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What is Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journeys | 12 MIN READ
what is customer journey mapping?

Understanding why customers behave the way they do is something that companies wouldn’t mind spending their money on. Why does a customer choose to buy a particular brand? Is it the price? Positioning? Quality? Branding? Maybe all of the three and more.

Why do customers interact with your brand almost every day only to buy from your competitor? At what point did you miss the customer? What was that mistake which made your customer lose interest in you? A Customer journey map (CJM) becomes pivotal at this point - this is where you can find out where you went wrong.

To put it in layman’s terms, the experiences (or path) that a customer goes through when interacting with your brand is called Customer Journey. Think of it as a roadmap which contains the entire journey of a customer. By getting to know your customer’s journey, you will be in a position to empathize with what they go through and provide them with better experiences.

What is customer journey mapping?

It helps organizations understand their business from the perspective of their customers or prospects. It will enable them to see the pain points that customers face thereby giving themselves an opportunity to improve customer experience.

Customers don’t expect the moon from you. Their expectations are simple, with the right kind of customer mapping strategy, you will be able to meet them more often than you think. They want you to understand what their needs are and provide the necessary information without making them run through hoops.

Benefits of customer journey mapping

  • Helps you see if the customer is following a logical trajectory to achieve a goal
  • Get to see if you are able to focus on the customer’s needs when they are in different stages of the sales funnel
  • Helps you empathize with what a customer goes through before buying from you. This will help you better their experience.
  • Improve the customer experience by understanding what needs to be prioritized
  • Allows you to see where your customers interact with you
  • Identify where to concentrate efforts which would provide the best results
  • Helps create a customer-focused attitude
  • Understand the pain points of your customers to help you narrow down your audience and even find out new customer groups
  • Increase the conversion of your inbound leads

How to create a Customer Journey Map
How to create a customer journey map

What is your objective?

While we have listed the benefits of creating a customer journey map for your business, you need to know the specific reasons why you are creating a customer journey map.

  • What are your objectives?
  • Why are they your objectives?
  • How was your experience when you were traversing through the same path that your customers do?

The answers to the above questions should help you create a buyer persona. No matter what you are selling, if you don’t have a clear idea of what kind of customers you will be serving, then you will not be in a position to target them correctly. For the uninitiated, a buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. You might have more than 3 to 7 different types of buyer personas. Buyer persona will have intimate details of your target audience making it easy to divide them into segments for better targeting.

Understand the goals of your buyers

One way to collect details of your buyer personas is by asking questions. Make it a point to send questionnaires to existing customers, competitor’s customers and prospects. The information that you require is only of people who want the same thing that you offer.

Here are some of the questions that you could ask to understand their goals:

  • Why are you looking for a solution like ours?
  • Is there a feature in our product that you especially like?
  • Are you already using a product of our competitor’s? If yes, then why are you shifting to another one?
  • Have you visited our website?
  • Have you ever purchased anything from us?
  • How easy is it to navigate our website?
  • Did a less than desirable experience stop you from becoming a customer?

Using this information, group your customers into different segments based on their specific journey. We are going to choose the most common buyer persona and see the route that they would be taking.

Find the touchpoints

Every step that your customer interacts with you on your website is called a touchpoint. Finding them will help you understand the decisions that customers take. If you find that a particular touchpoint results in a lot of people leaving the website, then there is something undesirable at that stage. If someone is spending a lot of time at a particular touchpoint, it is either because they are not able to figure out how to reach the next step or they are interested in it.

Also, your customer interaction points or touchpoints are not just on your website, but every place that a customer comes across. It could be your ad, social media handles, forums, third party-sites, reading your blog, page which shows your pricing, etc. Think of any place where your brand is visible to a customer and that is a touchpoint.

Collect your findings

Write down a list of all the actions that a customer performs. At the end of this exercise, you will have a huge list of actions that your customers take. Now that you have the number of steps that a customer has to take before achieving a goal, you should find ways to reduce the steps. Why? Because the easier it is to reach a goal, the better is the experience.

Every action that a customer takes is based on some emotion. If you can understand what are the motivations behind a particular step, then you can provide the right type of content form that will bring them closer to your brand.

Some of the questions should be focused upon the difficulties that customers encounter when interacting with your brand. It could even be a long wait time to get to speak to a customer service executive or maybe because you do not offer free shipping. Once you identify the reasons for people abandoning their purchase, then you could make things right.

