How to Create a Customer Journey Map: Enhancing the Customer Experience

With 47 free downloads on your website, 18 daily social media posts, a weekly Facebook Live video, and nine blogs every 10 days, you should have this customer engagement thing covered, right?

So why aren’t people responding in droves? Better yet, why aren’t they responding at all?

The thing is this:

You can have all the wonderful content in the world, and it still won’t matter unless you do it right. Doing it right doesn’t mean hurling loads of content at the masses and hoping something sticks.

It means interacting with prospects and customers with the goal of:

  • Alleviating their pain points.
  • Leading them to a solution.
  • Providing valuable information.
  • Making them happy to know your brand.

And it all needs to be done in a way that aligns with the stage they’re at along the buyer’s journey.

While that may sound like a tall order that’s impossible to figure out, it’s really not. Not with a customer journey map.

If the customer journey map is not something you ever really thought about, you’re not alone. In fact, 50% of organizations out there have little to no understanding about their customer journey, never mind the mapping that goes with it.

But for brands that want to increase customer satisfaction and their bottom line, customer journey mapping is an integral piece of the puzzle. 

A well-thought-out customer journey map can streamline and improve customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention, giving your business a major boost. 

Customer Journey Explained

The customer journey refers to the entire customer experience an individual has with your brand. It begins the moment they learn you exist and, if done correctly, continues ad infinitum as they become a loyal fan. 

The journey involves all interactions across all touchpoints, channels, and devices at each stage of the customer lifecycle.

The customer lifecycle can be broken down into a variety of different stages, depending on what works best for your company. The more stages you have, the more detailed you can get—and the better you can ensure your customers are getting what they need at each stage.

We like to use a lifecycle with eight different stages (which are explained in greater detail later in the article). The eight different stages are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Investigation
  3. Consideration
  4. Trial
  5. Purchase
  6. Perception
  7. Connection
  8. Sharing

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping refers to the process of identifying and describing all the experiences your customer has with your brand at every stage of the journey. Again, that includes all interactions across all touchpoints, channels, and devices.

The most detailed customer journey maps will not only take note of every interaction with the customer, but also how the customer responds to those interactions. 

Tracking customer engagement in such a detailed way allows you to see where your brand is gaining points with customer satisfaction levels—and where you could use a few pointers to improve.

Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping

You remember the main goal of your company, right? (Note: Making money is important, yes, but not the right answer.) The best brands strive to solve customer problems while helping them enjoy ongoing success with their products or services. 

A customer journey map can be one of the key documents for allowing you to achieve exactly that.

Once you’ve taken a deep dive into every single interaction at every single stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll know what its like to walk in the customer’s shoes. That means you’ll know what it takes to keep them smiling through every phase.

Understanding the Customer Experience 

As people move through the different customer touchpoints, mapping lets you see how easy it is for them to do so.

  • When a customer reaches out for help with a phone call, are they met with an immediate response?
  • How frequently do you respond to messages on social?
  • Are customers more comfortable with live chat, chatbots, or phone calls with real people?
  • Do your welcome emails get opened or deleted?

When you see what’s working and what’s not, you can do more of the former and make changes to the latter. You want the customer’s experience to be as smooth and easy as possible, and mapping can expose the obstacles that need to be eradicated.  

Improving Customer Service

When you see places where customers are facing obstacles, you may want to implement a proactive customer service strategy. 

For instance, you may want to have reps reach out to customers at a certain point to ensure all is progressing smoothly. Or you might want to hire additional help for your social media channels if customer messages aren’t being responded to in a timely manner.

Giving your customers additional customer support options when the usual channels are unavailable is a good idea, as is providing an option in case of an urgent situation or emergency.

Customer journey mapping can also reveal internal communication issues among employees. The sales team may not be able to get fast answers from other departments, for example. Or maybe there’s a communication breakdown between marketing and sales.

