The What, Why and How of Customer Journey Mapping

by | Feb 29, 2016 | Customer Experience

Stories differ from hard facts. Facts make yes/no or true/false statements. A story gives a more complex, compelling picture. It tells you not just that a customer was acquired, but also how and why. Digital marketers have long been savvy to the fact that storytelling is the key to greater customer engagement. But stories also give companies more detailed ways to understand said engagement – customers’ underlying motivations and objectives – and take insightful corresponding action. 

What is customer journey mapping? 

Customer mapping is an information sharing process that helps businesses understand the entire customer lifecycle, from the first touchpoint to the customer becoming a loyal patron (or losing interest).

Many companies gather data about leads and active customers. Yet this data often contains gaps and thinly-informed hypotheses: ‘Customer clicked X Y times, therefore probably thought Z’. Customer mapping differs by getting to the heart of customers’ brand sentiments and user experiences. It gives businesses concrete customer models to work with.

Why should you map your customer’s progress through the cycle? 

Customer journey mapping is useful to designers, copywriters, managers, and others who deal exclusively with key points in the total customer experience.

  • Designers learn what customers expect from visual elements and how they respond to them emotionally
  • Copywriters understand the hierarchy of customer questions and are thus able to prioritise messages that yield conversions over messages that don’t
  • Managers who use mapping get the broad overview of customers’ progress from prospect to successful sale

In user experience, one of the most crucial processes is minimising friction – the points where customers experience pain that gives them second thoughts about taking the next step. Friction might happen where a potential customer moves from using a desktop PC to engage on mobile or vice versa. It can happen when a customer switches between engaging with different departments such as sales and customer support. There may also be pain when customers move from social media to your ecommerce store or website.

Mapping the customer story has the advantage of:

  • Placing the user at the centre, which will help lead you to smarter decision-making that is about them and their experience
  • Helping you to address qualms, questions and desires more persuasively

How to map your customer’s story 

If you are heading up a marketing division or are in charge of conversion optimisation, it’s highly likely you already have collected plenty of data that gives insights into customer behaviour. A lot of this data is analytical – it gives metrics: click-through rates, sales conversions, and so forth. In addition to analytical data, however, you need anecdotal research: Research that gives you a direct, storied insight into each customer’s psychology and how this influences commercial intent and the decision to buy. To gather anecdotal data:

  • Speak to users on social media
  • Organise interviews with test control groups
  • Practice active community listening: monitor and report on what customers are saying about you on the web and to each other
  • Once you have all the analytical and anecdotal information you need, organise it into a simple visualisation of key points in the customer lifecycle

Your visual representation should show you at a glance what customers feel at individual points in the customer lifecycle or story: what they feel at first contact, how switching between devices affects the story of their engagement with your business and other items should be combined to provide a compelling visualisation that tells key decision-makers what strategies to prioritise.