Assess the efficacy of your current customer journey. Now that you know the changes that are required based on the answers from your customers, chart an improved version. You can make it happen by changing the tools used, processes, technology, and people.

Identify your messaging

When it comes to marketing, if your messaging is wrong, then your conversions will be a big fat zero. If you are selling dentures, your target market is certainly not someone who is on the throes of their 20s. Your messaging can only work when it is sent to the correct target audience.

Based on the answers by the audience, you will be able to target them on the features which you think might help them. Your idea of what will work and what won’t should be based on the results you get from the customer journey as well. You need to know at which stage of the customer journey they are in. Someone who is only in the discovery stage should not be sent emails that are for prospects who are in the final stages of their journey. Businesses can easily find this by seeing from where they are coming from.

Are they coming to your website after reading one article on your blog?

Have they been email subscribers for more than two years, have attended webinars and been on consulting calls with you?

You need to push content that will get them deeper into the funnel.

Make the necessary changes

The entire exercise of mapping your customer journey helps you understand the areas for improvement and how you can better it. Every small change that you make will have a bigger impact than you imagine. With the help of a customer journey map, you will be able to clearly capture the needs and solve the pain points of your customers.

Ensure that you do this exercise every three months so that you can identify if there are other gaps that need to be taken care of or if there are opportunities that have emerged.

Empathy Map

Researchers have found that the attention span of the average human being is less than that of a goldfish (which is 8 seconds). How do you capture their attention and keep them interested when there are many brands vying for the same? The answer to it is an Empathy Map.

What is an empathy map?

Here is Nielsen Normal Group’s definition of it- “An empathy map is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user. It externalizes knowledge about users in order to 1) create a shared understanding of user needs, and 2) aid in decision making.”

It helps you understand who are most likely to convert to a customer. Empathy Maps bring you closer to the people who consume your content. You can write meaningful content by examining motivations, desires and hurdles of your potential customers when it comes to your business or product.

Guide to creating an empathy map

Set a time to research: Determine a particular time to study each persona. Conduct primary research on your user as your decision will be based on data.

Create the map layout: Draw four quadrants on a map: See, Think and Feel, Say, Do. Add two other columns below them: Pains and Gains.

Empathy mapping

Introduce the personas for which you are creating this map. Share insights about the personas to the stakeholders who are a part of the meeting. Below are categories that you can discuss on:

Think & Feel: What is the user thinking about your product? Where are they in the buyer’s journey? Find out the user’s emotional state during the journey.

Do: What is their behaviour towards a place where they have to take an action? Where are they influenced from? Do they get influenced more by friends and family or by blogs, 3rd-party reviews and such?

Obstacles: What are the obstacles in front of them which need to be solved from your side?

Solution: Identify how using your product or service can help the customer? What are they gaining from being your customer?

Discuss the content on the map: Share the information that has been written in the document. Ensure that it is accessible to every stakeholder who is a part of the marketing and design team.

Keep reviewing: The content in the empathy map that arrived after various rounds of discussions will not remain the same always. Keep reviewing the map based on user insights that you need to keep collecting on a regular basis. When you find a gap, let that reflect on the empathy map.

User Journey versus User Flows

Before we dig into the differences, here is what User Flows mean because the rest of the article has been about User Journey, and you would be familiar with the term by now.

What is User Flow?

A User Flow is a series of steps that a user takes within a digital product to achieve a goal. It doesn’t concentrate on what a user feels, but it shows the business how the actual user interface looks. In other words, this is the forte of the design team.

Most of these user flows are not linear unless the app or product is simple. But most apps are complex where a user might take different steps from the same place which means that the flow diagram will be complex.

How to use flow diagrams?

It is great for communicating the look of the product to those who are not technically inclined. The Marketing and Design team should work in tandem to help each other with understanding user journeys and user flows. It will help them gain an understanding of how the design works and how a user thinks.

