You're probably very familiar with your company's products and services – from pricing to features and their benefits. But how familiar are you with the user experience of those products and services?

Has your team explored that experience and tested your assumptions?

The user experience is undoubtedly crucial to your product or service's success, but do you fully understand it?

Are you using that knowledge to improve it?

Also, based on what parameters are you making those improvements?

You guessed it!

We'll be talking about customer journey mapping (also known as user journey mapping). This process can help you:

  • Verify moments of truth (more about them further below),
  • Segment the user experience into touchpoints or events,
  • Increase overall empathy for your users, and
  • Serve as a great conversation starter that will jumpstart shared understanding in your organization.

Some readers may be more familiar with customer journey maps than others. Whether you're just entering the world of UX or you've got years of experience behind you, we guarantee you'll find value in customer journey mapping.

Below you'll find an in-depth guide on what customer journey maps are, how to create them, what they include and our recommended best practices.

At the very end, you'll find our customer journey map template, which you can use to create one yourself easily.

CHAPTER 1

What is customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping is the process of developing a customer journey map to visualize different customer interactions with your brand or service. They help businesses to understand their customers' pain points and help in improving their customer journey.

It requires researching what the user experiences across all touchpoints and building an understanding of the sentiments users experience along the way.

The output is a chart (called a map) that visualizes your customer's experience. It's built on empathy-driven research, pushing creators to consider how users' feelings fluctuate throughout their journey.

We use the term customer journey map, but this tool has also been called a UX journey map, UX map, user journey map, and an experience map. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what you call it. What matters is that you're creating an understanding of everyone's holistic experience interacting with your product, service, or brand.

For this article, we purposely used the term customer journey mapping as it is the most widely used term in the industry. However, we also see a shift. The term "customer journey mapping" has recently been adopted by sales and marketing teams who use it to refer to mapping out the buyer decision processes on the customer side.

Don't be surprised if you come across the term being used to refer to a more sales-centric process. For this piece, we will use "customer" and "user" interchangeably.

There are many different ways to approach customer journey maps, as they should always be tailored to the goals of creating the map and the persona/use case whose experience they outline.

What Does a Customer Journey Map Look Like?

A customer journey map consolidates customer interactions at various stages of their journey into a time chart. Each map will differ depending on the scope of your experience mapping strategy. You can depict the complete journey from brand discovery to post-purchase interactions or choose to show a part of it, such as the checkout process or interaction with the support staff.

A typical customer journey map highlights the target customer persona, journey stages, touchpoints, interaction channels, customer emotions and their actions, and new opportunities at each touchpoint.

FutureCustomerJourneyMap

A significant advantage of customer journey mapping is; it streamlines task management across various teams by helping them identify their roles in enhancing the customer experience.

As you can see from the image above, different teams can utilize the map to optimize the customer experience, identify sales opportunities, and plan marketing campaigns across multiple channels to engage customers.

Why Do You Need a Customer Journey Map?

Let's take an example. Think of your business as a big stadium. There are many entry gates, just like different channels customers use to interact with you. At each gate, there are multiple interaction points or touchpoints, such as ticket counters, hot dog stands, washrooms, seats, etc.

To ensure smooth functioning of all the elements and provide the best experience to all the customers, you need coordinated planning. But the data points are scattered along numerous touchpoints.

What's more, since different teams handle different touchpoints, you can coordinate with each team individually. However, it becomes harder to collate the data of every team and present the customer experience as a continuous journey.

That is where the customer journey maps come into play.

They help you pick the scattered data and represent it as a time variable. This can help you:

  • Visualize the journey the customers take from one touchpoint to another as a continuous path instead of multiple individual interactions.
  • View how customers interact with each touchpoint.
  • Analyze their problems and issues with the stadium management and services.
  • Identify new opportunities that can be explored to increase engagement and revenue

The same goes for any business, whether it is online, offline, or both. You can create customer journey maps to study customer experience at various stages.

How is customer journey mapping helpful?

  • You can see where the customer decides to switch channels in the journey, i.e., from desktop to mobile or website to app. What motivates them to do so?
  • At what point did they contact customer support, and what issue were they facing? Using this, you can implement standard measures at all touchpoints.
  • What are their emotions at various touchpoints? It will help to prioritize the negative ones.
  • Discover previously unknown interaction channels and touchpoints so you can optimize them.
CHAPTER 2

Importance of Customer Journey Mapping

Businesses that start mapping their customers’ journeys soon discover how it opens many doors for them even though they may have thought before that they know everything there is to know about them. Mapping helps align your offerings directly with the pain points of the customers in the long run and getting it right every time.

1. Identify customer touchpoints

Touchpoints are where customers interact with your business. These touchpoints result in the completion of intended goals. The outcome and customers' emotions can decide their retention and loyalty towards your brand at some of these points — for example, CTA buttons, payment methods, subscription forms, feedback forms, etc.

That's why it becomes necessary to identify these touchpoints and optimize them to make the customers' journey as smooth as possible. Since customers have multiple contact mediums, these touchpoints are scattered throughout different channels, making it difficult to track each of them.

A CJM makes it possible for you to visualize and analyze all the touchpoints and uncover new ones with the help of a single map.

2. Visualize gaps between ideal and real customer journeys

How much does the actual experience journey of your visitors coincide with the intended one? Are they missing crucial touchpoints or interactions along their journey? How do they feel at every stage, and what measures can you take towards improvement?

A customer journey map lets you see the gaps, pain points, and roadblocks that hinder the ideal customer experience. You can find out ways to plug them to improve customers' journey.

3. Compare the experience of different customer segments

Different customer segments may go through different experiences even along the same journey lines based on their interests, preferences, and goals.

Customer journey maps for different personas let you directly compare their experience at critical touchpoints. You can compare what channels each segment uses to interact with your business. You can also see the common issues and map out their expectations to design products that appeal to all the segments.

4. Predict customer behavior

An essential aspect of customer journey mapping is it provides the means to predict customer behavior and install tools to enhance their experience. As we will see in the later section with future state mapping, you can visualize how an ideal customer would behave and interact with new products or services.

Based on the projections, you can design elements that will aid real customers in their journey, such as optimizing the navigation menu, adding self-help materials, embedding customer support or live chat buttons, etc.

