Every business wants to know why their customers choose just them. They also want to know what drives them away. Customer journey mapping is a straightforward yet potent approach to acquiring these insights.
A customer journey map provides customer behavior as a narrative. It offers a visual summary of the experiences individuals undergo when dealing with a company. A customer journey map starts with a consumer with an unmet need – some might say similar to a romantic flick! This leads them to cross paths with a brand, ultimately leading to either a lasting relationship or customer attrition.
By developing a consumer journey map, you can look at the way your narrative develops – the places you excel and the places you lose customers. This lets you identify areas for enhancement and helps you understand why some customers come, and some leave.
How to Create a Customer Journey Map?
Focus on a primary customer persona, collaborate with cross-functional teams, incorporate qualitative and quantitative data, empathize with emotions, and regularly iterate maps to account for changes over time. Keeping the customer at the center enables optimal decision making.
Typical stages include initial awareness, consideration and research, decision-making, purchase, onboarding, regular usage, and loyalty. Adapt these to match your business model and refine over time as you uncover more about how your customers actually progress.
How To Create A Customer Journey Map: Step-By-Step For eCommerce
Walking through the exercise of mapping the customer journey enables you to truly see things from your customers’ perspective. This equips your team to optimize priorities across the business to shape positive brand perceptions and drive growth.
This guide will take you through an 8-step approach to create a robust customer journey map tailored to your eCommerce brand.
Step 1 Identify Your Buyer Personas
Conduct qualitative and quantitative research to identify your major customer groups. Group them into 2-4 detailed buyer personas focusing on demographics like age, location, gender; behaviors like how and how often they shop online; goals and motivations when purchasing from you; and their major pain points. You may end up creating multiple journey maps, one for each persona.
Leverage analytics to uncover common demographic and behavioral attributes of your best customers. This provides data-driven inputs to characterize your personas.
Persona 1 – “Busy Professionals”
- Demographics: 25-34 years old, urban, middle-to-high income
- Behaviors: Purchase home goods and clothing 1-2 times a month via mobile
- Goals: Convenience and speed in finding trendy items
- Pain Points: Delivery delays, ease of returns
Step 2 Map the Stages of the Journey
While there are basic stages like awareness, consideration, purchase etc., customize these to match your eCommerce model. For example, potential stages could be:
- Awareness – Learns about brand via ads, YouTube reviews
- Consideration – Compares pricing and products on your website
- Purchase – Adds products to cart and checks out
- Delivery – Receives shipment
- Post-Purchase – Uses product and integrates it into their lifestyle
- Loyalty – Leaves reviews, makes repeat purchases, refers friends
Seek customer feedback through surveys and interviews to capture language they use across stages. This helps tailor the map to their mental models.
- Awareness: Learns via Instagram ads
- Consideration: Compares to Amazon prices
- Purchase: Buys via iPhone app
- Delivery: Receives order
- Post-Purchase: Leaves online reviews
- Loyalty: Gets rewards points for future purchase
Step 3 Pinpoint Major Touchpoints
These are places where customers interact with your business across channels. Identify priority touchpoints across your:
- Website – product detail pages
- Mobile app – push notifications
- Email – promo newsletters they sign up for
- Social media – posts, ads they click, reviews
- Online ads – for example, Google or Facebook ads
- Physical store – if you have one
- Others such as affiliate networks etc.
Walk through the purchasing experience yourself to identify every interaction and channel. Review analytics dashboards for top conversion funnels.
- Instagram Ads
- iPhone App product filters
- Chatbot providing order updates
- Packaging inserts for reviews
- Loyalty program dashboard
Step 4 Define Actions & Behavior
Dig into what goal-driven actions customers take at each touchpoint e.g:
- Reads online reviews before adding item to check reliability
- Checks multiple product variants to find best option
- Applies coupon code before checkout to maximize discount
Also highlight questions they want answered e.g:
- How quickly will I receive my order?
- What payment options do you support?
- Who do I contact for questions about my order?
Use analytics insights, exit surveys etc to inform your understanding of their behavior.
Observe video recordings of customer engagements to pick up subtle cues on questions and emotions arising at touchpoints.
- Uses sizing filter to find right clothing fit
- Chats with bot to check delivery date
- Applies loyalty points to cart at checkout
Step 5 Capture Emotions
Use icons or words to reflect how customers may be feeling at each touchpoint e.g:
- Secure – from seeing Norton verified checkout
- Frustrated – from long order processing times
- Confident – from seeing great reviews
This also allows you to spot pain points causing negative emotions you can aim to fix.