Decreasing Costs

Mapping out your customer journey can reduce costs in several areas. Research says brands that pay attention to their customer journeys have seen:

  • Increase in word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Decrease in customer churn.
  • 10x improvement in the cost of customer service.
  • 20% year-over-year growth.

On the flipside, brands that don’t manage their customer journey typically see a year-over-year decline of 2.2%.

Increasing Sales

As costs go down, sales go up for brands that manage their buyer’s journey. Stats here say those brands enjoy:

  • A sales cycle that’s 18x faster.
  • 56% more revenue from cross-selling and upselling.
  • 54% increase in marketing ROI.

Enhancing Satisfaction

Increasing customer satisfaction is a natural byproduct of managing your buyer’s journey. The more you pay attention to and improve the customer touchpoints, the better you meet customer’s needs—and the happier customers are going to be. 

Many brands have witnessed these higher satisfaction levels with a 24% increase in positive comments on social media.

Customers aren’t the only ones who feel good about it, either. As you move forward fixing problems and enhancing internal communication, employees start feeling good, too. 

Knowing they can get the answers they need increases confidence, while the additional support can result in greater productivity and efficiency.

Getting Started With Customer Journey Mapping

Your starting point in the customer journey mapping process involves CJM research. The better you are at collecting the information that’s going to be part of your map, the easier the mapping will be. And you’re going to want to collect a good amount of information.

Outline the Basics

The basics include defining three different elements:

  • Your target audience.
  • Their goals.
  • The solutions you provide.

Like many brands, you may have more than one target audience. Like many audiences, each may have more than one goal. While you want to provide solid details, you still want to keep your responses focused.

Go Deeper with Buyer Personas

Once you’ve defined your target audience, go deeper by profiling your customer personas. The best way to fill in the blanks with buyer personas is to get feedback from real customers and prospects who are actually interested in your products.

Questionnaires are a great way to gather information. Reading social media comments is another. You can also conduct one-on-one phone interviews.

Questions you can ask real customers include:

  • How did you discover our brand?
  • What are your pain points; what problems are you trying to solve?
  • What have you purchased from us?
  • What were you thinking and feeling at the moment of purchase?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy is it to:

  • Navigate our website?
  • Reach customer service?
  • Get answers when you need them?

Are there ways we could make the customer experience with our company even better?

Choose One or Two Buyer Personas

Focus on one or two buyer personas for the mapping process. Because the customer journey map outlines a very specific path one customer type may be taking, you don’t want to muddle the details by grouping too many different customer types into a single journey.

If it’s your first time trying customer journey mapping, go with your most common customer persona and the path they would take when discovering and interacting with your business for the first time.

You can create additional customer journey maps for other buyer personas as needed down the line.

List All the Touchpoints

Touchpoints refer to all the places where prospects and customers can interact with your brand. Start with your website, which is likely to have several customer touchpoints that range from downloads to your contact form. 

Then go beyond your site, noting all the other ways a customer may engage with your company both online and off.

Customer touchpoints can include:

  • Social media.
  • Paid ads.
  • Customer feedback surveys.
  • Direct mail.
  • Third party review sites.
  • Conferences or events.

Do a quick Google search to see where your traffic is coming from. Those are definitely customer touchpoints to include.

List All the Actions

Now you want to take note of all the actions your customers take while they’re interacting with your brand. This can include clicking an email you sent or filling out a form to download information from your website.

You may end up with tons of actions, and that’s OK. You can refine the list when you make changes.

And you’ll definitely want to make changes if you see your customers are expected to take too many actions to achieve what they need to achieve. Decreasing the number of actions a customer must take to get what they need typically results in higher conversion rates.

Take Note of Emotions and Motivations

Emotions are what drive people to take action, and the emotional drive is typically caused by customer pain points or problems. If you know what emotions are driving each action at different stages of the journey, you can aim to make the journey as smooth as possible.

