“Amazon famously keeps one empty chair in every meeting. It’s called the chair of the customer.”

Every business thinks they know their customer. Even the failed businesses thought they knew their customers.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”– Theodore Levitt (Famous Harvard Professor)

When you start thinking from the customer perspective, you need Journey Maps.

What’s a Journey Map?

For any goal, a list of all the steps the customer will take to fulfil that goal along with the emotional and operational details around these steps.

More layers of data across the map, better for you to understand the customer.

User Journey becomes like a journey of the user from “cradle to grave” in terms of engagement.

Benefits of Journey Mapping –

Broad benefits of journey mapping –

  1. Visualise the journey from the customer perspective.
  2. Identify gaps in customer experience and give consistent experience.
  3. Uncover opportunity in the customer journey for communication/brand exposure.
  4. Identifying key service issues.

Real-world actionable benefits of Journey Maps –

  1. Marketing automation for each stages, pushing the user to the next stage. You can design better marketing solutions for each stage.
  2. Content marketing plan for each stage.
  3. Comprehensive support knowledge centre for each stage.
  4. An individual stakeholder is responsible for each stage. For large companies, you can make squads or pods around each step.
  5. Once you have stages thought out, you can start with individual KPIs and targets around the stages.

To get maximum benefits out of Journey Maps –

Make someone accountable for their journey map. It should be at least updated quarterly to include any new insight.

How To Make Journey Maps –

You can start a simple process with multiple stakeholders, but over time you need to keep on updating the same based on the learnings from numerous sources.

Every journey map starts as a hunch and gut feeling of the team. That’s important to start! Eventually, with more insights backed by data and more stakeholders reviews will get you to an accurate one.

It’s a process than a final document written in stone. Sometimes people go overboard while creating one. It makes a lot of pressure and causing it in delay. Better is to start with the process and keep iterating.

Stakeholders who might have a good hunch to start –

  1. Executives who talk to the customer daily. Maybe a sales rep or from the support team.
  2. The team which runs surveys and conduct interviews with the customer.
  3. The team which analyse data of customer behaviour like analytics.
  4. Someone in a team that qualifies persona (Rare for B2B companies but possible for B2C)

For every statement in Journey map keep the option of Confirmed Vs Confirmation Pending. Otherwise, you might have the desired journey map than a real journey map. Only keep things you are sure about. Keep rest for Confirmation Pending.

With more insights, you will move statements from Confirmation Pending to Confirmed.

More Data points for journey maps –

  1. Customer Surveys
  2. Social Media / Website Analytics
  3. Sales communication or support communication (Call / Email / F2F)
  4. Customer reviews both on-site and offsite.
  5. Employee Feedback about the customer.

The list is loose and never comprehensive. Objective is not about covering all sources but more about getting to a stage of confirmed understanding of the customer.

Everything which goes on the journey map should reach “confirmed” stage after starting from “confirmation pending” stage. Otherwise, it will be far from reality.

Steps to create a Journey Map –

The most important thing to remember –

Always make a single journey map for a single user persona and a single user goal from a single user perspective.

Basically for a simple journey map you need to have the following –

  1. Customer Profile (Persona)
  2. User Goal (Objective and Scenario for the Map)
  3. Journey Stages (Broad steps)
  4. Layers (Start with a simple definition of stages)

That’s all. You can just keep it simple.

Now comes the game of layers on that map. Some essential layers are – (These needs to be mapped for every single stage)

  1. Customer needs
  2. Customer Fears
  3. Emotion
  4. Touchpoints
  5. Channels
  6. Marketing Message
  7. Operations Communication
  8. Stakeholder Responsible
  9. Other Actors, Thoughts and Activity.

Etc Etc. Layers can be confusing to downright irrelevant. Will cover them in detail one by one.

Step 1: Customer Persona

For customer persona, keep things simple. Start with the most apparent profile you can imagine.

The profile might only be true for 70-80% of your audience. Still, it’s a good profile worth solving.

Majorly, we have seen one profile accounts for 70-80% of the audience. Rest is minor changes around the use cases.

Do not make more than three personas as it will be incredibly complex to make decisions. Ideally, you should have one primary persona and two secondary personas.

Persona is an entirely different exercise but will start with the following for journey map-

  1. Customer Name
  2. Demographic
  3. Income Group or willing to spend on this service.
  4. Age
  5. Main Motive / Needs
  6. Main Pain Points

You can deep dive into the persona, but the goal is to have a clear person in mind while thinking about stages. That’s all.

Step 2: User Goal

User Goal is the main objective of the journey. Eventually, what customer wants to achieve with the product or the website.

For e-commerce, the goal might be simply for purchase for a specific need.

For insurance, the goal of buying an insurance policy. May be on the website is to know more about the insurance policy and coverage along with an appointment to the local office.

