Visual Guide to the Customer Journey Mapping

According to the Digital Trend 2015 Report, customer experience is considered the most important factors to stand from your competitor in the business. This can be achieved only through understanding the customer experience. The customer journal mapping can help us to visually learn more about our customers and build a coherent project future plans accordingly.

The literature studies highlighted that companies found that attracting a new customer is 6X to 7X more expensive comparing with the effort, time, and cost spent to keep the existing customer happy and engaged to the product or service. So, how can the customer journey maps help companies to reach this goal? We will go through the steps to create a customer journey mapping and the benefits that can be accomplished by applying it. In this practice, you can use any of the customer journey mapping tools highlighted later in this article.

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What is the Customer Journey Maps?

The customer journey maps are a visual diagram that tells the story of your customers’ experience when using a product, service or visits a retail store. it helps us to identify the consumers’ goals, the steps they made to access the service, the touch point with the service, and their emotional experience at each stage of their journey.

The customer journey map can be presented in different formats including drawing on a whiteboard, digital diagrams, and infographics. These diagrams intent to visual and organize a deep research for your customer’s experience using different research methods.

Why Should we Use Customer Journey Mapping?

While human-centered design aims to focus on the customer needs and experience, it can’t be achieved without a deep understanding of the customer experience itself. Therefore, the customer journey maps are considered a powerful tool in the hand of designers and companies to reach a consumer-centric product.

The customer journey mapping can drive the below benefits for the product or service:
– Build a complete and accurate understanding of the customer behavior and experience when using the product or service
– Learn how to customer really use the product or service based on real-life examples
– Identify the pain point that causes bad emotional experience for the customers
– Reduce or eliminate the negative factors that affect the customer experience
– Identify the communicate problems that face customers when interacting with the touch points such as the application interface, help desks, or customer support service
– Build key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to evaluate the product in order to collect feedback to improve the future version

How to Apply the Customer Journey Mapping?

The process to create the customer journey maps follow the critical thinking main stages; understand, reflect, and implement. Based on this flow, the creation of the customer journey maps follow the below main three stages:

Stage 1: Understand

At this stage, the design and marketing team work together to understand the customer behavior through deep research to their experience while using the product. Before, starting the research, the team should define a customer persona; The persona is a virtual character with the same demographic information of the real customer targeted in the research phase. In terms of the customers’ emotional experience, you can also build the persona empathy mapping which allows the design team to understand the different feelings that visit the consumer during using the product or service.

research methods
The different research methods (Source: NNGroup: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/)

Once the persona is defined, the research team is recruited to collect the data using different research method that include the following:
– Qualitative research methods. These methods allow the team to collect the customer emotional experience. These methods include observation, interviews, focus groups, and field studies
– Quantitative research methods. These methods aim to collect measurable information such as how many time does the customers user the service? How long does it take to complete the process?…etc. These methods include surveys, testing, and web analytics.

Customer persona
The persona for the customer journey map created using UXPressia

Stage 2: Reflect

At this stage, the collected data are organized and shared with the team to brainstorm and solve problems. The stage includes the following preparation:

Assemble the team

The team should involve all the stakeholders working in the project in order to understand and discuss problems from all the different perspectives such as the design, marketing, and managerial sides.

Prepare the meeting place

The meeting place should include the tools required to go through all the data, present it, and convert to a visualized infographics. These tools include the following:
– Projector to overview the different collected data and available media
– Whiteboard and notes to sketch different ideas and visualize it to the team
– Online customer journey mapping tool to digitalize the brainstormed ideas during the meeting using the customer journey map template that can be shared with the team later. There are different customer journey map tools such as UXPressia, Smaply, and UX360

customer journey map tool
An example of a customer journey map created using Smaply

Brainstorming

Based on the collected data, the team defines the information that should be included in the customer journey map in order to help to understand the customer behavior including the following:

1. The steps that the customer go through in order to use the product or the service
2. The customer goal during each step
3. The process that the customer should follow in each step and the relation between the customer and the system

customer touch points
The connection between the customer and the touchpoint using arrows (Adopted from UX Lady: http://www.ux-lady.com/diy-experience-map/)

4. The emotional experience at each stage represented in terms or shapes of happy, moderate, or sad
5. The reasons of the emotional experience
6. The channels that customer may use to access the service, it can be a website, a mobile app, an email, or a phone call
7. The touch points where the customer interact with the service such as the mobile design

The figure below shows a customer journey map template created using UXPressia to visualize the persona experience in traveling using railway service:

customer journey map example
Example of the customer journey map. (Click the image to enlarge)

In addition to the above information, the customer journey map can also include:

8. Qualitative data to evadable each stage such as the Key Performance Indications (KPIs)
9. Ideas area to give suggestions that may improve each stage

Stage 3: implement

After understanding the customer experience, the team should have a clear vision about the pain point that faces the customer and how brainstormed how to overcome it through building an action plan. This plan should address these issues faced by the customer with solutions. The action plan should clearly define the timeframe and budget required to improve the product or the service in order to improve the customer satisfaction. The plan should include the stakeholders working n implementing these changes

After implementing these changes, another customer journey map should be created in order to evaluate the customer satisfaction of the new changes and if there any further improvement is needed. Note that the design of a product or service is an iterative process, there are always ways to improve it as the customer experience change due to the changes in the culture, education, and new technologies.

The above example went through one customer journey map template, yet there are varied templates and shapes of the customer journey maps depend on the visualized information, the team creativity, and the tool used to create the map.

In sum, the customer journey mapping is a powerful tool in the company’s hand to understand their customer experience and work to improve it in the next versions of the product or the service. It allows companies to collect data about the consumer and organize these data in a visual form that can be easily tracked by all the stakeholders included in the project. As a result of this understanding, the team can work to build an action plan aiming to improve the consumer experience which will positively reflect on the project success in the market.

Rafiq Elmansy is the founder of Designorate.com, author, and design and innovation consultant. He is an affiliated faculty teaching design at the American University in Cairo. He holds a master degree in Design Management with Distinction from Staffordshire University, UK. He has more than 17 years experience in the field of UXD and interaction design, and his books are published by John Wiley, O’Reilly Media and Taylor and Francis. He is also a contributor at the Design Management Review. Rafiq is a jury board member for the A'Design Awards, Poster for Tomorrow, and Adobe Achievements Awards. His design artwork was exhibited in many locations including Croatia, South Africa, Brazil, and Spain.
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  • Roeland Loggen

    I would create the personas after the data collection. In that way you can analyse the data, detect characteristics and specific behaviours of the various customers and based on that create more realistic personas.
    regards, roeland

    • Thanks for sharing your ideas, this is clever idea, having daft persona will surely help the researchers to know what they are looking for and the questions they need to ask.