What is a customer journey map

Customer Journey Mapping - Walking in the shoes of your customers

The customer journey mapping visualizes the steps that a customer takes in completing a certain task. You record all points of interaction between the customer and your product or company. The customer journey map and the associated analysis of the customer journey is one of the essential cornerstones of customer-centered work.

In this post I will explain how a customer journey map is structured and how you work with it.

What is a customer journey map?

The Customer journey or User journey describes your customer's path to their desired destination. The customer journey includes all direct and indirect points of interaction between the customer and your service, product and company.

You visualize this customer journey in a customer journey map. The customer journey mapping, on the other hand, describes the process that you go through with your team to visualize the customer journey. During the creation of the customer journey map, you document what the customer thinks, feels and what actions he takes. You put yourself in the position of the customer and develop a deep empathic understanding of their needs and challenges. Together with personas, customer journey mapping is one of the supporting pillars for a common understanding of the customer in your team.

Added value of customer journey mapping

The analysis and visualization of the customer journey helps you to identify opportunities and obstacles for your product, your service, your marketing or even the strategic direction of your company. Based on these insights, you will design a superior customer experience, create a better product experience or even lay the foundation for a new strategic direction for your company.

Product and service design

As part of the product and service design, you use the visualization of the customer journey, e.g. to optimize a specific point of interaction in the customer journey, e.g. the payment process and checkout to a web shop. So your goal might be to minimize the number of abandoned purchases.

Beyond individual points of interaction, customer journey mapping is a valuable tool if you want to develop your product strategically. Then you examine which steps the customer goes through in completing their tasks and at which points in the user journey your product can play a role and facilitate the customer's journey.

Process model digitization

After all, the customer journey map is also a great procedural model in the context of digital transformation. To do this, in addition to the journey of your current customers, you map all systems, processes and people involved (ACTUAL state). You then define the optimal customer journey (TARGET state). The status quo can be useful so that all parties involved have transparency and a common understanding of the current situation. In the course of your digital transformation, however, the question of what the customer journey could look like apart from today's constraints and what you have to do to develop yourself to this TARGET state is also allowed.

Strategy development

Customer journeys have a creative but also destructive power at the start and end points. Often, however, the customer journey mapping is only seen as an operational tool, instead of looking into the question of how a new digital customer journey affects the value creation and business model of a company. Used correctly, customer journey mapping is a powerful tool for developing your corporate strategy in digital markets.

Structure of the customer journey map

Your customer journey map is structured like a large matrix.

In the Horizontal You enter the steps that the customer goes through on the way to his goal. In each of these steps you pause and ask yourself together with your team what exactly the customer is experiencing in this phase. You transfer these feelings, experiences, actions or even frustrations in the vertical of your customer journey map. You fill the resulting fields with your observations and post-it’s with life and content.

Vertical content

While the horizontal steps depend individually on the goal to be achieved and the selected level of detail, the following standardized questions are available for the vertical layout of your customer journey map. In doing so, you use the characteristics and questions that are relevant to your context and your goals.

  • Pains: What obstacles, problems and frustrations does the customer experience?
  • Gains: What “wins” the customer in this phase? How does that bring him closer to his goal? What is this phase important for?
  • emotion: What does your customer feel in this phase?
  • Actions: What does your customer do in this phase to get ahead?
  • Media:: Which channels, tools and resources does your customer use in this phase?

You can also enrich the customer journey with views of your company.

  • competition: What alternatives does the customer have here?
  • Systems: Which of your systems are involved and how is this noticeable for the customer?
  • Employee: Which employees and people are involved and how do they interact with the customer?
  • opportunities: What opportunities are there for you in this phase and how can you use them?

Examples of customer journeys

Example 1 - “I am doing my laundry”

In order to familiarize yourself with the structure of a customer journey map, I recommend that you create your own, very simple, everyday customer journey. I often use the example of “washing clothes” in my trainings and workshops.

The first question that arises is what the goal of this process is and what washing clothes is important for. Let's say your goal is that the laundry is clean and ready to be worn and used again. What steps do you go through? You might find yourself in the following steps:

  1. Collect: Dirty laundry is collected in a central location.
  2. sort by: As long as your goal is that you can use your laundry for a long time and often, you sort by color, material and the planned washing process (let's say 30, 60 90 degrees).
  3. To wash: Finally you fill your washing machine and start the washing process.
  4. dry: The laundry is air-dried or hung up to dry.
  5. Grant: Finally, the laundry is put away again so that it can be used and worn again.

Now you can ask yourself what you do in the respective phases, what you gain with it, you feel what annoys you and which materials, instruments and tools you use in the respective phase. You would have already created your first customer journey map. You can then take the “chances” or insights you have gained with you to the next family council. :)

Example 2 - Package App

In recent years, logisticians have learned that the end of the customer journey is only reached when the parcel has arrived safely. This means that my customer journey does not end after I have handed in the package. But only when I know that it has arrived. Digital apps and shipment tracking help me to experience this last step in the customer journey transparently.

