Map your way to happier customers — 4 proven customer journey mapping tactics

Pradeep Vasudev

May 2, 20237 min read

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Imagine 10 people walking into your local store to buy something. Then after a few minutes of erratic browsing through the aisles, seven of them just walk out the door having bought nothing. You'd be surprised at losing those customers right before your eyes, wouldn’t you?

I feel the pain too, but don’t lose heart. You’re not alone. 

68% of shoppers spend hours browsing a store, carting items, only to drop off without purchasing anything at the last minute. It's nearly impossible to second-guess what a customer is thinking and predict their future actions, and this is where customer experience management (CXM) or more specifically customer journey mapping comes into play.

Customer journey mapping can help you understand how your customers’ journeys start, progress and culminate. It spotlights areas of improvement in your operations that can be fixed to make your customer experiences feel more personalized and frictionless. 

Table of Contents

So, what exactly is customer journey mapping?

For the uninitiated, customer journey mapping is a process used by businesses to analyze their customers' experiences as they interact with their brand across various touch points from awareness to consideration, purchase and advocacy. By putting down a clear representation of the customer journey, your business can identify customer pain points which translate into opportunities for improvement.

To give you a simple example, customer journey mapping can be considered similar to planning a trip or a journey to someplace. Just like how you planning a trip involves

  • determining the destination

  • Identifying the means of transportation to get there

  • planning the route to be taken

and other details of the trip, customer journey maps have the stages of the journey, the criteria being used to evaluate the journey, the target actions (sign-ups, registrations, purchases, it can be anything really) and the plans that will help us achieve those target actions.

In addition to these, customer journey maps also talk about the pain points that these customers have, and possible solutions for them that can help them reach the target action quicker.

A customer journey map containing the journey stages along the horizontal axis and the parameters to consider in every stage along the vertical axis

An example of a customer journey map (source)

You’d be surprised to know most leading brands in both B2B and B2C industries widely use customer journey maps to optimize their customer experiences by identifying pain points in CX and providing simple, effective solutions. 

Heard of Apple? Spotify? Amazon? Airbnb? Starbucks? These are all some of the world-famous brands that have leaned onto journey mapping initiatives and successfully reinvented their CX strategy to provide a smoother, seamless experience to users.

Creating unforgettable customer experiences with customer journey maps

To create an insightful customer journey map that will help you unlock an outstanding CX:

  1. Begin with defining your customer personas and identifying the touchpoints your customers may encounter, such as websites, social media and customer service channels. 

  2. Then, gather data on the customer's interactions, user actions and emotions at each stage of the journey.

  3. With a clear understanding of your brand’s customer journeys, can begin to optimize the experience by identifying areas of improvement for a seamless customer experience.

You can perform customer journey mapping using a variety of tools, including software programs, templates, journey mapping software, design thinking tools and service design tools. To leverage journey maps to the fullest, here are some pointers:

  • Execute journey mapping for each broad persona to ensure the data is inclusive of almost all types of users

  • Experience the customer journey yourself either before you start the mapping or after the preliminary mapping, to make sure no touchpoints or flows are left out

  • Review and update your maps periodically, for example, once in every six months or so to ensure your users are always having the best experience possible.

What’s the best way to create an insightful customer journey map?

Here are four best practices that industry leaders follow when creating customer journey maps, that you can implement for your business:

1. Understand the customers’ pulse around your brand.

Did you know that over 3.6 billion people around the world use social media today, and this number is expected to rise up to 4.5 billion in 2025? 

Your customers are already expressing their emotions online, and all you have to do is tune in. Listening to your customers' emotions can be a key differentiator in providing support and setting your brand apart. 

Social listening technology has also become one of the most effective customer journey mapping tools available to brands. Businesses that don’t utilize social listening tools are essentially shutting themselves off from important conversations about their brand, industry and customers' needs and desires.

An advanced social listening platform goes beyond simply tracking mentions of your company, gathering posts that refer to your brand, relevant products, services, hashtags, and keywords. 

