Customer Journey Mapping is a tool for visualising your customers experience. Initially for many business owners, it can seem overwhelming with how to create a Customer Journey Map, so in this article I’m going to explain how you can create your own Customer Journey Map and how to put it to good use in your business.
Most overwhelm in this process comes from people believing that you must plot every nuance of every customer’s experience with your business. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can take the pressure off yourself immediately by seeing a Customer Journey Map as a “typical” experience a customer has when interacting with your business. This is the clear difference between creating your Ideal Customer Avatars which focuses more on the demographics and psychographics of your customers,
Customer Journey Mapping focuses more on their actions and the questions in their minds as they move towards becoming a customer and after they have purchased from you.
Creating a Customer Journey Map does take time, but there’s no need to get bogged down into too much detail, what you are looking to achieve is an overview of the entire journey for each of your ideal customer types you ought to have already identified.
Now before I get into explaining how you can develop your own customer journey map(s), let’s take a quick look at why it is so important for your business.
Why is Customer Journey Mapping Important?
1. Identify the Gaps
There are holes in every customer journey, and this is mostly because businesses don’t take the time to understand who their customers really are and how they make the buying decision from go to whoa.
By mapping your customers’ journey, you will gain great insight into who they are, what they are thinking, what their next question is likely to be and the predictable steps they will take towards purchasing from you.
With this information at hand, you will identify the gaps and know exactly how you can improve the customer experience and make the transition from initial interest to purchase effortless for your customers.
In other words, with your Marketing Collateral and with your sales team, you can answer the questions in your customers minds before they are even asked. You can clearly lead them to the next step in their own decision-making process. When you do this, you build like-ability and trust to a level that your competitors cannot compete with.
Because they haven’t taken the time to create the ideal journey for their customer like you have. And the best part is, you have, so you’ll end up with the lion’s share of the business!
2. It’s About the Customer, Not You
Many organisations market their products and services based on how they want to do it. A lot of this is done through “push” marketing, where you push your brand, your message, your product out to the market.
By developing your Customer Journey Map(s) you develop “pull” marketing otherwise known as “inbound marketing”, that often includes marketing automation.
Putting the customer front and centre which helps with not only your marketing and sales processes but also your product development. Many businesses will create a product and take it to market.
The most success business find out what consumers want and then fulfil that need.
3. You Can Adapt To Change Faster
By undertaking the Customer Journey mapping exercise on a regular basis (yes, it’s not a one-off process), you can quickly identify changes in you customers’ behaviour. This ensures that all your future planning is done based on up-to-date and relevant information, not outdated assumptions.
4. You Can Focus on What Works Best
There is a lot of information out there about marketing, how to market and where to market; it can be a minefield.
A business may have an obsession with say Facebook and put all their money and resources into Facebook Marketing only to find some months or in some cases years, that their audience rarely uses Facebook and they would have been better focusing on Instagram or LinkedIn (depending on the type of business).
Okay, so now we’ve looked at why taking the time to conduct a Customer Journey Mapping exercise is important, let’s now look at how to undertake this process.
How To Create a Customer Journey Map
The first thing you will need to do is research. I know, it’s not very sexy, but, without it, you’re not going to get too far.
Having this data at hand, will allow you to see a pattern in what your customers are searching for online, where they are searching for it and how they go about contact you from there.
The next thing you need to do is survey your customers. If this is the only thing you do in this process, you’ll be ahead of 85% of your competitors because almost no one does this, let along doing it well.
The more detailed the responses you can get from customers, the easier it’s going to be to map their buying and after sales processes, questions in their minds while making decisions and habits.
Run a Customer Journey Mapping workshop. The biggest mistake you can make in this process is trying to create the map on your own. The more people involved from your business the better. And if it’s possible, try to include some customers as well.
This workshop is an opportunity to bring the customer to the forefront of everyone’s mind as well as collaborate and use everyone’s perspective to create as clear a picture as possible of the journey your customers take.
Keep in mind when you do this that the outcome as I mentioned earlier in this article is not to identify every little nuance, but to create an overarching “typical” story around who your customer is, what questions they have on their mind before beginning a search for something, how the start their search, where they search, who they ask, how they weigh up options and so on.
The workshop will not only identify these things, but also help everyone see very clearly where the gaps are; gaps that need to be filled in order to provide your customers with an “ultimate” experience with your business.
Keeping in mind that most businesses have more than one ideal customer and sell more than one product and service, so you may need to map a number of journeys for the same product and/or a number of journeys for the various products and services you offer.
During this workshop, you want to identify the key stages in a customer’s interaction with your business and then answer the following questions at each of these key touch points:
How is the customer feeling at this stage?
What are they trying to achieve?
What questions are in their minds?
What action are they likely to take at this stage?
Do we fulfill their needs and desires at this stage?
What are we not doing, or could we be doing better at this stage?
What is the biggest thing that is going to determine their decision at this stage?
During the workshop it’s a good idea to begin mapping the information on a grid. One axis of the grid represents the stages, the other axis is the answers to the questions above.
The grid is the basis from which you can tell your Customers’ Story as they interact with your brand. Ultimately your customer journey story may be represented as a flow chart, a story board or even as a video.
How to use Your Customer Journey Map
Okay, now that you have developed your Customer Journey map, it’s time to put it to good use for the benefit of you, your team, your business and most of all for your customers.
Th first thing to do is to ensure that all the good work you have done does not go to waste. Many businesses will go through this process only to throw the map in the draw and get on with “business as usual”.
This means the first step in using the journey is to actually use it!
You need to ensure that this journey is in everyone’s minds and embedded deeply into the business’s culture. Have a poster made and put it on the wall if necessary and make it the central point of business meetings. Most of your decisions in business ought to be made with this journey utmost in mind.
Then once you are in the habit of using it regularly to make savvy business decisions, review it every 6 months as a minimum. This will help you stay on top of consumer behaviour changes and there’ll be no surprises such as sales drying up because your customer’s buying behaviours changed.
Customer Journey Mapping is not the be all and end all, however it is a very important part of the marketing puzzle. At the end of the day, the better you know your customers, the better you know how they think and behave, the better experience you can create for them, the more successful you are going to be!
To your success.