Your goal as an entrepreneur is first and foremost to ensure financial stability. You work to be able to survive, and your financial success depends on your customers’ behaviour. The simple model of supply and demand is what feeds you and your family at the end of the day.
But how exactly do your customers interact with your business from the moment they learn about it to when they tell someone else about their purchase?
That’s where customer journey mapping comes in handy.
In this article, we want to give you an overview of what customer journey mapping is and a theoretical approach on how you can use it to your advantage. We’ll also share some tips on how to create a customer journey map yourself.
What is the Customer Journey?
Just like every other aspect of your business, it’s important to regularly reassess how your customers experience interacting with your company and products. You can’t improve their experience if you don’t have the tools to analyse their behaviour.
Without constantly improving their experience, you risk leaving customers unsatisfied and unwilling to spend money on your business again. As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to find ways to prevent that from happening to protect yourself and your employees.
That’s why taking a look at the customer journey is so important. The term describes the entirety of a customer’s interactions with your business via touchpoints. Those touchpoints refer to each moment of contact between customers and your business.
Definitions of the end point vary, with some marketing teachings regarding the purchase of the product as the final destination of a customer’s journey. We think that approach only covers a fraction of a customer’s journey.
If you buy a book in a bookstore on a trip as a one-time purchase, that might be the end of your interactions with that business. However, if you buy a bicycle at a local store, your interactions with that business will continue after the initial purchase. Maybe you’ll want a different colour or need maintenance assistance. As a customer, you remember how good customer service is once you’ve already invested in a product or service.
The purchase is what matters most to you as an entrepreneur, but it’s risky to only focus on that and not include the touchpoints that come after the purchase. Happy customers can generate more customers for you. Unsatisfied customers, on the other hand, can hurt your business by discouraging others from approaching you.
What Is Customer Journey Mapping?
Vaguely considering the various moments of interaction between your business and your customers is not enough. We need a tool to visualise the customer journey in a concise and helpful way. Customer journey mapping does exactly that.
There is more than one approach and definition of what a customer journey map entails, depending on your research goal and business type. Some aspects of a customer map are easier to track than others as well.
Regardless of different interpretations and uses, a customer journey map always assumes that purchasing a product is a process. Depending on how that process applies to your business, you will identify slightly differing elements.
Despite these potential differences, there are four main characteristics that every customer journey map has.
Before you can get into the details of your customer’s journey, define the different phases they will go through. This is part of the customisable nature of customer journey mapping. If you’re a photographer who owns a small store and targets local customers without a big online presence, the customer journey looks much different from an entrepreneur who invests a lot in digital advertising.
It’s crucial to clearly analyse how your business works and create these phases for your map. Without a clear structure, it will be difficult to gain useful information from the customer journey map and pinpoint which stages need improvement.
Touchpoints is a fancy marketing term to describe a moment where a customer interacts or comes into contact with your business. Touchpoints occur before, during, and after the customer’s purchase. It’s important to clearly define these moments in your customer journey map in order to fill it out effectively.
Each journey stage has several touchpoints in every map. They can range from customers seeing advertisements to them contacting customer service after their purchase.
Touchpoints are crucial on two counts. We need them to show us the customer’s side of the interaction. That’s the overall goal, after all. But we also need them to determine who or what is responsible for this touchpoint on your side of the interaction.
Contact points require two variables. The customer is only half of that equation. Touchpoints clearly define how you interact with your customers as well and what you need to do behind the scenes to ensure smooth operations.
At each touchpoint, you’ll note the customer’s actions. This is where the customer journey map gets practical. How does your customer or potential customer behave while interacting with your business?
At the end of the customer journey map, you’ll have a full timeline of a customer’s actions before, during, and after their purchase. When you later analyse your map, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly how you want to shape the customer’s actions through improvements and addressing potential problems.
Emotions and Motivations
Customer journey mapping’s main purpose is to understand customer behaviour. It’s also designed to help you analyse their feelings and motivations. Every customer action has a motivation and evokes a feeling.
