A customer journey map provides users with a clear vision for improving customer interaction while promoting empathy for the customer. There aren’t any rules on the methods of visualizing the customer journey, although a few techniques are particularly popular. The specific purpose of the customer journey map also affects the best choice of map type. Most call centers should use a customer journey map similar to one of the 12 discussed in
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map, also known as a user experience (UX) map or user journey map, is a visualization of a customer’s entire experience with a brand. This journey begins with the customer’s initial awareness of the brand and extends beyond the purchase, with components that include actions, customer sentiments, pain points and touch points. These components are plotted in sequential order, although the purpose of a customer journey map isn’t to create a timeline of the journey. Instead, it helps stakeholders empathize with the customers and understand how their feelings and needs fluctuate over the course of their journey. This shared understanding allows businesses to identify opportunities innovating and improving their operations.
Customer journey maps provide the solid understanding of the customers’ needs and frustrations that businesses need to succeed in the long term. Mapping out the journey that customers take towards a purchase is essential for building that understanding as they interact with your brand. A customer journey map also helps align your teams around identifying customer pain points and removing those barriers to their success.
5 Stages of the Customer Journey
Mapping a customer journey often involves the use of a template to aid in outlining the customer’s entire buying process. This template summarizes each step prospects take in their journey, including what they think, feel and need. Once the map is complete, you can better understand their experience and create more targeted market plans by identifying missed opportunities. However, you need to know how the customer’s decision-making process works before you can use a template. A customer journey is a purchase funnel that typically consists of the following five stages:
A prospect becomes aware of a need during the awareness phase of their journey. They also begin seeking fulfillment of that need, whether it’s a product, service or just an answer to a question. Prospects notice brands for the first time during the awareness phase, including the company and a general understanding of what they do. They can also start to see how that brand could help them, making it vital for that brand to gain visibility at this time. Brands should work hard in this phase to show how they can help prospects reach their goals.
Prospects are already familiar with a brand by the time they reach the engagement phase, but they’re still learning about the brand. The prospect has also formed some type of connection with the brand at this point while gathering information about the brand, which could come from social media, a newsletter, content upgrade or a free trial. This phase of middle-of-the-funnel (MOFu) marketing treats prospects as warm leads, which should be nurtured and engaged by providing additional information on the brand’s products and services.
Prospects have already decided that your brand can solve their problems by the time they reach the evaluation phase. However, they haven’t yet decided that your brand is the best available solution. This phase includes research in which prospects compare the brand to its competitors. Brands must therefore guide prospects towards their products and services by explaining how they’re different from their competitors. This process includes providing supporting materials to show the benefits, results and outcomes of using their brand.
Prospects become paying customers in the purchase phase. They have selected the brand they want and are ready to buy, but they’re still looking for the path, process and tools needed to make the purchase. Brands need to make it easy for the customer to make a purchase during this phase by guiding them towards this goal. The purchase phase also includes validating the prospect’s choice by using buying keywords.
The customer journey continues after the purchase and is often the most profitable part of the journey, depending on the business. Customers in this phase may need additional services or support, which can help keep them primed for additional purchases. They’re more likely to buy from a brand they already know, so businesses should focus on retention marketing strategies and customer service during this phase. Re-marketing and life cycle marketing plans are common tactics to bring the customer back into the buyer’s journey.
What Does a Typical Customer Journey Map Include?
A typical customer journey map includes the following components:
- Customer journey
- Buyer/customer personas
- Questions and thoughts
- Touch points
The customer journey is the core part of a customer journey map. It’s the primary process that connects with all the other elements in the journey map.
A buyer persona is also a major part of the customer journey map that helps guide the development of the other elements. It’s a highly detailed description of a semi-fictional customer who goes through a buyer journey. The buyer persona includes information related to the demographics, social and psychological aspects of the ideal buyer, including details such as age, income, beliefs and desires. The buyer persona must be fully developed before the journey mapping template can be completed. You can use these 10 examples of buyer personas as the inspiration for your own.
