CXM (Customer Experience Management)

When it comes to Customer Experience and customer engagement in general, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of customer journey mapping.

An accurate, well constructed customer journey map will be an invaluable source of information about what your customers like, what they don’t like, and the areas where your business can improve. 

 

Customer Journey Mapping: What it is and why it is so important

One of the most common questions from businesses looking into ways to improve their Customer Experience (CX), is “what is a customer journey map and why does customer journey mapping matter so much?”. Customer journey mapping visually represents the entire experience a customer has with a company, from initial contact to post-purchase. It outlines key touchpoints and interactions, helping businesses understand customer needs, identify pain points, and improve overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.

 

You might have heard about customer journey mapping before. You might even have an idea of what it is and what it can do for your business, but you may not have figured out how to map your customer journey yet. In any case, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about customer journey mapping and how to build the best map for your business.

 

In this article, we will explain what customer journey mapping is, why it’s so important, what makes a good customer journey map, and how to build one for your business. We will also consider some common mistakes businesses make when trying to build customer journey maps and why you should avoid them.

 

What is a Customer Journey Map?

In a nutshell, a customer journey map is a visual representation of all stages in a customer’s interaction with your business. 

 

The goal is to gain the deepest possible understanding of what it is like to buy or engage with your business from your customer’s perspective. An accurate, well constructed map can be an invaluable source of information about what your customers like, what they don’t like, and the areas where your business can improve. 

 

When done the right way, customer journey mapping can help you answer questions like these:

 

  • “Am I meeting customer expectations with my website’s user interface? Why are users leaving the site so quickly?”
  • “How frequently do customers contact customer support, and is the team equipped to address their issues promptly?”
  • “What’s the customer’s interaction with my brand like before they decide to make a purchase, and how are they feeling during this phase?”

 

Customer journey mapping implies a holistic analysis of all the touchpoints the customer goes through when interacting with a company
Customer journey mapping implies a holistic analysis of all the touchpoints the customer goes through when interacting with a company

 

Once you’ve created an accurate, detailed map and analysed strengths and pain points, you can use those insights to design a new map to suit your business and customers’ needs better. 

 

But before you can action all the insights derived from your customer journey map, there’s something you need to do.  

 

You need to construct as accurate a representation as possible. You have to really understand where your customer is coming from so that you can know best the next steps to take to improve their experience.

 

Ideally, your map should represent all the touchpoints your customer goes through when engaging with you. It should cover all stages in their journey: from the first time that they hear about your product to the moment they decide to make a purchase, all throughout other touchpoints such as their own work of research and comparison of your product with your competitors’.

 

This representation should be as specific and detailed as possible. If your customer first hears about your product via email and then checks your website for more information, you should include that. If they ask the chatbot on your website a question and then they switch to email or phone to talk to one of your representatives, you should include that as well. If they visit your website more than once before finally deciding to buy, that can also be a crucial piece of information. 

 

The goal here is to know down to the last detail what it is like for a customer to engage with your business. The more detailed and fine-grained your representation is, the more helpful and actionable it will be.

 

Also, a business can design and leverage many different customer journey maps, as they might have different kinds of customers who engage with the business in different ways or for different reasons. 

 

For example, a business’ map for how a customer buys its product will look different from one for how they contact customer service to solve a query after their purchase.

 

A business might also have different kinds of customers that typically follow different journeys when making a purchase, and these would need different maps as well. 

 

Why is customer journey mapping important?

 

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

—Steve Jobs

 

When it comes to Customer Experience and customer engagement in general, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of customer journey mapping. 

 

To put it crudely: the difference between a business that works with an accurate, comprehensive account of their customer journey and one that doesn’t is the same as the difference between a business that understands its clients and one that just tries to sell them something.

 

While this may sound like a harsh way to put it, truth often is. And this is a truth that follows naturally from how the way businesses engage with their customers has evolved over the last years. A quick look at some stats clearly shows that in 2023, customer experience is more important than it has ever been. 

