customer’s journey changes, then your map and your efforts will need to change as well. It’s expected that you will continue revising, working on, and improving to meet the changing needs of your customers.

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