Customer journey maps are a visual story about how people interact with your brand. They help brands gain a deep understanding of their customers and act as a bridge between business and buyer.
In a single illustration, the journey map aims to capture the entire customer experience.
No small task.
Done well, they empower people to work cross-functionally and iron out all of your customer experience issues. They serve as long-term assets that can guide your brand for the next 2–3 years.
Done poorly, journey maps can confuse, misalign, and are cast aside.
What’s a customer journey map supposed to look like?
If you type “customer journey map” into an image search, you’re likely to be more confused than enlightened.
Experience Mapping has its roots in design, but since its adoption into the business mainstream, interest has exploded.
The result is hundreds of boutique CX agencies putting their proprietary spin on the basic template.
Instead of trying to cover every type of customer journey map here, I’ve distilled them into essential elements in the template below.
With a strong understanding of the fundamentals, you can iterate to your heart’s content. But for now, this template collates a few must-haves.
5 guiding principals for creating your journey map
Customer journey maps may vary in specific sections and design, but they all share several guiding principals:
- They’re written from the customer’s point of view, not the company’s. The purpose of the journey map is to close the Empathy Gap between marketer and consumer. This can be tricky to do from inside an organization. That’s why I recommend brands hire an agency to build their journey maps, to get the benefit of an outsider’s view.
- They combine the mechanics of experience with the customer’s emotional response. Here’s where the magic happens. The magic of journey maps doesn’t come from documenting a customer’s experience. Instead, it’s from combining the mechanics of experience with the emotions and perceptions of a customer. One without the other is a story without substance (or vice versa).
- They document the customer’s omnichannel journey. Journey maps capture how people use multiple touchpoints. From a customer’s view, every interaction is part of one significant experience. There’s no online or offline, above-the-line or below it. It’s only one company, one product, and one experience to them.
- They are visualization tools. The challenge of managing the customer journey is vast, but the upside is significant too. To get buy-in for CX initiatives, you’ll need everyone on the same page regarding pain points, challenges, and opportunities. The visual nature of the CJM has two benefits. One, everyone gets closer to understanding the complexities of your customer experience. Two, you can use it as a socialization tool to gain alignment and buy-in from internal partners.
- They define and capture the phases of the customer purchase journey. Ultimately, customer experience initiatives need to drive ROI. By aligning the journey map to a customer path with a measurable goal, you can keep everyone focused. Without this aim, it’s easy to get lost in tactical initiatives that drive short-term action, but no long-term gains.
A checklist for your finished journey map
Once you’ve got the parts assembled and a hypothesis map created, use this checklist to make sure your map hits all the right notes:
- Does your customer journey map focus on just one persona?
- Does it follow the purchase/interaction journey across all sales channels?
- Does your customer journey map include both mechanical and emotional customer measures (thoughts, feelings, pain points, emotional responses, etc.)?
- Did you include Moments of Truth in your map?
- Does it contain opportunities for innovation, based off of the pain points and Moments of Truth you identified?
- Including the elements above will ensure that your customer journey map is customer-centric, insightful, and useful to your organization.
The bottom line
Creating a customer journey map is not a small project. It requires lots of time, effort, and coordination across teams.
So why not try creating a customer journey map?
The upside greatly outweighs the work it takes to create. Your company will become more customer-centric, and that will make a positive impact on your bottom line.