Customer satisfaction is the top priority. Use customer journey mapping to determine the customer’s feelings at each stage and analyse how to improve their feelings. If the timeline of touchpoints and phases progresses and the customer’s attitude is increasingly negative, a customer journey map helps you pinpoint the moment something went wrong.
After considering all of those elements, this is what a basic customer journey map template looks like, in this case provided by online tool website Miro:
How to Create Your Own Customer Journey Map
In order to take advantage of customer journey mapping, learn how to create one yourself. We have created a concise guide to help you achieve that.
Step 1: Determine a Goal
The first step is figuring out why you want to go through the process of creating a customer journey map. Be as specific as you can about your motivation to get the best results once you sit down to analyse your findings.
What do you want to achieve with this customer journey analysis? Do you already have specific issues in mind that you’ve noticed?
Step 2: Prepare the Customer Journey Map
After determining a goal, prepare the map itself. We talked about the different elements. Determine the various journey phases and touchpoints according to your type of business and marketing tools.
Take your time with this step and do it as thoroughly as possible. The more detail-oriented your work is, the more precise the results will be.
Step 3: Create a Scenario
Whether you take a real example or a semi-fictional one, it’s vital to create a specific scenario for the particular journey you want to map. Arrange the phases and touchpoints into a logical timeline that is realistic.
Step 4: Gather Data
For a useful customer journey map, you need data to complement the scenario. Tracking interactions online on your website and social media, for example. Consulting online reviews and rating systems is another way to collect information. Interview your customer service staff as well and observe their interactions with customers.
Use this step to gather all relevant data you can find or brainstorm with your team. The more data you have, the more realistic the map will be.
Step 5: Fill out the Customer Journey Map
You’ve spent some time and resources on preparing the customer journey map and gathering data. Fill out each section of the map to the best of your abilities and knowledge. This can be a team exercise for all relevant staff members, depending on the size of your company.
Use free customer journey map templates on websites such as Miro or TheyDo. They’re easily accessible and highly customisable. Alternatively, create a basic touchpoint timeline yourself or invest in good templates that require a small fee.
Step 6: Analyse Your Findings
After you have filled out the entire map, analyse what areas you would like to improve. What’s working and what isn’t? What can you change on your end that will make the customer experience smoother and more satisfying?
The point of putting in all this work is to pinpoint issues and implement solutions later on.
Customer Journey Mapping and Customer Personae
It makes customer journey mapping easier if you have a specific customer in mind. Hypotheticals aren’t as valuable as factual data. That’s where customer or buyer personae come in handy. They describe a semi-fictional customer based on a background you give them and data you’ve collected.
Having a r representative customer in mind helps you create a realistic scenario and touchpoints. It’s also much easier to imagine a person’s motivations and emotions given the backstory.
If you want to learn about customer personae in more detail, visit our blog entry “How to Take Advantage of Customer Personae in Business.”
The beauty of customer journey mapping is that it’s adjustable and entirely up to your needs. Thus far, we’ve covered how to use these maps to assess your customers’ current experience and how to improve it.
However, there is a second helpful use of customer journey mapping. Regardless of what stage your business is in in terms of size and success, it’s always possible to use customer journey maps to illustrate the ideal scenario for customer’s experiences.
Design the map according to what you would like the customer experience to be. Analyse your findings and figure out how to turn your vision into a reality. Why not analyse a customer journey while you’re still in the business planning stage before you’ve launched your venture? The more you know at the earliest possible time, the better you’re prepared.
Using this approach, eliminate issues before they arise in day-to-day operations later on.
Customer journey mapping is a helpful tool to understand and assess customer behaviour. Using customer personae to create realistic scenarios help you analyse every phase of interaction and improve any potential issues.
Without continuous and frequent reflection and the aim to constantly improve customer experience, your business might suffer. Happy customers at every level of interaction, every touchpoint, equal financial stability.