5. Uncover customer pain points

We know what you're thinking, why would I go seeking new problems? The idea here is that there are known issues and unknown issues. Customer journey maps should be exploratory or discovery-based. You want to unearth the hidden problems that you may not have known about before.

This is the beauty of actually speaking with users. Customer journey mapping is as much about discovering unknown issues as it is about solving known problems.

In general, you want to know what is happening and which current issues have the most significant impact on your customer's experience.

6. Create products and services that sell

As mentioned above, a customer journey map gives you a consolidated view of customer experience as they interact with your products - their emotions, motivations, issues, and more. Uncovering these pain points, mapping interests, and identifying opportunities are critical to developing products that appeal to your target audience.

When you have a clear idea of what your customers want and what they actually experience, you can start implementing these insights into your development process.

You can also use the information from current maps to predict the journey of your future customers for new products.

CHAPTER 3

Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping

Functionally, customer journey maps help you visualize what your user is experiencing and what they're feeling throughout their journey.

If you are a start-up or completing your first customer journey map as an organization, keep in mind that the map is not a plan. It's about understanding what the actual user experience is.

1. Empathize better with your user

A customer journey map can help you empathize with your customer and improve your understanding of personas. This helps you:

  • Make product roadmap decisions that will increase customer satisfaction
  • Identify places to improve the user experience to retain more customers

Customer journey maps provide excellent visualization of the larger picture of the user experience, instead of just focusing on one screen or web page. Having this level of context can be helpful when thinking through the more granular aspects of a design (as it gives a better understanding of what users are experiencing and expecting) and the entire user experience you're designing.

For example, if you keep in mind that a user would have just tackled a particularly frustrating step in your experience, you may want to add something in the following step that can potentially bring some delight (or relief) to the interaction.

A customer journey map can also help you identify moments when the customer's experience is just not right, inconsistent, or even unpleasant. This goes beyond rough patches that can be detected during prototyping or user research.

"The customer journey map can help you identify how these factors are interrelated: such as inconsistencies between various touchpoints, devices, or steps in the journey. This can be very difficult to detect without a cohesive look at the overall customer journey."

Bonus Read: A Complete Guide to User Research

2. Promote omni-channel optimization

Customers' journey is no longer linear. They use multiple channels to interact with the business. So to craft a truly omnichannel experience, you need to optimize all the mediums and transition points. It means your customers should be able to seamlessly switch channels in the middle of their journey.

How does a customer journey map help in delivering an omnichannel experience?

It projects the multi-channel interactions onto a linear time scale so you can analyze each channel.

You can see which customers prefer live chat or emails? Or why are your customers switching to the website from the app? Or which are the most preferred social media outlets of your customers?

With a customer journey map, you can compare the difference between the mobile and website experience. You can also see what emotions do corresponding touchpoints on different channels elicit from the customers. You can also discover their pain points and uncover opportunities to optimize each channel further.

3. Optimize customer touchpoints or interaction points

One of the prime benefits of a journey map is smooth touchpoint optimization. Once you have identified the interactions, you can determine what touchpoints are critical.

We call these top-priority touchpoints' moments of truth' (MoTs).

As a business, there is never enough time or money to improve every aspect of your user experience, so you have to prioritize. Customer journey mapping forces you to segment the user experience, providing a framework for identifying those critical moments of truth.

"Moments of truth (MoTs) help customers to form an impression of the brand. If they experience positive MoTs, they will continue the journey on the website. On the other hand, if there’s a negative MoT, they may drop out of the conversion funnel."

Please pay special attention to MoTs, as they will help you see where you should focus your energy now.

For example, providing an automatic discount coupon to the first-time shoppers when they build their cart will only encourage them to complete the checkout process resulting in more conversions. It will promote a positive impression of the brand.

Similarly, offering a free consultation or product demo to the prospects will improve sales and product adoption.

On the other hand, payment failure during checkout may frustrate the customer, leading to cart abandonment.

Of course, these significant issues differ for every business. Let's say you have great food, but your marketing doesn't bring in enough people through your door. In this case, your problem may not be your product, but your lead generation efforts. Understanding these unique pain points is a vital part of moving your business forward.

Customer journey mapping can help you understand where to focus your time and attention.

4. Identify new opportunities

Let's say that a travel company designs a customer journey map for the website visitors interested in traveling to Hawaii. It reveals that a substantial portion of customers leaves the website without filling the contact form or leaving it incomplete.

Here, we see two opportunities to increase engagement. The company can embed a live chat widget or add an exit survey to collect customer feedback, or both. The website team can handle the widget installation, while the sales or support team can start preparing themselves for the incoming feedback and chats.

It is just one example of consolidating the efforts of different teams under one screen. With a customer journey map, each team can uncover new sales, marketing, and optimization opportunities. It also leaves room for ideas from other teams to make further enhancements.

5. Consolidate cross-team data

Have you ever found yourself continually feeling the tension between your department and other departments in your company?

While we all have common goals, we also sometimes have competing priorities. A certain amount of tension between departments can be healthy and productive if it spurs higher quality work. Still, if this tension stems from a lack of understanding or dismissing each other's priorities, it can be problematic.

As mentioned in the previous point, one of the enormous benefits of customer journey mapping is that it can help break down communication barriers between departments that can be detrimental to the business and the user experience. The process of creating a customer journey map must be cross-disciplinary.

As the team at Nielsen Norman puts it, "Fragmented understanding is chronic in organizations where KPIs are assigned and measured per individual department or group because many organizations do not ever piece together the entire experience from the user's standpoint." Creating a customer journey map with a cross-functional team can help alleviate some of these pressures.

Tip: Once a customer journey map has been created, we recommend sharing it with the entire company, and both referencing and updating it regularly. This will help keep different departments on track by prioritizing their responsibilities and shared goals.

6. A clearer sense of ownership of touchpoints and related KPIs

Another positive side effect of bringing together a cross-functional team to create a customer journey map is the clarity it provides about which departments own which touchpoints. This conversation can drive continued clarity on KPIs that will improve the overall user experience.