But where does my customer journey actually begin when I send a package? At least from my point of view, my customer journey looks like this:

  1. packaging: Pain Points: too many empty boxes my wife gets upset about. Alternatively, throw away old cardboard boxes and have to buy new ones. So too stupid. And how big is it now and where is the cm tape measure?
  2. franking: Pain Points: what must be on it, as a parcel or parcel, how heavy is the parcel or the large letter actually? A bit annoying but manageable.
  3. handing over: Pain Points: Most of the time I take them away because picking them up or handing them over often doesn't work out in time. Driving to the post office is annoying.
  4. Shipment tracking: Almost all logisticians now have corresponding offers.

Customer journey mapping from the perspective of the logistics company

For the logistician, the customer journey only starts with the handover of the package. You define the starting point from your inner perspective, but my customer journey starts much earlier. If you were to use this knowledge to develop a new digital service, the following app might come out of it:

  1. take a picture: Take a photo of the goods you want to send, the app calculates the right logistician based on the dimensions and the destination
  2. selection: Choose the right one for you based on the suggested shipping options
  3. collection: Determine when and where the goods can be picked up. Your goods will be picked up unpacked, packed and sent for you. With shipment tracking in the app, of course.

This service addresses my customer journey and eliminates the steps of packaging and franking. In addition, the handover becomes easier and more transparent. The app may now come from a resourceful startup. Or amazon. Who then still has access to the customer? The logistician? Or is he just a nameless service provider who drives parcels in the republic?

The simple example was a quick detour into the question of what role customer journey mapping can play in the strategic development of your company and the development of your digital strategy.

Customer Journey Workshop - This is how you develop your own customer journey map

The following steps offer you an initial orientation and structure on how to develop your own customer journey map. If you want to work out and discuss the customer journey in a team, you need a sufficiently large area, post-it's, moderation cards and pens to create your customer journey. If you have a wall available, a little masking tape is sufficient, alternatively you can simply lay out the journey with moderation cards on the floor.

Briefing

Before you start, you define the goal for your customer journey mapping. Would you like to develop a new product, optimize your customer experience, rethink your strategic direction or simply analyze the points of interaction in an existing product or service more closely? With the objective, you mark out the playing field on which the team moves, so to speak, but also define the group of participants, but also the time required to create the customer journey map. You should plan at least two hours, but depending on the complexity you can spend a day doing customer journey mapping.

Personas - Which customer segments are you looking at?

Different personas behave differently, which is why a differentiated view of their customer journeys is very useful. If you have not yet developed any personas for your project, you can also work with the definition of your previous customer groups. In any case, it is important to determine for which customer segments you want to create your customer journey. As part of a workshop, you can, for example, let teams work on different customer segments.

What steps does the customer go through?

After defining the customer groups, you work in the team on the customer journey map. To do this, you first define the steps that the user goes through on the way to his goal. Unless it is already clear from the briefing, it can make sense to first talk to the team about the goals the customer is actually pursuing. The “Jobs to be done” framework is suitable for this, for example.

After you have jointly defined a goal and thus the end point of the customer journey, I would first of all outline the rough chronological sequence of all steps. If you examine customer journeys in the context of a purchase process, you can also fall back on predefined steps such as the AIDA framework (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). However, these standardized steps should not be more than a quick start. In the course of the further discussion you will possibly merge individual steps or specify them further.

What does the customer experience and do?

Finally, you collect what the customer experiences in the respective phases. You can use the questions above to do this, but you should check this selection critically against your own goals and, if necessary, supplement it. I would definitely keep pains, gains, actions and any media or channels used. Depending on the objective and intention, you should also discuss what potential there is in relation to your original question.

Debriefing - "Show and tell"

At the end of the customer journey mapping, you make a final assessment in the team. Which points were conspicuous, which new findings were there? What were the big “aha” moments. For the final consideration and presentation of the customer journeys you should take at least 30-60 minutes

Conclusion - the customer journey as an indispensable tool

The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles.

Oren Harari

Customer journey mapping is a very important tool for the operational and strategic development of products, services and companies. The importance of customer journey mapping, especially for the strategic development of a company, is often underestimated. Because especially in the course of digitization, companies run the risk of losing access to their customers because they define their customer journey too briefly. This means that these companies enter their customers' customer journey too late and do not offer any points of interaction in the first important steps your own product.

To work successfully with customer journey maps, it is important that you clearly define the scope and address not only operational, but also strategic issues. The customer journey mapping is a great format for a co-creation workshop with your customer and, above all, with team members with diverse backgrounds.

Good luck with that.

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