Customer Journeys: 6 Ways to Help you Start your Customer Journey Map

Author: Caroline Schmid | Categories: Demand Generation, Marketing Automation

A customer journey is the process of developing a map of the customer’s experience. It encompasses all the steps users, prospects or customers go through when engaging with your company- from your initial contact with the customer during consideration, into purchase and through your long-term relationship with them. The ideal result is that as a brand or company, what you are offering a unique experience for your buyers- your specific customer experience.

Before the digital and customer-centric marketing, journeys were often considered linear with customers moving in a direct path through the company’s sales funnel. With so many channels, options and research paths now, people don’t make purchase decisions in exactly the same manner and each customer goes through different steps and processes to consider and purchase a product. There are an exponential number of experiences and journeys that can be developed to provide personalized 1:1 experiences. Now customers expect their journey to be highly personalized and specific.

As marketers, this can present a challenge as it is difficult to develop individualized experiences with a finite amount of time and resources. What we can do is consolidate the process by leveraging buyer personas to develop specific paths. By using different, unique buying personas, we can develop customer journeys that allow for radically different paths to awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, purchase and nurture.

When you create your initial journeys, you should focus on your customer’s motivations- something that is defined within your customer profiles and then tracked along the journey.

  • What is the ultimate goal at each stage along the funnel, what are they looking to achieve and what are their expectations of you as a company?
  • How is your customer feeling? What are they thinking? 

But, just knowing who your customers are and their state of mind is not enough. Being able to align what they want to accomplish when they come to each of your channels is key. Mapping out their paths from first interaction to the last will show if they are achieving their goals.

You can use the process to identify gaps, points in the customer experience that are disjointed or painful. Including

  • gaps between devices, when a user moves from one device to another;
  • gaps between departments, where the user might get frustrated.
  • gaps between channels (for example, where the experience of going from social media to the website could be better).

Demand Generation

The customer journey map

Creating a journey map requires a lot of careful thought and consideration, and may seem somewhat overwhelming given the massive amount of data and potential interaction points that you identified along the journey. Keep in mind that intricate journeys are created over time and they get more complex as your organization adds capabilities through new marketing tools, channels and communication points. Initially, there are a few steps that can help start the process or refine one that already exists. You can continue to build on these journeys and optimize them as you discover more about your customers behaviors, needs or wants as well as analyze the success of the journeys you have.

  1. The initial stage of your journey map will be a trigger that you have identified that alerts you when the buying cycle has begun. By understanding your business and feedback from your customers you can identify problems that your customer needs to solve, reasons that they may have to switch companies, or even an external trigger such as a new need that may begin the process.
  2. Identify your customer path, the stages of your sales and marketing sales funnel. After the trigger, what is the most likely stage and identify most likely points of entry for those stages. The stages your customers will go through while navigating digital or physical paths may be different. After looking through your personas, you will have a pretty good idea the process your customers go through from awareness to eventual purchase and subsequent interactions.  Use this information to learn how customers are guided to take their next steps from awareness to consideration and evaluations. How do customer journeys unfold based on the information that comes back in their discovery process?
  3. Align Customer goals and behavior with the different stages. Put thought into what your customers want to achieve as they move through each phase. Then, you’ll be able to see if you have the necessary information, content, support or service to achieve those goals.
  4. Depict the channels that might be involved or used at each stage and the resources the buyers are most likely to use. This will help you ensure that you remember to develop plans to capture behaviors in these channels and utilize tools to create a database so you can act on these interactions and deliver a custom experience in these channels. Who are the experts? What are the communities where people go? Who influences them? What do they find and learn? What technologies and services do they use? What happens as a result?
  5. Determine the customer touchpoints. Think of the touchpoints as both the places where your customers are engaging with you and where you can support the completion of their goals. These touchpoints will be grouped under the relevant stage in your customer’s journey. Focusing on Moments of Truth can be a good start for this step. Moments of Truth are points in a customer lifecycle that are more important than all the day-to-day interactions. By concentrating on these key moments of truth, you have a bigger impact on a customer’s level of satisfaction and can influence their retention.
  6. Think through any questions or concerns that may arise. A well-thought-out customer journey exercise should be responsive. If you take the time to foresee what could become concerns or the potential process gaps we identified above, you can develop responses in advance including new content or processes that eliminate concerns before they even surface. Based on what you discover, you may have to adapt processes, strategies and technology investments to improve the experience.