Developing touchpoints is essential. Be sure to include associated key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics wherever possible. Assigning ownership of various touchpoints is crucial, but so is being able to measure them so that you can determine whether or not you're growing and improving the experience.

If your customer journey mapping activity did not uncover some previously unknown issues in your user experience, you've probably missed something! So when you do reveal new problems to solve based on your customer journey map, be sure to assign follow-up tasks to appropriate owners.

Another positive side effect of bringing together a cross-functional team to create a customer journey map is the clarity it provides about which departments own which touchpoints. This conversation can drive continued clarity on KPIs that will improve the overall user experience.

7. Promote low effort goal achievement

Everything leads to this. All the above benefits culminate into providing a better experience to the customers. When you optimize an interaction point, you make it easier for the customers to complete their goals.

With a journey experience map in hand, you have the opportunity to optimize multiple touchpoints and channels simultaneously. It not only promotes a low effort journey but also streamlines the omnichannel experience.

The lower the effort to complete a goal, higher are the chances that customers will achieve it and take the next step towards the end of the conversion funnel. It also translates into higher revenue, more customers, and an increase in retention rate.

8. Provide better customer service options

A customer journey map can not only help you visualize the journey from customers' point of view, but it also lets you outline the backend services and tools that make the journey possible.

With journey maps called “"service blueprints" (detailed in later sections), you can map the background processes at each touchpoint in the customers' journey.

It gives you the opportunity to examine whether the provisions provided at every point are adequate or not? You can uncover the issues that customers face and install new helpdesk systems to assist them.

For example:

  • Not all visitors fill the form on the 'Contact Us' page. In this case, you can add a live chat widget to provide real-time support, set up consultations, and collect new leads. The same goes for other high-value pages.
  • If you see a page with a high bounce rate, you can implement a feedback sidebar or use exit-intent surveys or popups using exit popup software to collect visitor feedback.
  • If you see that people find it difficult to navigate certain elements, creating a self service help center with the help of knowledge base tools and other information can go the extra mile to improve their experience.

All these improvements create new touchpoints for customers and give you the means to collect valuable insights.

CHAPTER 4

8 Essential Elements of a Customer Journey Map

Customer journey maps need to be created from scratch for every organization (and ideally for every product or service they offer). That’s why there cannot be a fixed template that fits all bills. Individual products and services need a unique customer journey map, which usually contains these key elements or sections as a rule of thumb.

FutureCustomerJourneyMap.jpeg

Section 1. Customer persona and scenario

A customer persona is a representation of who you are targeting. Carrying out this step can be tricky but is very rewarding if done right.

Tip: Learn how to develop and test customer personas using Qualaroo.

A customer persona is the ideal starting point for constructing a comprehensive customer journey map.

Example: Here’s how a typical customer persona looks like -

customer-persona

Section 2. Stages

The details of various steps that lead to the customer completing the goals are presented on the map. These are also called stages.

Example: Landing on the web page >> adding the product to cart >> purchasing the product >> contacting the support to get the issue resolved >> getting a refund.

persona-stages

Section 3. Interaction Timeline or Activities

From beginning to the end, the timeline follows the interactions of the customer with your brand, from awareness to seeking follow-up services and leaving feedback. You can also break down the journey into processes, giving each stage of the customer's journey its own timeline. This allows you to go deeper into customer interactions.

Here’s how a timeline looks from Awareness to Advocacy:

horizontal-customer-journey-powerpoint-template
Source: Slidemodel

Section 4. Interaction Channels or Mediums

The various mediums the customer used to interact with the business and services at different stages of their mapped journey. The medium of interaction can be physical or virtual. Most first interactions are virtual, like seeing your banner on Google or other websites. Physical interactions depend upon your product or service.

Example: Using the software you sell will be virtual interaction, but if you sell hardware, there must be physical interaction for the customer to use your product. Mapping each channel provides valuable insights in creating an omnichannel approach.

Here is an example of different channels used by the customer at different touchpoints:

channels

Section 5. Customers' Emotions and Sentiments

Brand perception can become better or worse at every touchpoint in the customer journey. Right from the moment they first become aware of your brand through their experience with your offering, their emotions can fluctuate. That is why a customer journey map is essential for ensuring that customer experience is more than satisfactory at the crucial touchpoints and even more so at the Moments of Truth.

Example: A customer’s purchase decision can be influenced by a variety of emotions ranging from instant gratification, happiness, fear, trust and sadness to sadness, anger, belonging and even guilt.

emotions

Section 6. Customer insights

This section details customer insights gained through various data points, such as customer feedback., surveys, session replays, interviews, and support tickets. Listing out customers' issues, motivations, pain points, and grievances will help you understand their concerns and figure out ways to fix them.

When these are listed under the same screen, it can help develop a cross-department strategy to deal with problems quickly.

Examples:

  • Customers asking about certain promos and product features
  • Customers reporting to resolve any product or process related challenges
  • Socio-demographic data gathered from social listening to find out age, gender, occupation, level of income, and location
customer-insights

Section 7. Moments of Truth

Moments of truth are points where the customer forms an opinion about the brand based on their experience and interaction. Thus, each touchpoint may provide moments of truth to the business. List them out to build an effective strategy to sway the customer towards you.

Examples: These can be moments of frustration, delight, glory, and pain.

Section 8. Opportunities

Mapping out moments of truth along the customer's journey lets you identify opportunities to change their perception. This section lists the possible changes you can make to improve customer experience and impart a positive impression.

Example: A bank trying to solve problems effectively to turn moments of truth into opportunities by prioritizing the financial needs of customers over sales.

opportunity-example

Here is a sample customer journey map.

opportunities

The map design and elements will depend on the business, type of mapping, and data required, as shown in the examples section.

CHAPTER 5

Types of customer journey maps

There are a few different types of customer journey maps based on your specific goals. Let’s understand each of them

1. Current state mapping:

It paints a picture of how customers are interacting with your product or service right now. It is based primarily on customer data and observational research. This type of customer journey map is well-suited to helping you better empathize with your customer and diagnose areas where you can improve the user experience.

Example of current state mapping: You see that your mobile app receives a sizable number of visitors, but a major portion drops out of the app without converting. You also discover from the map that the same customers then use the website to complete their purchases.

