The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map is a representation of a customer’s journey, used by companies to understand their customers’ experience from their first contact with the brand until they’ve met their goals as customers and reached success.

What Is The Purpose of Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping allows you to see precisely what your customers experience with your brand and the positive aspects of that experience and the negative ones, such as pain points and points of friction. 

Through this insight, from your customer’s perspective, you can come up with ideas and design a consistent, seamless, and intuitive journey centered on what the customer would need rather than on assumptions of how to get to your goal.

Example Of A Customer Journey Map:

Guide To Creating A Customer Journey Map

On the way to the visual representation of the map itself, you must follow these steps: 

How to Create a Customer Journey Map?

1. Review Your Brand’s Goals 

Review the goals set for your brand, your product, and your services. Check if they have followed the desired path to the outcome you had visualized and think of what could’ve been different or better. 

2. Research and Gather Insights

Conduct research to gather data and analytics about your customer, their experience, and their preferences. A few of the best research methods are customer reviews, customer surveys, social media, web analytics, and even customer interviews. 

3. List All Customer Touchpoints and Channels 

List the points in the customer experience where the customer comes in touch with your brand and the channels through which that contact is done. Do it with your team’s help. 

To give you a clear idea:

If, for instance, a customer contacts your customer service line, the touchpoint will be the contact itself, and the channels may be through voice call, through online chat, through social media, or email. 

4. Create an Empathy Map 

An empathy map is a tool to understand your customer and their needs in-depth by analyzing what they are thinking, feeling, hearing, seeing, and saying. It has the purpose of giving enough insight on your customers to help you make the right decision (for them). 

How to Create an Empathy Map: 

  • Conduct an Empathy Interview

Through open-ended questions in an one on one interview or in an interview with a group of customers, you will understand your customers’ feelings and motivations.

  • Select a Persona

Create a customer persona based on the answers to the questions or choose an already existing persona to put on the center of your empathy map and analyze. 

  • Draw The Empathy Map 

The map must include the persona and four quadrants where you will put what the user says, thinks, does and feels. 

Example of an Empathy Map:
Guide To Creating A Customer Journey Map

5. Brainstorm

Generate ideas with your team to achieve your goal, keeping in mind your customer persona, brand’s values and mission, and other concepts that have taken you this far.

6. Complete an Affinity Diagram 

An affinity diagram is a place where you organize all of your and your team’s ideas based on the things they have in common to better analyze them and choose the ones that best apply to the route you have to follow to reach your goal. 

7. Sketch Your Customer Journey 

To sketch the customer journey, you may follow an 8 step framework that outlines your customer journey and aids you in organizing the information you gather, as well as the ideas your team had. 

The framework has eight stages, following the eight steps: 

  1. The Awareness Stage. 

Question: “How do visitors become aware of our existence?” 

In this stage, you list all the ways and channels where strangers first become aware of your brand. Whether through publicity, social media ads, or even word-of-mouth and in channels like Instagram, Google, or billboards, you must mention all the possible ways people notice your brand. 

You can work with your team in this stage and together list a few of the channels too. You can also have your own customers’ help by conducting surveys to find out how they first heard about your brand. 

When optimizing your customer journey, this is the least advised stage to invest in. It becomes irrelevant as a person progresses in the journey, especially if the other stages of the journey need optimization. The logic is that there’s no point in spreading much awareness of your brand to bring in customers if they will likely turn unhappy as they progress in the journey. 

  1. The Engagement Stage

Question: “What are the things that we are currently doing to engage visitors?”

This stage is about listing all the ways your company turns a visitor into an engaging visitor. Some of them can be through social media posts, blog posts, videos, and others.  

When optimizing your customer journey, the goal in this stage is to reassess your engagement and be as intentional as possible by intentionally choosing means of engagement that translate your brand’s image. 

  1. The Subscriber Stage

Question: “What are the things that we are doing to turn aware and engaged visitors into subscribers so that we can then follow up?” 

Here you analyze the ways you turn visitors into subscribers. Subscribers are people who have now a continual contact with your brand, people who have willingly provided their contact information, and who have given you permission to follow up with them. 

They can either be subscribed to your newsletter, signed up on your website, signed up to an event related to the brand, such as a webinar, a party, or a concert. 

When optimizing your customer journey through this stage, you want to be conscious of the gated content you are putting out there, ensuring that it translates your brand’s values and mission and that it’s good enough to make your subscriber want to progress to the next stage.

  1. The Convert Stage

Question: “How do we get the subscribers to make a micro-commitment of either money or time?”

