Customer Journey Maps: What are they?

A Customer Journey Map is a Design Thinking tool (a methodology for developing innovation centered on people and on overcoming challenges and satisfying their needs), which enables a map to be created at each of the stages, interactions, channels and elements our customer comes across from one point to another in our services, i.e., from the moment a need arises until the moment they become a customer.

Why should we care? Well, if you look at all the successful companies and boil down common traits that contribute to their growth, they all have one thing in common.

An obsessive focus on the customer.

It’s important to focus on the key moments that can help inspire people to buy your product or service. Your prospects and customers will walk through different channels at each stage of their buyer journey from unaware, aware, consideration, purchase and advocacy. Your Customer Journey Map is a visualization of the process a person goes through and is a great way to understand and address customer needs and pain points.

How do you create a Customer Journey Map?

Start with your personas which will be a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on your market research and real data about your existing customers.
This ultimately enables you to design the best user experience and marketing campaigns for your customers at all touch points, which is a key success factor in today’s business environment.

This “map” is usually some form of a a diagram that covers the marketing channels and working out what your customer “feels” at certain points of their journey . I think it is the feelings part that distinguishes this approach from just focusing on the channels your customer used to find you and buy your products and services.

Lancome brand experience journey

 

In its most basic form, your map is initiated by focusing on a series of objectives and actions of users on a timeline. This timeline is then fleshed out with the user’s thoughts and emotions, in order to narrate a story (“storytelling”).  it is that story, from the point of your customer, where this narrative becomes a visualization used to convey insights that will help to develop the design processes or make marketing decisions. Think about the Customer Empathy Maps use in the UX world that can help identify what your user is thinking, you can check out some tips on this on this post about UX and Marketing.  Your Customer Journey Map should combine storytelling and visualization to understand and address the needs of the target or customer. If you want to see some more examples this is a great post from Uuexia with some interesting examples. 

 

What should go into your Customer Journey Map?

Customer Journey Maps can be represented in many different ways depending on the context or business objectives; however, there are certain elements that are normally included, and certain guidelines to underline.

The heart of the map is the experience visualized on the timeline, divided into differentiated phases along the journey. The users’ actions, thoughts and emotional experience throughout the journey can be complemented by quotes, videos, channels, media, etc., all with the aim of detecting potential touch points to communicate with them.

1. The Point of View

First, the “actor” in the story has to be chosen. Who is the Customer Journey Map focused on? It is a good idea to create a single point of view per map (an actor), to achieve a powerful and clear story (narrative).

2. The Script

Next, lay out the specific experience on the map. This could be an existing journey, where the mapping will reveal positive and negative moments within that current experience, or a “desirable” experience, where a journey is being designed for a product or service that does not exist yet. Be sure to clarify the user’s objective during this experience. Customer Journeys are ideal for situations that describe a sequence of events, such as a purchase process or taking a trip.

3. Actions

This of this as ways of thinking and emotions. The heart structure of a Customer Journey Map is what the user is doing, thinking and feeling during the journey. This data should be based on qualitative research, such as field studies or contextual research.

4. Touch points and channels

The map must align the touch points (moments in which the actor actually interacts with the company) and the channels (the website or physical store) with the objectives and actions of the user. These elements deserve special emphasis because they are often where brand inconsistencies and disconnected experiences are discovered.

5. Insights and responsibility

The objective of the journey mapping process is to detect gaps in the user experience in order to take steps to optimize this experience. Insights and ownership are critical elements that are often overlooked. Insights that appear after developing the Customer Journey Map should be extracted and highlighted explicitly. If policy allows, it can be interesting to assign responsibility for each part of the “journey,” to activate the optimizing measures.

lego customer journey map example

Other tips

Journey Mapping should be a collaborative process formed by well-defined objectives and extracted from exhaustive preliminary research. In addition to the above elements, certain recommendations should be taken into account to create a good Customer Journey Map:

  • Establish the “who, what and why”: you must have very clear business objectives and the target or “actor” of the map.
  • It must be based on real situations: we begin with observation, extract storytelling that is credible and based on qualitative research processes.
  • Different points of view: the vision of all the stakeholders must be taken into account in order to better understand the target’s touch points throughout the process.
  • The more detail and insights you have on your customers the better, your map must be grounded in fact.