To investigate the behavior, you can look at the customer insights already present in the map. With this data, you can pinpoint the instance in their app journey where the customers face issues. It can be about the app interface, a broken link, payment method problems., or any other issue. Collecting in-app feedback using Qualaroo can get you some detailed insights from your users.

Bonus Read: Best In-App Feedback Tools

The customer journey map for this example lets you compare the user experience between your app and website. You can uncover the point of customer deviation and their emotions during that interaction. You can also find the reason behind their behavior and explore ways to optimize and increase customer engagement.

Journey-Map.jpg

The image shows the current state map of what the customer feels and does while interacting with your business.

2. Future state mapping:

It is a representation of the ideal journey you'd like customers to have as they experience your product or service. This type of mapping is all about conceptualizing and visualizing new experiences for your customer. It can help be something of a north star for teams as they go about their day to day, and work to close the gap between where the user experience is and where it should be.

Keep in mind that this exercise is typically completed once current state mapping is complete. Realistically, future state mapping can only exist once the current state is understood, because you need to know what you'd like to improve to reach your ideal state.

Example of future state mapping: The journey map of fictional future prospect who would discover the upcoming new products and convert.

It displays the interaction channels that would lead to discovering the products, such as search engines, email newsletters, social media, etc.

It would also help you locate critical points along the future customers' journey that need to be optimized to ensure maximum engagement and improve conversions. This type of map allows you to maximize the visibility of your new products and the penetration of your marketing campaigns.

Here is an example of future state mapping detailing what the ideal customers will think, feel and do in the future.

Futurecustomerjourneymap.jpg

3. Day in the life mapping:

A day in the life map is slightly different from current state mapping in the sense that it aligns more with discovery than optimization.

It represents all of the day-to-day activities your ideal customer takes in their daily life, not just those where they use your product or service. This is a helpful map for understanding the broader context of your persona and identifying new places to provide value.

The best way to complete a day in the life mapping is through a diary study, where you ask a user to record their thoughts and impressions during some activities or through their interactions with various touchpoints. This technique can lead to some insights you may not have considered before.

The journey of a user may have begun with them googling something related to your product or service but not necessarily directly googling the name of your business.

Example of day in the life mapping: You create the journey map that describes the path from discovery to post-delivery interactions of a specific audience segment between 18-24 years of age for your website.

What can you discover?

  • You see that customers first go to your competitor's website before landing on your website. Here, you can try to uncover the motivation that leads the customer to you.
    • What are the features that are better in your product?
    • Why did they land on the competitor's website in the first place?
    • Do you need to optimize your SEO?
  • You discover a new channel, i.e., social media. You see that a lot of customers land on your website through posts and links shared on social media. Now, you can start to dedicate a proper strategy to maximize the influx through this new channel.
  • You also find that the open rate for your survey emails is above average, leading to the marketing team discovering the opportunity to add product and website links in the emails to bring in more prospects.
day-i-the-life

4. A competitor's journey map

It is a benchmark journey map you may also want to try creating. These can be useful for determining and visualizing how you compare to other providers in your field. This type of map can also be a trustworthy source of inspiration.

Of course, we don't suggest copying the solutions of competitors and calling them your own. However, the differences should encourage you to think about where you can improve your users' experience and identify what your differentiators are.

Example of competitor journey mapping: You deploy a website survey or an in-app survey that asks visitors which products/companies they have considered as of now or may think of considering.

Sample survey questions:

  • "Which other options did you consider before choosing our [Product name]?"
  • "Which of our competitors, both online and offline, did you consider before choosing our [Product name]?"

Bonus Read: Best Online Survey Tools

Examine the experiences of your prospects and customers to find out at which stage they come in contact with your competitors, what are their preferences, what type of content they look at to make their purchase decisions and more. You can use this data to position your offerings in a better way.

You can also use something like Alexa’s Site Comparisons to analyze competitors and find out trends.

All four of these types of customer journey maps can be very helpful, depending on your business goals. We are primarily focusing on current state journey mapping as we feel it is best suited for making an impact on the user experience.

5. Service blueprints

Service blueprints are secondary layers to the customer journey maps. While the maps mentioned above show the journey from the customer's perspective, service blueprints map the organization's journey. It means that they detail the background processes and services installed by the company at every stage to make the customer journey possible.

These can include support staff, policies, rules, tools, applications, hardware, etc.

So once you have the customer journey map, you can design the service blueprint to optimize the backstage processes and ensure the best possible customer experience.

nng-service-blueprint-example
CHAPTER 6

Things to know before filling out your customer journey map

Before you actually begin building out your journey map, make sure you have the following covered:

A clear understanding of goals

It is essential to approach the customer journey mapping process with clarity. This will help you choose which type of customer journey map to pursue and help guide your process of filling out the actual map.

Was the decision to create a customer journey map in response to a particular business need? If so, keep in mind the different types of customer journey maps and which one best fits this goal.

Now let’s have a look at a few use cases to get a better idea:

Use cases Our recommendation
You want to improve your onboarding experience or investigate some usability issues your clients have reported. Start with current state mapping.
You are looking to solidify your vision for your product or service. Try your hand at future-state mapping.
You are trying to understand the role that your product or service plays in the daily activities of your customers. In this case, day-in-the-life mapping is your best bet.
You have limitations of time or money, or one touchpoint has changed significantly. Bend the rules a little and isolate your map to reflect that one touchpoint or step. It's not best practice but can still produce useful insights under the right circumstances.

Things to keep in mind

  • Create primary and secondary personas
  • In most companies, there isn't just one use-case or type of customer that they interact with. This is important to consider when crafting a customer journey map as the customer journey will look different for these different subsets.

    If your company only targets one persona – great! Creating a customer journey map will be much more straightforward for your team.

    However, for most companies, there is typically one primary persona and a couple of secondary personas. Keep in mind that if your company has many products, there will likely be multiple primary personas.

    Tip: It would help if you considered having a separate customer journey for all the personas, especially the primary ones. If you're hard-pressed to think of alternative personas, we recommend gamifying the experience and pushing your team to brainstorm some fringe use-cases. It can be an enjoyable and creative activity!

