How to create a customer journey map
Tips and Tricks · 12 min read

How to create a customer journey map

The FullStory Education Team
Posted December 03, 2021

Customer journey mapping is a powerful way to understand your customers—what their needs are, their motivations, and their frustrations. 

In fact, one of the best storytelling tools is the customer journey map.

A customer journey map (CJM) uses storytelling to illustrate the relationship a customer has with a product or service over time. Their story is being told from a customers’ perspective and it provides insight into their experience.  

There are many different types of customer journey maps and journey-map templates out there. 

In this article, we will break down the customer journey mapping process, why you need it, and the steps you need to create your very own. 

What is customer journey mapping and why do you need it? 

A customer journey map is a visual representation of all steps a customer or user takes when interacting with your product or service when they have a specific goal in mind. 

The purpose of customer journey mapping is to understand what customers experience and to improve the quality of that experience, ensuring their needs are being met at all touchpoints and channels. 

Building out the mapping process of their journey allows you to be in a position to improve any customer experience, across the board. Yet, shockingly, only 36% of companies have a process in place for mapping customer journeys

Here are a few ways customer journey maps benefit organizations:

  • It provides a first-person perspective of the customer journey.

  • It builds better customer conversion rates by minimizing negative customer experiences.

  • It highlights key metrics to identify customers’ progress and fallout points, providing opportunities to reduce churn.

  • It brings teams together to resolve areas of friction and improve customer retention. 

  • It allows businesses to prioritize actions in their customer experience strategy.

  • It reveals the gaps between various channels and departments.

What are customer journey touchpoints?

Customer journey touchpoints are individual transactions through which the customer interacts with a business.

There are many digital customer touchpoints between your customers and your brand digitally or online, including ecommerce shopping, researching online about your business and visiting your website.

There are about 5–7 minimum touchpoints along a customer journey. Customer journey touchpoints for omnichannel brands are everywhere:

  • social media posts

  • product demos

  • live chats

  • advertisements

  • brick and mortar visits

  • website(s) clicks

You’ll also have the added returning customer touchpoints to consider. Incorporating both new and returning customers helps you truly understand the importance of creating an authentic customer journey map.

Identifying each touchpoint and how customers perceive it is essential to creating a customer journey map that will drive a positive customer experience.

Once you’ve identified the touchpoints, list your customer's actions for each. Actionable points could be: 

  • downloading free content

  • clicking a paid ad

  • reading your FAQ

  • requesting a product demo

  • contacting customer support

  • subscribing to your blog

It’s important to know which touchpoints to invest time and resources into — quantifying how often people touch each point is important for prioritization. Your customer journey maps out the areas you can improve, retain and scale. 

When should you create a customer journey map?

Timing is important when it comes to customer journey mapping. Journey maps are typically generated early on in the research phase and should be created to support a known business goal. Maps that align with particular goals usually result in applicable insights.

Examples of potential goals to apply journey maps to: 

  • Shifting a business perspective from inside-out to outside-in.

  • Assigning ownership of key touchpoints in the customer experience to specific departments.

  • Learning about a specific customer persona's purchasing behaviors.

  • Understanding user trends of group personas. 

How to create a customer journey map

When you set out to create your own journey map, try drawing everything out on a whiteboard or digitizing it on a spreadsheet to get the big picture. The goal is to find and resolve any customer pain points. 

Here are eight steps to creating your own customer journey map. 

Step 1: Set your objectives for the map

Before the whiteboard comes out, it’s important to set up clear objectives for the map. How do you do this? 

Collect customer feedback from all company stakeholders, your team, and your customers. You can do this by forms, surveys, interviews, spotlights, or good old-fashioned conversation. 

Ask questions like:

  • How do you feel about this feature? 

  • How easy was it to find us? 

  • Were there any points of frustration during your interaction with us? 

Set goals within the customer journey map like seeing your product through your customer’s eyes, ways to improve your product or service, and how it all impacts your future. 

Step 2. Define your customer persona

Your customer is the core of your journey map, so the first step is defining your target customer persona. 

A customer or buyer persona is an in-depth understanding of who your customer really is, what they are trying to solve, and how they interact with your business. 

The first thing you need to decide is which type of journey you’re going to map:  

  • Persona—a profile of a specific customer type 

  • Target—a profile of a potential customer 

  • Market—a segment of customers 

If you're creating your first map, it's best to pick your most common customer persona and consider the route they would typically take when engaging with your business for the first time.

From the point of interest to the product lifeline, track each step along the way to get a true sense of your target persona. 

Once you've created distinct personas, you can use them to dictate customer journey maps that describe each persona's experience at various points during their lifecycle with your company.

Step 3: Highlight your target customer personas

Take your journey map persona list and pinpoint your target customer. To do this, dig deep and understand what each customer wants to achieve as they go through the customer journey.

A great way to go about doing this is to first identify the paths that your customer may take on your site. 

For instance, if your customer is a member, the first thing that they might do is to log in. These instances will help you determine engagement for each customer. 

Here are some different ways to obtain and understand customers' goals:

With this insight, you can then determine where your customer will go along their journey. 

Step 4. Determine customer stages

Journey maps are organized by customer stages (sometimes referred to as phases).

Each stage represents a goal your customer is trying to achieve in their journey. You should build a customer journey map with stages that represent your customer's goal-oriented journey, not your internal process steps.

Based on the persona, define the stages that your customer experiences with you over time. To figure out your stages, answer this question:

What does it take for a customer to start from awareness to decision throughout the buying process? 

The typical customer journey map stages are: 

  1. Awareness—how they found out about you

  2. Research—how you can solve their problem

  3. Evaluation—how you compare against others 

  4. Decision—how they chose you 

The goal: to determine how, when, and where they discover you, choose you over competitors, purchase from you, and maintain a relationship with you.

