Take a minute to reflect on the type of customer your business targets and your typical experience with that customer. For example, maybe you have robust buyer personas and a compelling value proposition, but you still see drop-off after the handoff to sales. Or, perhaps you sail through the sales process, but your renewal rate keeps you up at night. Odds are, your customer journey needs your attention.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the process a customer or prospect goes through to achieve a goal with your company. With the help of a customer journey map, you can get a sense of your customers' motivations — their needs and pain points. Even if you have a loose understanding of your customers’ path when engaging with your business, it’s best to map it out visually with the help of various stakeholders at your organization. This process drives internal alignment and creates a resource that your marketing, sales, and service teams can reference in their day-to-day operations.

Benefits of creating a customer journey map

If you’ve been in business for a while, don’t be surprised if you receive pushback internally when building your customer journey map. Change often breeds resistance, so be prepared to overcome it.

Because it’s essential to have all customer-facing teams involved in this process, take some time to gather data to support the need for this undertaking. Maybe your conversion rates are down year over year, or your renewal rate has plummeted. If you run regular customer surveys, you may notice that your net promoter score (NPS) has fallen a few points. All of these are symptoms of not having a well-defined customer journey map guiding your team.

Now that you’re equipped with the data to support your decision to build a customer journey map, here are a few benefits to help convince your team.

Create an experience worth sharing

Rather than investing more in lead generation through traditional channels, you can transform your customers into promoters by improving their customer experience. Investing time in understanding your customer’s goals, challenges, and needs will pay dividends in the word-of-mouth referrals that will come your way.

Discover a new opportunity

If you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your personas from a cross-departmental perspective, you likely have an unidentified persona waiting to be recognized. Collaborating with marketing, sales, and service teams may give light to a new customer that can significantly increase revenue after your marketing team starts creating content that speaks to them.

Retain relationships 

Losing a customer is a costly mistake that can be prevented by listening to and anticipating their needs. 

Here are a few stats for the road.

        • Just one poor experience will cause 33% of customers to start looking to a different company to fulfill their needs. 
        • Replacing that customer is up to 25 times more expensive than retaining them.

How to create a customer journey map

    1. Focus your objectives
    2. Revisit your personas and clearly define their goals
    3. Identify your target personas
    4. List all of your customer touchpoints
    5. Build the customer journey map
    6. Identify gaps, resources needed, and areas to improve
    7. Test the customer journey
    8. Make changes and set a plan to review

Focus your objectives

Remember the data we had you gather to support this undertaking? That data should form the basis of your objectives. For example, if your conversion rate is suffering, a compelling objective could be to determine the cause of low conversions and fix it! If you’re losing customers hand over fist, your objective could be to hone in on your customer retention issues.

No matter the objectives you choose, make sure you’ve clearly defined 3-5 goals and look to solve them during this process.

Revisit your personas and clearly define their goals

Now that you’ve identified your weaknesses and are ready to overcome them, it’s time to pull out your buyer personas and share them across teams. Have your sales, marketing, and service teams take a hard look at your personas and redline them. If several people see an element of a persona that they believe to be inaccurate, revisit that element and fix it as a team. And, if your service team identifies a persona that doesn’t fully reveal itself until the account management stage, construct a new persona, and incorporate it into your marketing approach.

Once you’ve assessed your personas, you’re ready to hone in on their goals. First, make sure you have a clear understanding of the goals each persona is trying to achieve. These goals should be driving your customer journey.

Haven't built buyer personas before? Learn how to build robust buyer personas before continuing.

Identify your target personas

Now that you’ve clearly defined your personas and prioritized their goals, select your top, most ideal customer persona and start there. You can always go back and build out the customer journey for your other personas later, but it’s a good idea to start with just one (your most ideal one) and then revisit the rest later in the order of priority.

List all of your customer touchpoints

Now for the nitty-gritty. You’ve clearly defined your objectives and audience, and now it’s time to turn your gaze inward. First, take a look at the holistic, end-to-end touchpoints your ideal persona experiences when engaging with your organization.

It’s essential to zoom out and share this responsibility between your marketing, sales, and service team as each team contributes to different touchpoints. To get started, break the touchpoints into the following categories.

        • How your customer meets you
          • Social media
          • Advertising
          • Organic Search
          • Referrals
        • Actions your customer takes to interact with your organization
          • Online search
          • Website form submission
          • Event attendance
          • Call with sales
          • Email marketing nurture series
          • Customer service chat
          • Customer service escalation call
        • Customer impact
          • Frustration with poor service or a software bug
          • Losing interest due to slow response time from the sales team
          • Surprised by the high volume of unexpected marketing communications
        • Pain points
          • Take the emotions blocking your customers from achieving their goals from the ‘Customer Impact’ section and identify the symptom of the feeling.
            • System bugs causing a poor customer experience
            • Over-loaded sales team struggling to prioritize communication
            • Marketing team not focusing on customer email response

Build the customer journey map

Before jumping in, take a moment to think about the framework for your customer journey. There are four main perspectives to get you started.

Current State

        • Focus on what your customers do, think, and feel as they interact with your organization today 
        • Use When you’re looking to drive incremental improvements to your customer journey map

Day in the Life

        • Focus on what your customers do, think, and feel as they interact with your organization today 
        • Use When you’re looking to drive innovation through addressing unmet needs

Future State

        • Focus on what your customers will do, think, and feel as they interact with your business at a future point in time
        • Use When communicating your vision for how new products, services, or experiences will function

Blueprint

        • Focus on either the current or future state journey map with an additional layer showing the people, processes, policies, and technologies responsible for delivering the experience
        • Use When you’re looking to identify the root cause of existing (or anticipated) pain points and resolve them

Now for the fun part! Head to your favorite mapping tool (we recommend Miro!) and get started. If process mapping isn’t your cup of tea, check out this free Customer Journey Map Template from HubSpot.

Identify gaps, resources needed, and areas to improve

After you’ve built the journey and received input from your customer-facing teams, take a hard look at the resources you have to guide your customers through their journey. Next, identify the resources you may need to fill the gaps or improve the experience for your customers. For example, suppose your customers are repeatedly getting lost in the sales process due to a lack of response. In that case, you either need to elevate your current sales team’s performance or hire additional resources to support them.

After you’ve built this map to identify gaps and predict the outcomes of additional resources, your pitch to management regarding a new hire should be much easier. You’ve identified the need for a new team member and the immediate impact that they will have.

Test the customer journey

For all of us who’ve designed the perfect email just to see that the images won’t load in Outlook, we know that well-laid plans don’t always pan out. The same can be true of your customer journey. So now that you think you have it all figured out, put on your investigator’s cap and see if your map holds.

Pick out a customer that best represents each of your buyer personas. Then, take a deep dive into each of those customers’ history with your organization. First, take a look at how they first met your company and where they first converted. Next, review the notes that the sales team took during those first few calls. Finally, peek through their customer service tickets to see what issues they faced after starting your service or using your product. 

Make changes and set a plan to review 

After testing, take any gaps or customer impacts that your team did not unearth previously and work them into your customer journey map. Once you have a finalized customer journey map that the marketing, sales, and service teams support and agree with, share the document with all members of your organization. It’s vital that you promote the customer journey and put the learnings into practice for this to have been a valuable use of your time.

As a final step, mark your calendar to review the customer journey quarterly, bi-annually, or annually - whichever works best for your organization. This document shouldn’t be treated as a set-it-and-forget-it document as your customer journey evolves with every product release, service change, and business shift your organization goes through.

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