Customer Journey Map: What, Why, and How

Trustmary teamTrustmary team
Last edited: October 3rd, 2023

How important are your customers? If you want to grow your business, you’re probably constantly seeking to improve your customer experience.

Maybe this question keeps you up at night. You aren’t alone. Research shows that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. Many business leaders believe that customer experience is the new battlefield where business is won or lost.

Are you winning or losing? 

Improving customer experience only happens if you know your customers–their preferences, dislikes, intentions, and pain points. In short, your customers need to be at the center of everything you do. 

Yamini Rangan, CEO of HubSpot, explains this customer-centered philosophy as she talks about shifting from a sales funnel to a flywheel. A flywheel model, Rangan argues, helps HubSpot make customer-centered decisions because everything is oriented around the customer’s experience.

Don’t you want your customers to become loyal and your best referrers? Of course. How does that happen? The first step is using something called customer journey mapping. 

Customer journey mapping gives you a visual representation of how customers experience your brand at every touchpoint. This will help you solve problems, increase customer loyalty, and make better business decisions with the customer at the center. 

In this post, we’ll talk about customer journey mapping, why it’s important for your business, how to build yours, and much more. 

What is a Customer Journey Map?

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A customer journey map is a visual representation of your customer’s journey. Sometimes it’s also called the buyer journey or user journey. 

The journey maps all the touchpoints a customer has with your brand. It tracks everything from the first time they heard about you through your social media marketing to their online interactions with your products to any conversation with customer service and more. 

Customer journey mapping, then, is simply the process of creating a customer journey map. Engaging in this process helps you see things from the customer’s perspective. You’ll also be able to better optimize and personalize the customer experience. 

Specifically, this will reveal your average customer’s pain points and work toward better solutions.

Almost 46% of business professionals believe their biggest priority in the next five years is customer experience. You can’t afford to ignore the vital role a customer journey map plays in your business.

Why is Customer Journey Mapping Important?

Customer journey mapping is important for several reasons. Let’s look at five of them.

It Helps You Empathize with Your Customers

Empathy is a business buzzword these days. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. A street-level definition of empathy means you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathizing as a business leader or marketer means you see your business as your customer does: how they access you, what interests them, what turns them away, etc. 

Creating a customer journey map allows you to take a step back from your world and enter theirs. This gives you the freedom to question everything about the process of finding leads, qualifying them, getting to a point of decision, and so on.

Empathizing with your customers leads to a better experience for them. Isn’t customer satisfaction why you got into business in the first place? 

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It Helps You Visualize Emotions, not just Behaviors

A customer’s journey is often emotional. But it’s hard to turn feelings into data. And how is it even possible to know what a potential buyer is feeling when you create a product? 

This is where customer journey maps prove helpful. A well-researched map can document feelings based on the feedback you’ve received through your communication channels, most notably your customer support team. 

If your customer support team isn’t documenting the emotions communicated by your customers, it’s time they start. Observing customer emotions and responding to them will help customers feel understood, appreciated, and valued. Over time, that builds trust. 

It Helps You Optimize Customer Experience

Once you empathize with your customers, you’re able to optimize. In other words, understanding your customers results in the ability to tailor the process to meet their needs. 

Over 84% of customers indicate that they’d like to be treated like a human rather than a number. The only way to do that is to customize their experience across all touchpoints. Whether it’s a text from bulk messaging software about a flash sale or an email newsletter about an upcoming event or anything else, you’ll send them what they want because you know them. 

Say it together: “Empathizing leads to optimizing.” 

It Helps You Understand Complex Customer Journeys

With digital marketing at an all-time high, customer journeys are never linear. Customers use multiple channels to research and communicate with brands. One day they respond to a company’s email newsletter and the next day they’re Tweeting at them.

Things can get more complex when you consider generational differences and the nuances of B2B interactions (multiple decision-makers, etc.).

Customer journey mapping graphically represents these variables in one place so you can see who is feeling and experiencing what at different phases of the journey. This allows you to carefully consider what information to provide and how at specific times. 

It Helps You Increase Revenue 

Finally, all of this leads to more revenue. Yes, you are in business to serve your customers. But you also need to pay the bills.

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between the two. Companies that lead in customer experience outperform late adopters by nearly 80%.

The reason for this is simple: people continue to buy from companies that value them. 

You can’t afford to not care about your customers. 

Now let’s get to the nuts and bolts of how to build your customer journey map.

What’s Included in a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is made up of several components. Highly complex maps can be overwhelming to look at if you’re not familiar with how they work. 

Keep in mind that every customer journey map will have varying components depending on the industry. Some industries or specific companies may use different terminology as well. 

We’ll try to keep it simple here. 

There are two basic components every map must have: 1) phase (or stage), and 2) experience. 

Phase/Stage

The traditional phases of a customer journey are Awareness, Consideration, Acquisition (or Buying), Service, and Loyalty (or Advocacy). 