  • Research. Data. Insights
  • Reach out to various departments in your organization and ask for data about your users. Keep in mind that you are not particularly interested in your team's opinions about customers, but actual data and feedback from customers.

    The more feedback you gather, the better. There is a range of sources for this data:

    • Analytics tools
    • Insights from UX research
    • Feedback collected via online customer feedback tools
    • Data from surveys conducted on various occasions
    • Social media mentions
    • Product review sites, and opinions,
    • Complaints and suggestions shared with your customer support and sales teams

    There are also many UX research and customer journey map tools available to help increase the sources of data.

  • Ensure the data is not outdated and irrelevant
  • You want to rely on relevant experiences, so, for example, considering customers' opinions about your website before a new version is launched is not the best idea.

    After you collect all this data, assess what's missing and try to fill in gaps with research before building the customer journey map.

    Examples of data points might be:

    • Changes in your Net Promoter Score (NPS) before and after a significant product update
    • Feedback on software updates and/or bug fixes
    • App store reviews relating to specific touchpoints listed in the customer journey map
  • Show willingness to jump in and be wrong
  • With customer journey mapping, you have to be willing to dive in and learn along the way. No matter how meticulous your prep work is, there will always be more data and feedback to collect about various touchpoints.

  • Avoid the temptation to fixate on being perfect, or even exhaustive
  • A customer journey map is never going to be 100% accurate or complete, even with the best tools. The best you can do is strive to be as thorough as possible without impeding progress.

    An imperfect or incomplete customer journey map is better than no map.

    Besides, this is an iterative process. You can and should return to your customer journey map and add missing elements or new insights.

CHAPTER 7

How to create a customer journey map: Step-by-Step

Now that you know what a customer journey map contains, it's time to start working on one. Here is a process to get you started.

Step 1: Define the objectives and scenario of your customer journey map

The first step is to define the scope of your map. A customer’s journey spans from looking for a solution to buying the product and beyond. The first step is to identify which part you are trying to present on the map.

For example:

  • You may be interested in the entire journey to see how customers behave and discover your brand. This case represents the day-in-the-life customer journey map.
  • Or you may want to focus only on the checkout process. In this case, the journey map would include the time from the customer adding products to the cart to placing the order.
  • In other cases, you may want to map out the ways to improve brand advocacy. This would require focusing on the parts where the customers share their experience with others along their journey.

Once you have the scope, you can start building a scenario and customer persona to study their behavior and actions at various stages. It will also help identify which customer segment fits into the current observation to gather the correct data.

Step 2: Assemble your team

Once you've decided on your goals for creating a customer journey map, start choosing the cross-functional team that will come together to create the map. Keep in mind that different departments all engage with customers differently and provide unique pieces of the puzzle that you would likely not find without their presence. We recommend including representatives from:

  • UX leadership
  • Customer Success/Service
  • Product
  • Sales and/or marketing
  • An analyst or data owner

Step 3: Compile customer data and insights

Hopefully, you already have some customer monitoring tools in place that can aid in this stage of observational research.

For example, compile observations from the following tools or similar sources:

Tip: An invaluable source of feedback that is often overlooked in UX projects is your customer success or support (CS) department. Your CS department interfaces with your users daily and can deliver in-depth insights regarding what pain points they experience. These rich, in-house insights about your users are invaluable.

Another avenue for gathering user feedback is exploring reviews and feedback for your product or service. Google reviews, G2Crowd, and app store ratings are all great sources of user insights. It can be tempting to focus on positive feedback, but angry customers are a wealth of information and teach us the most about where we need to improve.

Step 4: Define the customer persona based on the research

With the scope, scenario, and customer data in hand, it is time to build the customer persona that describes the target audience segment. Make sure the persona incorporates your real customers' traits such as their motivations, issues, behavior interests, preferences, and other such characteristics.

Only when you know your audience can you identify opportunities and moments of truth that will help you improve their experience.

Here are some important questions you may need to pose to create the customer persona:

  • What is the gender of the target audience?
  • What is their location?
  • What is their age group?
  • How did they hear about your company?
  • What are their most prevalent issues?
  • How do they discover your website or app?
  • What are the most common payment methods they use during the checkout process?
  • How do they interact with your website?

Step 5: Break your journey into key stages

Remember, we are talking about the customer journey, not your business journey. Accordingly, the stages should make sense from the customer's point of view, not so much the overall business point of view. Typically your breakdown should look something like this:

  • Awareness/ Discovery – this is when the customer realizes that they have a problem they want to tackle and that a product or service that can solve their problem exists.
  • Research / Information gathering / Evaluation – during this stage, a user will typically research more about the existing solutions to the problem and explore the alternatives. But that's not all. Even if you offer the only current solution to the problem in the world (pretty unlikely), your customer will still want to evaluate the solution itself, especially if they have never used a tool like yours.
  • During this process, the customer is seeking potential drawbacks and assessing you as a solution provider. They'll want to know if your company or website is trustworthy. Are you an expert in the field? How many clients have you served so far? Is the payment via your website safe?

  • Purchase – this is the moment when a customer buys or orders the product or service.
  • Experience / Use – this is when a customer starts using your product or solution and what their experience is like. In some cases, this stage also includes delivery of the actual product, and in others, delivery will be a separate stage preceding the experience. Depending on your process, service and support may be included in this stage or be separated.
  • Loyalty – this stage is vital as for some businesses, it would be easy for customers to change the brand they use or support. It is also useful to have when creating a journey map for products or services with a strong community.

While these stages may reflect a general flow for many businesses, you should personalize them to fit your customer journey.

Below, you can see three examples of personalized steps:

A. For a customer of a coffee shop:

Awareness I wake up tired and begin craving a coffee on the way to work
Research How do I know what options I have?
How do I choose?
Do I have a place in mind or am I open to options?
What if I am in a new place?
What factors influence this?
Decision I picked a coffee shop, reached there, ordered and paid for the coffee, drank and left

B. For a customer of an airline:

Awareness I realize that I need a flight ticket
Research I start searching for flights
Planning I think about what my stay will look like and how that impacts my ideal flight time
Booking After I decide on a flight time and price, I purchase my ticket via an online portal
Pre-Travel I check in for my flight, download my boarding pass, etc.
Travel I board my chosen flight
Post-travel I exit the plane and arrive at my destination

C. For a SaaS product:

Awareness I realize that my team needs a project management software
Research I search Google for project management software
Trial I sign up for a free trial to test a project management tool
Purchase I purchase the tool that seems to best fit my needs
Onboarding I get on a call with an onboarding specialist to learn more about how to use the software
Use I begin using the tool and uploading all of my project information
Support I run into an issue with the tool and have to contact the support team

Step 6: Map out the touchpoints

Plotting the touchpoints is one of the most critical steps in customer journey mapping, irrespective of how big or small your scope is.