Actions are the activities the buyer does as they make their way through the buyer’s journey. They are actions that occur both in person and online. They may include the following:
- Performing a Google search
- Visiting a brand’s website
- Signing up for free content
- Signing up for a software demo
- Getting a free consultation
- Calling a business
- Following a social media page
- Visiting a store
- Signing up for a free trial
Questions and Thoughts
Questions and thoughts describe the buyers’ internal dialog as they progress through the buyer’s journey. They include concerns and considerations that the buyer is likely to have during this process. The most common questions and thoughts include the following:
- How can I solve my problem?
- What products or services will solve my problem?
- What other options are there?
- How much does it cost?
- Is this worth it?
- Can I find this cheaper?
- How do I buy this?
Touch points are connections that buyers make along their journey. They can include direct contacts with the brand or online content related to the buyer journey. Touch points are often branded, but they can also originate from third parties. Common examples of touch points include the following:
- Blog posts
- Guest posts
- Interactions with salespeople
- Print brochures
- Product displays
- Product demos
- Product packaging
- Social media profiles
Opportunities are the options that a brand has to connect with a customer, improve their experience and assist them through their journey. They consist of marketing strategies that maximize the brand’s reach and improve its ability to make these connections. Opportunities can occur at any phase in the customer journey.
Content is a highly useful marketing tool in the digital age. It can create brand awareness, engage customers and improve their experience at each phase of their journey. Content can identify opportunities in general, but it can also target specific opportunities for improving a customer’s journey. It isn’t always necessary to create content from scratch, as repurposed content allows you to stretch your efforts by reducing the cost of generating that content.
Types of Customer Journey Maps
No two customer journeys are the same since no two people are alike. As a result, there is no single type of journey map that’s ideal for all situations, resulting in a variety of map types. Major factors in determining the best type include the product or service that you’re selling, the customers and the specific goals you’re trying to achieve. The most common types of journey maps include the following:
- Current state customer journey maps
- Future state customer journey maps
- Day in the life customer journey maps
- Service blueprints customer journey maps
- Circular customer journey maps
- Empathy maps
- CX maps
Current State Customer Journey Maps
A current state customer journey map helps you visualize the UX as it is right now. These maps are based in fact, so the first step in creating them is to gather data on actual customer interactions. This process, also known as current state mapping, is most useful for identifying the customers’ existing pain points and creating a shared understanding of the complete customer experience for the entire journey. The research needed to develop a current state map also provides a valuable starting point for creating a future state map, which will be discussed below.
The figure below illustrates a fairly simple example of a business-to-business (B2 B) customer journey map. It focuses on the typical questions that typical customers ask during their journey and the feelings they experience during this journey. This customer journey map from Bright Vessel also provides recommendations for interacting with customers at each stage in the journey.
Fig. 1: Current state customer journey map for B2B customers
The journey map below is an example of a current state customer journey map from a USA.gov case study. This one is based on the actual experiences of a specific person. Persona-based journey maps are useful for comparing slight differences between similar customer journeys.
Fig. 2: Current state customer journey map based on a persona
The example above breaks down each stage of the customer journey into activities. This approach provides the level of detail needed to identify specific opportunities for improvement, as opposed to high-level opportunities. The primary opportunity shown in this map is the benefits of merging the domains benefits.gov, grants.gov and govloans.gov, which streamlines the customer journey.
Future State Customer Journey Maps
Future state maps attempt to show what the journey should look like in the future. The data contained in a current state map is important for creating future state maps, but they also require the developer to interpret and speculate on the changes needed to optimize the current customer journey. Future state maps also consider the customer’s future experiences, hopes, desires and reactions.
Future state journey mapping is most useful for creating new experiences and value for the customers based on their possible expectations. This process also helps development teams align their efforts towards a common goal. The future journey map below is from Bright Vessel and shows how its developers expect customers to feel in the future. It also includes the relevant devices, environments and touch points for that journey.