Moreover, it enables you to categorize sentiments as positive, negative or neutral, revealing areas for improving CX and providing valuable insights for training your customer service reps. This way, you can equip your support teams to hone into latent customers' emotions and address them proactively, thereby improving the CX.

2. Identify pain points in your CX.

AI-powered CX tools can assist in tracking a customer's digital interactions with your company and identifying pain points, which is any instance that causes confusion, frustration or extra effort for the customer. 

Example: If a customer opens a support chat on your app, you need to ensure that they are not directed to dial your call center or are asked to repeat their details to multiple people. It is also essential to be mindful of any obstacles that could hinder your support team's ability to deliver excellent customer service.

A study conducted between March 11 and March 26 in 2020 found that there were increasing challenges for both customers and representatives in approximately one million customer service calls. The study showed a significant rise in wait times and “difficult” calls from frustrated customers, and an increase in the number of escalations by 68%

All of these had been consequences of the onset of the pandemic and were not directly related to the brands’ CX in any way. This understanding of the market and its pain points was necessary for the brands involved to quickly deploy countermeasures and improve customer satisfaction.

By recording the frequency of pain points, you can focus your resources on making the most resounding impact on customer care quality. For example, you may discover that updating your service reps' hardware or customer service software could make a significant difference or that an AI-powered chatbot on your website could address the most frequently asked questions.

3. Customers’ favorite channels = your preferred channels. 

It is essential for your business to understand your customers' preferred support channels to provide exceptional customer experience. Customers nowadays expect fast and efficient support, and their preferred channels could differ based on various factors like demographics, location and the issue they face.

Knowing their favorite support channels can enable you to offer personalized support and tailor your customer service strategies accordingly. For instance, if most customers prefer email support over phone support, the business can allocate resources accordingly to ensure quick responses to emails.

By understanding better about users’ preferred support channels, your business can reduce customer frustration, resolve issues quickly, and provide a seamless omnichannel customer experience. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

4. Strengthen your defenses at exit points in the journey.

When do customers stop engaging with your brand? It's essential to consider that these touchpoints would be affected as trends keep changing and the industry keeps evolving.

Customer journey mapping tools can assist you in identifying the touchpoints where customers abandon their cart, request a refund or decline an upgrade. These exit points provide critical information about where your customer care team can add value and reduce churn.

Apart from gathering data, it's also crucial to speak with your customer service team. They have direct insights into your customers' complaints, issues and questions. 

  • At what points during a support case do they observe customers becoming upset? 

  • What are the common reasons that customers request refunds or take their business elsewhere? 

  • What are the touchpoints that are generally less efficient and practical than the others?

  • Where are the best points in the journey for upselling/cross-selling opportunities?

Understanding these factors would help you determine what aspect of your customer experience isn’t strong, and you can then take appropriate steps to bridge these gaps. For example, if the common reason for refunds is a damaged product being delivered or an abnormal number of delayed deliveries, you might want to consider revisiting your delivery partner’s SLA or switching to a different partner altogether.

Wrapping up

Customer journey mapping is a powerful tool to optimize your customers' experiences and conversion rates. With a clear representation of the customer journey, you can identify pain points and opportunities for improvement, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. By following the pointers mentioned above, you can understand your customers’ journey from awareness to conversion and beyond, providing a seamless experience along the way.

Here’s a quick gist of what we discussed in this blog — 4 key pointers to remember when you need to create an engaging customer journey through mapping. To make it easier for you, we’ve:

  1. Understanding customer sentiment around your brand is the first step to crafting a customer journey that would positively impact your users.

  2. Spot pain points in your customer journey and take active measures to reduce/mitigate friction in those areas.

  3. Your customer’s favorite communication channels help you decide where and how you can talk to them, and they’re an important part of streamlining your customer experience.

  4. You can identify and analyze touchpoints in the journey that have a high dropoff rate, and reinforce these points to improve your conversions and engagement.

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