Supplement assumptions about feelings with session replay data or biometric measures like facial expressions. This grounds the map in how your customers truly feel.
- Confused – from unclear clothing size chart
- Happy – seeing fast free delivery promise
- Appreciated – from surprise gift after first order
Step 6 Identify Opportunity Areas
Review the map to call out aspects you can optimize across channels and touchpoints to better meet customer needs, solve problems, surprise them with delights etc. This will build loyalty over time.
Align opportunities to overarching customer experience pillars endorsed by leadership, like ease, transparency and personalization. This accelerates buy-in.
To improve customer experience across each touchpoint, you may want to focus on:
- Enhance size chart
- Show loyalty points first in app
- Spotlight US-made products
Step 7 Create Visual Map
Consolidate all the intelligence into a simple visual diagram or infographic using sticky notes or drag-drop editor software. Show horizontal stages top to bottom and information grouped into vertical lanes for clarity.
Keep initial maps simple using basic shapes and minimal text. Enrich progressively as needed. Less is more when socializing to executives.
Step 8 Share Findings and Iterate
Share up-to-date versions of the map across the business. Identify ownership for driving suggested opportunities. Rinse and repeat regularly as part of ongoing customer insights activities, to ensure your understanding of their journey keeps pace with their evolving preferences.
Identify cross-functional journey mapping owners to sustain momentum instead of one-off projects. Continual optimization is key.
- Share map with marketing, product and CX teams
- Discuss proposed ideas for priority optimizations
- Agree on ownership to drive key initiatives
What Is A Customer Journey?
A customer journey is a series of steps a person makes – from first interacting with a brand, to purchasing something, and beyond. It includes every way a person interacts with a company and every experience they have.
For companies in constant search of improvement, understanding the customer journey is essential. It allows them to see where they can improve their customer experience. It also helps increase advertising initiatives or build long-lasting relationships.
By mapping out the customer journey, businesses can tweak their tactics and communications. As a result, they’ll improve customer satisfaction, as well as loyalty.
Several concepts are directly associated and could be mistaken for customer journey maps.
Keep in mind that the goal of this section is just to help you understand different terms. It isn’t recommended to engage in debates or try to alter a whole organization’s language to align with the definitions offered here. Rather, use these definitions as a guide to look into elements of another technique that your team might not have thought about previously.
Customer Journey Map vs. Experience Map
An experience map could be considered the parent of a customer journey map.
A journey map focuses on a single actor (a buyer, or product operator). Conversely, an experience map is more general in scope and includes the whole human experience.
The experience map doesn’t rely upon any specific business or product. Its objective is to comprehend human behavior on the whole. In comparison, a customer journey map is specific and centered around a particular brand or product.
For example, let’s look at the period before the ridesharing category emerged (think Uber, Lyft, Bird, or maybe Limebike).
An experience map of transportation could include:
- Getting a ride from a friend
- Taking the bus or train
- Using a taxi
This helps spot key problems like:
- Unpredictable prices
- Bad weather issues
- Unreliable timing
- Paying cash
A customer journey map for a service like Lyft would focus on how one specific user calls for a ride on the app. It targets pain points in that journey.
Customer Journey Map vs. Service Blueprint
If experience maps are the parents of journey maps, you could say service blueprints are the grandchildren.
Service blueprints visually show how different parts of a service connect at different points in the customer journey.
From a company standpoint, service blueprints build on customer journey maps.
We use these blueprints to map out a brand’s internal workings to support the external customer journey. Journey maps focus on the user experience itself.
Let’s use Lyft as an example. We could take their existing customer journey map and expand it to include behind-the-scenes processes Lyft uses to improve the experience.
The service blueprint could show things like:
- Matching riders to drivers
- Calculating ride costs
- Contacting drivers
- Getting rider feedback on drivers after a ride
This shows how Lyft’s internal operations align to the rider’s experience using the app to get around. The blueprint connects the dots between what companies do behind the scenes and what customers see.
Customer Journey Map vs. User Story Map
Agile methodologies utilize user stories to plan and describe features or functions. The user is provided a short introduction to each feature, emphasizing its intended use as well as advantages. The conventional structure of a user story consists of a single sentence: “As a [type of user], I would like to [goal], so that [benefit]” or “I have a checking account and wish to deposit checks with my mobile device so I don’t need to go to the bank.”
A user story map is a visual depiction of a user story. As an example, let’s consider the above-mentioned user story. Imagine outlining the different steps a team envisions for a user – these steps may include:
- Signing in
- Initiating the deposit
- Capturing an image of the check
- Entering transaction details
A business could add specific features to each step:
- Activating camera access
- Going through the check for numbers and producing them
- Authorizing the signature
The map organizes these on sticky notes by expected product release.
