The exponential growth of technology over the last century has made it easier than ever for a customer to interact with an organisation. As a result, organisations are facing a big challenge: the increase in competition. To succeed in an increasingly competitive online market, organisations have to develop a competitive advantage. The strongest competitive advantage is to offer a good experience to customers – with the use of digital services such as social media, email marketing and 24/7 online stores. Organisations benefit from providing a good experience, as it has the potential to drive customer loyalty and increase future sales. Therefore, to be successful, identifying negative customer experience becomes a critical goal for organisations of all types.

Customer Journey Mapping is a technique used to better understand customer experiences and how they interact with a product, service or brand. It is a diagram that represents the interactions and touchpoints a customer has, as he/she moves from pre-purchase to the post-purchase stage. One of the early advocates for CJMs and a leading customer experience expert, Bruce Temkin, defined the CJM as “Documents that visually illustrate customers’ processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their relationship with a company.”

 “There is no single right way to create a customer journey”

Although Customer Journey Maps are unique to the situation, they often follow a similar process flowing from pre-purchase to purchase to post-purchase. In the three stages, customers experience touchpoints, some of which are not under the control of the organisation. There is no single right way defined to create a CJM and you will need to find what works best for the situation. However, the framework Right Hook offer can be used to gain a better understanding of how to model the Customer Journey.

Stages in a Customer Journey Map

When learning Customer Journey Mapping for the first time it is a good idea to stick to the three basic stages. However, with more experience, these stages can be broken down further:

Pre-purchase: Includes all touchpoints on the customer’s experience before a transaction. This stage helps prospects understand the need for purchase, and the value it brings in fulfilling their goals and motivations;

Purchase: Contains all touchpoints on the customer’s experience during the purchase and initiation of a relationship. Behaviours included in this stage may include contact with customer stakeholders, online store experience and quality of the product;

Post-purchase: Encompasses all touchpoints the organisation and the customer have after purchase and during usage. Post-purchase touchpoints are often ignored, even though they have the potential to help drive customer loyalty and future sales.

During each of these stages, you should seek to visualise customer experience. This is done by identifying touchpoints that occur within each stage and if they are a positive or negative experience for the customer.

Step by step guide to create a Customer Journey Map (CJM)

  1. Set clear goals and objectives for your CJM.

  2. Conduct research and collect data.

  3. Create a visual representation of what the average customer/user looks like (customer persona).

  4. List out the touchpoints for the three purchase stages.

  5. Map out the customer journey.

  6. Make relevant changes.

1. Set clear goals and objectives for your CJM.

A CJM should be designed with a series of goals. Goals are often created with at least one scenario or product purchase in mind but can often entail a series of scenarios

The first step of any CJM should be to ask yourself what is the purpose of creating the map in the first place. Setting out goals is always a good idea, asking yourself what you are directing the map towards? What product, service or brand is it based upon? Who is the audience in question?

2. Conduct research and collect data.

Next, conduct research and collect data. The research and data collection methods will depend on the research problem or question. To complete the CJM steps, questionnaires, surveys, interviews and more need to be used. This step is crucial as it will allow you to create a representation of the average customer/user. And, visualise the journey they go through to use your product, service or brand.

Some good questions to ask include:

  • What age category do you belong to?
  • What is your gender?
  • What is your marital status?
  • What is your highest degree/level of school or equivalent?
  • Which of the following categories best describe your employment status?
  • How were you first made aware of our product, service or brand?
  • What are your goals/motivations for purchasing or using our product, service or brand?
  • How did you pay for the product?
  • Did you communicate with the brand before purchasing?
  • What is your opinion of the product/service? Poor – Excellent.
  • Do you ever require support for the product?
  • Are you aware that support is offered?
  • Out of 5, how helpful is the support offered?

The above list of demographic and customer experience based questions will help to complete the next steps. However, please tailor these questions to your situation.

3. Create a visual representation of what the average customer/user looks like (customer persona).

Personas are not real people, but are fictional, generalised representations of real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones an organisation sell. Although they are imaginary, they are designed as a by-product of real demographic and physiographic data collected in the previous step. We do, however, make up their name and personal details.

Personas are built up from various factors such as a name, a photo, a quote and key information such as demographics, needs, behaviours and attitudes. After researching these factors, it is possible to create a customer persona that can be used as the base of all future product design. The persona should use universal patterns, goals and demographic information that represents the customer base as a whole.

Boxing Science Customer PersonaCustomer persona created for “Boxing Science”

4. List out the touchpoints and experiences for the three purchase stages.

A crucial part of a CJM is the term touchpoints. A touchpoint is constantly defined as a representation of every interaction that occurs between a customer and a company’s product or service.

Based on your research, you should now be able to list out all the touchpoints as well as the experiences your customer have through each stage of the purchasing journey.

This is an important step in creating a Customer Journey Map. As it gives you insight into what actions your customers are performing and if they are having a positive or negative experience with them. Interactions that stand out as a negative experience are often referred to as “pain points”. Once these have been mapped, an attempt can be made for scenarios that have a serious pain point or many pain points to make the relevant changes.

5. Visualising the customer journey.

It’s usually a good idea to draw out your customer journey map on paper until you have a good sense of how you would like to visualise it.

Keep the journey as visual as you can. Symbols capture the eye more quickly. Using colours such as red for pain points and green for a positive experience.

Less is more. The point of your map is to focus your stakeholder on the important information. You may have a lot of detail, but only use the components that best represent what the customer’s experience is like.

Customer Journey Map Example

Boxing Science Customer Journey MapCustomer Journey Map created for “Boxing Science”

The top row offers a brief reminder of the customer persona, qualitative quotes taken from survey results and a key to understanding the importance of each touchpoint to the customer. The three purchase stages used show how the customer progresses from pre-purchase through to post-purchase. Dots were used to represent the experience a customer had with each touchpoint. Positive experiences are coloured in green, average in orange and negative in red. The main pain point for each stage was placed in the bottom row, allowing Boxing Science to visualise where negative customer experience took place and develop a strategy to improve the customer experience for future products.

6. Make relevant changes.

Your analysis should help to give you a sense of the experience customers have with your product, service or brand. You can then make the relevant changes to combat the negative experience found. Perhaps it’s offering a payment gate on your website. Or, maybe, it improves your post-purchase support.

No matter how big or small the changes are, they will have a major impact on your customer experience as they directly correlate with what customers identified as pain points. Rather than blindly making changes, you now know with your visualised Customer Journey Map to ensure those pain points are addressed.

Conclusion

First and foremost, a CJM should provide valuable insight into customer pain points and where on the journey they take place. By gaining feedback from your actual customers, or even better, your target audience identified by a customer persona, your organisation can better understand the customer’s goals, journey stages, interactions, touchpoints and pain points involved in the purchasing journey. Customer Journey Mapping creates a holistic view of customer experience, visualising data that can help to engage even the most disinterested stakeholders.

When it comes to proving the value of a Customer Journey Map, there is no quicker way than presenting negative experience demonstrating a low level of satisfaction from customers. Negative experiences can result in a bad reputation, which can damage an organisation for years. CJM’s are built to identify customer experience and give organisations the knowledge to recognise and improve areas of negative experience. Thus, they are an extremely valuable tool.