This guide will teach you how to create a customer experience journey map, analyze each key touchpoint, and take action to transform the customer experience.
The benefits of customer journey mapping
The first step to creating a customer journey map is to understand its many benefits and to communicate them across your organization. Leadership from across departments should be on board for your journey mapping to be a success.
Let’s start with some impressive statistics by McKinsey: Maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.
These stats by McKinsey can be summed up in one simple sentence: A successful customer journey map program will optimize CX and your bottom line. It will do this by giving you insight into what your customers need and any parts of your brand, product or process that aren’t meeting expectations.
If we wanted to convince you of the importance of customer journey mapping, we could stop right here, but we’re sticklers for details.
Here are the key benefits of using customer journey maps.
Hone in on your customers
You might have a good idea of the different customers (also known as personas) that interact with your brand, but unless you’ve already mastered the customer journey map, then we’ll bet that there’s still some key customer insight you’re missing out on.
There’s a difference between knowing the demographics of your personas and knowing their wants and needs as it pertains to the product and/or service you provide.
Without a proper journey map, you’re missing out on the psychographics of your customers. This is extremely risky because you don’t want to waste time and money by repeatedly targeting the wrong audience.
A journey map will spotlight the pain points of your personas and will give you a good picture of the goals they are trying to achieve with your company.
Identify and fix customer pain points
The journey map will help you identify the areas that need improvement across multiple processes for your customers.
Once you’ve identified the issues, you can prioritize them and implement the changes necessary to improve the experience. There’s more to come on this later in the guide.
Reveal the key moments in your journey
Just as a customer journey will reveal your pain points, it’ll also show you the areas that are working and why. This opens you to the opportunity of making good experiences even better and boosting customer loyalty and retention.
Create a customer-centric culture
When done right, any employee should be able to look at the customer journey map and understand the key touchpoints in the customer’s journey as well as whether it’s related to their particular role or department.
If your customer journey map can accomplish this, you’ll find that employees across the company will always have the customers’ needs in mind. As such, you’ll ensure a customer-centric culture across the board.
This is especially valuable in large companies where it’s harder to coordinate all the departments to have the same customer-focused goals.
These maps will help build empathy for the customer, which is a key element for better customer experiences.
Reveal who and what is influencing the customer journey
A CJM maps out the touchpoints that cross with multiple departments. Thus, it allows you to identify the role of each team and the impact they are making to the customer experience.
Once you’ve learned the influence of each group, you can assign ownership of key touchpoints in the experience to those specific departments.
Measure the success of your customer experience program
The customer journey map should fuel your customer experience strategy. Measuring each touchpoint through the Voice of the Customer (VoC) will feed valuable customer data into your CX program, informing you of what’s working and what isn’t. We’ll discuss in detail the use of customer data further in this guide.
Common pitfalls with journey mapping
With all these benefits, why aren’t all brands delivering stellar CX through these maps?
It’s not that simple. If this is your first time doing a journey map, you’re bound to run into some problems.
Let’s go over the common pitfalls that you should be mindful of before getting into journey mapping.
Falling into the process mapping trap
Don’t forget that the customer journey map needs to be customer-centric. It sounds simple enough, but many companies fall into the trap of mapping a company-centric journey, which is often referred to as process mapping.
A process map lays out the internal process for a specific department. It focuses on how companies can implement procedures that lead to operational efficiencies. This map also helps employees understand how to carry out their roles in an efficient way.
Although this type of map should exist within a company, it’s very different from a customer journey map, which focuses on external processes that deliver the best experience possible for customers.
Skipping on the customer input
An accurate customer journey map can’t exist without customer input. There are many different ways you can collect feedback from customers regarding various journey touchpoints, from in-person interviews to surveys and focus groups (which would all fall under your Voice of the Customer program).
Customer feedback will reveal what’s important to your customers and devalue other aspects of the journey.
Not activating the journey map
Finishing the customer journey map is only the beginning. Your team must have a strategy in place for taking action on your map.
Decide on how you’ll use your map to continue to optimize the experience. Answer the questions: How often will you measure each touchpoint? How will you communicate with employees the opportunities you find? Etc.
B2B versus B2C customer journey mapping
We could write an entire guide on the difference between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) customer journey maps—and we will—but for now, since this resource is focused on the basics of CJM, one chapter will suffice.
Nevertheless, this chapter is very important: Some of the key steps to customer journey mapping (which we’ll discuss in the next chapter) will require an extra layer of customization based on whether you’re mapping a B2B or B2C journey. So let’s go over these differences now.
To start, the chart below by Makai does a good job of summarizing the key differentiators that you need to know.
This chart isn’t the be-all-end-all of customer journey mapping for B2C and B2B. However, it’s a good reference point. It was referred to us by CX expert and CEO of CustomerThink, Bob Thomson, who we recently sat down with to discuss B2B and B2C journey mapping differences. Below is an overview of what he shared.