Get to Know the Roadblocks

Find out what roadblocks may be stopping your customer from taking action. Cost is a common one. Instead of lowering your prices, however, you could create a FAQs page that outlines how your higher cost comes with higher value.

Review Your Resources

As you create your customer journey map, you’re going to see which of your resources play a role in the customer experience. Review which resources you already have, which you may need, and which may need updating or improvement.

Resources can include content assets, but they can also include systems and tools. Onboarding new customers may be much easier with an automated email platform, for example. Customer success rates may skyrocket with a chatbot to answer routine inquiries. 

Additional CJM Research Tips 

  • Involve your team. You’re likely to get the most thorough and accurate results with customer journey mapping if you involve anyone who interacts with customers. This can include your marketing, sales, customer service, business development, and others.
  • Tune in to data analytics. In addition to telling you where your customers come from, Google Analytics can uncover a wealth of valuable information. This can include:
    • Keywords people use to find you.
    • How much time they spend on your website.
    • Content assets that influence the buying decision.

Using a Customer Journey Map Template

Customer journey map templates can make the job a lot easier and more organized. You’ll find tons of them online, or you can create your own to ensure it contains all the elements you want to include.

You can get as complex as you wish, with various layers, colors, and icons. Or you can keep it simple with a straightforward spreadsheet or chart. Visualizations can be particularly helpful to marketers. 

Another option is to use an online customer journey map template, like the one on the WriterAccess platform. 

Here you can input and save your information, sharing it with writers and other creatives working on your projects. Knowing which stage of the customer journey the content relates to deepens the creator’s understanding of the content’s job and goal.

WriterAccess subscribers can access the customer journey map template from the dashboard’s left-hand menu.

  1. Select Streamline Workflow.
  2. Choose Asset Library.
  3. Click on the number above Journey Maps.
    • Pick Create New Journey Map to create a new one.
    • Or you can access any saved maps you have.

Once you’ve clicked Create New Journey Map, the system will walk you through the process. Don’t forget to save your map for future use, or attach it to orders when needed.

Customer Journey Map Example

One of the best ways to understand the customer journey map is to take a look at one. You can download a sample customer journey map from the WriterAccess platform. You’ll find highlights from that sample map below.  

While there are different types of customer journey maps that focus on the customer’s future state, day in the life, or service blueprint, this sample is of the most common type of customer journey map. 

It’s one that focuses on the customer’s current state, or pain points they’re experiencing at the moment they interact with your brand. 

This map is based on the same eight-stage customer journey mentioned earlier. As a refresher, those eight stages are: 

  1. Discovery
  2. Investigation
  3. Consideration
  4. Trial
  5. Purchase
  6. Perception
  7. Connection
  8. Sharing

Discovery Stage

As the first phase in the customer journey, the discovery stage is your chance to make a memorable first impression—or not. At this point, the prospect is aware they have a problem that requires a solution, but they’re not yet sure what that solution may be.

If your first impression rocks, you may make the list of finalists. If it doesn’t, they’ll simply pass you by. There are likely plenty of other organizations offering the same or similar services that alleviate the same customer pain points. 

You need to give prospects a reason to choose you.

You want to deliver content that is educational, personable, and, perhaps most importantly, easy to find and access.

Discovery Stage Content Examples

  • Website content.
  • Explainer video.
  • Blog posts.
  • Resource center.

Discovery Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Articles.
  • Long-form and short-form posts.
  • Books.
  • Presentations and webinars.
  • Videos.
  • White papers.

Discovery Stage Content Channels

  • Speaking at conferences.
  • Downloads.
  • Tradeshows.
  • YouTube.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • What is your solution?
  • Will your solution deliver the quality I need? Is it affordable?
  • Who provides your service, or how is your product made?
  • I’ve had bad experiences with similar products or services. How do I know yours will be better?
  • What happens if you don’t meet my expectations?