Touchpoints are customer interaction points, and each interaction is associated with an outcome that helps form a perception of your brand in customers’ minds. It will also help you understand what actions customers take to complete their goals.

So take your time in listing all the touchpoints at each stage. They can be scattered across various channels such as your website, app, email, or social media.

Here are a few examples of common touchpoints:

  • CTA link on the page or email
  • Add to cart button
  • Customer support button
  • Payment options
  • Newsletter Form
  • Product demo

With each touchpoint, you can see the customers’ actions, and opportunities for improvements.

Step 7: Define events at each touchpoint

Once you have the touchpoints, you can begin listing your customer's actions during each touchpoint. Actions can be: reading a menu in a coffee shop or using a calculator on an airline website to calculate the total cost of travel for four people with various meals and additional luggage.

For digital products, events can look like:

  • Clicking a Facebook ad
  • Downloading free content
  • Reading opinions on online forums
  • Checking the Terms of Service
  • Checking FAQ
  • Choosing a plan
  • Selecting payment options
  • Getting access to the tool after signing up
  • Contacting customer support
  • Signing up for a newsletter, and more.

Actions may also be called events.

This is useful as sometimes the step in the journey is not something the customer is actively pursuing. For example, waiting for a purchase confirmation is less an action taken by the customer as it is an event along the way.

Each of the actions or events happen within a touchpoint. For example, there is no clear follow-up action to seeing a billboard. However, with Facebook ads, interested people can click and be taken to a landing page with more information about the product.

Sometimes a single action can have multiple touchpoints. For example, a customer may contact the support team via:

  • Online chat
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Unique feature in a dashboard.

It's worth separating these touchpoints as the primary reason behind building a customer journey map is to lay out people's experience with your product or service or your company in general.

Each touchpoint, even if it offers the same action, may lead to a very different experience. For example, calling customer support may provide an excellent and positive experience when there's a competent and professional team. But maybe sending an email to report an issue results in waiting one month for a reply – which is not such a positive experience.

You may assign a goal to correspond to each user action. Try to define what the user is trying to achieve in every moment, as this may help you assess different actions.

Step 8: Begin filling out your customer journey map in a workshop style

This is the part where your team can begin compiling everything that your research has found and start creating a visualization to represent it. This should be a workshop-style session where ideas are shared and discussed freely.

Step 9: Pen down customer pain points and identify roadblocks

This aspect of the customer journey map is really the crux of the entire exercise, and getting it right is an essential piece of a complete customer journey map.

This is where your pre-work and research will shine!

The most important part of the map is the actual emotional experience. For example, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • Is the user able to quickly see how much he will pay for the highest plan?
  • Or does it take users a long time to find this information on your website?
  • Can users easily submit their CVs to apply to the role via your website?
  • Or do they have to fill in a lengthy form asking questions that are typically covered in the CV anyway?
  • Or is there a bug in your code and your users cannot use the features they want in the tool's dashboard?

The easiest way to mark the experience on your map is to draw a horizontal line and:

  • Put a mark above it for positive experiences
  • At the line for neutral experiences, and
  • Below the line for negative experiences

You can also use scoring (for example from +5 to -5) – the higher on the positive side the marks will be for specific actions and/or touch points the more positive the experience.

The lower below the line, the more negative the experience.

This will allow you to quickly identify moments within their journey where your customers are struggling and moments where they're delighted. In other words, this will help you see opportunities to improve the experience by improving specific points during the journey. But don't get out your whiteboard just yet! There are a couple more things you can do.

Positive vs. negative experiences is of course a simplified approach that's intended to help you assess the situation very quickly by just glancing at the map. But you can always add an additional layer and try to determine what emotions exactly your customers are feeling. If their experience is negative – are they feeling angry or sad? Or maybe anxious or disgusted?

Step 10: Look for moments of truth

Moments of truth (MoTs) are one of the most important elements in your map. These are the aspects of your product or service that are the most important to your user. As UXPressia defines them, "MoTs represent the points in a customer journey when a key event occurs and an opinion about the brand is formed.”

In simple words, these are the touchpoints when your customers either fall in love with your product or turn away and leave."

MoTs define how the user will feel about their entire experience with your product or service. These moments will determine if they return to repurchase your product, if they recommend it to others, and in extreme situations whether or not they will take the time to publicly criticize your product or company online. For this reason, you should prioritize MoTs as the most important moments to provide a positive experience.

In total, you should land on 1 or 2 moments of truth. If you have particularly complex customer journeys, 3 should be the maximum amount of MoTs.

Coming back to our restaurant example, the most important factor will be whether the food was good or not. If the food was not tasty, the customer will simply not come back to your restaurant. However, is this enough? What if the food was excellent but the waiter was rude? Will the customer come back?

Should there be more MoTs? Probably not. Avoid the clutter as it will cloud your focus. If the food was great and the service was friendly enough the customer is likely to come back. They may not remember details like the pattern of your tablecloths or that there was not enough room to hang their coats, but they'll remember and return because of how much they enjoyed the food.

Step 11: Analyze and discover your opportunities

Once you've determined whether the experience in each event or touchpoint is positive or negative for your user, and you've identified MoTs, you will naturally be able to nail down the opportunities all this creates to improve your product and make it more consistent across touchpoints, easy to use and sticky. In other words, what can you do to improve a negative experience, or even delight the customer in each event?

Opportunities may be quite detailed like reducing the number of steps in the purchasing process, providing status updates, providing more concise messaging or making it easier to find contact details to your support team.