These phases mark the specific point in time when your customer interacts with your brand. Knowing when these stages start and stop and who’s involved in the process is foundational for your map and will also help you use data-driven marketing techniques in the future.

Here are some examples of what can happen during each phase of the journey:

  1. Awareness: potential customer becomes aware of your brand e.g. by seeing your ad, reading your blog, hearing from you from a friend, or answering to your cold call.
  1. Consideration: potential customer is weighing options. They want to know if you are the best fit for them or not. They might be inspecting your website, reading reviews, or even contacting you directly.
  1. Acquisition: At this point, the potential customer becomes an actual customer. In this phase, the deal is closed.
  1. Service: The customer gets familiar with the service/product and uses it. If everything goes well, they move on to the next phase. (If not, they will start looking elsewhere).
  1. Loyalty: When the service or product meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations, they become loyal customers who are likely to recommend the service further and leave reviews and testimonials. This in turn has a positive impact on those who are in the beginning of the customer journey: maybe this loyal customer is the reason why someone hears from you for the first time, or why someone who is considering your service ends up purchasing.

Experience

Experience is a catch-all term for the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, etc. of your customers as well as the objectives your team has.

This component should include the following:

  1. Customer Actions. What is the customer doing at this point in the process?
  2. Touchpoints. Did the customer get here via social media, word of mouth, direct mail, etc.?
  3. Emotions. Based on your research, how is the customer feeling at this stage?
  4. KPIs. What indicators point to success for your business at this point?
  5. Goals. What is the goal of this phase in the customer journey (increased awareness, sales, positive reviews, etc.)?

How to Build Your Customer Journey Map

Building a customer journey map probably feels a bit overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The simpler, the better. 

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There’s no one “right” way to build a customer journey map. After all, it’s yours. At the same time, there are a handful of guidelines that will help you along the way.

Set Your Goal

What is the goal of your customer journey map? What data are you hoping to find? Consult key stakeholders and executives from different departments to make sure you’re on the right track. Once you’ve established your goal, you won’t get lost on the road as you build your map.

Conduct Research

One of the best ways to boost your customer journey map is to gather feedback from your customers. You can do this easily with customer experience software. The good news is that this is one of our specialties here at Trustmary! Collecting feedback will help you make better decisions with your product, website, and customer support.

Start your 14-day free trial of Trustmary’s feedback software today.

Define Touchpoints 

Customer touchpoints will make up the bulk of your map. If you’re like most companies, you probably have half a dozen or more channels available to customers. Even local shops with a storefront have several social media channels, a website, a newsletter, etc. Begin to think through these touchpoints and plot them on your map.

Map Current Reality

At this point, using the phases we mentioned above, begin to map what you believe is the current reality for a customer’s journey with your company. Don’t worry about how things look at this point. Just get the content down. Be honest with yourself–even if it hurts. It will pay off in the long run. 

Map Your Dream Reality

Now for the fun part. What’s your dream reality for your customers’ journey? Map it! Look at your current reality map to see where there are poor transitions, communication breakdowns, or general pain points. Craft solutions for these problems in your dream reality of what things could be.

Once you’ve completed this last step, you’re ready to share it with the people you consulted at the beginning about the goal. Share this dream reality and a plan for change that will help the company get there. 

Wrapping It Up

Winning at business today is all about putting the customer at the center. The only way to do that is by starting with a customer journey map. Customer journey mapping takes your customers’ experience of your brand to the next level. It gets you inside their world so you can identify with them. It keeps you alert to their intentions, needs, and pain points.  

With more and more people wanting and expecting an amazing customer experience, creating and using your customer journey map is non-negotiable. Don’t wait for your competition to pass you up. Start your customer journey mapping process today.  

FAQ

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of your customer’s journey. Sometimes it’s also called the buyer journey or user journey. The journey maps all the touchpoints a customer has with your brand. It tracks everything from the first time they heard about you on social media or other advertising to their online interactions with your products to any objective they seek to complete. 

Why does my business need a customer journey map?

You need a customer journey map because it’s the first step to enhancing your customers’ experience of your brand. Without it, you can’t know what interests or motivates them, what friction they experience in the buying process, or why they end up not buying from you. A customer journey map can’t solve all your problems. But it will open up your eyes to see problems you never knew existed.

What should my customer journey map include?

Your journey map should include two main components: phase (or stage) and experience. The phases are awareness, consideration, acquisition, service, and loyalty. These phases may vary by industry and each phase may include multiple sub-phase. The experiences should include things like access, touchpoints, customer feelings, KPIs, goals, and what teams are involved 

How can I get started with a customer journey map?

The first step to starting your customer journey mapping process is to set a goal for the map. The second is to get feedback from your customers. Thankfully, Trustmary’s feedback software is the perfect tool to help you discover how your customers have experienced your brand.



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