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What is a customer journey and how to map one

Customer journey maps are one of your best allies to understand what makes people use your product and eventually convert. If you want to increase the conversion of your product while creating a user friendly experience, you have to map your customer journey. In this post I describe the must-haves of a customer journey, how to map it and how it will benefit you.

This is the second of two articles on the fundamental elements of UX. You can read the first article on how to create a user persona here.

What’s a customer journey map

A customer journey map captures all the touchpoints that customers have with your brand (product, service, app, platform etc.). The touchpoints start from “never heard of your brand” to “converted customer” and beyond. This document is also called buyer journey map or user journey map. These are essentially the same thing.

In your customer journey map you want to visualize and track all these essential points. Your goal is to understand what makes users move forward or stop, so you can improve.

For example, every time a user has to open an email, or click on a button, that’s a touchpoint. For each touchpoint you want to track the conversion rate. That’s how many people go through it vs how many people stop. Next to it, you also want to track how customers feel during the step. Are they led by curiosity when moving ahead? Or rather by confidence they’re doing the right thing? Are there pain points they experience before continuing?

If there are pain points, removing them will improve the overall user experience and increase your conversion rate.

Don’t forget to track both pains and delights i.e. things your customers like. When you’re testing to improve your funnel, you want to make sure you don’t remove the delight points. 

Medium buyer journey

Credits: Medium

How to create a customer journey map

There are many different ways to create a customer journey map. In my opinion, you should track at least:

  • Customer description. Describe as accurately as possible who your customer is. Think of what they like and what’s their reason to buy your product.
  • The main phases of the customer journey. These are the main steps of your funnel, like “awareness”, “comparison”, “buying decision” etc. The phases are connected to the leading feelings of users. They don’t change at every action they take, so there are fewer phases than touch points. For each phase the customer needs to have answered a certain question before moving ahead.
  • Touchpoints. Within phase, the touchpoints are all the actions a user has to take to move ahead. Does your user receive an email they have to open? That’s a touchpoint. Clicking on the link in the email body is another touchpoint. Track all these points of interaction and group them under the phase they belong to.
  • Pains and delights. The description of the things your users like and dislike about their experience with your brand. 
  • Tracking the metrics. A customer journey map is not only a static document. It is a framework you should use to experiment and earn. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep track of how each test affects the conversion of the touchpoints.

Where should you start

Start mapping the customer journey using the data you already have. You have little or no data? In this case it’s okay to start filling the map with your best assumptions about users and conversion rate. Then start to collect real data as soon as possible.

Is there a specific tool to use?

There’s no specific tool to use to create a customer journey map. You can use a chart, a wall of your office or digital tools such as Excel, Miro or Figma. Miro has nice pre-made templates you can use to make your life easier.

Miro Customer Journey

Credits: Miro

The value of using a customer journey map

The document you create shouldn’t be too complex and it shouldn’t take you too much time to start with one. Keep in mind it’s an active tool you should keep using. So better to start quickly and then improve gradually. With time you’ll abandon the standard templates and learn what it makes sense to track for your unique business needs.

The main value of a customer journey map is that it allows you to improve the overall journey by acting on each single metric. The map creates awareness of the general experience that a user has with your brand. Tracking the phases and touchpoints helps you understand where the bottlenecks are. Then you can direct your qualitative tests there to learn why, instead of shooting in the dark. That’s why customer journey maps are so widely used when you want to optimize the conversion of your funnel.

 

This is the second of two articles on the fundamental elements of UX. You can read the first article on how to create a user persona here.

 

If you have mapped your customer journey and you need to learn more from your users, I recommend you read the 7 tips on how to get customer interviews right.

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