B2B customer journey mapping
Broadly speaking, business-to-business customer journey mapping is more complex than that of business-to-customer.
One reason is that the B2B buying cycles last longer, between 1-3 months, and 80% of these cycles involve up to six people. For instance, even if there is one person that will sign the purchase order, there are other stakeholders such as the technical staff, executive sponsors, line managers, users, etc.
Meanwhile, on the selling, vendor side, there are salespeople, customer support representatives, accounting personnel, manufacturing, accounting, legal, and more. Each one of these individuals plays a role across the customer journey.
This tells us that although some B2B journey maps can be low-involvement (like buying small office supplies) the majority are high-involvement when compared to B2C due to the volume of stakeholders involved.
There is increasing use of online resources, such as social media, review websites and vendor website comparisons, which has lengthened the duration of the B2B buying and decision process.
Also, customer personas often vary by specific journey with B2B. They illuminate business factors that influence their behavior and decision-making, such as their role, goals, preferences, pain points, etc.
Oftentimes, B2B relationships can last years, even decades. And a serious problem with just one customer can put a lot of revenue at risk. So if you’re overwhelmed by the complexity of B2B journey mapping, start with the most influential journey and persona(s).
When it comes to collecting feedback across the journey, you need to keep in mind that your different personas have diverse motivations and behaviors—you can’t send them the same survey at the same touchpoints. Reach each persona where and when it matters the most.
Don’t overdo it with the surveys either. One survey every month or so will suffice in B2B. Lastly, try not to automate everything. With B2B customers, a phone-call with customer success can result in valuable qualitative feedback. And don’t forget to collect usage data—you might find a goldmine of information.
So, in summary:
- A B2B journey map often includes multiple personas, each with unique needs and behaviors.
- The customer relationships tend to be of higher monetary value than for B2C.
- The customer feedback program for B2B maps requires a high level of customization due to the multiple personas within one journey.
B2C customer journey mapping
Generally speaking, B2C customer journey mapping is simpler than B2B. Most journey maps feature one persona as the buyer, for example, shoppers at a store, a personal banking account, or cell phone service. Unlike the lengthy B2B journey, a B2C buying journey could take as little as a few minutes or just a day.
This, however, changers for B2C companies that sell complex products, like mortgages and other financial services; their journeys could include multiple personas and last weeks or months.
A B2C customer persona profile features personal characteristics—like hobbies or favorite sport—that might influence how they behave in their buying journey.
And because most B2C customer journey maps feature just one persona, the customer feedback process can be less customized than with B2B. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be methodical with your collection strategy. In fact, unsolicited insight plays a key role in B2C companies. Pay attention to social media and support conversations because your customers will.
So, in summary:
- A B2C journey typically involves one persona and could last as little as a few minutes.
- Customer journey mapping can be high-involvement when a B2C company sells complex products like a mortgage or a car.
- While both B2B and B2C have target markets, B2C tends to have a larger number of customers with shorter and simpler buying processes.
How to launch a comprehensive CJM program
There isn’t one right way to tackle a customer journey map. However, there are 11 basic steps that every company should follow to set the right foundation. Afterward, feel free to customize your map all you want if will help you achieve your CX goals.
All right, here we go.
Step 1: Create a cross-functional team
Your customer journey map will touch many aspects of your business. So unless the entire company is engaged with your CJM program, you’ll see limited success. Right from the get-go, start a cross-functional team consisting of representatives from each key area of your company.
The cross-functional team’s goal will be to ensure that everyone within the company is partaking in the bettering of the customer journey. It will also allow for swift strategizing and cross-functional communication of changes that will impact your map.
Step 2: Establish clear objectives for your map
In general, the goal of a customer journey map is to meet or exceed customers’ expectations. But that’s not enough to guide your team through the rigorous process of journey mapping. You need a clear focus with a measurable objective.
Start by asking yourself:
- What experience do you want to improve?
- Who is the persona(s) for this experience?
- What are the specific goals you want to accomplish?
Answering these questions will help you decide which experience and persona to focus on. For example, let’s say a health clinic knows that they need to improve their new patient experience.
Their experience could be new patient onboarding.
And their persona could be:
- John Smith
- Age 25
- Prefers communication via digital channels
Once you’ve identified your focus, you should put together a key measurable goal for your map.
For instance, a specific goal for the health clinic could be: To identify and fix the top 3 issues in our online signup flow experience for our new patients, resulting in an increase of retention by 20% in the next 2 years.
Step 3: Profile your persona
We know that with certain maps, especially for B2B, you’ll have to focus on multiple personas at once. But for the sake of this exercise, let’s pretend you have one persona.
Take your time with this step. Without a deep knowledge of your persona, you might lose sight of that customer-centric vision you need to have for your map.
