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Who is your customer? What does your customer need – and what don't they need? How do they feel about your brand?

You can answer all of these essential questions and many more with customer journey mapping. A customer journey map identifies all the touchpoints a customer has with your brand and helps you identify ways you can maximize the brand experience.

Key takeaways

·       Customer journey mapping helps you visualize how and where customers interact with your brand

·       Customer journey mapping helps you better understand your customers and provide a better customer experience

·       Before you create a customer journey map, research your customers to create detailed customer personas

·       Map every touchpoint on the customer journey to gain important insights

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a tool that helps you visualize how customers interact with your brand. Think of a customer journey map as a visual timeline of every customer's engagement with your brand. Following the customer journey map from start to finish helps you see your brand the way customers do so you can determine what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong, and where you can improve the customer experience.

Why customer journey mapping is important for your brand

Customer journey mapping is necessary to help you understand the brand experience of your customers. Creating and using customer journey maps provide several significant benefits for your brand:

Provides a deeper understanding of your customers

First and foremost, customer journey mapping provides a deeper understanding of your customers. (Note the plural – most businesses have different types of customers with their own unique needs, customer touchpoints and experiences.) Second, you use customer journey mapping to gain knowledge of and empathy for your customer base.

Creates a better customer experience

When you walk through the customer journey, you experience what your customers experience at every touchpoint. You quickly discover the highs and the lows of the brand experience you offer – from the customer's perspective, everything you do right and any pain points you need to address. This enables you to create better, more personalized experiences for your customers – and 91% of consumers prefer brands that personalize the customer experience.

Improves the brand experience

Customer journey mapping also helps you better understand how customers interact with and feel about your brand. You'll discover every point they engage with your brand and their impressions of each interaction – especially those that occur before they decide to make a purchase. You may discover that you're making a bad brand impression and creating a bad user experience before officially introducing your brand to customers. You'll soon realize how often your brand touches potential customers and learn how to maximize each of these interactions.

Drives better results

When you fully understand your customers and deliver a customer-centric brand experience, your business will benefit. The Aberdeen Group found that companies that employ customer journey mapping get a 54% greater return on their marketing investment than firms that don't map the customer's journey. The same survey revealed that customer journey mapping drove a 10X improvement rate in the cost of customer service. When you know about your customers, you can deliver what they need – efficiently and profitably.

How to create a brand experience-focused customer journey map

Creating a customer journey map isn't difficult. Walk through these steps, and you're on your way to better understanding your customers' brand experience:

1. Research your audience

To map your customers' journeys, you need to understand your customers. That means conducting market research – surveys, focus groups, the like – and listening to customers via formal feedback and comments to your customer support staff. Depending on your business, the best customer research comes from having one-on-one conversations with your customers. However you do it, figure out how they tick.

2. Create detailed customer personas


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The results of your customer research will help you develop personas that describe specific customer types. A persona is an archetype that represents the most important traits of a specific customer type. Customer personas go beyond simple demographics to include more personal data, including:

·       Age

·       Gender

·       Income level

·       Education level

·       Location

·       Employer (industry)

·       Job title

·       Daily routines

·       Values

·       Aspirations

·       Challenges

·       Key influencers

·       Likes

·       Dislikes

·       Buying behavior and preferences

The ideal customer persona will explain why that customer buys – or doesn't buy – your products. The following video goes into more detail on how to create customer personas:

3. Identify the key buyer personas

Because your brand attracts different types of customers, you'll need to develop customer personas for each customer type. You'll then need to identify those personas that are most important to your brand. Target a small handful of personas and direct the bulk of your efforts towards those customers' needs.

4. Map the customer journey


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Next, you want to develop a timeline of touchpoints for each of your target personas. This customer map should include each interaction the customer has with your brand. It should start well before the customer visits a store or website and continue past the product purchase.

Map all customer journey stages – initial awareness of the brand, consideration, decision making, post-purchase service, and ongoing customer loyalty. Determine the touchpoints for each stage of the journey, paying particular attention to the customer experience and any pain points encountered at each stage of the journey.

5. Gain insight

The goal of customer journey mapping is to improve the customer experience with your brand. Analyze the customer journey maps you've created for insight into the customer experience and how you can improve it.

6. Take action

Use your newfound insight to develop a better brand experience for each customer persona. This can involve any and all aspects of your product development and marketing efforts – from offering new product features to fine-tuning your website and social media messaging in an effort to increase customer satisfaction.