 

 

But here’s the good news: it’s easy to stay ahead of your competitors if you invest in your CX, one of which essential components is customer journey mapping. 

 

In a 2022 study, Hanover Research found that for 94% of businesses, customer journey mapping helped them develop new products and services to meet customer needs. Another 91% said that customer journey mapping increased their sales. 

 

The bottom line is clear: good Customer Experience is no longer just a “nice-to-have”, and being a customer-centric company is no longer just an ideal to aspire to: these things are essential if you want to stay competitive and retain your customers.

 

At the end of the day, it’s all about catering to the customers, and that also includes all customer journey stages up to the purchase. 

 

Instead of thinking of a purchase as an isolated encounter between the customer and your product, you need to start thinking of it like this: a purchase is the conclusion of a long chain of events, comprising all customer journey touchpoints from the first moment your customer hears about you to the moment they start benefiting from your product.

 

A customer journey map should consider all the possible ways in which a customer can interact or engage with a business or brand
A customer journey map should consider all the possible ways in which a customer can interact or engage with a business or brand

 

Now that you understand a purchase in its wider context, you’ll realise how important this context really is. Had things gone differently at any point in the customer journey, your customer might have decided to switch to your competitors. 

 

As a matter of fact, from all the people that have heard about you at some point but nevertheless decided not to purchase from you, there’s probably some touchpoint in the customer journey that influenced their decision.

 

And here’s where representing all customer journey touchpoints becomes crucial: in order to grant your customers a satisfying experience and guide them down the sales funnel, you have to familiarise yourself with what it is like for them to buy or engage with your business. 

 

The right CX tool should help you unearth this vital information, especially in instances where it may not be obvious at first glance. In this regard, measuring customer sentiment and gathering customer feedback where it matters is extremely crucial. More on this later.

 

The bottom line is this: not only do you have to put yourself in their shoes; you have to walk a mile in them. And that’s what customer journey mapping is about.

 

What are the benefits of customer journey mapping?

 

1. Improving Customer Experience Management

The first step to deliver a satisfying Customer Experience that turns buyers into brand advocates is to know your customers. Many businesses assume that they’ve done their due diligence in that regard just by providing a product or service that fulfils their customers’ needs; but that’s a mistake as common as it is unfortunate.

 

As we’ve seen, in 2024 a business’ Customer Experience is just as important as its products, if not more. A pleasant, personalised Customer Experience makes a massive difference when it comes to customer satisfaction and, ultimately, sales and customer loyalty and retention. 

 

Customer journey mapping will enable you to compare the customer experience desired by your customers with what they actually receive, serving as an invaluable source of insight to improve your business’ Customer Experience.

 

2. Eliminating siloed experiences that lead to unhappy customers

Today, customers expect a seamless process, and they have little tolerance for disjointed journeys requiring significant effort from their end. Unfortunately, many organisations are not always as integrated as they should. Projects are often departmental and isolated, and other factors can cause the experience to be somewhat fragmented.

 

Mapping the customer journey and sharing it across all your teams will provide a common understanding for the organisation, which can lead to improved journeys and better business outcomes. 

 

3. Understanding the differences between different customers

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to Customer Experience. 

 

As obvious as it may sound, many businesses don’t always keep in mind that different customers have different preferences, not only in regards to products, but also in the way they engage with a business. 

 

Some prefer to purchase or solve their queries with a phone call, while others prefer messaging businesses on social media, others will search the information they’re looking for on your website, and most of them will try to contact you on different channels. 

 

In order to cater to all those different customer preferences, an Omni AI approach is essential. The ideal Customer Experience is defined by personalisation. It’s you that should be going the extra mile to meet your customers, not the other way around. 

 

Proficient customer journey mapping should consider all customer engagement channels as interconnected and mutually dependent, not just isolated options
Proficient customer journey mapping should consider all customer engagement channels as interconnected and mutually dependent, not just isolated options

 

Designing different maps will allow you to gain a complete perspective of all your different effective and prospective customers, of what they want, of what they don’t want, and of the best way to serve their needs. 