At a quick glance, user story and journey maps can look similar but have totally different aims. Journey maps provide the full picture to understand users. Story maps narrowly focus features and planning.
There can be some overlap between elements of the maps. But they’re used at different points.
Let’s say a Lyft customer journey map found an issue when booking rides for big groups. The team might add a multi-car call feature to help. To plan releases and tasks for that, they’d create a focused user story map breaking the feature down step-by-step.
What Is A Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map (also known as a buyer journey map) is a graphic representation of the different phases of any customer’s interaction (and interaction with) with a specific brand. CJMs are a customer-focused tool, concentrating on their feelings and needs at each touchpoint.
Customer journey maps might have some typical features, though they may vary considerably in their focus. A brand might utilize several maps for various functions, and the range of a person’s journey map may also differ. It could be wide, condensing a customer’s whole knowledge about the brand into a couple of easy steps. Alternately, it could be extremely thorough, mapping out each little measure a person takes from looking at a sponsored Instagram posting to completing a purchase within an hour.
Customer journey maps may have various endpoints based on the specific aspect of the buyer experience being examined. For example, for a food and beverage brand, the journey might begin with exposure to a motorway billboard in addition to concluding with a trip to the grocery store. If the aim is to evaluate long-term customer relationships, the original sale is just the start of the buyer journey map.
Some brands go even further and produce distinct customer journey maps for various customer personas. This is because diverse demographics communicate in different ways and for different reasons. Consider a skincare brand for instance. They could have distinct customer journey maps for people based on specific skin conditions or gender types.
Why Would You Need A Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is crucial for any brand that values customer satisfaction. Without knowing what customers think as well as feel (i.e. what both frustrates and intrigues them) it’s tough to improve on the overall product experience.
Customer journey maps are a helpful framework for organizing the different kinds of customer feedback. Brands can later convert that feedback into practical steps.
For example, if a high number of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts at checkout, the payment software may be lacking or shipping timescales could be an issue.
Customer journey maps not only show where your brand may be lacking but also highlight areas where you’re a leader.
Mapping the customer journey entails adopting the customer’s viewpoint to develop long-term loyalty. We can enhance the experience for our clients by shifting away from a strictly transactional approach. Instead, we can move towards one that values relationships.
Furthermore, mapping is an invaluable scalability tool. The amount of routes customers can take increases as a brand expands. For example, let’s consider the area of makeup brands like Bobbi Brown. Potential customers will first do their research, perhaps by undertaking an in-store consultation before making a purchase, which isn’t necessarily the case for a direct-to-consumer brand with limited retail presence.
The DTC brand could however, look to fill this gap, by creating an online knowledge base – such as a forum or a blog.
Adapting It To eCommerce
The customer journey in eCommerce resembles any other customer journey. It encompasses the whole purchasing experience a person has when buying a product from an online website. The customer experience starts when they learn about the product. It later continues until they buy the product. Furthermore, it can continue when they contact customer care for help.
Touchpoints could happen when a user:
- Views a YouTube Ad
- Reads a mention of the brand in an internet posting
- Sees your site
- Reads your blog articles
- Sees your product on Google or Amazon
The eCommerce customer journey involves the process from the initial interaction with your brand to the point of purchase, and even extends to possible returns. By paying attention to these touchpoints, you may uncover areas where enhancements can be made to the user experience on your website.
Customer Journey Stages
Generally, customers experience five distinct phases whenever they interact with a company or product. Understanding, Retaining, Decision, Consideration, and Loyalty.
1. Awareness Stage
Occurs when customers become alert to an issue they might have. Although they might not be certain they require a specific product, they begin their research nevertheless.
Brands must offer helpful content to help customers determine their issues and search for possible solutions at this stage in the customer journey. The aim is to help customers address their pain points without pressing them for instant purchases. For example:
- How-to articles & guides
- Comprehensive whitepapers
- Informative eBooks
- Free courses
Different customer touchpoints may also be utilized to distribute educational content, including:
- Your brand’s blog
- Social media platforms
- Search engines
2. Consideration Stage
In the consideration phase, customers have carried out adequate research to recognize their need for a specific product. Then, the focus turns to the process of comparing and contrasting various brands and offerings. Brands must offer product marketing content that enables customers to compare choices and eventually make a choice during this stage. The aim is to help customers navigate a crowded marketplace and point them towards a buy decision.
