A Guide to Customer Journey Mapping in 2023
We walk through what a customer journey map is and how to create one.
What is customer journey mapping?
Customer journey mapping shows interactions between a company and its customers across time and channels. Most such maps visualize the customer journey with diagrams and pictures, though some use words and tables.
Customer journey maps focus on a particular aspect of the customer experience, usually for one segment of an organization's customer base per map. Some maps, for example, might cover the entire period from when someone first hears about your business until they make a purchase. Others might zoom in on a specific stage, like how existing users solve product issues by consulting your knowledge base, customer support, and other resources.
The journey mapping process aims to understand customer needs and resolve pain points at all critical touchpoints someone has with your brand.
At Segment, we created a journey map based on product metrics to understand customer expectations better and how people used our Personas feature.
Four benefits of customer journey mapping
Journey mapping gets you in your customer’s shoes to experience what it's like to interact with your company – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The insights you gain enable personalization of the customer experience, optimization of key business metrics, and a customer-centric culture.
1. Understand the role of different touchpoints & channels
By building a customer journey map, you see how all the different interactions with your business influence and relate to each other. You might overlook or underestimate the role of specific customer touchpoints if you only pay attention to visible metrics and behavior, like sales data and other conversion moments.
Say a journey mapping exercise uncovers that many young shoppers visit your stores to try out a product but buy online. Such store visits might not show up in your key business metrics. But this insight could lead you to alter the store experience or even prevent closing locations that don't drive direct sales but indirectly actually do.
2. Identify customer pain points
A journey map shows the many channels modern customers traverse to complete a purchase or other essential action with your business. This overview helps you identify roadblocks and other points of friction so you can reduce customer pain points and improve the experience at each touchpoint.
As the creator of a product or service, you easily overlook some aspects of the buyer's journey. You might test the onboarding and check-out experiences all the time but never be on the receiving end of sales calls, transactional emails, and your app's mobile notifications. But those interactions are part of the customer experience, and journey mapping ensures you don't forget about optimizing such moments, too.
3. Personalize the customer journey across channels
Mapping out the journey of a particular group of customers helps you understand which channels they visit and what they're trying to do at each touchpoint. This knowledge gives you two personalization benefits. You can:
Ensure your customer's preferred channels seamlessly connect, both on the customer-facing side (the user experience) and the backend (the data that underpins them).
Tailor each touchpoint's content to the information or solution a particular type of customer is looking for on that channel.
4. Create a customer-centric culture
A customer journey map is a deliverable everyone in your organization can reference and understand. It shows the experience with your company from the customer’s perspective without regard for departments and internal processes that often set the tone and structure of other documents and tools. This viewpoint can help break down silos and create company-wide support for customer-centric goals and projects.
How to create a customer journey map
There's no fixed format or approach for customer journey mapping. But since the practice became popular in the nineties, several common steps and best practices have emerged.
1. Pick a goal and buyer persona
The first step is understanding what goal you want to achieve with your customer journey map and for which subset of your customers.
There are four common types of customer journey maps:
Current state, to show how a journey currently works and discover opportunities for improvement.
Future state, to illustrate what you want a journey to be like and plan what it takes to get there.
Day in the life, to understand how your touchpoints fit in with everything else a customer does in their life that influences the interactions with your company.
Blueprints show a current or future state journey map with your company’s people, processes, and technologies layered on top.
Unless you're an early-stage company with one product and customer persona, you can only address one goal and customer type per map. Otherwise, the map becomes too generic, too complex, or both.
2. Identify all touchpoints & channels
Your map must include every point of contact between your customer and company for the particular journey and goal it covers. When you leave out touchpoints, you might miss critical points of opportunity or friction.
Some examples of uncommon touchpoints people often forget about:
404 Error pages on your website.
Subscription confirmation or opt-in email notifications.
Transactional emails like receipts or invoices.
Customer reviews of your products or services on other sites.
Real-world interactions with service personnel, like a receptionist or repair technician.
3. Analyze conversion & engagement data from different channels
With your map's touchpoints identified, collect all the data you have about them. Some common stats to look for are listed below. Ideally, break down these numbers between those that match your buyer persona versus others.
Customer retention, visitor, or user numbers of each touchpoint.
The bounce, drop-off, or unsubscribe rate at each touchpoint – people who stop their journey from that point on.
Conversation rates of customers taking an action you'd like them to take.
Customer feedback data about a touchpoint, say the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for a product feature.
Collecting such data and visualizing it on your map helps identify essential customer journey steps and friction points.
At this stage of modern customer journey mapping, a platform like Twilio Engage is indispensable. Omnichannel journeys generate so much data from many different sources that you can't make sense of all the information manually. Twilio Engage collects and synthesizes customer data from all your different sources. The platform can apply identity resolution, which attributes customer behavior and interactions from across touchpoints to a single unified customer profile.
4. Interview customers for direct feedback
You can't create customer journey maps without talking to customers. No matter how much data you analyze, you'll miss moments of the experience that only words and sights can convey.
Asking people about their experience – and, ideally, seeing them as they go through it – is essential for creating and validating your customer journey map. Such market research will give you insights into people’s feelings and motivations. These aspects are hard to capture from quantitative data alone.
Here are some questions you can ask when you do such qualitative research:
In what ways does our product help you?
How satisfied were you with process X (e.g., onboarding, check-out)?
Aspect X of our service made it easy for me to do Y; True or false? (e.g., The instruction manual made it easy for me to put together the product. True or false?)
Can you describe the last time you purchased a product in our category – either with a competitor or us – and what stands out about the experience?
What else can we do to support you or improve your experience with our company?
5. Plot journeys between touchpoints based on your data & feedback
By now, you have a good understanding of your customer's journey based on the collected information. You now take all this data to build and finish your actual map:
List all the touchpoints your customer might visit on the way to the goal you've set.
Plot the routes customers take to reach the goal.
Depending on the map type and your goal, add more contextual information at essential touchpoints. For example, customers' emotions, common issues you've identified, or metrics to track for a certain step.
If you've mapped out a future state, you can use your map to plan the resources and actions necessary to build it. In other cases, you can work with a tool like Journeys to bring your map to life. You can immediately roll out your improved customer experience or launch campaigns based on your journey map through the intuitive visual workflow editor.
Using real-time events,Computed Traits, or even time logic, marketers can now design workflows that move users through multi-step experiences in real time.
6. Optimize your website & marketing campaigns
Like the omnichannel customer experience itself, modern journey mapping isn't linear with a clear beginning and end. Your map shouldn't be a fixed, static document but can instead serve as a tool for continuous customer journey optimization.
To do so, mark the essential – or currently most problematic – points on the journey, then focus on improving those moments. You can also use your map to design and test alternative journey versions to see if those give better results than your current iteration.
Why an omnichannel strategy is the key to successful customer journey mapping
To map and improve a modern customer journey, you need data from every touchpoint, plus the ability to make sense of all that information. An omnichannel strategy connects all your touchpoints so you can reach and recognize customers at any phase in their journey.
This interconnectedness means you always build your journey maps based on the latest information. And, as part of an omnichannel strategy, you continuously analyze which channels each target audience prefers and can include those in your maps, too.
Twilio Segment eases every step of building omnichannel strategies and customer journeys. Our engagement solution makes it straightforward to collect data from hundreds of sources.
Your teams can connect to information from those profiles in hundreds of downstream tools. You can use that information in the Journeys feature to orchestrate personalized, well-timed, and relevant experiences across the entire customer journey.
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