Investigation Stage

At the investigation stage, prospects have shown repeated curiosity about what you do. While they may not have yet explicitly expressed an intent to purchase, they have been showing signs of interest. 

These signs could include visiting your site, downloading content, signing up for your email list, or asking questions via live chat.

Don’t forget, they are likely investigating other brands the same way they’re investigating you. What makes you the better choice?

Investigation Stage Content Examples

  • Blog posts.
  • Resource center.
  • Service guide.
  • E-book download.
  • Informational kit.

Investigation Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Articles.
  • Long-form and short-form posts.
  • Books.
  • Presentations and webinars.
  • Product or service guides.
  • Videos.
  • White papers.

Investigation Stage Content Channels

  • Blog.
  • Downloads.
  • Facebook.
  • Live chat.
  • Mobile app.
  • YouTube.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • How does the pricing work?
  • How do I know your solution is capable of handling my specific situation?
  • Do you have other people like me using your product or service, people with the same type of problem?
  • What do those people usually buy?
  • What’s included with the purchase?

Consideration Stage

Prospects are on the brink, considering a purchase from your company. But don’t get too excited just yet. 

Even though their interest in buying has been confirmed by requesting a demo, a live chat, or speaking with one of your reps, the information you provide at this point can make or break the deal.

Prospects are assessing the value of your business while weighing your products or services as a solution to their specific needs.

Consideration Stage Content Examples

  • Teaser at a speaking event.
  • Service or product guides, catalogs.
  • Case studies.
  • Webinar registration.
  • Video tour.

Consideration Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Case studies.
  • Presentations and webinars.
  • Product and service guides.
  • Videos.

Consideration Stage Content Channels

  • Speaking at conference.
  • Downloads.
  • Tradeshows.
  • YouTube.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • Perhaps this is a better solution than the one I’m currently using. Can I test it to be sure?
  • This solution seems less expensive than other options. Will I be sacrificing quality?
  • This solution seems more expensive than other options. What added value will I receive?
  • How can I sell this solution to my boss?
  • How do I start?

Trial Stage

You’re almost there! The trial stage is when a prospect signs up for a trial of your product or service with the intention to purchase. But they haven’t passed the finish line just yet. 

The content you provide at this stage has the power to seal the deal. Totally ignoring them may have the opposite effect.

Prospects here are assessing your solution’s features, tools, functionalities, and ease of use.  

Trial Stage Content Examples

  • Welcome postcard.
  • Email welcome kit.
  • Custom newsletter.
  • Getting started guide.
  • Email outlining top 10 benefits of product or service.

Trial Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Brochures.
  • Emails.
  • Text or phone call.
  • Newsletters.
  • Postcards.
  • Product or service guides.
  • White papers.

Trial Stage Content Channels

  • Blog.
  • Downloads.
  • Email.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • Is your solution easy to use?
  • Who do I contact if I need help?
  • What features are available, and do they cost extra?
  • What do I get at each service tier?
  • Can my team members use my account or do they have to get their own?

Purchase Stage

Your prospect has officially become a customer. They’ve selected the level of service they want and made their first payment. They now have access to whatever features and perks they paid for. You want to make sure they know what those are—and how to use them.

You also want to ensure customers know how to reach out for help if they need it along the way.

Purchase Stage Content Examples

  • Emailed e-books.
  • Product or service hacks guide.
  • Features guide.
  • Email providing answers to FAQs.
  • Other long-form content offering comprehensive information.

Purchase Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Books, e-books.
  • Product or service guides.
  • Tools.

Purchase Stage Content Channels

  • Blog.
  • Downloads.
  • Email.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • What exactly do I get with my plan level? Do I need all these features?
  • Can I change my service level? If so, how?
  • How do I access all the available features? How do I learn to use them?
  • What’s the best way to streamline my workflow?
  • How are payments made?

Perception Stage

Now that they’re working with your solution, customers are reflecting on their decision to purchase. This is where they will forge a perception of your brand, shaped by their experience with your product or service.