Step 5. Identify customer touchpoints

Your buyer journey map will be built off of customer touchpoints. Customer touchpoints are your brand's points of customer contact, from start to finish. 

For example, here are a few ways customers may find you: 

  • Search inquiry

  • Online ad

  • Customer review

  • Social media post 

These are just a few touchpoints, there are many more. Identifying these customer touchpoints is an important step towards creating a journey map and making sure your customers are satisfied every step of the way. It’s also the pivotal part of how you will define your map. 

Step 6. Map the current state 

It’s time to conduct customer research for your map. This will include information about your customer’s intentions, motivations, digital footprint, and interpretation of your brand. 

Most customers are happy to help if they believe you are genuinely interested in their experience and will use their feedback to improve things for others.

For each stage of the journey, try to identify:

  • What are my customer’s goals?

  • What type of experience do they want?

  • What steps are needed to complete that process?

  • How do they feel during each touchpoint?

  • What other thoughts, feelings or frustrations do they have during certain stages?

Beyond this information, be sure to look at patterns of how they conduct themselves online, where they frequent, and what they share. 

Step 7. Understand motivations, frustrations, and resources

This step involves looking at the totality of the customer experience (CX) with your company. 

Every business will look through the lens of its customer personas uniquely. Walking through each of the journey map stages with your team will help you identify any points of friction within the customer experience.

You know your customers best. Here are a few example questions to get you started:

  • Where could friction appear in this particular touchpoint?

  • Are people abandoning purchases because of this?

  • Are customers unaware of this solution that you've provided? If so, why not?

These questions can be answered with customer data, using a Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI) solution. DXI delivers a complete, retroactive view of how people interact with your site or app. By finding out how visitors engage with your product and service, you can understand what resources you will need for growth. 

Examine customer emotions and motivations.

Every action your customer takes is motivated by emotion. The emotional driver of each of your customer's actions is usually caused by a pain point or a problem.

So, get to know what roadblocks are stopping customers from making desired actions (again with digital intelligence) and get in front of motivation. 

Overcome obstacles like cost, product friction, and onboarding frustration with customer experience intelligence.

Take the customer journey yourself.

Follow the customer journey yourself. Analyze the results to show where customer needs aren’t being met by seeing it through your customer’s point of view.

Pro tip: Document the customer journey for each of your personas and make note of the differences. It will help for future user journey maps. 

Determine the resources you have and the ones you'll need.

It's important to take inventory of the resources you have and the ones you'll need to improve the customer's journey. 

Using your map, you can advise leadership to invest in the right tools that will help your team manage customer demand. Do you have what it takes to solve the customer’s problem? 

Step 8: Evaluate, adjust and scale

As with any process, you’ll need to test it over time. Use data analysis to identify customers’ behavior and pain points that need changing along the way. 

Use digital experience and customer intelligence to keep you informed on the user journey. This means, rely on a DXI solution to let your customers show you what’s actually happening. With features like session replay, you can understand exactly what they are going through and proactively fix it. 

And, always include your team and keep stakeholders involved to keep the roadmap clear. 

Customer journey mapping tools

You’ll need some tools to help you get started and to maintain your customer journey maps. 

At the core, a customer journey map is a visual representation of the steps a user takes to complete a goal with your products. The process is typically illustrated through a series of steps, complete with three basic components including the lens, the experience, and the insights:

  • Lens—An overview of tasks and what needs to be accomplished.

  • Experience—A visualization of the steps of the journey, including the customer’s emotional states at each step.

  • Insights—The actionable takeaways from each step in the journey.

An effective map creates a shared sense of where each aspect of the product or service should be improved across your organization—especially where each step of the process might be owned by a different team. 

Good customer journey mapping tools help you create polished visual assets you can use to advocate for the customer’s needs. 

There are plenty of tools available to help map out your customer journey, here are a few:

  • UXPressia—Professional, collaborative customer journey mapping tool.

  • Miro—Online collaborative whiteboard platform.

  • Smaply—Create, share, and present customer journey maps.

  • Google Analytics—Full dashboard of website analytics.

  • FullStory—Data intelligence, heatmap and web analytics platform.

  • HotJar—Website heatmaps and behavior analytics tool.

Customer journey mapping and your team

Once you've decided on your goals for creating a customer journey map, pull in your team cross-functionally to create the map. 

The reason being is that different departments engage with customers uniquely and they can provide significant pieces of the map that you would likely not find on your own. 

Your team should be on board for customer journey mapping, including:

  • Leadership—executes the journey map decisions and resources. 

  • Product—creates and implements the actionable insights from the journey map. 

  • Customer Success—obtains and explains the customer journey map results. 

  • Sales and Marketing—creates and executes the customer journey map.

  • Data Analyst—analyzes and interprets the results of the map.  

Your customer journey map checklist 

This guide on how to create a customer journey map should be what you need to truly understand the impact of your product or service. By stepping into your customer’s shoes, you will gain the insight needed to make the entire experience better. 

Now you’re ready to create your map. Here are the questions you will ask yourself while creating a customer journey map:

☑ Set clear objectives for your map ☑ Define your customer persona ☑ Highlight your target personas ☑ Determine customer stages  ☑ Identify customer touchpoints ☑ Map the current state  ☑ Understand motivations, frustrations, and what tools you’ll need  ☑ Evaluate, adjust and get ready to grow

With a best-in-class DXI solution like FullStory, you can watch session replays, heatmaps and use user trends to really fine-tune your customer’s journey. You don’t have to go in blind trying to understand what they are feeling or experiencing. 

Use the data and let your customers do the rest. 

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The FullStory Education Team

About the author

Our team of experts is committed to introducing people to important topics surrounding analytics, digital experience intelligence, product development, and more.

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