What Is Customer Journey Mapping? A Beginner's Guide

Customer journey mapping is a valuable way to gain insight into your customers’ motivations, needs and pain points. By helping you get a deeper understanding of your customers and key customer moments, journey mapping will help your business to provide a better customer experience. There’s no better way to grow your brand than to step into your customers’ shoes.

What is customer journey mapping?

A customer journey map – also called a user journey map - is a visual representation of the path a customer takes to achieve a specific goal. A journey map documents each interaction or touchpoint a customer has with your company, helping you visualise how they experience your product or service.

A customer journey map will include touchpoints that happen:

  • Before a purchase: How do customers discover your product or service? Social media? Online advertising? Referrals?
  • During a purchase: Is the in-store experience convenient or clunky? Does your website make it easy for customers to add to cart and check out?
  • After a purchase: What sort of message does your order confirmation email send? Do you encourage buyers to join a loyalty program? How’s your after-sales service?

What are the stages of customer journey mapping?

1. Create a customer persona

Your journey map should look at the experience of an individual user in a single scenario with a specific goal. This persona should have the demographics of a key market segment that deals with your brand, enabling you to capture their point of view accurately.

If you’re creating your first journey map, start by picking your most common customer group and working your way through the route they’d typically take when engaging with your business for the first time.

2. Define your customer phases

Journey maps are usually organised by customer phases or stages. Your journey map should represent your customer’s journey towards their goal, not the internal processes that support it.

The number of customer phases your journey map captures will depend on what your persona is trying to achieve. Someone buying online from a brand they already know will follow a different process than a customer who’s making a significant purchase from a company they haven’t dealt with before.

Some common customer phases include:

  • Discovery: When a customer becomes aware of your product, service or brand.
  • Exploration: They explore your product or service in more detail.
  • Comparison: Your customer compares your product to others by research, consulting others and reading reviews.
  • Purchase: The customer pays for the product or service.
  • Retention: Your customer decides to stay loyal to your brand due to a positive post-sales experience.
  • Advocacy: The customer becomes an advocate for your company, spreading positive feedback about their experience.

3. List the touchpoints

A touchpoint is any interaction between a customer and your product, service or business that might alter the way they feel about you. Your journey map should include all possible touchpoints a customer might have when working through the phases you’ve identified above.

Examples of touchpoints include:

  • Word of mouth
  • Social media
  • Paid advertising
  • Your store
  • Your website
  • Product demos or samples
  • Your staff
  • Email marketing
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Service and support
  • Booking a table

4. Capture customer insights

Speak to your customers about their experiences dealing with your brand. What were they looking to achieve? Did the process meet their expectations? What phases and touchpoints did they move through, and how did each of these steps make them feel?

Gathering these insights from customers who have recently interacted with your company will help you to understand their expectations, perceptions, feelings and more.

Tools like Square Feedback allow customers to leave private feedback through their digital receipt, and gives you access to rich customer insights that you can analyse to optimise your customer experience.

5. Flesh out pain points

Step through your journey map and identify any pain points that affect the overall customer experience. Do customers love buying in store but feel your online shop is difficult to navigate? Maybe they’d like to sign up for notifications when certain products are out of stock, but you don’t give them the option to do this? Or perhaps they love that you offer live chat on your website, but their feedback is that it’s never staffed when they use it?

Capture all the points of friction that might arise throughout the customer journey. You’ll decide which ones to act on in the next step.

6. Identify which issues to resolve

Done correctly, customer journey mapping may identify a raft of opportunities for improvement. Choose the areas you believe will have the most impact on the customer experience and work to address these.

Some may be quick fixes; others might require a lot of time and effort to resolve. You could even find that some important issues can’t be addressed right now due to financial or operational constraints. In this situation, park them and circle back when you have more capacity.

Customer journey mapping can seem intimidating for a small business, but it doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking. Start small with a single customer persona and a few typical journeys and take it from there.