What is customer journey mapping?

What is a customer journey?

Let’s start our understanding of customer journey mapping by first understanding what is meant by the “customer’s journey”.

As suggested by the name, a customer journey is the progression of a consumer (initially a non-customer of a brand) in their journey to becoming a customer of the brand. Understanding the customer’s journey is an important marketing task because it demonstrates the connection between a target market consumer and their decision to become a first-time customer of the brand.

The more effectively we can understand this journey,  the better placed we are to attract first-time customers, as well as more effectively meet their ongoing needs in order to increase the likelihood of the consumer becoming a loyal ongoing customer.

A consumer’s journey will include all interactions with brand touchpoints, such as gathering information, marketing communications, retailers and salespeople, product information, competitor offerings, talking to salespeople, word-of-mouth information, and so on.

And check out the customer journey mapping Excel template available for FREE download on this site.

What is customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping (CJM) is a visual technique designed to show the steps taken and sources of information accessed by the consumer in their progression to becoming a customer of the brand – that is, the customer’s journey as discussed above.

A customer journey map should include all brand touchpoints (exposures and interactions) whether or not they are communicated by the brand – and hence need to include: information from competitors, retailers, websites, social media, public product usage, product placement in movies, and so on. Please see the article on brand touchpoint examples.

While many customer journey maps focus upon the customer’s active decision process only, it is important to take a broader perspective when considering the customer’s journey.

Whether or not a potential brand is a suitable purchase (that is, it is in the consumer’s evoked set) is usually built upon years of advertising exposure and indirect experience with the brand through others.

For a good example of this brand awareness impact, please see the article on example brand touchpoints for Apple – as well as the article that outlines the three main phases of a customer journey.

Benefits of using customer journey maps

Enhanced Customer Understanding:

By visualizing the journey, businesses can better understand how customers interact with their brand. This leads to a more customer-centric approach, where decisions are made based on actual customer experiences and needs.

Identifying Pain Points:

Journey maps highlight areas where customers may experience frustration or dissatisfaction. Identifying these pain points allows businesses to make targeted improvements, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Improved Customer Retention:

A positive customer journey leads to higher satisfaction, which in turn increases loyalty and customer retention. Happy customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and recommend the brand to others.

Streamlining Processes:

Mapping the customer journey can reveal unnecessary complexities or redundancies in the buying process. Simplifying these processes can make the customer’s experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Better Cross-Functional Collaboration:

Journey mapping is typically a cross-functional activity, involving marketing, sales, customer service, and IT teams. This collaboration ensures a unified approach to improving the customer experience.

Steps in customer journey mapping

To create an effective customer journey map, businesses should follow these steps:

  1. Define Objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve with the journey map. Is it to improve customer satisfaction, increase sales, or reduce customer churn?
  2. Gather Data: Collect data from various sources like customer surveys, feedback, website analytics, and sales data. This data provides insights into how customers interact with the brand at different stages.
  3. Create Buyer Personas: Develop detailed buyer personas to represent different segments of your customer base. This helps in understanding the varied needs and behaviors of different customer groups.
  4. Map the Journey: Create the map by outlining each stage of the customer journey. Include customer thoughts, emotions, and actions at each touchpoint.
  5. Identify Moments of Truth: Highlight key moments in the journey that significantly impact the customer’s perception of the brand.
  6. Analyze and Act: Analyze the map to identify areas for improvement. Develop strategies to enhance the customer experience at each touchpoint.

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