Customer Journey Mapping – why your business needs it.

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Customers want their favourite brands to understand their problems, needs, wants, and desires. Customer experience includes all aspects of a company’s operations, from the initial contact to the quality of the product or service, packaging, delivery, and after-sales. An overall interaction or customer journey should meet the customer’s expectations. Was it positive and seamless or was there a disconnect from the brand’s promise?

Providing customers with an excellent customer experience must be at the core of every brand, business, or organization. It’s the end game that drives loyalty, repeat business, positive feedback, word-of-mouth marketing, and profits.

Creating a customer journey map can help a brand or business understand how their product or service fits into their customers’ lives.

What is a customer journey map?

It’s a visual representation or map of the journey a customer has with your brand, products, service, or people.  It plots the progress of the user across touchpoints from all channels where customers interacted with your brand.  You define how your customers reach their goals by combining storytelling with visualizations.

For example, it could begin with customers linking to your website via a design blog referral or promotion and receiving a discount coupon for their first purchase.  The end of the journey could be the customer completing a purchase, referring a friend, and receiving another discount coupon in appreciation.

The Importance of Customer Journey Mapping

It’s not about the product or service, it’s about the experience your customer has with your brand, people, and products. All businesses, including SMEs, not-for-profits, and larger enterprises, should adopt journey maps as a strategic method to understand customer expectations. Journey maps enable the business to evaluate and optimise the customer experience, identify problems and opportunities and plan for success.

As an example, a hypothetical online furniture company may find that customers are unsure about buying furniture because they do not know if the product is right for their home without seeing it in person. On the website, the company can see a visitor is conflicted because they keep looking at two tables. The customer leaves because they cannot decide.

Optimising roadblocks like this would be as easy as offering a free online consultation with a representative, providing images of the furniture in a room setting so that the customer can get a sense of the scale, or offering a return and replacement service if the table is not suitable.

Creating Customer Journey Map

What is your company’s perception about the steps of the journey? What are your customer’s desired outcomes, their pain points, and emotional responses? Are they curious and excited about your offer?

Start by looking back

Do the research and see if your perception of the customer journey aligns with the current situation. Build a picture of the intended journey and identify problem areas and things that you are doing well using qualitative and quantitative methods.
Conduct customer feedback interviews and focus groups.  Check reviews, referral rates and discount coupon take up and joint venture acquisitions. Listen to complaints, read social media comments, and then analyse web stats like bounce rates, page views, conversions, and abandoned shopping carts.

By looking back the large online furniture company could find that their customers are increasingly abandoning shopping carts, and returns rates are up by 5% annually. The problem, according to customers on social media, is choosing big-ticket items online. Customers are indecisive because they don’t know if they are making the right choice.

Create an awe-inspiring customer persona that rocks your brand

Based on the research of your current customers you can now create a customer persona or personas.  A representative sample of your audience can be found by digging deeper into social media followers.  You can see who they are, what they do, how they connect with your brand, and what other brands they follow. The identified person will help you to provide context for the rest of the customer journey mapping.

Here is an example persona created for the online furniture company. Meet Sally.  She is a marketing manager in her late 30s who is married with two children and lives in an up-and-coming suburb in a capital city in Australia. Sally enjoys her job and is passionate about interior decorating. She wants to create a beautiful home for the family. Her frustration is that she loves expensive designer furniture and homewares, but she cannot afford to spend too much money since she has a young family and a mortgage. Her goal is to get the designer look without paying designer prices.  She loves quality online furniture and homewares retailers where she can get the look she wants without the big price tag.  Sally is influenced by decorating TV shows, interiors magazines and blogs, social media influencers/decorators, Pinterest and Instagram.

Mapping the customer experience

Once your customer persona has been created, you can begin to sketch the visual map based on the persona’s scenario and expectations. Customers digitally interact with businesses several times before achieving their goals.  Map out the touchpoints of the journey phases. The map can be broad or broken up into detailed stages.

Five typical journey stages based on the sales funnel for the online furniture company could be:

  1. DISCOVERY – Online and social media ads, Google Search, Design Blog affiliation
  2. AWARENESS, INTEREST, COMPARISON – Website and social media visit
  3. DECISION & SELECTION – Social proof, other reviews, purchase experience
  4. REFERRAL & RELATIONSHIP STRENGTHEN – Great customer experience, testimonial, social proof for the brand.

Each stage of the map should consider the voice of the persona, their thoughts, actions, and emotions. Write down your customers’ questions at every touchpoint and what your business can do to make their experience memorable. This helps to make the map real. There are many variations of the journey map.


How to use your new rockstar journey map.

The customer journey map provides a shared business vision, connecting marketing, sales, logistics, and customer service. At the heart of your customer relationship is a holistic understanding of their goals and preferences. To be effective, the map should address customer pain points, identify problems, and enable the business to optimize at every touchpoint.

The customer journey map must continuously evolve and be re-evaluated frequently. Customer journey maps drive business operations in other ways. The online furniture company, for instance, identified that users were not navigating their website as expected and that they were abandoning shopping carts. In addition, they discovered that customers are more likely to complete a purchase if they can speak with a customer service representative easily via an online chat.

Whenever a website is modified or re-designed, it needs to be based on an optimised customer journey map.

Your customer journey map is a blueprint for success. Let the journey begin.