Customer Journey: Definition, Journey Mapping Framework and Examples

Customer journey definition

A customer journey is an entire experience a customer has while communicating with a brand. It considers the complete interaction roadmap from brand discovery to purchasing and beyond. The focus isn’t on transactions, but rather how the customer feels after interactions with the brand. 

 Excellent products, a praiseworthy website, and an on-call customer service team may seem like the perfect mix to capture prospective clients. However, when customers feel something is off in your communication, they’re more likely to seek competitors. Creating a customer experience map provides you with your customers’ viewpoint of your business. The map leads you through each touchpoint with customers to identify weak points in your messaging.

By improving the customer experience at each point in the journey, you focus your business on your customers. This builds a loyal fan base and keeps customers coming back time and again.

Learn more: Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Customer experience journey stages

Various stages make up the complete customer journey. These three steps generally make up most journeys: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. These stages are most suitable for offline purchases.

With the progress of digital platforms, two critical additions appear in the customer experience: Retention and Advocacy. These new stages explore brand touchpoints with online shoppers.

Awareness: Awareness involves spreading general information about your products and services to your target audience(s).

Consideration: Brands focus on promotion during the consideration stage of the journey. This is where customers begin to look for alternatives to past purchases. During this phase, your business strives to convince potential buyers to include you on the list of available options. Market research reports help you identify how to communicate with potential customers effectively.

Conversion: This stage prompts visitors to take a particular action. Using a dedicated call-to-action, you encourage customers to make a purchase, subscribe to a mailing list, or sign up for services. You should use this phase to sell your product as the best fit to solve a visitor’s problem.

Retention and Advocacy: These stages were optional in previous business models. The increase in online purchases, however, makes these stages as significant as the others.

Retention: loyal customer brings an organization consistent business and costs less than the effort to bring in new customers. Retention includes keeping customers happy with a relationship management team.

Advocacy: Most organizations acknowledge the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing. However, few companies commit to a plan for bolstering customer advocacy. Encouraging each customer to share reviews or opinions can take time and money. Reaching out to influencers or guest bloggers is an effective alternative to traditional word-of-mouth marketing.

Learn more: Net Promoter Score

Tips for conducting customer experience journey mapping: 

Know your customer thoroughly

You need to understand your customers at each intersection or checkpoint in their journey. This allows you to develop content, products, and services that meet their needs. Rather than gathering occasional data from customers, employ continuous surveys to collect information. You’ll enjoy the ability to adjust your marketing or product development in real-time to meet customer needs as the market changes.

Obtain a comprehensive view

The customer journey starts before potential customers make a purchase or sign up for services. Prospects begin their journey as they learn about offerings on your website, online review sites, or advertisements. After the awareness and discovery stages, consumers enter the purchase process. When a purchase is made, customers experience your products and services and form opinions.

Throughout these stages, you need to know how customers feel about your business and products. For example, do you know what factors cause customers to choose you over the competition? How do customers perceive your sales staff? What do customers like about your products? Is your support team answering customer questions with accuracy?

Your customer experience map

Your map is a 360-degree view of customer feedback from each step in their journey. Mapping is a proven model for understanding how, when, and where your customers experience your brand.

Some places to measure experience on an ongoing basis include:

On-site: Capture feedback in the moment customers visit businesses with physical locations. For example, let’s say you run a restaurant. Give diners a short survey to complete along with their bill at the end of their meal.

Email: Sending emails is one of the easiest ways to get customer feedback. Set up your sales system to trigger an email after a customer completes a purchase.

Call center: After every customer interaction, you can collect feedback by email or via a phone-based survey.

In-App: For app developers, collecting responses without leaving the app is ideal. An in-app survey allows users to continue enjoying the app while still providing you with feedback.

Website: Your prospects browse your site to consider becoming customers. Once customers, they continue visiting for support and account access. Gathering feedback on your website is an essential part of a holistic customer experience approach.

How to create a customer journey map?

There are six main steps for mapping.

  1. Understand the target buyer’s persona: An organization must define their ideal buyer’s persona before customer journey mapping.
  2. Acknowledge the target audience’s intent: What does a buyer hope to achieve by interacting with a brand? What are their expectations?

Answer these questions by:

Then develop action plans using the results of your research to meet buyer expectations.

  1. Note the touchpoints: Map all interaction touchpoints every time new customers visit your website or contact a sales team member. Include interactions before, during, and after purchase in your map.

Your organization should understand:

    1. Where customers obtain information about your website – Google search, social media, or Google ads.
    2. Which pages do most customers visit? What’s the average time spent on each?
    3. Did the customers enjoy shopping with the organization? Did they face any difficulties, and how helpful was the customer service team?
  1. Ask crucial questions: It’s essential to ask questions such as:
    • Is my organization satisfying all the requirements of my target audience?
    • In which stages do customers face common problems?
    • Which website pages have higher bounce rates than what is acceptable?

If you interact directly with customers, be sure to ask them:

    • How did you know about our organization?
    • What were your expectations from our organization’s website?
    • Were your expectations satisfied?
    • What prompted you to purchase from our organization?