 

4. Training team members on CX best practices

Providing great Customer Experience is not an innate talent. It requires exceptional listening abilities, the capacity to improvise, and empathy to resolve customer issues. Since these skills are not innate, your customer service staff can very likely benefit from customer experience training. 

 

A detailed, accurate, and actionable customer journey map can be infinitely useful for that, as it will allow you to educate your representatives on what the customer wants, expects, and feels at all stages of their journey.

 

But, it’s not just your customer service representatives who require this training. All departments, from sales and marketing to development and support, are part of the customer journey and should receive CX training. If a part of your team is a stranger to the needs of your customers, this can have dire consequences for your business.

 

5. Making it possible to assess the ROI of future UX/CX investments.

You can also think of your customer journey maps as a record of your past, present, and projected customer journey models. 

 

This can be really useful to track down how changes and investments in your customer experience models have influenced your sales and CSAT scores.

 

How to create a customer journey map

Now that you know what customer journey mapping done the right way can do for your business, you’re probably wondering how to go about it. Here we give you six steps to create a customer journey map that actually serves your needs:

 

1. Define your goals

Maybe you want to reevaluate the existing customer success procedures or closely examine the prospect’s experience during the selling process. 

 

Whatever the case, your customer journey map can be customised and it should be consistently updated to match evolving company’s needs. As new opportunities arise and your objectives and interests shift, you can even create multiple journey maps in the future.

 

2. Create different customer personas

As we’ve seen earlier, different types of customers require different types of experiences, and you should keep that in mind when creating your customer journey maps.

 

The best way to account for differences between types of customers is creating different customer personas before you start designing your map. 

 

Start by surveying customers to get familiar with their buying journey, or rely on the feedback and common questions gathered by your sales team or customer service representatives. 

 

Then, you can imagine one or more fictional customers with specific concerns, preferences, intentions, and goals, and paint a detailed portrait for them.

 

These are some questions your customer persona should account for:

  • How did your customer learn about our brand?
  • What first attracted them to our brand?
  • What problems are they trying to solve?
  • How long did they spend on your website?
  • Have they ever purchased from you? What was the deciding factor?
  • Have they ever reached out to your support team? If so, were they satisfied with the outcome?
  • Are there any ways you can improve their experience?

 

 

Once you have a clear picture of what your customers want and don’t want from their experience with your business, you’ll be in a better position to serve them better, increase loyalty, and take more prospects down the sales funnel more efficiently.

 

3. Define stages in the customer journey

Then, you should break down the customer journey in stages based on what the customer’s attitude, intention, or goals towards your brand are throughout their journey. Here’s a way you could define these stages:

 

  • Awareness: Your customer has identified a problem, is now looking for a solution, and has stumbled upon your brand. This stage should include the reasons for their product search, the incentives for purchasing, and the moment they first hear about you.
  • Consideration: During this stage, your customers are contemplating what your brand has to offer and conducting research on both you and your competitors. This is when they visit your website, explore product descriptions and pricing, visit your About and Contact pages, read FAQ sections, and look for online reviews.
  • Decision: At this stage, your customer has accumulated sufficient information to make a purchase. This phase includes in-person buying experiences, online ordering pages, email confirmations, and FAQs regarding shipping and billing policies.
  • Retention: After making an initial purchase, your customer is assessing their overall experience. This stage is crucial for creating loyal returning customers and involves an assessment of your company’s customer support services, delivery and return options, and future discount or membership programs.

 

While these are common standard customer journey stages, you might have to include more depending on your business’ particularities. For example, you might want to consider how your customer’s experience with your product is on a day to day basis after their purchase, or what it is that they do upon first noticing an issue before they contact your customer service team.

 

As always, your account of the different customer journey stages should be as personalised and detailed as possible.

 

4. Map customer journey stages

This is where you really have to put attention to detail. Now that you have defined the stages in the customer journey, your job is to specify each touchpoint within each stage. 

