How to build a customer journey map to improve customer experience

Imagine for a moment that you’ve got to buy a birthday present for a complete stranger.

What’s the first thing you’d do? My guess is you’d want to find out their likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies. How else would you know what to buy for them?

The same can be said of your customers when it comes to understanding how they interact with your business. How can you provide the best customer journey and user experience if you don’t fully understand the needs of the people you’re targeting?

Benefits of customer journey mapping

That’s where customer journey mapping comes into play. By spending some time nailing down all the interactions your customers have with your business – as well as the pain points and challenges they experience along the way – you’ll be able to tailor the buying journey to their needs and maximise your own returns, too.

Customer journey mapping is also great for helping you to:

  • Increase engagement with customers throughout the buying journey
  • Remove ineffective customer touchpoints and save marketing budget
  • Better target marketing campaigns to particular segments of your audience
  • Help employees meet objectives faster with improved customer experience
  • Take your marketing from a company-focused approach to a customer-focused approach

Out with the old

Traditionally, marketers talk about ‘sales funnels’ and ‘revenue funnels’ when thinking about the buying journey. This is a really outdated concept: It assumes that the customer travels along a linear path to purchase – moving from one stage to the next in a consistent fashion, every time.

The trouble with the sales funnel concept is it focuses on the journey from the business’s point of view, not the customer’s. It outlines the touchpoints the business wants or expects the prospect to have, not necessarily the touchpoints they actually have in the real world.

In with the new

In reality, in today’s online and digital world, the customer journey is anything but linear. Even in business-to-business circles, your customers and prospects are researching solutions to their problems in new and ever-more technologically advanced ways.

Today, the customer journey looks more like a tangled ball of wool, rather than a nice, clean drop through a funnel. Prospects jump from device to device and platform to platform, flitting between different resources to do their research – whenever and wherever it suits them.

So, how do you start to unravel these complex journeys, map them out and begin using them to bring real benefit to your business?

How to create a customer journey map

From here, you’re just three (albeit fairly sizeable!) steps away from creating your customer journey map:

  1. Creating your buyer personas
  2. Deciding on your goals and what you want to measure
  3. Identifying touchpoints and stages

Let’s dig into these steps in detail.

Step 1: Create your buyer personas

This stage is crucial. Remember I asked how you’d choose a birthday present for a complete stranger? Your buyer personas will help you get the best gifts they ever dreamed of (relevant, timely and exciting marketing gifts, in this case!).

On a serious note, the first thing to remember with a buyer persona is that it should focus on customer behaviour. Demographic information like age, gender, and lifestyle choices is great to know. But for a truly useful buyer persona, you need to focus on the pain points, researching habits and needs and wants of your prospects.

We recommend looking at your existing customer segmentation to begin with. From there, choose a handful of current customers from each segment and book a half-hour phone call with a contact who was involved in the original decision making process. You’ll want to find out some key bits of information, including:

  • What problem triggered them to look for a solution in the first place
  • The benefits they hope to see from the solution
  • What barriers or concerns they had while looking for a solution
  • How they conducted their research – what sources did they trust?
  • Who was involved in making the final decision to buy? Was it one person’s decision or was it deliberated over by the board? What questions and concerns did each person have along the way?

You may not be able to get insights on all of these points. But the more you can gather, the stronger your personas will be.

Step 2: Define your journey mapping goals

As with all things in marketing, having a reason, objective or goal for creating your customer journey map is important to allow you to measure its success.

You may want your map to help you increase revenue from marketing campaigns. Perhaps you want to reduce service costs. Or maybe you want to shorten the sales process and get customers moving down the path to purchase much faster.

Whatever your goals, define them now so you can review your journey map further down the line and make any tweaks or improvements.

Step 3: Identify all customer touchpoints

Touchpoints are any scenarios where your prospects interact with your business along their buying journey. These can be anything from the print or online ads your prospects see, to the landing pages they visit, the phone calls they have with your team and everything in between.

Use your persona profiles to start to identify these touchpoints. A tool like Mediahawk, with its marketing attribution and customer insight features, can help too.

Then gather the key stakeholders within your business – they’ll likely have experience of working with prospects and customers across different touchpoints. Get them to share their insights and fill in any gaps you may have missed.

Once you have your touchpoints listed out in as much detail as possible, you can start to visualise the journey. Where there is a significant difference between the needs of different personas, we recommend creating unique customer journey maps for each persona. If you try to lump it all into one map, you risk generalising the needs of each persona too much.

Depending on your sector and target audiences, your journey map may look something like this:

Customer journey diagram.

Benefitting from your journey map

With your customer journey map created and signed off by everyone involved, you can start to use it in earnest.

Set up feedback opportunities for your prospects – for example, HotJar survey pop-ups on landing pages – which you can use to bolster your customer journey map and gain insights to improve the customer experience.

With your customer journey map defined, you’ll be well on the way to implementing positive changes to the customer experience, and uniting your teams in the common goal of growing your business.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics, content management and eCommerce.

Marketing attribution report.
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