What is a Customer Journey Map?

February 16, 2016 Nicole Klemp

customer journey map

To really understand the Customer Experience (CX), it’s important for CX professionals to map out the many interactions customers have with their brand. To do this, many organizations create customer journey maps to record these interactions and identify opportunities.

So what is a customer journey map, and how do you create one? According to the Harvard Business Review, a customer journey map is a diagram that illustrates the steps customers go through when engaging with a company. These interactions include online experiences, in-store experiences, and/or experiences with a company’s products or services.

By mapping out specific customer interactions, CX teams can better understand customer needs, and can cater their processes to better serve them. But according to Forrester Research,  journey maps are merely a guide, not a solution to business problems. Organizations should use journey maps to lay the foundation for a more customer-centric culture.
CJMThe above example shows how a customer used various channels to shop for a smartphone. She used social channels to learn more about the company and get recommendations from her social networks. After doing her research, she contacted the company via email and by calling their contact center. With all of the different channels customers interact with, it’s important for companies to create a cohesive, connected experience. That’s what makes journey mapping such an important exercise. It allows the organization to align every department and employee that customers will encounter, which in turn streamlines the customer journey.

What should go into a customer journey map?

There is no right or wrong way to create a customer journey map. What’s important is that it helps organizations better understand their customers and effectively guides them in improving the overall CX. For more guidance, Forrester has identified some best practices for creating an effective customer journey map:

  • Identify customer personas and make them your journey map focal point. To cover the diverse motivations and behaviors of customers, organizations should create different maps for different customer personas.
  • Consider help from a third party. Although organizations can create customer journey maps using only their internal resources, many turn to outsiders to get a fresh perspective. It’s always helpful to get unbiased feedback from someone who isn’t as close or as invested in the subject matter.
  • Determine the appropriate level of detail. The level of detail you need to show on your journey map depends on how you plan to use it. Consider these 3 journey map levels: “customer missions,” “journeys,” and “subjourneys.” A customer mission has the least amount of detail of the 3, and is appropriate for high-level communication about the broader customer journey. Journeys reveal a bit more detail — like specifics about customer tasks within each phase of their journey — and provide the organization with more opportunities for improvement. Subjourneys look at how customers use specific functionality at different touchpoints, which provides a better opportunity to create actionable insights to improve CX at different channels.
  • Have a CX hypothesis. Before digging in to customer research, it’s important to have hypotheses about potential opportunities for improvement, and to make adjustments accordingly. That way, you can better gauge the areas where you’ve been on the right track, versus those where drastic improvements (and potential investments) must be made.



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