A primer to Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is a visualisation of the phases a customer goes through when engaging with a product or service. It helps to tell the story of a customer’s experience with your brand from original engagement and into hopefully a long-term relationship.

Almost any experience can be mapped, including the following examples:

  • The online shopping experience at Amazon.com or Flipkart.com
  • Online holiday booking at MakeMyTrip.com
  • A new customer who is purchasing a new desktop with Windows 10 OS preinstalled
  • The whole birthday experience: From admittance to the hospital to taking home baby
  • Ordering food on Swiggy or Zomato
  • A user in a big organisation using an enterprise suite of applications

The goal of a customer journey map is to identify problem areas customers may have and identify opportunities for improvement.

Define the Customer Journey:

Defining a customer journey can be a daunting task. It’s important to do proper research and include relevant stakeholders when mapping a customer journey. It shouldn’t be too complicated, but detailed enough to include various stages, touch-points, actions etc. Make it as visual as you can, take help from any graphical editor like MS Visio, Gliffy, LucidChart, Miro, Mural, Figma, InVision etc. These days you will get ready-made templates on the internet.

Finding the Data:

The customer journey should be based on the data that describes the reality, not any idealistic image or impression that you might have. Here are the approaches for gathering data to build the customer journey.

  • Look for existing data – Check with the customer support team, existing metrics etc.
  • Follow me home technique – As the name suggests you follow customer volunteers to their workplace, house, and team environment and observe them. It gives you a great opportunity to observe what customers do rather than rely on what they say.
  • Apply Analytical thinking, and seek expert opinion– If you are aware of the process that works, then you can start with the customer journey mapping exercise, and make some room for corrections.
  • Stakeholder Interviews – Interview the sales, marketing, accounting, operations team or anyone with direct contact with the customer.
  • Customer Surveys – Surveys are one of the most efficient ways of collecting data from customers.

Sketching the Journey:

With data at your disposal, it’s time to sketch the journey. Always start with an objective/goal and then move along. Following are the key points that you should keep in mind while creating the journey map.

  • Set your objective – Before you can dive into creating your map, you need to ask yourself why you are making one in the first place. What goals (increase user engagement, improve NPS score or reduce churn rate etc.) are you directing this map towards? Who is it specifically about? What experience is it based upon?
  • Pick a persona – Personas are fictional customers based on real data obtained from customer segmentation analysis, surveys and interviews. To make personas more realistic, they get names like “Paul”, “Vivek” or “Riya”. While the people may not be real, the details should be factual. Try creating a journey map for all your identified personas.
  • Determine the stages – As the name “journey” suggests, maps are usually created around a sequence of events that happen in a timeline. The timeline can be broken down into stages and smaller steps. For each step, be sure to focus on the goals of your customers and what do they want? Following are the five most common stages during a customer life cycle (they might vary from organisation to organisation):
    1. Awareness – The customer has a problem or a new requirement and he/she is looking for options by talking to his friends, checking ads over the internet, newspaper print ads, TV promotions etc.
    2. Consideration – The customer has zeroed down on two or more products and doing a comparative study between shortlisted products.
    3. Purchase – The customer has finally selected a product of brand X and going for purchase, it could be either online or a physical (by visiting the store) product.
    4. Service – Customer pays for the product get it installed and starts using it. He/she may initially need technical help from the product support team.
    5. Loyalty – If the customer is happy with the product and after-sales services then he/she becomes the advocate of the product and recommends the same to his/her relatives or friends.
  • Define the steps or activities – From the research, construct a sequence of major steps the customer takes from awareness to post-purchase. These steps are basically more finely grained segments to describe the sequences through the journey. Some of the steps could be:
    • Mail to the company sales team
    • Negotiating the price
    • DIY – Installing the product
    • Availing extended warrantee
    • Brand decision
    • Compares the discount on offer
    • Open the website to check product features
  • Identify the touchpoints – A touchpoint is a physical or digital interaction your customers experience during their relationship life cycle with your product or service. Here are some of the examples of touchpoints:
    • Website
    • Social Media
    • Salesperson
    • Email
    • Store visit
    • Product catalogue
    • TV, Radio or Internet Ad
  • Find the pain points – At each step, understand where the customer encounters barriers or friction before making a purchase or availing of a service. Some of the examples could be:
    • Perspective customer is not aware of the company, products or services
    • Customer misunderstands features and product offerings
    • Lack of proper after-sales support – customer request is passed between departments
    • Delay in shipment
    • Competitor offers a better discount
  • Define metrics for each stage – In defining the metrics for each stage, look for metrics that are already being captured in the organisation. Some of the examples of the customer journey metrics are:
    • Annual sales of the product
    • Product market share
    • Social media mentions
    • Average time on the website
    • Net promoter score
    • Likelihood to repurchase
  • Define who is accountable for each stage – A final step in completing your journey map is to be sure someone is accountable for each stage.
  • Uncover opportunities – One of the main goals of the journey map is to fix problems and propose solutions that aren’t as readily noticeable when the journey is fragmented. Be honest about identifying and mapping the pain points. From pain comes opportunity. Look at each of the pain points as an opportunity for innovation and improvement. We can have opportunities at various stages. Some of the examples of opportunities are:
    • Improve upon response time so that customer needs to spend less time in the waiting queue
    • Improve website performance so that customer experience can be enhanced
    • Media Ads can have a feature comparison with the competition and highlight unique points
    • The product is easy to understand
  • Review periodically – When you create your first journey map, you’ll likely have made some assumptions and worked off data that will become stale over time. Plan on revisiting your journey map (preferably every quarter) to see what information has changed and needs to be updated.
  • Service Blueprint – I am not covering the service blueprint in detail. But it is a complimentary diagram to a customer journey map that visualizes the relationships between different organizational components (departments). It involves employees, processes and props/SOPs that are directly tied to touchpoints in a specific customer journey map.

Sample Customer Journey Map Template:

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