 Learn more: Survey Questions

  1. Make a list of priorities: You can optimize customer journey mapping by identifying the areas that need immediate attention. Once you know common problems, you can take steps to limit their impact on customer loyalty.
  2. Put all ideas to paper: Most marketers prefer drawing the entire map on a whiteboard or using online mapping tools to create a digital copy. Refer to your copy when you need to make decisions to improve customer experience.

Customer journey analysis

Understanding the organization from the customer’s point of view brings new ideas and opinions to the table. Customer journey analysis does precisely that – it analyzes customer viewpoints about products so that you can make appropriate changes to keep customers loyal to your brand. Use data from customers to implement improved marketing strategies.

The analysis involves three stages: gathering accurate information, developing customer personas, and analyzing customer interactions.

Here is how customer journey analysis is beneficial in gathering information:

  • Clearly defines all customer interaction points.
  • Evaluates how the journey progresses from beginning to end.
  • Analyzes the impact on customer loyalty and brand shareability according to customer interaction points.
  • Highlights areas that waste a customer’s time in order to improve efficiency.
  • Generalize the journey of similar audiences to make improvements and keep customers satisfied.

What is the customer journey mapping framework?

The things your customer feels, sees, and hears as they interact with your business builds the foundation for their experience. Understanding these experiences allows you to accurately map and control the customer journey.

Learn more: Demographic Segmentation

Starbucks, for example, masters the concept of customer intimacy to control the experience. The journey is calculated from the moment you step in the door.

Imagine a trip to your local Starbucks. As you walk inside, you smell the aroma of roasted coffee beans. The barista behind the counter greets you with a smile. You feel the coziness around you as the muffled chit-chat disappears into the tranquil background music. When you receive your coffee, you see your name handwritten by one of the friendly baristas. If you’re a regular, the staff knows you by name and can make your order from memory. 

 The coffee giant doesn’t just sell a product. It sells what people are best at remembering – the experience. By packaging the product with an unforgettable experience, the company retains incredibly loyal customers. They’re also able to charge up to 10 times more than their competitors. Starbucks clearly understands customer experience and infuses that into the core of their business strategy.

Your customer’s journey could take place over a few hours or more than several weeks. The simplest way to start is to create a timeline. Using your customer knowledge, fill in what’s happening with your customer at each stage of your timeline. Customer journey mapping framework includes the following alongside the timeline:

Actions: What is your customer doing? What are the key actions a customer takes to move to the next stage? What actions does a person take when they don’t move on?

Motivations: What drives the customer to proceed to the next stage? What is the goal? Are they trying to solve a problem? What are they feeling?

Questions: What are the customer’s uncertainties? Are they looking for something specific? Are they confused? Identify which stage customers have the most questions and quickly address them.

Pain points: What obstacles prevent your customers from moving onto the next stage? Is it the process? Price?

Direct customer opinions are the most effective way to get answers. Send surveys or conduct interviews to learn more about your customers and their needs. Input the data you receive to the framework above, so you can see your company from your customer’s view.

Learn more: Voice of Customer Surveys

Improve your customer experience

Customers expect every exchange with a brand to be seamless from the start. Understanding the interactions at each touchpoint helps you satisfy customer needs and also improves the efficiency of your business.

“Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than those not focused on the customer.” – Deloitte and Touche

To accurately map the journey, consider each stage of buying a product. At each stage, write down what a customer feels and the actions they must take to move forward.

Learn more: Data analysis using Conjoint analysis

ecommerce customer journeyExamine the emotions at each touchpoint and rate the experiences. Is it positive or negative?
Begin to connect the dots and identify which gaps are falling short of your customer’s expectations. This exercise will help you formulate and decipher where you can have the most significant impact on improving the experience.

 Customer experience map template

Customer Journey mapping template

Leverage customer satisfaction data for more accurate results

Include your customer satisfaction scores as you map out your customer journey template. This additional set of information helps validate gaps or assumptions you make from mapping.

For example, your customer rates a CSAT score of 3 at their point of purchase and gives a score of 8 post-purchase. You immediately know that your point of purchase requires attention.

Be sure to look at multiple customer satisfaction scores to find the most crucial pain points. If there is a touchpoint that ranks poorly for most customers, start your improvements there.

Benefits of customer journey mapping

A better understanding of customer emotions:

Building a journey framework puts you directly in the mind of the consumer. Understanding the reasons why a customer makes a particular choice sets your business up for success. 

Knowing how customers feel encourages you to improve how the organization functions. Use mapping data to fix problem areas. 

 Analyze the stumbling blocks in products/services:

 Mapping gives your organization insight into where your customer communications fall short. For instance, if your support staff is undermanned, customers don’t receive help when they need it. Your customers become angry because they expect prompt replies. You resolve the issue by hiring another support team member to tackle more customer questions. 

 Improve employee and customer satisfaction:

 As issues are resolved, confidence levels among customers and employees alike increase. Employees are encouraged to continue doing great work, which in turn increases overall customer satisfaction. 

 Create a united team:

 To develop amazing customer experiences, the teams in your organization need to be on the same page. Marketing, product development, sales, and customer service must work together to improve processes within the organization. As the teams work together, the efficiency and effectiveness of each team increases.

Start following your customer’s journey. QuestionPro offers some of the most advanced customer experience tools available. Gain valuable insights into your customers’ thoughts and feelings using QuestionPro software today.

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