Can you count how many times you have begun shopping online but ended up not making a purchase? Perhaps you became frustrated because you lost on a website while trying to buy something you need. Or maybe you’ve walked into a physical store and left it just because you did not see anything that catches your eye right away despite knowing they might have something that interests you.
It happens a lot, and every time someone gives up shopping, the store or website loses money.
But what if businesses could figure out why this happens and how to stop it? That’s where the idea of the “customer journey” comes in. Businesses can use it to understand what their customers experience when they want to buy something. It’s a way to see how they feel in each interaction with the company.
You definitely need to create it for your business or organization, however, first you need to understand what is and how to map it. In this article, we will provide you with everything you need to create your version of the customer journey.
What Is Customer Journey?
The customer journey meaning is derived from the assumption that a very small portion of potential customers gets to the point of purchase directly and quickly. Most customers have to take different steps, feel various emotions, and do some actions to complete a purchase. This path is like a journey, therefore we call it the “customer journey”.
It includes the path that a customer takes from the moment they first learn about your product or service until the point of purchase and the stages after that. It includes the stages, actions, emotions, and touchpoints that the customer experiences along the way.
The customer journey map is the visual representation of this path. Sometimes you may use these words interchangeably, and most of the time it is fine. Do not get lost in complicated definitions. You will read more about it in the following sections.
But before explaining how to create a customer journey map, we need to explain 2 important concepts in a customer journey map: stages and touchpoints. After that, we will go through all elements of a customer journey map.
5 Customer Journey Stages
The customer journey can be broken down into five major stages. Each plays a vital role in shaping the overall experience of your customers. The number and names of the stages may vary depending on the type of business, but a common framework includes the following stages:
The first stage of the customer journey is Awareness. At this stage, the customer becomes aware of their problem or need and starts looking for solutions. They may encounter your brand through advertising, social media, word-of-mouth, etc. For example, a customer may search on the internet to find a new house and see your Google ad in the results and become interested to get more information about your proposals.
In the second stage, the customer evaluates different options and compares them based on features, benefits, price, reviews, etc. In addition to visiting your website, they may read your blog posts, watch your videos, etc. For example, a customer may compare different smartphone models and brands on a third-party review site.
One of the most critical moments of the customer journey is the point where customers decide to make a purchase and become paying customers. At this stage, the customer chooses a solution and makes a purchase. Also, your sales team or customer support may need to assist or guide them. For example, a customer may buy a smartphone, after chatting with a sales representative
Nothing ends for customers when they complete a purchase. They may need some help with installation, activation, troubleshooting, etc. They may also provide feedback or ratings on your product or service. If they are happy with your services, they may return back to you and continue to purchase from you.
In the E-commerce businesses and Ecommerce customer journey, this step can rise your business above all competitors or totally destroy what you built for many years.
Negative and positive feedback can be easily shared and even get viral. So focus on this stage and deliver the best you can to satisfy your customers in the retention stage. Moreover, the cost of having returning customers is much less than getting new ones.
In the best-case scenario, some of your customers may recommend your product or service to others and become advocates for your brand. They may refer friends, share posts, etc. For example, a customer may share a thank you story on Instagram after receiving his order and recommend you to his network.
Pro tip: If you look more closely at these stages, you can see it shares the same concepts with the sales funnels and AARRR funnel. But in the customer journey, we are looking at it with a different and more in-depth perspective.
Customer Journey Touchpoints
Touchpoints are the points of contact between the user and your product or service, such as website, email, social media, etc. Or you can go to more details like “Spring promotion landing page”, “review blog article”, or “purchase details page”. Touchpoints are where you can influence the user’s experience, perception, and satisfaction whether it is a remarketing email or similar products for cross selling.
In the provided simple customer journey example, we simply have shown the main touchpoints of an online store’s customer for buying a product.
What Is Customer Journey Map?
Now that you understand the customer journey, you need to learn how to draw and show it. A customer journey map is a visual representation of the entire customer journey. It outlines the stages, touchpoints, and emotions customers experience. By mapping this process, you gain insights into pain points, challenges, and opportunities for enhancement.
A customer journey map is based on a customer journey, but it is not the same thing. A customer journey map is a tool that you can use to analyze and optimize your customer’s journey.
What Are Customer Journey Map Elements?
Your customer journey map can take various forms, ranging from a simplified version showing touchpoints to a comprehensive format that includes several elements. But always keep in mind that the main goal is to understand your customer path from where they start to look for an answer to their need (whether it is a product, a service, or even information). So, if making things simpler is easier for you, then create your customer journey maps as easily as you can.