Product marketing content that could be offered here includes:
- Lists of products highlighting their attributes and benefits
- Guides and charts comparing several products
- Success stories or case studies describing customer benefits
- Comparison tables comparing your brand with competitors
Customer touchpoints can deliver product marketing content in different ways, including:
- Your blog
- Your product pages
- Search engines
- Social media platforms
- Third-party blogs
Brands can use these channels to successfully reach prospective customers during the consideration phase and supply them with the knowledge they need for an informed decision. It’s crucial to provide the distinctive selling points of the product or service and emphasize the way it differentiates from the competition. Consumers will be able to distinguish between brands and eventually select the one that best suits their demands.
Brands should also attempt to establish trust and credibility with customers throughout the consideration stage by supplying reliable and transparent information. Customer testimonials, expert opinions, and objective comparisons can help attain this goal.
3. Decision Stage
Customers have made their choice and are prepared to buy during the decision stage.
Your brand must provide a seamless buying experience so that buyers can buy products as easily as possible. At this time, it isn’t advisable to include any extra educational or product-related content as the primary purpose should be to get consumers to complete a purchase.
Decision-stage content might consist of:
- Offer-driven emails
- Offer-driven social media ads
- On-site pop-up offers
Delivery of decision stage content can occur through several customer touchpoints, including:
- Your site
- Search engines
- Social media platforms
4. Customer Retention Stage
At the stage of customer retention, individuals have purchased from a brand and have chosen to stay loyal instead of changing to a competitor.
During this phase, brands concentrate on offering an outstanding onboarding experience and providing ongoing service to ensure customers don’t abandon their relationship with the brand.
The customer retention stage could involve strategies including:
- Dedicated customer care manager for each customer, via LiveChat or email
- Making sure the customer care team is readily accessible and available
- Creating an extensive knowledge base to help customers overcome usage obstacles
These retention methods are usually communicated via several customer touchpoints, for example:
- The website of the company, where customers can come across relevant information and support resources
- Live chat services, where customers can get direct support
- Live help from representatives by email, providing updates, addressing concerns and also giving personalized help
- Social networking platforms, where brands can address queries and also provide relevant and timely information
5. Customer Advocacy Stage
Throughout the advocacy stage, customers are doing more than “just” remaining loyal. They also also actively promote a business to family, colleagues, and friends.
In this stage, brands should prioritize delivering an outstanding end-to-end customer experience. This consists of everything from the written content on your site to your interactions with your customer reps via social media channels.
Loyalty is made when customers use your product successfully. Your brand will be more recommended to others if it keeps its promises.
The loyalty stage might involve strategies including:
- Ensuring your site is simple to navigate
- Investing in your product team to surpass customer expectations
- Creating a loyalty or referral program that enables users to quickly share your brand with other people
- Offering incentives or discounts to individuals who select your brand
These loyalty-stage strategies could be implemented through different customer touchpoints for example:
- Your site
- Email communication
- Social media platforms
- Your products
To determine if your customers have arrived at the loyalty phase, think about conducting a Net Promoter Score survey. This survey asks one straightforward question: Just how likely have you been to recommend us to others based on a scale from zero to ten?
Mapping Tools & Software
There are two main types of tools to create customer journey maps. First, software that helps teams identify customer touchpoints and collect that data for later use. The map itself would likely be made by an in-house graphics team.
Second, ready-made visualization tools actually used to design the journey map. Examples include Adobe XD, Smaply, Sketch, Lucidchart, and Canvanizer. These simplify and streamline mapping. Features include drag-and-drop, templates, and collaboration abilities.
For example, Adobe XD allows teams to design, prototype, and share user experiences. Smaply focuses on features that let team members work together easily on maps. Sketch is a popular vector design tool among UI and UX designers. Lucidchart works for all kinds of diagrams, including journey maps. Canvanizer gives a simple space to brainstorm and organize concepts.
The tools differ in capabilities, pricing, and ease of use. So brands should evaluate their needs and choose the one that best fits. The right tool depends on the goals, team, and budget for the customer journey mapping process.
To have happy customers, you need to understand their full experience. Keep in mind many things impact their journey – from first hearing about your company to browsing the website, talking to customer service, and follow-up after purchase.
Every interaction shapes how people see your brand. It decides if they’ll buy again or suggest you to others. So putting time and money into improving their path can really increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. This ultimately leads to growing your business.
The key is that the customer journey isn’t just about the sale. It’s the whole relationship – before, during, and after. If people are frustrated at any point, it hurts your brand. But if you wow them with great experiences end-to-end, they become advocates.
Paying attention to their real needs, wants, and reactions allows you to tweak things over time. This focus on creating seamless, positive journeys is what fuels growth as happy customers keep coming back and spread the word.