Your persona’s profile should feature information about them that will guide their behavior, decision-making, and perception as it relates to the specific experience you’re mapping.
Below is an example from Iron Springs Design featuring the persona of a CEO.
Here is another B2B persona profile example from yours truly.
This profile will help you determine your persona’s goals and experience across the entire lifecycle of the journey map.
Step 4: List out the stages
Depending on the source, the stages section of your journey map might be called chapters or behavioral phases. Regardless, these terms all represent your persona’s relationship with your company from beginning to end.
The six popular customer lifecycle stages are:
But what you’ll most likely find is that your persona’s journey stages are a bit more specific than the list above.
For example, a doctor’s office new patient experience journey map might have the following stages:
Having this end-to-end relationship mapped out in stages will allow you to see how all of the touchpoints in this journey interrelate.
Step 5: Identify your persona’s goals
You need to be aware of everything the persona is trying to achieve (aka their goals) throughout this particular experience.
There are two elements to this:
- The ultimate goal for that particular journey.
- The distinct goal(s) for each stage across the map.
Start with the high-level goal for your journey map, and then break it down by stages.
Here are some ways to identify your persona’s goals:
- Brainstorm goals with colleagues from various departments (use existing research and knowledge).
- Survey and/or interview customers that fall under this persona group.
- Get user testing feedback.
- Study customer support feedback (because it easily sheds light on trending issues).
- Write down the typical questions your persona would be asking at each stage.
- Validate your goals with additional research.
Most likely you’ll list multiple goals per stage. That’s expected. All you need to do is consolidate the goals into the single specific touchpoint that they represent.
Let’s continue to use the health clinic journey map. At the Appointment stage, their persona’s goals might include:
- Get advice from the doctor.
- Understand their options for treatment.
- Share concerns with certain medications.
All of these could be consolidated into one touchpoint: Discuss treatment options with the doctor.
Step 6: Plot the touchpoints
Each stage in your map will have various touchpoints that you’ll identify in step 5 above.
For instance, The Appointment stage mentioned above could have the following primary touchpoints:
- Travel to the doctor’s office.
- Check into the front desk.
- See the doctor.
- Check out of the office.
Under each primary touchpoint, you’ll most likely have other smaller touchpoints. For instance, the check-in touchpoint can include:
- Fill out and submit paperwork to the front desk.
- Provide insurance information.
- Wait to be called into the doctor’s office.
These touchpoints should all be noted in the journey. One easy way to organize them is by stacking these smaller touchpoints next to each other (if they are interchangeable or happen simultaneously) and below their relevant primary touchpoint.
Step 7: Add other key contributing elements
There are other elements that you should consider adding to your customer journey map, however, if you don’t think they would add value, don’t apply them.
Here they are for your consideration accompanied by examples from Smaply.
A storyboard can consist of illustrations, photos, or screenshots that help demonstrate your persona’s experience across the journey. Why use it? It might help your team navigate the journey map quicker and empathize with your persona.
A text lane
This is a section on your map where you have the liberty to add notes. Such as a more detailed description of your persona’s experience, KPIs, brainstorming notes, etc.
A channel lane
Identify which channel(s) your persona uses at each touchpoint. It can be as simple as using an icon for your channels, such as a mobile phone or computer. Noting the channels will help you identify who is most responsible at these touchpoints.
The emotion journey
This can illustrate how satisfied your persona is at each touchpoint (if you know). This is helpful only if you already have this information from the get-go.
Step 8: Validate your customer journey map
You’ve created your high-level map that demonstrates the persona’s end-to-end experience. But you can’t consider it final until you’ve validated the journey.
One way of doing this is by experiencing the journey yourself. This is a great opportunity to actually walk in your customer’s shoes.
Another way is using your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program data: both unstructured and structured. If you’re not already collecting feedback at the key touchpoints, don’t worry, we’ll show you how later in this guide.
If you’re using analytics tools, like Google Analytics, you can also leverage existing customer data to confirm that you’re not missing any touchpoints. This includes also your customer service feedback and data. What is your target persona complaining the most about? What do they need?
Lastly, one of the most efficient ways of validating your journey map is by interviewing the persona. This will also help you easily capture the emotions that the persona experiences across the journey.
Step 9: Prioritize the scope for your map
Now it’s time to decide which part of the journey you want to prioritize. This will ensure that you invest your time and resources where it matters the most.
Your validation and research steps should have given you insight into the touchpoints that are most important to the persona as well as which ones are most frustrating and/or satisfying. Now it’s time to apply those findings to your map.
Make sure your cross-functional team is heavily involved in this process. The decision you make in terms of the scope must be customer-centric. However, it must also consider the biggest business impact. This shouldn’t be a problem, given that the happier your customer is, the more likely they will continue to engage with your brand.