They’ll be assessing your solution’s quality, price fairness, and ease of use, along with the resources and special perks they’ve received as part of the deal.

Perception Stage Content Examples

  • Milestone postcard.
  • Mobile app download.
  • Certification for learning the ropes.
  • Guide for taking learning to the next level.
  • Emailed e-book.

Perception Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Books, e-books.
  • Texts.
  • Postcards.
  • Presentations and webinars.
  • Product or service guides.
  • Tools.
  • Videos.
  • White papers.

Perception Stage Content Channels

  • Blog.
  • Downloads.
  • Emails.
  • Facebook.
  • Instagram.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Twitter.
  • Live chat.
  • Paid and earned media.
  • Mobile app.
  • YouTube.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • Wow. This is a phenomenal solution.
  • This solution is so complicated. Isn’t there an easier way?
  • I’m not sure if this is going to work for me.
  • I love a lot of the features, but I’m not sure if I have everything I need.
  • I’m blown away by the resources and learning that are available. It’s helping me greatly.

Connection Stage

Customers here connect with your brand in a number of ways. One-on-one personal communication with team members is perhaps the most valuable and meaningful form of communication, ensuring each customer is getting exactly what they need from your solution.

The more loved and connected customers feel, the more likely they are to become champions for your products or services.

Connection Stage Content Examples

  • Facebook friends.
  • LinkedIn connection.
  • Twitter follow.
  • Mobile app communication.
  • Samples of advanced projects on the platform.

Connection Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Micro-form posts.
  • Books, e-books.
  • Mobile messages, texts.
  • Presentations and webinars.
  • Videos.
  • White papers.

Connection Stage Content Channels

  • Downloads.
  • Facebook.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Twitter.
  • Mobile app.
  • YouTube.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • This company really cares about me, has my best interests in mind.
  • Thank you for the wise advice, even if it means switching to another solution.
  • This solution has solved my problem perfectly.
  • I want to learn and advance even more with your solution. How do I proceed?
  • How cool, the company sent me a card in honor of my 5-year anniversary as a customer.

Sharing Stage

The sharing stage is where customers publicly praise your products, service, support team or brand. They’ll openly recommend and refer your solution to their friends, family, colleagues, and social connections. 

While their shares are unsolicited, genuine, and involve no compensation, you may want to consider a referral program with bonuses to boost referrals even more.

Sharing Stage Content Examples

  • Public reviews.
  • Company events.
  • Referral program.
  • Company awards.
  • Net promoter score (NPS), request for rating.

Sharing Stage Content Touchpoints

  • Micro-form posts.
  • Case studies.
  • Emails.
  • Mobile communication.

Sharing Stage Content Channels

  • Blog.
  • Speaking at conferences.
  • Facebook.
  • Instagram.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Twitter.
  • Paid and earned media.
  • Tradeshows.
  • YouTube.
  • Website.

Possible Questions and Concerns

  • I adore my account manager. How can I put my coworker in touch with him?
  • Will your company be at the industry conference? I want to meet the people I’ve been working with.
  • I’m interested in including your event on my list of industry conferences. Who do I contact for more info on the event?
  • I’m thrilled with the solution and eager to recommend it to others.
  • This solution is so amazing; I want to keep it a secret. Especially from my competitors!

Summing It Up 

Now that you have the lowdown on customer journey mapping, your head is probably spinning. You’ve learned a lot. You not only know what a customer journey map is, but you have a solid idea on how to use one to reap the many benefits. 

But there’s still one more step to take. And that’s to go through the customer experience yourself. Encountering your brand from the customer’s point of view will provide the final insights you need to create the perfect customer experience. 

The perfect experience is one that’s smooth, streamlined, satisfying, and fulfills the customer’s needs at every stage along the way.  The customer journey map is just one of the many topics covered in the Content Strategy Certification program at WriterAccess Academy. Want to learn more? Sign up now. It’s free.

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