This stage is about coming up with ways to make subscribers commit to your brand in a small way. People usually commit by investing their time, taking the time to visit your store, or even attending an event hosted by your brand; or they commit by investing their money, purchasing a product or a service provided by your company. 

When optimizing your journey and this stage, you want to plan ahead of time to provide a good enough experience and cause a good first impression of your product or service. 

  1. The Excite Stage

Question: “How do we make sure the customer is excited about the small investment they made (in the convert stage) ?” 

One of the most important yet overlooked stages of the customer journey. It focuses on two primary emotions (amazement and understanding), and in all the ways you can value the customer’s investment by showing up to them in the way you promised you would.

It includes small things that might excite the customer, like good packaging or even extra thoughtful detail in an event’s decoration.

The key in this stage is to personally think of ways to give your customers both amazement and understanding in the same measure. Because if you only amaze them, without them understanding why or how you did that, it brews distrust. And if, on the other hand, you make them understand something without surprising them and inciting their curiosity first, it bores them.   

  1. The Ascend Stage 

The longest stage in the customer journey. It consists of all the ways you make your customer climb up a ladder and build, in small ascending steps, their relationship with your brand. 

A good example of it might be if, for instance, you own a laundry business: 

You’ll amaze your customer on their first time washing something at your laundry. Then, after they have understood how that happened, they will climb up the ladder in the ascend stage by bringing in more clothes, more frequently and becoming a regular client who then has access to special treatment and discounts. 

The main thing to do in this stage is design and plan a way of providing a good climb for your customers. 

  1. The Advocate Stage 

In this stage, you start to reap the rewards of your customer journey. It comes when your customers are happy and are on their way to reach success. They will generally leave positive reviews and share stories about their experience with your brand and your project. 

You may want to take advantage of the momentum and create content through those stories to expand everyone’s knowledge of your good services. Content like customer interviews and testimonials. 

Don’t forget about expressing your gratitude to your customers for their positive reviews. 

  1. The Promoter Stage 

The last stage of the customer journey. The customer turned into an advocate for the brand, now becomes a promoter, actively recommending the brand and generating referrals, which will create new awareness. 

To optimize the journey in this stage, nothing else can be done but enabling customer success. Making your customers successful will automatically put them in the position to refer to your brand. 

Example of a Customer Journey Sketch: 

Guide To Creating A Customer Journey Map

8. Digitize Your Customer Journey Map 

Invest in a professionally designed map by contracting a designer who can take your and your team’s sketch and turn it into a digital map that can be either shared online or printed. 

9. Share

Share the customer journey map with all the departments in your company or, in the case of a small business, with all your team members. This makes them aware of the type of approach they need to adopt to help your customers go through the journey you’ve designed in the most seamless way possible. 

Although the final map doesn’t require that you include all the stages in the framework, following these steps helps you gather more organized information and design the digital map. 

In fact, after following the steps, the best option for creating your customer journey map is to use a template.

Free Template For Customer Journey Mapping

A template makes your job easier by giving you the bases for the customer journey map and only requiring that you complete the blank spaces with the information you and your team gathered.

Here’s a link to download a free CJM template I’ve designed based on a template by Canva. It’s pretty helpful, and it comes with instructions and an example.  

To better understand the overall process of journey mapping, focus on the following four main pillars of the extended process.

The Four Pillars to Create a Customer Journey Map 

  • Audience (the customer in itself, the customer persona);
  • Data (all the information gathered in all the moments of research, about your customer and the existent experience). 
  • Content and
  • Channel (both directly linked to the audience and influenced by other factors such as the message’s urgency and others).

After following all the steps listed here, you will understand your customers and what they go through from the moment they first come in contact with your brand. You’ll be able to interfere in their experience by making the improvements necessary to provide the best journey possible, thus fulfilling the purpose of customer journey mapping. 

Further Readings

How To Create an Effective Journey Map. HUBSPOT

The 5 Phases of The Customer Journey When Onboarding, A Guide. COMMBOX

Emidio Amadebai

For the past 2 years, I have been working as the head of Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Finance at an international pay as you go solar home system company working in rural areas in Africa. After my previous 7 years working in B2B, IT&Telecoms industry, as a Service Delivery and Project Manager, having worked with Vodacom, Huawei, and other multinational companies. My job is to make sure we improve the lives of thousands of families, with access to electricity, utilities (radio, TV, lights), doing our very best so that they get the best-in-class customer experience, and succeed in acquiring the products for themselves.

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