Before you can decide your scope and create a micro-interactive map, you need to assess the customer satisfaction for every stage and touchpoint.
You can do this by using color codes. Such as the following example from Forrester:
Customer satisfaction doesn’t need to be the only factor for assessing priority. You should also consider:
- Business value.
- Internal support.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with touchpoints to fix. Ask yourself which of these touchpoints really drives customer loyalty.
Step 10: Take action on the pain points
So you’ve identified the most important pain points that you need to fix and you’ve taken action to try to resolve those issues. How do you know whether these improvements have made a difference? You need to collect and analyze feedback across the journey.
The easiest way to do this is by leveraging surveys across key touchpoints. However, this process can be tricky—you don’t want to overdo it and you need to make sure to use the right customer loyalty metric.
To give you a solid starting point, below you’ll find recommendations on how to measure the experience in various key journey lifecycles.
Discover and Explore stages
The best metric for these stages is Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). Focus on public comments and social media to understand the key issues and sentiments. Then ask the customer to provide an overall rating, then ask about their goals, how well the site met their needs, performance, etc. Some text analytics tools will output a derived CSAT or sentiment score, which you can use as an overall measure of this part of the journey.
The best metrics for this stage are Customer Effort Score (CES) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). At this stage, the ease of completing the purchase is critical. CES is most useful for routine interactions that should be done efficiently. CSAT should be used to evaluate more complex purchasing experiences, including B2B. In this case, while an effortless experience is important, don’t forget to consider other purchasing factors that influence the experience.
The best metric for this stage is CSAT. You’ll want to understand solution performance, usability, quality, etc. Customer satisfaction Score surveys are highly versatile and can be adapted to almost any use case.
Ask and Engage stages
The best metrics for these stages are CES and CSAT. For most basic consumer service interactions, speed thrills. That’s why CES is growing in usage as a top-level metric. But for complex B2B support calls, the total time to resolve an issue could be more important, which suggests using CSAT instead.
For a better understanding of each of these metrics, check out our article on NPS, CES, and CSAT.
Once you’ve received sufficient insight to have a clear view of the journey experience, you’re ready to take further action if necessary.
Step 11: Monitor and update your map
The only way to ensure that you’re making impactful CX improvements is by setting up a program where your cross-functional team is continuously monitoring and updating the customer experience journey map.
Create a system across your company to promote and maintain your journey map current. This will ensure its relevance to customer experience efforts.
You should also develop a communications plan that will inform stakeholders and peers across your company on how the journey map program is helping them achieve their goals. Highlight the smaller, quick wins to boost morale and motivation. And create a process that allows for easy access to the CJM data across the company.
Lastly, identify KPIs and prove the ROI of your journey map program. Examples of measurable KPIs are: Customer acquisition, customer retention, conversion rates, repeat purchase rate, customer lifetime value, customer churn, etc.
To learn more about proving the ROI of CX programs, check out our ROI guide.
A few words about service blueprints
A service blueprint is a diagram that illustrates the relationships between different service organizational processes that are directly tied to the touchpoints within a customer journey map.
Blueprints should always align with a business goal, such as reducing redundancies or improving the employee experience.
There are many benefits to a service blueprint, but the one that is most relevant to this guide is that it helps you identify weaknesses within your company that impact the customer experience.
Below is an example of a service blueprint by Nielsen Norman Group.
Put in simple terms, a service blueprint is an internal journey map for your company that reveals how you can optimize your internal processes which will, in turn, benefit the customer experience.
Examples of customer journey maps
We’ve done a lot of talking up until now—it’s time we look at some examples of customer journey maps.
Refer to these maps for inspiration, not as something you need to replicate necessarily. We’ve broken down these CJMs by B2B and B2C.
Examples of B2B customer journey maps
Below is a CJM example for Insurety, which provides cloud-based solutions and data analytics for the world’s largest insurers, brokers, and MGAs.
Here is a customer journey map of a phone system solution for businesses.
And below is the example of a wealth management service journey map.
Examples of B2C customer journey maps
Below is an example of a customer journey map for an educational program. (Click here to enlarge.)
And see below for an example of a map for a railway company. (Click here to enlarge.)
Lastly, here is an example of a CJM for a healthcare provider. (Click here to enlarge.)
Free customer journey map template
The hardest part of customer journey mapping is getting started. Especially since there are so many ways to map out an experience.
To make it easier for you, we’ve created a free CJM template. Go on, take a look!
Regardless of whether you’re part of a B2B or a B2C company, the core principles of customer journey mapping remain the same.
Prioritize the customer experience journeys that have the biggest impact on your key personas and your business goals. Don’t rely on your gut to determine the areas of improvement—use insight from market research, customer feedback, and other external sources.
And remember that there is no end to a customer journey map program. Only by continuously monitoring and making improvements will you be able to deliver the best customer experience.