Customer journey mapping is the process that helps brands or businesses learn more about their customers and the journey they take when they interact with your business. 

This, as you may know, is not a new concept and has been used as a marketing strategy for some time. In my estimation, though, it’s going to be one of the most important strategies in 2020 – especially as power and focus shifts to consumers almost exclusively.

Being a month away from stepping into a new decade, people are already thinking about their new year resolutions. While brands and businesses must also brainstorm ways to improve and grow, customer journey mapping must be the cherry on top of your cake, i.e. your marketing strategy. 

What is customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping is all about putting yourself in the shoes of your customers to try and understand the path or process they follow until they get what they want from your business – or not. The idea is to find ways to perfect this process and offer a seamless customer journey and enhance a consumer’s overall experience from start to finish. 

Imagine this: You’re at work and you want to order takeout from your favourite restaurant. As a customer, you’d expect all the steps you take, from scrolling through their app to paying for your food, to go smoothly, without a hitch. 

If the restaurant has mapped their customer journey well, then your expectations will be met. Otherwise, as is often the case, you may have a complaint or two about how things could have been done. 

While you’re bound to give them another chance because you love their food, it won’t be long before you give up and turn to other takeout spots that make the order process much easier.

The goal of mapping the customer journey is to remove obstacles and make the process efficient and intuitive. The more seamless customer journeys are, the better the customer experience will be. Ultimately, it’s all about mapping out the best path for the average customer. 

The focus, however, is not to create a ‘perfect’ pathway or lay down every interaction the user has with your product or employees. It’s more about getting a holistic view of your customers’ experiences through the lens of the customer so that you can enhance it.

Why is customer experience so important?

I don’t believe that there’s any business out there that thinks there’s no importance in enhancing the customer experience. After all, creating better products and setting more competitive prices, alone, aren’t enough to help a business thrive. 

If you think that that is really all it takes to improve customer experience, boy, do I have news for you.

With the accelerating pace of technological innovations, businesses have to focus on improving the experiences they deliver if they want to enjoy a competitive edge. By the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product improvement as the key brand differentiator. 

As a business, your growth must be tied to understanding customer sentiment and creating systems to leverage customer feedback to enhance the customer experience. Differentiating yourself based on products and prices, alone, will become less important and effective. 

Why is customer journey mapping so important?

In my experience, understanding and empathising with customers is the groundwork for meaningful interactions and successful business outcomes. As it happens, customer journey mapping provides you with a system of values to understand and empathise with each of your customers. 

Without customer journey mapping, you wouldn’t understand where a customer is in their relationship with your brand or business. In other words, you wouldn’t be providing a good customer experience because you haven’t given thought to what their struggles are, what information they are seeking from you, and how they want you to deliver that information.

Not only that, customer journey mapping also helps a business analyse user behaviour to better understand how their customers travel and how they feel about travelling through the sales process. I guarantee that if your marketing team’s primary focus is not about making your customers happy, you won’t get anywhere. 

If you’re a company accelerating your growth through the introduction of innovative digital solutions to your sales process, it makes it even more challenging to perfect that process and continue maintaining customer satisfaction. With the use of customer journey mapping, you can design, alter, refine or eliminate elements to improve and enhance the holistic customer experience.

Customer journey mapping is not only useful for your marketing and sales teams but is also relevant to content creators and designers. It can help creatives determine what content to create and the best way to unleash it on the world. For designers, it provides contextual information, specifically how users perceive their own experiences. 

The benefits of customer journey mapping

Allows decision-makers to stay focused on customers

Customer journey mapping enables businesses to better understand and be educated about how customers view their products and services, what their intentions and values are, and how a customer interacts with the brand or business at different touchpoints.

When stakeholders and product owners bring in their perspectives and biases about how things should be, a customer journey map brings in real-time evidence and helps decision-makers understand what’s really happening. 

This ensures that everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done and their focus remains on building better customer experiences and satisfying customer needs.

Deeper consumer insights lead to improved ROI

The way a customer interacts with a brand or business through the different channels set up is called a touchpoint. These are essentially points of contact and interaction that customers have with your business. 

Customer journey mapping helps identify these touchpoints and where maximum friction and struggles occur, enabling you to improve these touchpoints and optimise each channel based on real-time, high-quality data.

The more meaningful you make your interactions, you improve your chances of creating loyal customers, who may, over time, become brand ambassadors, advocating on behalf of your business without you having to ask! 

How to begin the customer journey mapping process

When beginning your customer journey mapping process, your focus must be on how your customers interact with you across the following five touchpoints:

  1. Your website

  2. Your outbound marketing output

  3. Your sales team

  4. Your customer support team

  5. Your brand presence on different platforms, channels and social media

The first step of customer journey mapping is to conduct an audit to understand the customer journey through the touchpoints I mentioned above. At this initial stage, it’s important to identify customer personas and their goals. It’s also crucial to identify and outline all other existing touchpoints, apart from those mentioned.

Then, it’s all about assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the current customer journey and brainstorming potential improvements to create smoother interactions. Remember, in this process, to evaluate and revise the map and your redesigns to ensure continued customer satisfaction.

Another thing you need to remember to do is to place the customer at the centre of everything you do. Instead of looking at your priorities and creating ways to motivate customers to meet your goals, consider the customer first and how they will move through the funnel. 

The best way to explain the process of customer journey mapping is to look at it like a pinnable graphic that everyone on the team should have on their walls.

Here are a few more tips on creating a customer journey map:

  • Remember that you’re creating this map to eliminate gaps and friction present within the customer experience.

  • Pinpoint critical moments that often result in make-or-break decisions for your customers (some call these “moments of truth”) to figure out the moments that lead to your customers walking away and ones that help them stay on-course.

  • Account for customer logic and emotions to develop an accurate portrayal of their experience.

  • Make sure to make an actionable journey map – it’s not just a graphic; it’s a redesign or enhancement of your customers’ experiences.

Customer journey mapping is a critical step for any business

There’s no argument that the necessity and benefit of customer journey mapping will continue to grow. What better way to understand your customers, who are unique and diverse, apart from identifying their personas and learning about their customer journey?

Leverage customer journey mapping to learn more about the moments of truth and optimise your customer journey to increase satisfaction. Become a trailblazer that creates new pathways, overcoming gaps and obstacles and enhancing your strengths.

Make the whole journey for your customer as smooth as possible because the more trouble they have trying to get to their goal, the more likely they are to become someone else’s customer. 

Capture what is rightfully yours with a few steps in your customer’s shoes. Good luck!