Here you can see a very simple customer journey map example:
In this simple customer journey of an online store, we only mentioned the touchpoints. We did not clarify user actions or other elements. You will get to know each of these elements in the following lines.
However, if you already have experience in creating journeys or you are up to more challenging tasks, you can include the following elements in your map. This is one of the most complete lists of Customer Journey Map Elements that you can find.
There are many different paths that can be taken to reach your business. But it is impossible to draw every one of them. Most of the time, there are a few more important journeys that cover most of your customers.
Imagine you have an online store selling fashion accessories. The journey of someone who already bought from you is different from someone who never heard about your brand and just saw your ad on Google search. If you do Google advertisements frequently, then you need to create this customer journey because it is important for your business.
The point is, you need to know each of your customer journey maps, is related to which group of your customers. This is where mentioning the personas in each map is really important. You already created buyer personas for your business (if don’t you need to read the “Solving the mystery of Create Buyer Persona” article now), now all you have to do is to put the name(s) of the persona(s) who will probably take a certain journey to interact with your business.
Customer Journey Stages
These act as general clusters that encompass specific user actions and touchpoints. We explained it completely in the 5 Customer Journey Stages section.
They are the points of contact between the customer and your product or service, such as website, email, social media, etc. We explained it in the customer journey touchpoints section.
User actions are the actions and behaviors that the user performs at each touchpoint or stage of the buying process, such as searching for information, comparing options, making a purchase, etc. Analyzing user actions can help you understand their behaviors.
User actions also help you measure the effectiveness of your product or service and identify the areas for improvement.
To capture user actions in the customer journey map, you need to collect data from different sources, such as analytics, software like Crazy Frog and Hotjar, user testing, observation, etc. You need to list all the actions that customers take throughout their journey, from the first contact to the last.
Emotions show how customers feel at each stage and touchpoint of their interaction with your brand. Emotions are important because they influence customer decisions, satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. Emotions also help you identify the pain points and opportunities to improve your customer experience.
To capture emotions in the journey map, you need to collect data from different sources, such as surveys, interviews, feedback forms, social media, etc. You need to ask customers how they felt and why they felt that way at each step of their journey.
To display emotions in the customer journey map, you can use different methods, such as emotion graphs, icons, words, colors, etc. The goal is to make the emotions visible and easy to understand for anyone who looks at the map.
Pain Points and Challenges
Pain points are another element in the customer journey map that show the issues and problems that customers face in dealing with your brand. Clarifying them will help you to identify obstacles that customers face and try to remove them. Pain points also help you prioritize the areas that need improvement and find solutions to solve customer problems.
In order to capture customer pain points on a journey map, you need to collect data from a variety of sources, such as user feedback, surveys, interviews, and analytics. You need to look for negative aspects of the customer experience, such as delays, errors, confusion, frustration, dissatisfaction, etc. You need to ask customers what challenges they faced and how they felt at each step of their journey.
Opportunities and Delighters
Opportunities are another element in the customer journey map that show the desired outcomes or the potential improvements for your customer experience. Opportunities are derived from pain points. They are the solutions or improvements that you can implement to remove or reduce the pain points and enhance the customer experience. Opportunities are where you can create value for your customers and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
To find opportunities and delighters you need to ask questions such as:
- What are the customer goals and expectations?
- What are the customer pain points and frustrations?
- What are the customer delights and wow moments?
- What are the customer suggestions and recommendations?
Each of these elements adds value to your customer journey map. However, sometimes including all of the provided elements in a map may be difficult or time-consuming. Therefore, we recommend you start with a few elements and complete your map to benefit from it. Then, step by step try to improve it and optimize your customer path at the same time.
Customer Journey Map Example
Most proposed customer journeys are designed in a way that you have to include every path on the same map. For example, the map includes every touchpoint of the awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy stages alongside other elements like opportunities. You can see this type of mapping in the following example by Miro:
However, this method of customer journey mapping will prevent you from seeing the flow and the process that your customers have to go through, to finish their purchase.
You can see some more examples here:
Spotify’s customer journey map
As you can see, with this customer journey you can see the process that a prospect should go through to become a customer. Interesting visuals made it more appealing and easy to understand.
Fully visual map
This is another good example of drawing the map and showing the customer’s steps. It includes person, stages, emotions, and opportunities. However in this example, the “touchpoints” are not clearly mentioned.
Carnegie Mellon University customer journey map
This map, tailored for Carnegie Mellon University, beautifully demonstrates the practicality of a future state journey map. It outlines the desired thoughts, emotions, and actions that the university aims to evoke in its students.
