Customer Journey Map: How to Really Get Inside a Customer’s Head

Understanding a product from the customer’s point-of-view is crucial to driving both adoption and retention. The customer journey map is a powerful tool to do just that.
Headshot of author Nick Babich
Nick Babich
Expert Columnist
February 2, 2021
Updated: July 13, 2021
Headshot of author Nick Babich
Nick Babich
Expert Columnist
February 2, 2021
Updated: July 13, 2021

We need to put ourselves in our customers shoes to design a great product. And while many different tools allow us to get into the customer’s mindset, the most effective one we can use is called a customer journey map. This map will give you a clear picture of what your customers want and how they engage with your product to achieve that goal. Once you have a better understanding of their perspective, you can shape your product to effectively meet their needs.

How to Build a Customer Journey Map

  1. Identify your customer base.
  2. Use data to focus your work.
  3. Set clear objectives.
  4. Diagram the information to create the map.
  5. Share the map with your entire organization.
  6. Review and update your map regularly.

 

What Is a Customer Journey?

A customer journey consists of all of the steps that a customer takes when they interact with a company to achieve a particular goal. Typically, it’s depicted as a map. This map should include all channels that customers use to communicate with businesses, such as websites, social media, email and so on, from the first to the final touchpoint. A well-designed customer journey becomes a roadmap of the customers experience. As such, it will highlight both positive and negative areas of her interactions with the business.

 

How a Customer Journey Aids Product Design

Customer journey maps help product designers understand customers needs and wants and identify pain points that they face. Most organizations have a high-level understanding of the customer journey, but mapping it can help to go beyond the surface level and identify customers’ hidden motivations and areas of friction.

Here are a few benefits that customer journey mapping brings to product design.

Offer Better User Experience

When you know where customers might face friction, you can introduce changes to minimize the friction and improve user retention. Fewer pain points in the process mean fewer people will abandon your brand for competitors. For example, suppose you have an e-commerce service and users have to write an email every time they need to return a purchased item to the store. In that case, you can minimize the friction by introducing a more comfortable, low-impact way of interacting with customer service (i.e., offer a “Return Item” option right in the user profile).

Acquire New Customers

Acquiring new customers involves persuading people to purchase your products or services. A customer journey map can contain insights on what type of content matches your target audiences interests. For example, if you design a website and have access to metrics, you can look at which pages are most visited to get an idea of what content your users really want to see. And with the help of a customer journey map, you can understand why thats what appeals to them. By focusing on creating more material that meets their interests, you can grab their attention and keep them engaged.

Create a Customer-First Mentality in Your Organization

A customer journey map empowers your company to make decisions based on what real customers want. Mapping the journey helps businesses step into their customers shoes and see their business from another perspective. As a result, you’re able to evaluate every product decision based on the value it provides to end-users. One of the most obvious examples of this transformation is the language that you use to communicate with your customers. You should use words and phrases that your target audience can understand while avoiding anything that can sound alienating or pretentious.

 

Creating a Customer Journey Map

On the surface, mapping a customer journey may seem like a simple exercise. All you need to do is to visualize the steps that customers take, right? In reality, things are a bit more complex. Building a customer journey map is a multi-step process. Let’s explore the most critical steps of this process below.

Identify Your Customer Base

Who are your customers? It’s tempting to say “everybody,” but you need to be very specific when it comes to product design. You should understand their demographics and psychographics. That’s why you should start with user research. Conduct user and market research to understand both your target audience and your business niche better. Interviews and feedback surveys are excellent tools that can help you better understand customers’ experiences with your brand.

Use Data to Focus Your Work

Collect data about your customers. This data should include their common interaction behaviors, meaning the actions that users do with your product. You can use this information to create a user persona. A persona is a fictional profile that represents your average customer. Ideally, the customer journey map will focus on a single personas experience in a single scenario with a single goal. It’s better to avoid grouping multiple personas into one journey because the mapping process will be more time-consuming and likely wont accurately reflect your customers experience. A journey map for multiple personae will likely be too general and won’t provide new insights.

Set Clear Objectives

Before you start creating a map, you need to understand why you want to make one in the first place. Clear objectives will help you define the map’s scope and make the mapping more focused. For example, you might want to create a customer journey map to identify the areas of friction during purchase flow in your e-commerce website. In this case, you should take the most common customer persona and consider the route this persona would typically take when interacting with your product for the first time.

Diagram the Information to Create the Map

At this step, you need to create a diagram that visually represents how a customer interacts with your business. You must map out every single step the customer takes from initial action to the post-purchase experience. To achieve this, you need to state the goal driving the customers journey. Figure out what the customer wants to achieve by using the product and list out all the touchpoints, which are the physical or digital places where your customers interact with your business. The list of touchpoints will give you insight into what actions your customers are performing.

Here are a few things to consider when creating your map:

  • Consider customer motivations and obstacles. Knowing what encourages or discourages your customers from doing something can help you design a more realistic map.
     
  • Focus on the emotional part of interactions. Emotions play a huge role in customer retention. When users experience negative emotions during the journey, they are likely to abandon the product in the future. That’s why, for each action that your customers take in your product or service, you should also visualize their thoughts and emotions, both positive and negative. Add the customer’s mood and sentiment in an area under your journey map because it will help everyone see how emotional response chances from touchpoint to touchpoint.
     
  • There are two types of customer journey maps — current state and future state maps. The first type is based on the current experience, detailing how customers interact with the product right now. The future state map visualizes how you want your customers to interact with a product in the future. Depending on the needs of your project, you might want to create either the first or second type.
     
  • Do not create a map alone. Group sessions work much better because they allow people with different perspectives to share their opinions and insights. Journey mapping can open up rich discussion, and it usually leads to better outcomes.

Share the Map With Your Entire Organization

The map you create is likely going to touch on every part of your business. That’s why you should share it with different departments. Customer service, sales and marketing should be the first departments on your list. The information that customer journey maps provide can help them determine the resources required to create a better customer experience. It’s much easier to convince stakeholders to offer resources when you can rely on a map to show how the change will improve UX.

Review and Update Your Map Regularly

Creating a customer journey map is not a one-and-done exercise. Instead, you need to think about it as a work-in-progress. Schedule a time in each quarter to review and update maps based on new insights about your audience or new product changes.

 

Map Out Your Business

Product design is about solving customer problems and helping them achieve goals using your product or service. The customer journey map is one of the best tools to aid product design. It gives you a birds-eye view of how customers interact with your organization and can help you create a customer-focused mentality throughout the company. Follow these steps to build your own maps, and youll see results in no time.

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