Your guide to customer journey maps – the secret to long term brand advocates

Do you spend time walking through your business as a paying customer? Are emails answered quickly, opening hours as advertised, website speedy, purchases simple and the products match the promises? Do you feel all the right feels? 

If you haven’t taken a good look, how can you know the level of “in love” your customers are with your brand and if you’re doing all the right things to keep them happy? 

It’s a tough one, right?

The good news is we can find out how “in love” they are through customer journey mapping and this article is your guide to customer journey maps.

What is a customer journey map?

Customer journey maps are powerful tools allowing business owners to gather information about key interactions their customers have with your brand. 

From the first exposure through the long-term relationship, understanding how your customer perceives your brand is a powerful opportunity. 

It’s your opportunity to create brand champions

A powerful opportunity to walk in the shoes of our people, their lives, their needs, desires and fears and anticipate and remove any pain points so their experience is seamless. “Wow, Xyz co made it so easy to order a new piece of equipment the day mine unexpectedly stopped working. With a delivery that afternoon, I had minimal downtime and didn’t lose a lot of money.” Don’t we love that stuff? 

Behavioural science has proven our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance, so let’s make it easy for your customers to engage with your brand. 

Psst. All the big businesses do it because it equals sales and money in the bank.

How do I map my customer journey?

There are a couple of different ways you can approach your customer journey map. There’s a starter approach and a more scientific approach. The way you map or the way it looks doesn’t matter because the important part is you’re doing it. 

Customer journey map must-haves

  • Written in the voice of your customer (I want, I need, I feel)
  • Reflects how your customer perceives your brand at key touchpoints over time
  • Promotes empathy 
  • Provides a clear vision for improving customer interactions

So, my friend, take off your rose-coloured glasses and get busy with your business.

Option one:
Ease in Approach

Think about what you are trying to understand through the process. I’ve assumed you want to create a customer journey as smooth as silk, but you could map for any business goals: customer retention or product development for example.

  1. As a start, think about the important stages your customer takes with you
  • When they find you
  • When they start to suss you and your competition out
  • When they buy
  • When you deliver
  • Any after purchase care
  • Or whatever touchpoint stages are relevant to your business
  • Then decide what customer information you want to track on your map at each stage
  • I want to achieve (at each stage)
  • I want to know (at each stage)
  • How do I interact with your brand at each stage 
  • I feel (at each stage)
  • I am getting help about my decision making from who/what at each stage
  • Then you can build a timeline with the stages on one side and the information you need to answer (using empathy and your customer persona) on the other. Are you finding challenges and opportunities? 
Great – act on them and delight your customers.

Option two: a design-focused approach

You know I love all things science and design (with a solid helping of creativity) so I’ll run you through this process as well. It’s a more detailed path of discovery than the ease your way in approach.

Get your toolbox ready

Grab your user/customer persona

Find as much information you have about your customers: testimonials, reviews, social media comments, and complaints. You can even ask or poll on social media. Some companies interview customers about their journey.

If you have a customer persona or ideal customer profile, use it. (If not, you should have one and I can help.) You can even ask or poll on social media. Some companies interview customers about their journey.

The “A day in the life of your customer” exercise in the User Persona Template FREE downloadable is very useful in creating a detailed picture of your ideal customer and what they grapple with every day. It allows you to show empathy more effectively and make better decisions.

Grab a copy of your Free User Persona and Customer Journey Template and I’ll add you to my exclusive list of alchemy activators to be first in line to find out about my upcoming workshops and more free resources.

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Identify customer touchpoints

The stages of the brand journey where your customer reaches out and interacts with your brand. For example, asks a question, signs up for a newsletter or makes a complaint. The customer creates the touchpoint, not you.

Identify customer channels

The places our customers interact with your business. Note: channels are not always two ways, a billboard or print ad for example. What is your customer doing when they are interacting with your business? Are they opening your email, scrolling by your ad, walking in the door, or listening for more?

  • Social media
  • Online advertising
  • Digital marketing content
  • Website
  • Company events
  • Peer referral
  • Conversations with company representatives
  • Product catalogues
  • Ecommerce
  • Bricks and mortar store
  • Product reviews
  • Point of sale
  • Thank you letters
  • Product feedback surveys
  • Upsell/cross-sell emails
  • Billing actions
  • Subscription renewals
  • Customer support channels
  • Customer success programs
  • Customer onboarding
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Self-service resources

Some examples of customer touchpoints and channels

External influencers

Are there other factors affecting customer perception or experience on their journey? For example, friends, family or workmates.

Plans for “magic moments” 

The positive moments in the customer journey can be used or modified for other more frustrating stages of the journey.

Start mapping

What is your map for

Get clear on your mapping goal: to improve your products/services, improve customer retention, find more customers?

1. Review your customer information

Remember the more the better. If you don’t have enough, think about how you might gather more: interviews, ask on social media or email, run a promotion.

Download the customer journey map and create an ideal customer persona using the Day in the Life Of exercise.

2. Revisit touchpoints and channels

Map them in detail and see if you missed any the first time around. A touchpoint example could be “pay for a purchase” and the channel could be “website”, “phone with a customer representative” or “in the retail store.” Or a touchpoint “write a review” and the channel “website”, “Google My Business”, “Facebook.” The map can be a timeline or whatever makes sense to you.

3. Build an empathy map using your persona and customer data

An empathy map is the first stage in any design process and it explores how your customer feels during each interaction with your brand. 

You place yourself in the shoes of your customer, walk in their world, experience their feelings without judgement and note them down.

Want to find out more on empathy maps Click Here

Draw your customer journey

How you do this is up to you and your imagination. It could be a timeline map or other graphical representation.

We need to show:

  • your customer moving through the touchpoints and channels, and 
  • how the customer feels about each interaction on the journey
  • be sure to include the outcomes of your empathy map

Refine and iterate

Take your map and continue refining the content and produce something visually appealing before distributing the map to your stakeholders. PS: graphic designers are great for this.

Make your map a key part of your business

Don’t stick it in the drawer, build KPI’s and financial rewards around meeting targets with customers. Strive to continuously improve the customer experience and actively seek a customer feedback cycle so you are on top of any potential pain points emerging where you are not fully aware of your customers’ needs.

A living, breathing part of your business

Will you promise me something? Put your customer map on your wall and visit it monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on your business growth. So often we complete the exercise and make incredible changes to our business and our customers thank us with their business and recommendations.

Most businesses don’t take the time to understand their customer’s needs and pain points and address them before they become an issue.

So, if you do, you’re ahead of the game. It makes the makes the customer experience effortless and shows you care about them.

But as you grow, because you will if you stick to your journey map, the opportunity for pain points in the journey will emerge again. Continue to look at the experience from your customer perspective, smooth them out and serve, serve, serve. It will be magical.

If you need help with your customer mapping, I’m here. Start with the customer journey template I made for you, and let me know how you go.

Are you interested in using the design thinking process in all areas of your life and business? Sign up here to be first to know about my upcoming workshops.