In line with these objectives, CMU meticulously selected targeted changes for each phase, going so far as to craft illustrative scenarios to represent each stage.
Provided examples should give you the vision and general idea about the journey map and how to draw it. But you should be noticed that there is no one standard or best template to draw a customer journey map. You have to understand the concept, the elements, and the goal of drawing it. By doing so you can draw the most convenient version for your organization.
How To Create A Customer Journey Map
By following these five steps, you can create a map that guides your strategies toward enhancing the customer experience.
For those starting, a simple version of a customer journey map can be crafted in five steps:
1- Identify the journey
First, you need to decide which one of your customer journeys you try to map. Is the path that your subscribers can take to complete a purchase? Or this path is exclusively for those who never heard of you before and found you due to your SEO ranking?
2- Pinpoint Touchpoints
Identify the specific touchpoints where customers interact with your brand at each stage. These touchpoints can vary widely, from website visits to social media engagement, customer service calls, and more. Pinpointing touchpoints helps you understand the customer’s journey from their perspective.
3- Understand Emotions
Emotions play a significant role in shaping customer behavior. Throughout each stage and touchpoint, consider the emotions your customers are likely experiencing. This could range from curiosity and excitement during the awareness stage to satisfaction and loyalty in the advocacy stage.
4- Address Pain Points
Identify pain points and challenges customers might encounter along their journey. These could be obstacles that hinder their progress or cause frustration. By recognizing and addressing these pain points, you can enhance the overall experience and prevent potential drop-offs.
5- Leverage Opportunities
In every stage and touchpoint, there are opportunities to exceed customer expectations and foster delight. Identify these moments and consider how you can go above and beyond to create positive experiences. This could involve personalized recommendations, surprise offers exceptional customer support, or seamless transitions between stages.
Remember, customer journey mapping is an ongoing process. Regularly update and refine your maps based on feedback, data analysis, and evolving customer behaviors to ensure your strategies remain aligned with your customer’s changing needs and expectations.
Benefits Of Customer Journey Mapping
Effective customer journey mapping comes with numerous benefits across various aspects of your business. Here we will mention some of the major benefits of customer journey mapping:
Content Marketing Strategies
Understanding where customers are in their journey enables you to deliver content that resonates with their specific needs. Content marketing can be aligned with each stage, addressing their questions, concerns, and aspirations. This ensures that your content provides value and guides them seamlessly toward making informed decisions.
For example, if you know that when a customer who never interacted with you, reaches your product page; he seeks trust, the content you will provide to him will not be completely promotional. You try to look authentic and trustable in your content and the design on your page.
With insights from your customer journey map, you can provide more targeted and relevant customer support. By understanding where customers are in their journey, you can anticipate their questions and concerns, offering solutions that directly address their needs. This leads to more efficient and effective support interactions.
It can shed light on how pricing decisions impact different stages of the journey. Understanding the role of pricing in the decision-making process allows you to set pricing strategies that align with customer expectations and their willingness to pay. For example, you may provide special offers for first-time customers or those who are stuck in the decision stage.
Automation becomes more meaningful when it’s based on a deep understanding of customer behavior. By mapping customer journeys, you can automate personalized interactions at different touchpoints, delivering messages that resonate with where customers are in their journey. This enhances engagement and increases the likelihood of conversions.
Income and Sales Funnel Optimization
A thorough journey map helps you identify potential drop-off points in the sales funnel. By recognizing where customers tend to lose interest or encounter obstacles, you can optimize these stages to reduce friction and improve conversion rates. This leads to a more streamlined and efficient sales process.
In the next section, we will explain some of the most repetitive keywords you might encounter during your venture of creating your customers’ journey.
- B2B Customer Journey
- Customer Journey Mapping
- Customer Journey Optimization
- Customer Journey Orchestration
- Customer Value Journey
- Digital Customer Journey
- Ecommerce Customer Journey
B2B Customer Journey
While the customer journey concept is universal, B2B journeys have distinct dynamics. Understanding the complexities of B2B customer journeys is crucial for success in this realm. It’s different from a B2C journey because it involves more complex and longer decision-making processes, multiple stakeholders, and higher-value transactions.
We will cover this topic in more detail in another article about B2B customer journeys.
Customer Journey Mapping
Up to this point, you should completely understand the journey. Customer journey mapping is a phrase that focuses on the process of creating a “visual story” of your customer’s interactions with your brand. In more simple words, mapping here means drawing.