Similarities between User Journey and User Flows:

  • Both of them take user requirements as the main point of the work and try to find out what the target users want to achieve with the product.
  • Both of them are created after designing the persona.
  • Both the tools help analyze the behaviour of users and use it direct them to a goal
  • Almost similar questions are considered when creating user journeys and user flows

Differences between User Journey and User Flows:

  • User journey focuses on the user experience design while User flow focuses on the process of using the product.
  • User Journey focuses on where the user wants to progress while User Flow designs these routes to achieve the goal.
  • User Journey thinks how one can lead users to their goal while User Flow designs the path or route to achieve that goal

Moments of Truth

Customers these days insist on getting enjoyable experiences every time they shop with you. While it is not an unreasonable request, businesses have a torrid time finding out how to make share-worthy experiences for their customers.

For example, a customer’s journey at a retail shop starts with how they are welcomed, the assortment of products available on display, helpful sales person, smooth billing process, and an effective return policy. These are some of the areas which have the largest impact when someone walks into a retail shop, and can be called as moments of truth.

What is a Moment of Truth?

A Moment of Truth (MoT) is a touchpoint between the customer and the company and it is quintessential for customer experience. They are not the same across industries. It is based on experiences that customers have, and they create memories depending on them.

How to find your MoT?

There are four Moments of Truth that can help businesses deliver delightful experiences for their customers.

Zero Moment of Truth: It is when a person is searching for information online regarding a product that they are interested in. Customers will come across as reviews, while it is not possible for businesses to control them, they can influence their reputation. They can do so by having quality interactions with the audience.

First Moment of Truth: At this point, the consumer sees a product and is forming opinions about it. It could be a customer reading a description or reading your website copy. This point depends on how well you are presenting yourself and showing how your product fulfills their needs.

Second Moment of Truth: At this stage, your customer is truly experiencing your product. It could be a demo of your product, or it can also happen after a purchase.

Ultimate Moment of Truth: It is based on getting feedback from customers. The feedback you get depends on your ability to fulfil the needs of the customer. At this stage, your customer might choose to share their opinion on any platform.

Businesses should work on finding these unique MoTs so that customers could have meaningful interactions with the brand. Do remember that these types of MoTs will be different for each company.

B2B versus B2C journeys

B2B sells services/products to other businesses or decision makers while B2C sells to other customers.

Creating journey maps

B2B journeys are much more complicated than B2C journeys as the former has a bunch of different roles who are involved in the buying process. Each of the buyers in a B2B journey have to be represented in a journey map. Most B2C journey maps are simple unless it involves selling complex products like insurance or financial products.

Deal size

When it comes to deal size, B2B deals are usually assumed to be bigger. Some of the B2B relationships can last for years and might run into tens of millions of dollars. In B2C, unless you are working for a celebrity, the value of the deal will not be huge. Start your journey mapping by creating personas for the most valuable segments.

User Journey Analytics

It is a data-driven approach based on every touchpoint that a customer has interacted with through multiple channels to analyze and influence their user journey. User Journey analytics allows marketing professionals to manage and measure the impact of cross-channel journeys.

The ability to analyze million data points means that you could unearth patterns that will reveal the reason behind customer experiences. The analysis could lead to taking steps that will increase profits and help customers in staying put with you.

The driving force behind user journey analytics is to provide exceptional customer experience so that you increase retention and increase the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). With user journey analytics, you can measure the journey of customers across multiple channels and over a large period of time to find their overall experience.

How User Journey Analytics is different from Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer Journey Mapping is essentially a visual representation of the steps during a customer journey. While the objective is similar to that of User Journey Analytics, here is how it is different.

Scale: Journey mapping helps you create few high-level macros while it is not possible to visualize specific parts of the visual journey. Journal analytics helps with that.

Detailed: Journey mapping only outlines the various customer journeys to give you a map. Journey analytics tells the path that real customers take across various channels, finds the most significant ones and how they impact your business.

Real-time: Journey analytics allows you to see how journeys have changed over time. Marketers can identify opportunities for engagement based on a data-driven understanding of customer behaviour.

Highly actionable: Journey analytics helps marketing and design teams to discover the journeys which are most important and help engage with the customer at the right time through the most optimum channel and in a completely personalized way.

Conclusion

The experience that you offer to your customers when they are on your turf (read touchpoint) is what will determine the success of your business. If you want to be a flourishing business, then you need to understand the kind of experience that your customers are currently getting. One of the essential components to find it out is by mapping the customer journey.

By mapping your customer’s journey, you will be able to create better experiences for them. Invest your time in creating buyer personas and customer journey maps. Do these exercises and see the improvements that you will be making to the experience for your customers.

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