Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve the Customer Experience

CX is central to customer happiness and business success. But how can you improve your CX? Customer journey maps may be the answer.

There’s a massive disconnect between customer needs and the service they’re getting from companies today. 

PWC found that 73% of people consider Customer Experience (CX) vital in their buying choices. However, only 49% of these individuals say they receive the CX they desire. To make matters worse, 80% of consumers are ready to switch to a competitor after multiple bad experiences. 

Your products and services could be better than your competitors, but if you’re missing an excellent customer experience, you’re selling yourself short. 

So how can you better connect with your customers and close the CX expectation gap? 

Become a customer-centric company through consumer journey mapping. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

Customer journey maps: explained

Think of customer journey maps as blueprints of a customer’s buying process. 

They cover vital touchpoints along the process, noting customer actions, emotions, pains, and frictions. These consumer journey maps help you see your company and products through your customers’ eyes, helping you identify areas where you can improve your CX.

Types of customer journey maps

Customer journeys are complex. They aren’t a simple step-by-step process but one filled with detours and backtracking. 

Plus, there’s no set method for creating a consumer journey map, so you’re free to develop them in a way that best fits your needs. Some user journey maps are circular and ongoing, with exits at specific points. Others follow a more linear journey with potential sidepaths along the way. 

Here are a few broad categories in which you can build your maps:

Current state

Current-state customer mapping is about the journey your customers go through today. 

You can use these maps in a few different ways: 

  • Compare buying processes between different personas or starting touchpoints. 
  • Identify touchpoints where many customers have pain points.
  • Review customer actions to see if you can better support them during their journey. 

Here’s a current-state journey map example from the NN Group. It covers customer actions, thoughts, and emotions at each stage of the buying process. It also identifies opportunities where the fictional company can better support the persona.

customer journey map with colours

Source: NN Group

Future state

Future-state consumer journey mapping is how you develop your plan to improve the customer experience. 

Like current-state mapping, you’ll note customer thoughts, emotions, actions, and anything else relevant to their decisions during their journey. The difference is this map visualizes the ideal journey you want your customers to take. 

You can use this consumer journey map to: 

  • Show management how you’ll improve the customer experience, helping you secure financing for your projects.
  • Keep you and other team members on track. 
  • Close the gap between your customers’ current experiences and what they could be. 

Here’s a user journey diagram example from Case Study Club. It covers the simple journey of buying a product from an eCommerce store. You can see the customer’s path and important touchpoints between landing on the home page and beginning the checkout process.

Source: Case Study Club

Day in the life

Day-in-the-life journey mapping takes a different approach than the previous two. Rather than being action-based, these maps are a narrative of your customer’s journey.

They consider actions and feelings that accompany the task that a customer wants to accomplish. These maps don’t strictly focus on actions relating to your company but rather create a holistic view of the journey from a customer’s viewpoint. 

So rather than using these maps to optimize each touchpoint, you use them to uncover hidden pain points and frictions that you can solve. 

Here’s an example day-in-the-life map from Taplytics. It narrates the actions and emotions of a fictional person as they go through a standard work day.

Source: Taplytics

Customer journey mapping benefits

A thoughtful customer journey map and a plan to make it a reality can ensure your customers stay happy and loyal. You may even pick up a few customers from competitors with poor CX! 

If you use your customer maps effectively, you can: 

  • Increase customer retention. Maps that cover post-purchase experiences can help you discover where and why customers switch to a competitor. Is it a product issue? What about support issues? Regardless, using your research data to solve these issues can help you reduce churn.  
  • Reduce complaint rates. Journey maps help you identify reoccurring pain points so you can address them and prevent future complaints. 
  • Attract more customers. If a customer leaves your competitor because of poor CX, chances are they’ll be looking for a company that provides it. Happy customers also leave reviews and refer companies they’re satisfied with.
  • Create a customer-focused experience. Regular client journey mapping creates a culture of empathy, so you’re always thinking about interactions from a customer’s perspective. If you continue improving CX through mapping insights, your CX will inevitably match your customer needs.  
  • Create more efficient services. Mapping the buying process can help you find better ways to deliver your service. For example, a customer may think your booking process is slow. So instead of taking bookings by phone, you let customers book online as well. 
  • Better conversion rates. Customers are more likely to buy a product if they receive good service. Plus, over 90% of customers would make repeat purchases after an excellent experience.
  • Boost your profitability. Happy customers are more likely to buy again and promote your company to their network, which leads to the ultimate benefit of improving CX — better profitability. 

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How customer journey maps improve the customer experience 

Customer journey maps provide a host of benefits for you and your customers in three main ways:

1. Journey maps highlight pain points 

An effective journey map highlights customer pain points so you know where to focus. 

For example, say you own an online clothing company. You notice that many international customers make it to your product pages, and some even fill their carts, but their purchase ratio is low. 

You brainstorm potential pain points, e.g., sizing, shipping costs, and wait times. After polling customers who don’t purchase, you realize that sizing differences are the main issue. 

