Today, the vast majority of brand touchpoints are digital. Successful brands understand the importance of each user interaction. That’s why they are the masters of delivering not just products or services, but a holistic customer experience.
So, how are they able to do that? And how can you replicate their approach of making each brand interaction customer-centric?
A customer journey map is a great place to start.
Customer journey maps visualize how your customers interact with your brand across different channels. This helps you decide which strategic initiatives to spend your budget on. Customer journey mapping also helps break silos and foster widespread empathy for customers in your organization.
Let’s look at some of the important stages of developing a customer journey map.
1. Define Scope and Ownership
Each customer journey map should have a specific context. For example, are you mapping the journey of only one or multiple user personas? Are you mapping the entire journey or a particular flow? Such questions will help you define the scope of your project.
Customer journey mapping is a collaborative process that involves stakeholders from multiple teams – Product, Marketing, UX, Sales, Support, or some combination of those teams. But, it’s important to specify who owns the customer journey.
A couple of years ago, MyCustomer surveyed businesses to find out who is responsible for mapping customer journeys in businesses across the globe.
Source – MyCustomer
As you can see, it’s much easier for organizations that have a dedicated Head of CX to make this decision. However, if that’s not the case, you can choose a senior executive to map the journey. More than the profile, what’s important is for the executive to have authority to influence the product direction.
2. Consolidate Existing Research
Customer journey mapping will be infinitely richer if you utilize existing research and notes. Feedback is usually scattered across multiple channels such as product review sites, NPS scores, email interactions, etc. These comments would help you chart your user’s emotional response at various stages of the journey map.
Before mapping your customer journey, consolidate user research and notes from all sources available. In addition to making you more informed about customer experience, this serves another valuable purpose — involving other stakeholders earlier in the process helps drive alignment further down the line.
3. List Actions and Label Phases
There are various customer mapping templates available online. While there are variations across them, three aspects remain common – actions, emotions, and opportunities.
Customer Journey Map Template on Miro
Now, pick any template you like and think about various actions that customers take/might take when interacting with your company. Note that organizations can create customer journey maps both before and after launching their product. In the former, as they don’t have actual customers, organizations chart the journey of prospective customers.
For example, let’s say you are building an app that allows hobbyist farmers/gardeners to sell their produce directly to customers. Let’s pick the persona of the seller and try to track all the actions involved in selling their products.
- Making small batches of produce
- Harvesting produce
- Hand drawing labels for branding
- Numbering and dating batches
- Driving to stores to sell the product
- Learning and upskilling to get better at their craft
A common mistake at this stage is for only one team to be involved in the process. The more collaborative your initial brainstorming is, the more comprehensive your customer journey map would be. Thus, involve all relevant stakeholders such as support, sales, marketing, even prospective customers (if possible) in the discussion. You can use an online collaboration tool like Miro to manage the process.
Labeling different groups of actions as phases would help in organizing the customer journey. The best way to label actions is to think about where the customer goal changes. For example, you can group making small batches of produce and harvesting produce under producing. Similarly, hand drawing labels and numbering batches could be labeled under branding.
4. Explore Customer Emotions
Once you have charted the actions, it’s time to go a layer deeper and understand customer emotions, i.e., their thoughts and feelings.
When plotting thoughts, plot any insights you might have on what your customers think during their experience. Are they confused? Do they have specific expectations? Such insights should be drawn from data and not just assumptions. That’s why it’s vital to consolidate user feedback early in the process.
Similarly, when plotting feelings, think about how customers emotionally perceive their experience. Look for any customer quotes or observations that indicate emotions — both positive and negative. Was the customer frustrated, delighted, or worried? What motivated them to take their actions?
Trace the root cause of each customer emotion.
Some templates use a line chart to visually plot customer emotions and identify which phase of the journey requires the most attention. Some templates combine thoughts and feelings, while others have separate rows for them. Again, there are no rigid rules. Simply pick a template that works for you.
5. Highlight Opportunities to Improve
After actions and emotions, the third essential aspect of a customer journey map is – opportunities. After, all a journey map is only valuable if you use it to enhance the overall experience. Opportunities are ways you can remove friction or pain points from your customer’s journey.
Similar to the previous steps, make the brainstorming collaborative. Pick a pain point to solve first and give everyone five to ten minutes to brainstorm ways to make that part of the experience less painful. If you can’t figure out which pain point to solve first, revisit the thoughts/feelings section of the map and see which part of the journey is most painful to customers.
Think high-level at this point — don’t get bogged down in the details of execution. Also, don’t worry about how feasible your solutions would be. The goal is to come up with as many solutions to the pain points as possible.
6. Prioritize Action Items
With actions, emotions, and opportunities, you now have a complete customer journey map.
A Sample Customer Journey Map of the Persona – Hobbyist Seller
However, there is one step left before the map becomes actionable – prioritization. You can’t execute all the opportunities. So, as a team, you need to prioritize.
The easiest way to prioritize is to consider Impact vs. Effort. How much will your idea impact your customer’s experience? What would it take to implement that solution? You can use an impact/effort grid and plot all your ideas on it.
Impact – Effort Matrix
Make sure you discuss with your team why each idea is High Effort vs. Low Effort or High Impact vs. Low Impact. Again, the goal is to uncover disagreements and align all the stakeholders.
Finally, take the High Impact/Low Effort and High Impact/High Effort ideas and place them back on the journey map. These outcomes would serve as valuable inputs for your product roadmap.
7. Get Feedback and Iterate
You might have noticed that a common thread across all our previous steps has been collaboration. We can’t emphasize that enough. Whether it is charting customer actions and emotions or uncovering and prioritizing opportunities, alignment among stakeholders is the key to making the customer journey map actionable. If you create the journey map in isolation, you will struggle to find support to drive its recommendations forward.
It also helps to share the customer journey map with stakeholders who couldn’t take part in the previous steps. A fresh pair of eyes can give new perspectives and insights that you might have missed earlier.
8. From Journey Map to Roadmap
Finally, add the High Impact/Low Effort and High Impact/High Effort opportunities to your product roadmap. This is the bridge that makes your customer journey map actionable.
Don’t worry if you don’t have specific due dates for the action items. You can break the roadmap into simple phases. As you get more clarity, this can evolve into a more structured timeline.
Remember that customer journey maps come in all shapes and sizes. So, don’t get intimidated by the details. As long as you follow a collaborative approach to uncovering customer actions, emotions, and opportunities, you’ll end up with a useful resource to drive your product roadmap. With time and practice, you can refine the template to make it even better.
To learn more about customer journey mapping and explore other product development templates, download the Experience Mapping Kit or check out Product Kickstart — our proven methodology to de-risk software development.
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