For media, the goal might be knowing more about the particular topic and be a part of the community.

Scenario –

The scenario is a back story you want to give to your profile for fun! Don’t overdo it but still help you with the conceptualisation of the customer need.

So scenario for weight loss app might be like –

Alex woke up this morning, lethargic. He realised he does not fit in his old clothes any more. He took his weight and realised he has gained a lot during this festive season. He got tense and opened his phone to search for a weight loss app. He got the list of 100 results for his search. He read the reviews and instantly downloaded 2-3 best apps claiming to be the best.

So on and on.

The objective is to get a backstory for everyone to relate and to humanise the profile.

It’s easier to get in someone shoes once you know where they are coming from.

Step 3: Journey Stages

Journey stages is a broad category of phases customer goes through to achieve its goal.

Stages are subjective as the customer will take a different journey across different product.

Standard marketing funnel comments journey as – Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Loyalty

For B2B businesses standard stages are – Awareness, Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, Sales, Post Sales Support

I have seen stages starting from 3-4 to 8-9 as well. It depends on the product and how deep you want to go into this.

Tip: Start with 3-4 stages and expand stages as you feel required.

Tips for covering all stages –

  1. Does customer feelings change from one stage to another?
  2. Does customer location, behaviour or support queries changes for the customer in between stages?
  3. Do you have different stakeholders for stages?
  4. Can you build KPIs and metrics around different stages?

The answer is talking to the customer and seeing how they interpret the stages.

Important: Stages are nor linear neither irreversible. Customers will jump from one stage to another and might bypass a stage completely. That’s totally fine.

Stages are simply phases customer will pass through the journey.

Step 4: Layers 🙂

Now coming to the layers, layers are the bedrock of all the insights and planning.

The essential layers which you should cover just to call it a journey map are –

  1. User Emotions
  2. User Needs
  3. User Pain Points

More layers are icing on the cake and show your depth of understanding around the customer. Different layers can be shown to different stakeholders to expedite their understanding of the customer.

Layers are the depth of detailing you are willing to do. Let’s start with one by one and why they are necessary –

User Emotions

User Emotions are thoughts of the user as they go through these stages. Starting from curious to cautious to excited to angry. Depending on the stages, the user might have multiple emotions on each stage.

Actionables: Empathise with the user and address those emotions. Copywriting, an essential part of marketing, can take cues from emotions. Same for designing as well.

User Needs

The main user needs for this stage. So during awareness, the user wants to know more about the product. During the purchase, the user might want to know more about the delivery date.

User needs from experience keep on changing as the stages move.

Actionables: From product management and communication understanding.

User Pain Points

User pain points are problems which face during those stages. Pain points can be around getting some information, around getting some help to getting a demo of the service.

Actionables: Helpful for the support and increasing ease of usage.

User Fears

Fears are extreme, which user can think about the stages. They might be outrightly sceptical about the whole experience. So things they want assurance around.

Actionables: Helpful for copywriting and building social proof around the product.

User Touch Points

Main touchpoints around the website/app or service where you are communicating with the user. May be an email to a phone call.

Face to face store visit might be a touchpoints.

There can be multiple touchpoints in a single stage. So don’t worry about listing down all the touchpoints.

So during the awareness, touchpoints can be Facebook ads to the landing page to welcome email.

Benefit: For marketing team to customise their message. Communication team to understand the stage and design communication around the stage.

Channels

Communication channels throughout that stage.

Stakeholders

Name of departments or individual stakeholders responsible for the stage. It totally depends on the type of stage and scale of the company.

KPIs and Metrics

To gauge the effectiveness of each and every stage, you should build the metrics around the stages. Even proxy metrics will do.

So the post-purchase stage can be monitored by NPS score and repeat purchase frequency.

Ideally, each stage should have metrics for every stakeholder role to fix accountability.

Every Other Actor

Marketing, Finance, Operations, Support, Sales can have their layer on the journey map to take their responsibility on the journey map.

Marketing can take care of communication across multiple stages.

Operations can list their activities.

Sales can take care of their touchpoints and tailor their pitch to the stage.

And so on.

You did it!

Eventually, now it’s time to take this journey map and understanding of the customer and take full value out of it.

Now, customer understanding is standard across the company, and everyone knows more about their customer.

Journey maps are not only for marketing or UX team, but they are also a shared understanding of customer using their product and everyone role in the customer journey.

Customer doesn’t see departments or multiple stakeholders in the organisation. They are dealing with the product meant to solve their needs.

As organisations, we need to put the customer in the centre of our discussion as we exist for them, not the other way round.

“Your customer’s journeys are their stories, NOT funnels.”– Bryan Eisenberg

Journey maps help us visualise how the user flows through the organisation.