 

In other words, you have to take note of every instance in which your customer engages with your business. This includes him seeing the company website, an online ad, a review, purchasing and using your services, or contacting customer support.

 

The more you ensure to leave no stone unturned, the better! Think of all the possible ways your customer can interact with you. Things like “word of mouth” or email confirmation can also be worth including among your list of touchpoints. 

 

Our Flow feature can be a great ally during this phase: it will allow you to create your own customer journeys with unmatched levels of personalisation, and then automate them to save your business time and resources. It comes with an endless variety of triggers, conditions, and actions to make sure your customer journey maps are as detailed and personalised as you need.

 

5. Map what the customer feels, wants, and thinks at each touchpoint

Now, what you have to do is put yourself in your customer’s shoes and find out what really their experience is like at each point of their journey. 

 

In this stage, you should do everything you can to gather as much feedback and information about your customers as possible. 

 

Tools like AI Sentiment Analysis can be an invaluable resource at this point: intelligent algorithms will read your customers’ emotions from their tone of voice, inflection, and choice of words during calls with your customer service representatives, providing you with invaluable insights into what’s really going on on the other side of the line, what your customers care about, and what pain points they are encountering.

 

An example of a call's customer sentiment level examined with Sentiment Analysis
An example of a call’s customer sentiment level examined with Sentiment Analysis

 

Another tool you can use is AI Entity and Keyphrase Analysis. This function of AI is designed to recognise the most common words, phrases, or entities (such as products or prices) mentioned by your customers when they interact with your brand. You’ll get a panoramic view of this information, which will be incredibly useful to spot what your customers think of and want from you.

 

Another way you can gather feedback with ease is to systematically send follow up messages or calls at the end of each interaction to gather customer satisfaction. Our Flow feature enables you to deploy those automatically upon query resolution.

 

This is probably the most important stage of customer journey mapping, and the depth of your investigation will determine how successful you’ll be in improving your customer experience. 

 

During this stage, you should make sure to note what your customers think, feel, want, and like, but especially what they don’t like. 

 

You’re going to have to find out what are the most common pain points in the customer journey, what are some occurrences that can potentially become big pain points, and what areas of your customer experience need improving. That’s why it’s crucial when it comes to customer journey mapping to have as much information and feedback from your customers as you can possibly gather.

 

Once you have reliably done that and made sure that you have the most complete account of customer sentiment you possibly can, it’s time to move on to the last few steps of customer journey mapping.

 

6. Recognise pain points

After collecting information about what is going on at each stage of your customer journey and how your customers feel about it, you’ll be in the best possible position to assess the efficiency of your processes, recognise pain points, and think of solutions.

 

Do your research and brainstorm ways to alleviate the pain points in your customer journey. The more complete your feedback and customer information collection has been in the previous phase, the easier it will be to think of solutions now. Again, tools like AI Sentiment Analysis or Keyphrase and Entity Analysis will help you recognise not only what customers don’t like but also what they do like and appreciate.

 

Write down your solutions and then you can move on to the last and decisive stage: actioning those changes.

 

7. Actioning your new customer journey map

Now, it’s time to make your new map a reality. When actioning the changes in the customer journey, it would help to share your new map with all the teams involved so that they have a clearer picture of the meaning, goals, and reasons behind those changes. But there are even better tools to put a new customer journey map to work.

 

Flow, our workflow automation tool, will allow you to design customer journeys from scratch, with an infinite level of detail and personalisation, and then automate the whole process. And the best part? You won’t need to write a line of code! 

 

This tool can save you and your teams a lot of time and resources when designing your new customer journey map and putting it to action. Besides, once your new plan is actioned and in the field, you’ll receive real-time, AI-powered insights into its performance thanks to features like Sentiment Analysis. You can then tweak and optimise your customer journey as you go, quickly adapting your customer experience to your customers’ preferences and changes in the market.

 

An example of a customer journey map actioned and automated with Flow
An example of a customer journey map actioned and automated with Flow

 

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