A customer’s changing preferences and increased selectivity has driven organizations to put more effort into understanding their target customers in order to ensure them a great experience apart from influencing product and service innovation. In fact, according to a 2022 global research report from Salesforce, 88% of customers considered their experience with a company to be as important as its products.
Among the best tools to understand a customer – in order to create the requisite experience – is the customer journey map. Marketers and sales professionals will be curious to learn more, and this guide will help them get a better understanding of what is a customer journey map and how to create one to improve business outcomes.
What is a Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map is a visual depiction of a customer’s journey before purchasing a particular service or product. It helps visualize various touch points such as the website, social media, emails, live demos, among others, that the provider can influence.
Customer Journey Example
One of the most relatable examples of a customer journey is a person buying a new car: They may come across information through an ad on a social media platform. On clicking the link, they may be redirected to the landing page where the company has provided all the details about the particular model and similar models. The customer is likely to simply explore the page and wait a few days before finalizing the purchase.
In the meantime, they may search the Internet for reviews of a particular model of interest. They may also ask friends and family to get more trustworthy opinions on the car. Once they’ve shortlisted their preferred models, the next stage is visiting showrooms and taking the vehicles for a test drive. After that, they may arrive at the top two to three models of choice based on their experience and other criteria such as cost, finance options, and waiting period. The purchase happens at the end of all these stages.
Why Do You Need a Customer Journey Map?
On the surface, the entire purchase process undertaken by a customer may seem very simple. But it is essential to understand that the customer journey is becoming increasingly complex. Understanding what is a customer journey map also involves studying how customers engage with product information and reviews through multiple touch points—websites, social media, phone calls, emails, and various other channels—before they finally decide to purchase a product or service. Thus, organizations must ensure that they provide a smooth experience throughout the journey. Creating a customer journey map is the first step in ensuring a great customer experience.
Types of Customer Journey Maps
Since you now have a better understanding of what is a customer journey map, let’s look at its four major types:
- Current State
It visualizes the actions, thoughts, and emotions customers are currently experiencing while interacting with a company.
- Future State
It visualizes the actions, thoughts, and emotions customers might experience in future interactions with a company. It helps companies align their goals and vision accordingly.
- Day in the Life
These customer journey maps visualize the actions, thoughts, and emotions customers currently experience in their day-to-day lives, whether or not that includes a particular company. It gives a broader perspective on customers’ lives and pain points.
- Service Blueprint
This includes designing the best experience for a customer, including visibility on factors such as people, policies, technologies, and processes.
Customer Journey Map Stages
As can be seen in the sample shared earlier, a typical customer journey map will have the following stages:
Stage 1: Consideration
Stage 2: Exploration
Stage 3: Comparison
Stage 4: Testing
Stage 5: Negotiation
Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping
- Understanding the customer’s behavior and set the right context
- Delivering a better experience for customers
- Optimizing the funnel to drive better results
- Setting standards and benchmarks for each touchpoint
The Customer Journey Mapping Process
- Gathering Information
This involves gathering information about various deliverables and understanding what makes the most sense for the project goals. Figure out the end goals of your project by talking to your manager or team members and asking them to share their experiences. This will help you visualize the user journey through any platform, website, or app.
- Decision Regarding Deliverable
Compare various potential deliverables and decide on one deliverable to meet the project goals. Once it is finalized, you can present the idea to your managers and team members.
- Brainstorming Ideas
Based on the user research, brainstorm different ideas on how the customer should look like and what components the map will include. You can organize meetings with team members to brainstorm ideas and sketch the journey map together. After selecting and grouping appropriate content, you can prioritize it, keeping in mind the project goals.
- Actual Creation
Here you have to finalize the idea and create the first iteration of the customer journey map. Make sure to include all the content, grouping it appropriately.
- Validation and Iteration
Once you have made the first iteration, you must continue conducting user research to validate or disprove the first iteration. Make corrections or add the missing information. You can also teach different departments how to use a customer journey map, and/or utilize it for product improvements and innovation.
Whether you’re optimizing the journey for a current customer base or exploring new markets, a customer journey map is a great marketing tool to understand the customers and truly align with their needs. Are you interested in learning more about what is a customer journey map, its tools, and strategies? Just sign up for the wide plethora of online marketing courses offered by Emeritus.
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