It helps you to understand your customers’ needs, expectations, and emotions at each stage of their journey, from awareness to advocacy. It also helps you to identify the “touchpoints” where your customers interact with your brand, such as websites, ads, emails, or stores. By mapping your customer journey, you can gain insights into how to improve your customer experience, satisfaction, and loyalty.
Customer Journey Optimization
It involves the ongoing process of refining and enhancing the various touchpoints and stages within a customer’s interaction with your brand. This optimization aims to streamline the customer journey, making it smoother, more intuitive, and eventually more satisfying. By collecting and analyzing data, businesses can identify pain points, areas of friction, and opportunities for improvement. It’s about ensuring that each touchpoint is designed to provide value and minimize any obstacles that might interfere with customers’ steps.
Customer Journey Orchestration
Journey orchestration takes the concept of optimization to the next level. It involves seamlessly aligning and synchronizing all touchpoints and interactions across various channels to create a unified and consistent experience. This means that regardless of whether a customer interacts through your website, social media, email, or any other channel, they receive a coherent message and experience. Customer journey orchestration leverages automation and data integration to ensure that customers receive the right message at the right time, maximizing engagement and conversion opportunities.
It also uses AI-driven recommendations for content, channels, and analytics to optimize the customer journey and increase conversions. Real-time customer journey orchestration helps you to win customers and earn loyalty faster by connecting with them across all touchpoints
Customer Value Journey
The customer value journey is the same concept as the customer journey. However, it provides a bit more detail by introducing more specific stages. It is an 8-step path that people travel as they discover your brand, build a relationship with you, and become buyers and raving fans. These are the stages:
- Awareness: The prospect becomes aware of your brand and your solutions.
- Engagement: The prospect engages with your content and shows interest in your solutions.
- Subscribe: The prospect gives you permission to contact them by providing their contact information.
- Convert: The prospect makes their first purchase or commitment to your solutions.
- Excite: The prospect is delighted by your solutions and the value they provide.
- Ascend: The prospect buys more of your solutions or upgrades to higher-value offers.
- Advocate: The prospect becomes a loyal fan and recommends your solutions to others.
- Promote: The prospect actively promotes your brand and solutions to their network.
Digital Customer Journey
The digital customer journey focuses specifically on the touchpoints and interactions that customers have with a brand for digital products. Digital here means everything that works with binary (0-1) language. Like software, websites, VR, AI, VA, etc.
In today’s digital age, the online experience has a profound impact on customer perceptions and decisions. From the first click on a website to engaging with social media content, the digital customer journey shapes how customers engage with your brand. It encompasses the entire spectrum of online interactions, including browsing, researching, purchasing, and seeking support.
Pro tip: Digital and online business are not exactly the same thing. However, do not get yourself into these minor details.
Ecommerce Customer Journey
The ecommerce customer journey is a subset of the digital customer journey, tailored specifically to the realm of online shopping. It follows customers as they navigate through your online store, exploring products, adding items to their cart, proceeding to checkout, and completing the purchase. The ecommerce journey extends beyond the transaction itself, encompassing post-purchase interactions such as order tracking, delivery, and potential returns. It’s vital to optimize each step of this journey to minimize cart abandonment rates and enhance the overall shopping experience.
Having a well-structured customer journey map will help you to get a clear bird’s view of how your customers feel at different touchpoints. Leveraging this holistic view to affect the decisions of your customers is a great way to increase your income and your customer satisfaction. You can learn more about how to steer the decision-making processes of your customers in the “Choice Architecture Ultimate Guide: How to Control your customers’ Decisions” article.
- Customer journey maps put businesses in customers’ shoes, guiding them through the path customers take to buy what they want.
- Key elements of a journey map include persona, stages, user actions, touchpoints, emotions, pain points, and opportunities.
- The customer journey consists of five stages: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Retention, and Advocacy.
- Touchpoints are where customers interact with a brand, influencing their experience and perception.
- Emotions shape customer behavior and satisfaction, highlighting moments of delight and pain.
- Pain points and challenges are obstacles that hinder customers’ progress in the journey.
- Opportunities and delighters are solutions that enhance the customer experience and create value.
- Journey mapping offers benefits such as improved content marketing, customer support, pricing, marketing automation, and sales funnel optimization.
- B2B customer journeys are different due to complex decision-making processes and multiple stakeholders.
- Customer journey optimization refines touchpoints and stages for a smoother experience.
- Customer journey orchestration synchronizes interactions across channels for a unified experience.
- The customer value journey guides customers through stages from awareness to advocacy.
- The digital customer journey focuses on online interactions and experiences.
- The ecommerce customer journey is specific to online shopping, including the stages from product exploration to purchase completion.