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Have you ever looked at your website analytics or sales metrics only to notice people seem to be dropping off in specific places? Or, are you seeing an increase in customer complaints on social media about the delivery of your product? Or, perhaps it’s time to scale your service, product, or content strategy—but you aren’t quite sure where additions to the experience will add the most value. These are all examples of customer journey interaction points that are critical to map out in order to understand the overall customer experience with your brand.

What is a customer journey map?

It is a visual representation, or story, of every touchpoint a customer has throughout their experience with a service, brand, or product.

The purpose of mapping such a journey is two-fold. First, a journey map helps you identify opportunities in your brand experience to scale and add value to your existing experience, positively influencing customer lifetime value, increased sales, and engagement. Second, a journey map is useful in identifying customer pain points in order to improve their overall experience with your brand. By examining the customer’s journey, you’ll be able to see a comprehensive view of their processes, their needs, and their perception of your brand experience––at every touchpoint and interaction.

The idea is to understand how your customer experiences your brand, each step of the way, in order to better serve them in the long run.

A customer buying a pizza at the end of the customer journey.

The Benefits of Using a Customer Journey Map

Touchpoint clarity = brand clarity.

Knowing each customer touchpoint allows you to better understand your processes and how they affect your customer’s view of your overall brand. You don’t want to be known for poor user experience because of stickiness on your website, a chaotic checkout process, or confusing customer service. Mapping your customer’s journey and reducing or eliminating those points of friction allows you to put your best foot forward—showing the world the version of your brand you’d be proud to be known for.

Brand clarity = brand trust.

When customers know what to expect from your brand, they trust your brand. It’s as easy as that. When the customer journey is built with your customer in mind, the experience feels familiar and potentially, approachable. When customers encounter friction or unnecessary pain points with an experience, they are quick to abandon the process, question the value, or even mistrust the overall experience. The customer journey map helps brands identify interactions that are critical to building customer trust and those points that may be detracting from trust-building due to friction.

Track issues to continuously remove customer pain points.

Customer journey mapping is a perfect way to avoid potential issues before a problem becomes too large. Removing barriers to your products or services increases brand traction. Repeating this process regularly will allow you to track changes and persistently stay on top of any “potholes.” Making strides to identify these potholes and actively working to fix them creates an effortless, more ideal interaction with your customers for a smooth ride…not to mention it increases the likelihood that customers will come back for more.

Identify opportunities for growth, scale, and value-adds.

The customer journey map is a tool to identify which areas of your brand experience can scale, grow, or would benefit from adding services, products, or touchpoints. For example, you may discover that your customers are more likely to find you on TikTok versus Facebook, so incorporating a new social strategy can drive brand awareness. Or, you may find that customers need proof points early in the journey, so you can spend resources on building out content, experiences, and touchpoints that reinforce your value. Or even, you may find that there’s an opportunity to capture long-term growth by creating a mobile application for capturing ongoing engagement. The point is, your brand experience likely doesn’t stop when the transaction stops, use journey mapping to help you identify where to add to the interactions.

An example customer journey map, showing customer touch points for a pet store.

Let’s take, for example, Larry, a make-believe owner of a pet supply store (customer journey map example above). Larry is convinced that he understands the step-by-step process that his customers go through in order to purchase something from his company. He has set everything up “perfectly” to make it a simple process for his customers—and it was simple, but only for a specific demographic. According to Larry, the typical check-out process entails going to the store and purchasing in person. However, for customers trying to order online, things get a little sticky and Larry finds there are a large number of drop-offs right before checkout.

In this case, using research to identify pain points and create a customer journey map would show Larry exactly where in the process he is losing potential customers, which demographics prefer using this method of purchasing, and ways he can adapt to the market.

Without addressing these customer pain points, Larry’s business won’t be able to optimize for different payment preferences, clearly identify each customer experience touchpoint, eliminate pain points to streamline the checkout process for online shoppers, and as a result of all of this, he will miss the opportunity for growth with additional market segments. Larry needs to map the customer journey in order to find these issues to create a seamless customer experience.

Pet owner shopping at a pet store online.

What a Good Customer Journey Map Does

Allows the research to identify pain points naturally.

CX research allows you to get to know your customers on a deeper level. Mapping their journey through your processes will reveal where to put your energy and resources into fixing the problem—making it easier for them to reach the point of purchase.

Avoids leaning into what you think you already know.

The biggest mistake a company can make when utilizing customer journey maps is making assumptions. Assuming you know what is needed and acting on those assumptions could lead to costly mistakes that you’ll need to adjust later on. Instead, make sure you are starting with research and using those findings to build your customer’s journey map—their actual journey.

Emphasizes the needs of the customer first.

Improving the customer experience is always the #1 goal. Creating a customer journey map increases the likelihood of a pleasant experience, and as a result, keeps your customer coming back.

Getting Started with a Customer Journey Map

As you can see, creating a customer journey map can be an essential part of any successful business strategy. To get started, you need to use research to navigate the customer’s process (using your product, services, website, social media, customer service, etc., pretty much everything) to identify where the customer's pain points lie. The idea is to adopt a truly customer-oriented perspective.

Through this customer journey map-building exercise, you will gain insight into your consumer in an entirely new way. By putting more energy into creating an excellent customer experience (CX), you’ll see an improvement in customer loyalty and growth with both current and potential customers.

Download our easy-to-use customer journey map example guideline to get started.

A printed version of the customer journey map resource.

A Guide to Customer Journey Mapping

How to get started with a customer journey map.