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Customer Experience, Design

What is a Customer Journey Map?

4 minute read | By: Amanda Morgan


What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a way to visualize your customer’s progress through touchpoints with your brand and/or product. Journey maps show how customers are interacting with your product (such as visiting your website or app, walking into your store, calling into a product demo, et cetera) as well as how they feel each step of the way (to identify what the customer perceives to be easy or difficult when interacting).

Journey maps usually consist of a few different stages to highlight how customers feel or react to different parts of engaging with your brand. Using a journey map is a great way to identify the best interactions with your customers and to discover areas that may need improvement.

There is no “one right answer” or any set template for a journey map. Each journey is unique to your own brand’s touchpoints with your customers. You will also likely need multiple journey maps, since each one will target a specific process flow.

Why would I use a Customer Journey Map?

The main reason to build a journey map is to identify where you can enhance your customers’ experience. Journey maps are a way to identify your customer’s interaction and sentiment at each touch point with your brand. A critical aspect of journey mapping is to discover where your customers are getting the best and worst experiences while interacting with your brand.

Wherever your customers are satisfied, you want to make sure that touchpoint or process stays relatively the same so you can continue to please your customers. However, you will also see what are called pain points – the difficult interactions your customer has, where they may be confused or frustrated. The sooner you can identify pain points, the sooner you can fix them.

Can you give me an example?

Creating a Customer journey map can sound like a daunting task. However, if you stay in touch with your customers, you can use data to help develop a journey map to suit your needs. To demonstrate this, let’s walk through an example many of us are familiar with: Purchasing a new SaaS product for your company.

 

One way User Experience (UX) professionals may document the customer journey of acquiring new software is by highlighting these key stages:

1. Awareness

The stage at which the Customer perceives, experiences or otherwise realizes a problem or need is Awareness. This often is the result of experiencing a pain point with a service or brand, or with another product or task.

In the case of acquiring new software, a customer perceives a problem and sets out to verify the perception with colleagues and others. When determining a common experience and understanding of the problem, a customer will move forward into the next stage of their journey.

2. Discovery

In the discovery phase, customers research product solution offerings to find a good match for their needs. When seeking a new B2B SaaS product, customers will likely reach out to professional acquaintances and colleagues as well as conduct online research to find products. After narrowing down the top contenders, there will be a few sales demos to learn more about these products.

It is important to consider digital and physical touchpoints as well as direct and indirect touchpoints that the customer experiences with companies being evaluated. Some touchpoints could include digital assets, company representatives, word of mouth and more.

3. Evaluation

Customers compare and weigh the merits of all product offerings in the Evaluation stage. This is a key reflection point on the experience with each product.

4. Decision

At the Decision stage, customers select and purchase the product. This is a key touch point to evaluate and include in the Customer Journey. If the purchase process is too complicated, the customer could abandon the purchase and select a competitor.

5. Onboarding

The Onboarding stage is where the support experience and product experience become more intertwined and touchpoints move from marketing, sales and support to support and product focused. Onboarding is the stage where customers begin to evaluate the product experience and evaluate it on an ongoing basis with consideration of renewal and retention. This stage could be considered the final stage in the purchasing journey, but may have several sub and spin-off journeys associated with it, such as Product Adoption and Retention and Renewal.

 

At all stages of the Customer Journey, consider documenting the following in your map:

  1. What the customer is thinking, feeling and doing;
  2. Precise interactions with physical and digital touchpoints;
  3. Types of interactions that occur – physical, digital or both;
  4. The customer’s goals and how they measure success of those goals;
  5. Where and when customers experience pain points and delightful points.

 

Remember that however you design your journey map, data should be gathered directly from customers or users. Find out how they actually feel each step of the way, instead of guessing. Journey maps aren’t very helpful unless they are based in real data!

When would a journey map be beneficial?

The most valuable outcome of a well-crafted journey map is to identify and address your customer’s biggest pain points. Once you lay them out clearly in a journey map, you can identify ways to decrease the load on the customer, streamline your processes, or provide extra support when needed.

Just remember that there is no standard template for creating a journey map, so you might want to start with a giant piece of paper, dry erase board, or many, many post-it notes and see where your scenarios take you. Think about including a description of what the customer is doing, their goals, how they feel, and the touchpoints they are interacting with. Just be sure to use real data from user testing, surveys, analytics, or other forms of feedback.