Fig. 3: Future Journey Map
The future journey map below was made by Iris Tong Wu for Carnegie Mellon University. It uses the same format as the previous map to show how Carnegie Mellon University wants students to travel to that university for orientation. This map also includes proposed changes for optimizing each step.
Fig 4. Future state customer journey map for Carnegie Mellon University
Day in the Life Customer Journey Maps
A day in the life customer journey map helps you visualize the daily routines of your customers, including family interactions, commute, work meetings and breaks. These activities need not be related to your company, so long as they’re in chronological order.
This type of customer journey map provides insights into the needs, pain points and thoughts that customers’ experience throughout the day, providing context for their behavior. A day in the life map can also identify those moments in a customer’s journey when a brand’s products or services will be most valuable. The example from
The map below is from Treasure Data and shows the daily routine of a frequent business traveler. It’s fairly simple for a map of this type, but it still shows the actions, feelings and thoughts of the subject over a 12-hour period.
Fig. 5: Day in the life customer journey map
The example below is a day in the life journey map by Chiara Galiano that shows the typical daily activities of a dyslexic child. In addition, it describes the lives of the people that the child interacts with, such as a caregiver and classmates.
Fig. 6: Day in the life customer journey map of a dyslexic child
Service Blueprint Customer Journey Maps
A traditional customer journey map focuses on the customers’ actions, needs and thoughts, but a service blueprint illustrates the customers journey from perspective of the organization and its employees. Blueprinting is a great way to describe experiences in an omnichannel environment, journeys with many touchpoints and those requiring the coordination of many team members with different functions. In other words, this type of customer journey map helps you visualize the events that occur behind the scenes that allow customers to make their journey. Developers often use a blueprint to make organizational or procedural changes, but it can also help them devise solutions to specific obstacles in the customer journey.
The example below shows a typical service blueprint by Nielsen Norman Group for an appliance retailer. It’s in a chronological sequence and has a hierarchical structure with four tiers, including the customer journey, frontstage interactions, backstage actions and supporting actions.
Fig. 7: Service blueprint for an appliance retailer
The following map shows a service blueprint from Miro that’s simpler than the one above. It describes the actions and processes that take place behind the scenes to support a successful customer journey at a hotel. You can download this template and edit it if you have a free Miro account.
Fig. 8: Blueprint for hotel services
Circular Customer Journey Maps
Some businesses benefit from viewing the customer journey as a continuous loop. This type of journey map is most useful in cases where customer advocacy and retention are particularly important for maintaining recurring revenue. Products with a significant viral element are also a strong indication that a circular customer journey map would be helpful.
A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider is one such business, as shown in the following circular map from UXFirm. This diagram depicts the stages of the customer journey in a loop of flywheel with annotations for activities and emotions. It also accounts for high customer churn and reconsideration, which is common for SaaS providers.
Fig. 9: Circular customer journey map for an SaaS provider
The next example of a circular journey map is most notable for its depiction of multiple outcomes such as reevaluation and turnover, which are often the most important considerations for a business. This format can provide insights into the customers’ state of mind at each step in their journey. Note that this journey map doesn’t provide details about the customer’s actions, feelings or thoughts.
Fig. 10: Circular customer journey map that accounts for customer turnover and reconsideration
An empathy map is a tool for creating a shared understanding with a particular type of customer, including their actions, desires, needs and thoughts. Companies often create an empathy map when developing a journey map, although it isn’t a strict requirement. The following diagram shows a simple empathy map from Nielsen Norman Group:
Fig. 11 Simple empathy map
A CX map provides an understanding of human behavior with respect to a specific experience or topic, but isn’t related to a particular product or service. This type of customer journey map helps you visualize the average customers’ experiences in achieving a certain goal. It’s most similar to day in the life map, in that it provides the context for insights into human behavior. The following experience map from Nielsen Norman Group visualizes a general experience of pregnancy.
Fig. 12: CX experience map for pregnancy
How Can Customer Journey Maps Impact the Call Center Environment?