Then you can turn your attention to solving the problem. Could you add a size converter for different countries? What about adding a video explainer so that customers can convert the measurements by themselves? Both will work.

2. Journey maps help you understand customers’ needs better

A PWC survey uncovered what customers value most in their buying experiences. People value knowledgable service, easy payment, convenience, friendly service, and efficiency the most. 

Here’s how the other factors stack up:

Source: PWC

While this is an excellent place to start, customer needs and wants are constantly shifting. So it’s vital to analyze their feedback and interactions with your company on a micro-level, i.e., client journey mapping. 

For example, a customer’s highest priority could be efficiency. But they place more value on human interaction at specific points during the buying process. 

On top of this, different personas have different values and buying journeys. That’s why mapping these journeys is vital in getting to know your customers better. And when you understand your customers better, you can create better products, services, and experiences.

3. Journey maps identify customer service bottlenecks

Since you’ll be mapping major touchpoints along a customer’s journey, you’ll encounter points that delay them.

Your map will help you identify these points, but it’s up to you to figure out why they happen. 

For example, buying delays could be the result of: 

  • Customer query response times
  • A lack of educational content
  • Poor follow-up strategies

And a host of other potential reasons which you can discover from talking with your customers. 

By understanding what holds customers back, you can create touchpoints that smoothly move your customers down the buying journey.

How to create a customer journey map from scratch

Customer journeys are complex, so you must create a map matching your business and your customers. 

Because of this reason, we won’t tell you the exact format to use. Instead, we’ll give you the general guidelines so you can create a map unique to your business.

Step 1. Survey your customers

If you already know the customer persona you want to create a map for, you can focus your survey on them. But if you don’t, you’ll need to decide during step two. 

Regardless, now’s the time to get to know your customers better. You can do this through focus groups, one-on-one interviews, email surveys, etc. Your chosen methods are up to you, but the focus should be on qualitative data to improve your customer knowledge. 

Some things to consider include: 

  • Buying processes. Assess the buying processes customers follow. Are they longer or shorter than you expected? How do they compare to your ideal buyer’s journey? 
  • User actions. Note the steps customers take during each journey stage. Are there any actions that slow down the process? E.g., getting opinions from family or friends? Are there any actions that frustrate customers? 
  • Emotions. What emotions do customers experience at different touchpoints? Understanding these can help you prevent or increase them depending on how they benefit the journey. 
  • Pain points. Knowing customer pain points is crucial since they give you obvious problems to solve. And reducing them can improve CX significantly. 

Step 2. Collate your data, look for common experiences, and confirm your findings

To start, you can list all the touchpoints that customers mention and any extras you believe are important. And if you haven’t chosen the persona to focus on, choose the most common one based on the data you collected. 

Next, prune your touchpoint list so that only the most common points remain. Begin adding the relevant actions, emotions, pains, and frictions to each touchpoint so you can easily assess them. 

Then it’s time to confirm your data through wide-scale quantitative research. The easiest way is through online surveys with simple answers that computers can process — for example, ratings and multiple-choice questions.

Source: HubSpot

Once complete, you’ll have enough data to statistically prove or disprove the insights you gained from your initial research.

Step 3. Create your customer journey maps

Now that you have all the information, it’s time to create a current-state journey map so you can understand your CX today. 

Some of the critical components to include are customers’:

  • Goals
  • Actions
  • Emotions
  • Major touchpoints

If you want to take the idea generation stage further, you can create a day-in-the-life map like the one above. It may help you discover hidden pain points and frictions that customers failed to mention. 

Assess your current CX and brainstorm ways that you can improve it. Once you’ve addressed the main pain points, turn these improvements into a concrete plan. 

Finally, create your future-state consumer journey map based on the improvements you want to make. This final customer experience map will function as your vision and roadmap to a better CX.

Step 4. Put your map to good use

All the planning in the world won’t improve your CX unless you take action. 

You’ve got all the necessary data and the right plan to translate insights into improvements. However, you must remember that customer journey maps are living documents that need regular updating. 

Regular reviews will ensure you meet changing customer preferences and help you uncover further opportunities. 

It’s also vital to track and analyze any changes you make. Not every change will result in a positive outcome, and that’s okay. As long as you test, analyze, and refine your customer experience map along the way, your CX will improve over time.

Chart your customers’ paths

Your CX plays a vital role in customer happiness, loyalty, and purchasing habits. And to improve your CX, you must dive deep into the customer journey and all the factors that affect it. 

If you follow the steps above, you’ll have a set of customer journey maps showing how you can better serve your customers. 

However, creating consumer journey maps requires a lot of data juggling that can become difficult if you don’t have the right tools. 

Really Simple Systems is an all-in-one CRM with sales, marketing, and customer service features. It allows you to track customer interactions, analyze this data, and uncover customer journey insights through customizable dashboards. 

Want to see how powerful Really Simple Systems is? Sign up for your free trial today.