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Customer Journey Maps and How to Create One

Jan Rážek
August 10, 2022 | 11.5 min read
A customer journey map can be considered a visual tool that helps you understand your customers a little more. It will provide insight into the channels through which your customers interact with your company and how they feel about the experience. You will be able to assess inconsistencies in the conversion flow, pinpoint the opportunities for cross-sells/upsells and identify possible pain points causing churn. If done correctly, undergoing the process of creating customer journey map(s) can bring a company many benefits.

In this blog post we will dig deeper into the following:

  • What the benefits of a customer journey map are

  • What is required for the creation of a reliable customer journey map

  • What the necessary components of a customer journey map are

The Hubspot definition of a customer journey map is “a visual representation of a customer’s experience with a company that provides an understanding into the needs and concerns of customers which directly motivate or inhibit their actions”. Here is a very simple example of a customer journey map that you can use as a template to build your own:

A simple example of a customer journey map that you can use as a template to build your own | Simplity data intelligence professional services

Why should companies invest in the creation of a customer journey map?

There are many benefits to creating and continually improving your customer journey map(s) and they are important for businesses with varied customer touchpoints, regardless of the industry, such as B2B, B2C, e-commerce, banking, insurance, or retail. Let us uncover some of the major benefits here:

Understanding paths and channels your customers take

The process of creating a customer journey map will enable you to understand which channels are being used by which customers (or customer segments) and at which stage of the conversion funnel. Based on this you can find out more e.g., that the segment of men that are 50+ years old, is starting to adopt internet and mobile banking for day-to-day activities, but they still use call centers to settle their issues. Hence, it might not be the best idea to get rid of the call center(s).

Moreover, based on the historical data, you can predict what the future customer journey map will look like and nudge your customers to “take the most appropriate journey” for your company.

Insightful information for various stakeholders

A customer journey map is a tool that has the potential to bring benefits to different departments across the organization:

  • Sales can find out why some leads never convert into opportunities and if there is a single point of failure in the conversion funnel.

  • Marketing can leverage the map to send the right messages to the right people at the right time, through the right channels in order to, for example, retain current customers.

  • The customer journey map might be interesting for management as well, because it might help them quickly grasp the issues and opportunities at each of the distinct stages of the conversion funnel.

Highlighting gaps in the customer experience

Usually, when a customer journey map is produced, you will discover gaps and inconsistencies in the customer experience. Understanding where these gaps really lie is the first step toward fixing them and reducing the friction in customer experience. The inconsistencies generally belong in one of the following three categories:

  • Inconsistencies between channels – e.g., between the online and offline experience in shopping with the same brand.

  • Inconsistencies between devices – e.g., a user moving from mobile to desktop and the system forgetting what their browsing history on mobile was.

  • Inconsistencies between departments – e.g., unclear ownership of a specific customer stage between marketing and the help center.

The components of a customer journey map

If you want to know how to create a customer journey map for your business, you should follow some basic rules. Firstly, you should include the right number of components to make your map informative but easily processable. Some of those core components are:

  • Customer stages – usually the same stages that occur in your conversion funnel. Typically, the stages will look like those in the following diagram (but might differ from company to company):

Customer conversion funnel stages – awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, advocacy | Simplity data intelligence professional services

  • Buyer personas – these are formed from specific characteristics of your customer segments. Basically, they are created so that it is easier for marketers to better comprehend who is represented within a customer segment, in order to create more targeted marketing campaigns.

  • Customer touchpoints – all touchpoints where your customers can contact your company need to be shown on the map. You can effectively identify pain points and opportunity points (upsell/cross-sell), once customer data are integrated within the map.

  • Emotions – it might be useful to try to include emotions that your customers are feeling during each step of the customer journey. Based on this you can understand where your customer experience is top-notch and where it still needs improvement. The emotions can be discovered through qualitative research using the voice of the customer surveys or reviews, or the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that you are tracking. To identify the emotional tone behind a text, sentiment analysis, also known as emotion AI, can be leveraged.

Nevertheless, in order to create a viable customer journey map, a few requirements must be met.

  1. First, you need to create the map from the perspective of the customer. If you cannot put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you will not be able to get any added value out of the exercise.

  2. Second, to get the optimal insights you should not create just one customer journey map for all your customers. Since all your customer segments have different behaviors it is important to create a customer journey map for each of them. There are many ways in which you can divide your customers into specific customer segments. Whether you opt for division based on transactional data, behavioral data, or predicted behavior in the future, we always recommend segmenting based on hard data. That way, you know in which ways your customers differ and you do not need to presume and guess.

  3. Third, and most importantly, you need to base your customer journey map(s) on data (not just for customer segmentation, but for the whole map). Nowadays there are many tracking options and tools for you to collect every move of your customers online e.g., Google Analytics, Meiro, or others. There are also platforms, such as customer relationship management (CRM), that help you collect data about the customers who visit your branches or contact your call center. The goal is to collect data from all your data sources and leverage them for the creation of your customer journey map(s). Simplity has long-term experience in doing exactly this.

Common sources of customer data

There are numerous ways how you can get the data you need for the customer journey map creation. Commonly, we can divide the data into three buckets:

1. First-party data

First-party data is all the data that you collect directly from your customers. You can collect this data from very diverse sources, such as:

  1. Your website(s) – you can collect all the behavioral and transactional data.

  2. Your app(s) – you can collect even more information since app users are more often required to sign in and are usually more loyal.

  3. Advertising platforms such as Google or Facebook – you can better understand potential customers that are still in the initial stages of the conversion funnel.

  4. Surveys – these can be leveraged to directly ask your customers about their experience.

  5. Customer service – this can provide valuable data and information about customers, post-purchase.

2. Second-party and third-party data

In the situation where you discover that you do not really have the necessary data quantity, you do not have to worry too much. It is relatively easy to find out more information about your customers through data that you do not own – these are called second and third-party data. Unfortunately, since these data are owned by other platforms, you need to purchase those. Nevertheless, in some cases, the purchase might be more than profitable since it will allow you to gain a deeper insight into your customer’s behavior. This way you can, for example, broaden the audience you want to target with your marketing campaigns.

Making sure the data works for your customer journey map

Overall, customer journey mapping is a fantastic way to holistically understand how your customers behave and why they behave the way that they do. Keep in mind that drawing possible customer journey maps on a piece of paper, or using basic software, is the easy part. The problem usually arises when you want to understand how your customers realistically behave based on the data. Simplity, as an end-to-end data consultancy company, can make sure that:

  • Your data are of a good enough quality.

  • You have enough behavioral and transactional data.

  • You can connect data from all your touchpoints and data sources.

  • Your customer journey map is a proper representation of the reality.

Therefore, in case you need any help with customer journey mapping, or with any data issues you currently face, feel free to get in touch.

Jan Rážek
Business Consultant