Developing a customer journey map that covers all the required elements for that journey isn’t easy. However, it’s well worth the effort since it provides a crucial step in growing a business. By ensuring that customers don’t get lost during their journey. Specific benefits of the customer journey map include the following:
- Increase revenue from existing customers
- Create a seamless omnichannel experience
- Develop an effective inbound marketing strategy
- Improve customer service
Increase Revenue from Existing Customers
The strong correlation between customer experience and revenue is clear, since satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases. Furthermore, customers who have a particularly positive experience are more likely to share that experience with others, although customers with a negative experience are more likely to do so. Word-of-mouth advertising usually comes from someone the listener trusts and therefore tends to have high credibility, whether the reported experience is positive or negative.
A study by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) shows that customers are willing to pay 16 percent more for a great customer experience. Mapping out a customer journey is crucial for repeat business since it shows where customer experiences are falling short of their expectations. Addressing these deficiencies thus allows companies to generate more revenue from existing customers.
Create a Seamless Omnichannel Experience
Customers had only a few ways in which to interact with a brand in the days before the internet. You could visit a store in person to make a purchase or place an order by phone, and that was about it. Today’s consumers have an average of 7.6 touchpoints when interacting with a brand, according to Salesforce.
For example, a consumer could hear about the brand through social media and then visit the company’s website to learn more about its products and services. That consumer could then make a purchase in multiple ways, such as a phone call, email or online order form.
Modern consumers are also more likely to use video when making purchase decisions. As a result, it’s now essential for businesses to include video in their communications channels as a means of presenting their products and services. The greater complexity of communication means that mapping the customer journey is a critical first step for insuring that customers have a seamless omnichannel experience across all touch points.
Any discussion of an omnichannel platform requires a clear understanding between omnichannel and multichannel marketing. The difference between the two can be subtle as both techniques involve the use of more than one communication channel. The distinction lies in the degree of consistency between channels. In a multichannel environment, each channel may provide an entirely different experience from the others. On the other hand, true omnichannel capability provides the consumer with the same experience, regardless of the channel they use.
Building An Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy
Outbound marketing involves a brand pushing its message to an audience, which could include traditional channels such as radio and TV as well as internet-based methods like email, display ads and pop-ups. These strategies are also disruptive because they involve taking the consumers’ attention away from what they’re doing at that moment by providing content that may not interest them.
As a result, marketing strategies are currently trending towards inbound marketing, due in part to the generally high cost and disruptive nature of outbound marketing. Inbound marketing takes a different approach by providing content that consumers find engaging and valuable, causing them to initiate contact with the brand. These strategies also help businesses build back links, which are highly useful for engaging consumers. Mapping out a customer journey allows businesses to determine the type of content that will resonate with audiences in an inbound marketing campaign.
Improve Customer Service
Improving customer service is a critical benefit of customer journey mapping because the journey doesn’t end once a customer buys a product. Long-term growth relies upon increasing retention rates, meaning that a brand must continue delighting its customers after the purchase. PWC reports that 32 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of a single bad experience with customer service.
The ability of a customer journey map to provide insight into customer pain points makes it a highly useful tool for improving customer service. Assume for this example that a call center is getting an increase in complaints on response time. An analysis of customer service touch points could reveal the cause of this bottlenecking, leading to solutions such as deploying chatbots or increasing the number of live agents. The insights that a customer journey map can provide helps companies develop a more unified customer service strategy that aligns with the call center’s software. This achievement can provide a brand with a competitive advantage.
Customer journey mapping is becoming an increasingly vital tool for marketing and customer service. However, it’s important to use the right type of map for the particular goal you’re trying to achieve. Aceyus can provide a demo that shows how our platform can help your contact center improve customer satisfaction. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation on customer journey mapping.
Download our whitepaper entitled ‘Great Employee Experience Is the Foundation of Great Customer Experience’ to learn more about the benefits of customer journey mapping. You can also contact us today to find out how we can help your call center develop a customer journey map. Additionally, you can schedule a demo or free consultation with one of our experts about your solution options.