Tip: Write down all of these opportunities. You can decide later which ones to focus on. Some of these may actually be too time or resource intensive, so you don't need to attack them all at once. As with everything, prioritization will be important.

Step 12: Implement metrics where possible

While this step isn't always included in customer journey maps, we recommend including it if you can. Try to apply metrics to the columns in your map. Sometimes it won't be possible, but whenever it makes sense, try to come up with metrics that will help you measure the impact of the change you will implement. Some of these metrics are probably used in your business already.

Shopping cart abandonment is a common metric for ecommerce companies. But don't be afraid to introduce new metrics as long as they make sense. For example, measure the percentage of customers seeking help with your support team during the onboarding process.

Bonus Read: Improve Ecommerce Conversions Using Instant Surveys

Once you have metrics it will also be easier to see which department is responsible for this element. It's easy to say "design" or "marketing" but some of us work in companies with multiple departments that could easily take ownership like ecom, online marketing, customer management, product and design.

notes
CHAPTER 8

Customer Journey Map Best Practices

Creating customer journey maps isn't straightforward because, honestly, customer journeys aren't very straightforward.

There's a lot of foundational work that needs to take place when creating a customer journey map before you really begin executing and following these best practices can help build an effective map that can give you the right results.

1. Define customer persona beforehand

Persona is the fictional equivalent of your customers. You can not plot the journey map for each customer. So, a customer persona covers the demographics and psychographics of your target group.

This fictional customer will embody the path taken by real customers, their emotions, motivations, and grievances along its journey. The more accurate your persona is, the more accurately you can plot the customer journey on the map.

This will help keep the overall customer journey map focused on the most probable touchpoints rather than cover outliers and improbable situations.

2. Use customer feedback

From the collection of customer feedback you may already have (through one-on-one interviews, user testing, questionnaires, product and service reviews, or surveys), find out the touch points that affect customers the most. These are your Moments of Truth, when brand perception can turn from positive to negative or vice-versa. Find ways to decrease the former and increase the latter.

Bonus Read: Guide to Surveying Users

3. Plot crucial touchpoints and channels

Touchpoints allow you to figure out how the customer interacts with your business. They are central nodes in the journey maps.

At touchpoints, the customer either moves forward, backward, or leaves, based on the outcome of the interaction.

For example, suppose the customer clicked on the 'Add to cart' button, but the product did not get added to the cart because of some issue. At this point, the customer may raise a support ticket, leave the site to come back again after some time, or abandon the site altogether.

Identifying the customer touchpoints will make it possible to see the customer interactions, their sentiments at that moment, and the outcome.

Similarly, finding the interaction mediums or channels will let you optimize them to render the best possible experience.

4. List out resources required

From the customer journey map, identify gaps that need plugging. Then, make a comprehensive list of the resources you will need to plug those gaps. Apart from closing these gaps, list the resources required for turning negative MoTs into positive customer experiences as well.

5. Choose a suitable customer scenario

There can be multiple paths that lead the customer from point A to point B in their journey. The first thing to do is recognize the course or scenario you want to plot on the map.

Why is it important?

The scenario would correspond to a customer persona. Plotting the scenario for this customer will tell you about actions that help them make decisions while moving from one stage to another.

You will also see which opportunities the customer missed and which new systems you need to add for future customers.

Once the scenario is mapped, it will be easier to associate the “Why” and “How behind the customer’s behavior to make informed decisions.

6. Maintain strong bias towards action

Knowing is only half the battle. Plan out the course of action your teams need to follow for lifting customer confidence in your product/service. Always keep in mind that a broad customer journey map covers the majority of your customers, so do not let action plans get derailed by one-off occurrences that defy the map.

7. Put technology to good use

Once the broad customer journey map is validated through comparison with actual customer experience, incorporate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (if feasible) to scale it up, modify it automatically depending upon consumer behaviour, add predictive routing functionality and gather deeper data.

8. Test and make necessary changes

Like any other process, journey mapping is also iterative. It involves making changes, testing them out, and making further improvements using the data.

For example, let's suppose you adopt the measures to optimize a critical touchpoint in the customer journey map. Your job does end not here. The measures taken can lead to a new issue or problem. It may unintentionally add more steps to the customer journey making it longer.

That's why it is necessary to monitor the changes and see if they actually improve the customer experience or not.

There are plenty of ways to test your optimization results, such as A/B testing, surveys, feedback forms, session replays, heatmaps, and analytical data.

Therefore, test ⇒ test ⇒ test ⇒ till you succeed

Bonus Read: Best A/B Testing Tools

Now What?

Once you've created your customer journey map, it's time to drive these learnings home.

  • Formulate a plan to address newly uncovered issues
  • Throughout this process, you've likely identified some shortcomings or pain points that seem to surface again and again. One of the most important post-customer journey mapping activities is to address them. Be mindful of establishing ownership for these follow-up fixes, otherwise holding people accountable will be difficult.

  • Share your findings with the rest of the company
  • While the impact of the customer journey map should already have an interdisciplinary influence as it must be created with a cross-functional team, this does not mean that the entire company is well-versed in the customer experience and its implications. This type of information is important for all employees to have access to and keep in mind as they work for/with/around customers.

    After creating the customer journey map, you are well equipped to share insights with your team because you have a map that can tell your story visually, as opposed to having to craft lengthy documents. Journey maps are an excellent communication tool that not only put everyone on the same page and gain buy-in for necessary changes from stakeholders but also puts your users front and center.

  • Establish a timeline for revisiting the customer journey maps
  • It's inevitable that the elements of the customer journey map will shift over time. While the customer journey map is not likely something you will need to edit or overhaul every week, it should be reviewed every quarter or year and as major changes to your processes and channels occur.

CHAPTER 9

11 Real Life Examples of Customer Journey Maps

Never seen a customer journey map? Here are some examples we love.

1. Interactive Visit

Here's an example that maps out visitor moments for a visit to the Smithsonian. Notice that it begins with "consider going" as the first interaction.

Because it is a vast museum with many exhibits and therefore many possible routes a visitor may follow, the map includes two loops that illustrate how visitors might even go around in circles while touring the galleries, halls, buildings and grounds. This significantly increases the number of touchpoints.

Additionally, the last stage includes memories and sharing, which means the experience lingers in the visitor's mind long after the trip, providing another touchpoint which may be exploited by the museum (through engaging with the visitor's social media posts) to heighten their positive experiences and attract more visitors through positive Word of Mouth, thus forming a loop with the first stage: "Consider Going".

interactive-visit

2. Empathetic Targeting

Here's an example intended for a SaaS company whose target market is dads. This map example is inspired by the design thinking approach, as it includes doing and feeling which are typical elements of empathy maps.

This empathy map plots the actions of the target user against their emotions, from brand awareness (discovery) to contribution consideration (thinking). The 'doing' part covers the touch points of the consumer, identifying opportunities for the SaaS company to increase conversion rates by improving the customer experience at those points.

Bonus Read: Improve Saas Conversion Rate Using Instant Surveys

3. Emotional Experience

Customer journey maps aren't just for SaaS companies. We love this fun example of a customer journey map for a wedding that an event management firm can use. The emojis certainly help communicate a lot without being too wordy!

Since this is an "experience" map, most of the touchpoints are not alterable. Instead, the finer details that the wedding guest will experience at all the touchpoints can be customized to give them a joyous feeling right from the announcement of the event (engagement in October) to the time the wedding (in July) has become a memory, a month or two later (in September).

By keeping them engaged beyond the event itself, it becomes possible to make the event a cherished memory for the invitees. Businesses can draw parallels between this experience and their own ideal brand experience.

emotional-experience

4. Information Search

Up next, we have the journey of a businessman trying to find tax information. This linear timeline shows how frustrating some customer experiences can be. Government websites and information portals are notorious for making visitors run around in circles, which is illustrated here through this fictitious example.

5. Slice-of-Life

One of the most common customer journey maps is that of a day in the life of a target consumer. Look at this morning-to-afternoon slice of life for a busy father, full of detailed info, down to his state of mind at various stages:

This kind of customer journey map is great for experiential companies, who want to identify the best time of day to target their prospective customers. One of the best examples is afternoon soap advertising on TV, which (almost exclusively) targets homemakers. The company created the journey map to pinpoint their free time during the day to air the advertisements and maximize visibility.

slice-of-life
Source: Karten Design

6. In-Store Customer Experience Map - IKEA

This example clearly indicates that journey mapping works for both online and offline businesses. IKEA created the in-store customer experience map where each touchpoint is marked against experience or customer emotion ranking. You can instantly see the points of bad experiences and identify the pain-pleasure gap.

ikea-touchpoints-graph-2

7. Flight to NYC Experience Wheel - Lego

The Lego experience wheel map shows the journey of a customer taking a flight to New York. The core describes the customer persona, and emoticons express the sentiments of the customer at each touchpoint. The map displays the entire experience on a single screen. It also mentions the critical touchpoints that can lead to customer retention and loyalty.

1-legowheel

8. Campus Journey Map - CMU

This example includes current state mapping and future state mapping by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The current state map shows the present journey of new students when they visit the CMU campus for the first time. It uncovers critical problems that students face during their time at the campus. These include issues while opting for courses or confusion with the Visa form.

Present+customer+journey+map

These data points are optimized, and then a future state map is created to convert the negative emotions to positive ones and render an overall positive experience to the students.

Future+customer+journey+map

9. Day in a Life of a Dyslexic Child

Here is an example that shows the diverse use case of the customer journey map. This map shows the day-to-day activities of a Dyslexic child. What's more, it also illustrates the interactions and touchpoints of the people the child interacts with during the day.

10. Service Blueprint Map

As detailed above, service blueprints are maps that focus on the organization's backend process and activities. This map example connects the front-end and the backstage along the customer journey. By superimposing the two, we can identify the roadblocks in the policies and processes which may lead to a bad customer experience, such as insufficient staff, lack of proper tools, outdated software, etc.

service-blueprint

11. Immediate Consumption

This last example demonstrates how a customer goes through the decision-making process while having a meal at a restaurant. It demarcates the customer experience with lines of interaction and visibility as the customer progresses through their actions.

immediate-consumption
Source: UXPressia
CHAPTER 10

Customer Journey Map Template Download

Now that you know all about customer journey maps, you can start your experience mapping project with our easy, straightforward template.

journey-map-template
To get started, download the free template.

Need some ideas for filling out your customer journey map? We've got you covered.

Here is an example of a customer persona at a specific event, its touchpoints, and opportunities related to the challenges at this stage of their journey:

Persona: Ecommerce Ellie
Bio: An Ecommerce specialist, 30 years old
Goals: Reduce shopping cart abandonment rate
Challenges: Finding solutions to balance various, competing goals
Attributes: Resourceful, visual thinker
Event: Google searches for potential solutions
Touch point: Visits website of a potential offering
Emotion: Curious
Opportunities: Provide targeted homepage wording based on keyword search
Metrics: Bounce rate

To generate a complete map, list down the journey stages and the associated data points at each touchpoint in the similar format as given above.

More Free Customer Journey Map Templates

Here are a few more customer journey templates to get you started on your experience mapping assignments.

1. Current state

(How customers are interacting with your product or service right now)

current-state

2. Future state

(A representation of the ideal journey you'd like customers to have as they experience your product or service)

future-state
future-state

3. Day-in-the-life

(The day-to-day activities your ideal customer takes in their daily life, not just those where they use your product or service).

day-in-life-state
day-in-life-template
From Hubspot

If these basic templates do not fit your needs, consider these customized customer journey map templates:

4. Flow of Service Template

When a customer goes through the stages of Pre-service - Service - Post-service, their interactions with your company also vary with each stage. This template helps you map them:

flow-of-service

5. Customer Support Template

If you run a business that has large volumes of customer queries, complaints and issue resolution requests, you might be better off mapping how a generic customer goes through your customer support process.

customer-support
customer-support-template

6. Buying/Purchasing Decision Making Process Template

For tangible as well as intangible products, the decision making process generally starts with making the prospective buyer aware of the product, persuading them to consider it and then deciding to purchase it.

By using this template to scrutinize the touchpoints, you can reinforce positive messaging at Moments of Truth. The messaging should ideally be backed up by consumer research data.

buying-purchasing

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