Customer Journey Maps: How Experience Mapping Reveals Invaluable Insights

Cus­tomer jour­ney map­ping inspires cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing and helps guide strate­gic and invest­ment deci­sions.

Ben Peters By Ben Peters from Struck. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Cus­tomer jour­ney map­ping brings an impor­tant emo­tion­al per­spec­tive to under­stand­ing the con­sumer expe­ri­ence – from ini­tial con­tact, through the process of engage­ment and into a long-term rela­tion­ship. These use­ful tools help mar­ket­ing teams frame strate­gic issues more effec­tive­ly and pro­vide an addi­tion­al lev­el of inspi­ra­tion for cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing. Cus­tomer jour­ney maps also define touch­points – val­i­dat­ed by real data – that evolve along­side the busi­ness and mar­ket. These insights can ulti­mate­ly uncov­er unknown oppor­tu­ni­ties that help guide invest­ment deci­sions.

Mod­ern mar­ket­ing has nev­er been more con­vo­lut­ed and the path to pur­chase has nev­er had so many vari­ables, dis­crete actions, and per­son­al behav­iors involved as it does now. As For­rester so wise­ly pre­dict­ed last year, the fun­nel is dead: it’s the age of the con­sumer.

With this comes the need for a new way of under­stand­ing the myr­i­ad of process­es that are crit­i­cal for mov­ing con­sumers from point A to point B and beyond. With so many pos­si­ble inter­ac­tions, how do we uncov­er them all, eval­u­ate them rel­a­tive to our goals and under­stand the tiny actions involved with brand engage­ment, all so that we may ulti­mate­ly spend our mar­ket­ing dol­lars in the most effec­tive way?

Enter Journey Mapping

The best def­i­n­i­tion to define jour­ney map­ping (or, Expe­ri­ence Map­ping, as it is some­times known) is the fol­low­ing:

A cus­tomer jour­ney map tells the sto­ry of the customer’s expe­ri­ence: from ini­tial con­tact, through the process of engage­ment and into a long-term rela­tion­ship.”

There are three key ideas in that seem­ing­ly sim­ple def­i­n­i­tion.

1. Telling The Sto­ry Of Your Cus­tomers No one in adver­tis­ing is going to ral­ly to pre­vent the nec­es­sary death of the use of “sto­ry” – an overused buzz­word. But, it does car­ry with it some impor­tant ideas. Have you ever read a sto­ry that was sim­ply a tac­ti­cal expres­sion of a series of events? A hap­pened then B hap­pened and then C hap­pened? That’s called a log­ic prob­lem, and it’s not going to moti­vate any­one to action much less make them fall in love with you.

Sto­ry­telling, on the oth­er hand, forces us to bring empa­thy, per­spec­tive and emo­tion togeth­er in an arc that address­es the busi­ness prob­lem at hand. This allows us to get clos­er to a customer’s real needs, chal­lenges, fears and bar­ri­ers. It also adds a per­son­al dimen­sion to the rela­tion­ship with the con­sumer, set­ting up poten­tial­ly longer dia­logues about a prod­uct or ser­vice.

2. Under­stand­ing The Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Most orga­ni­za­tions, of what­ev­er stripe, tend to think about cus­tomer expe­ri­ence as some­thing that’s guid­ed pure­ly by their own busi­ness goals. The prob­lem? While you may have spe­cif­ic goals or invest­ments to sup­port sales or cus­tomer rela­tions, chances are you haven’t spent much time dig­ging in to what your cus­tomer is real­ly going through out in the world when eval­u­at­ing prod­ucts.

There’s a cer­tain con­fir­ma­tion bias that hap­pens as you eval­u­ate your exist­ing mar­ket­ing plans and retro­fit cus­tomer expe­ri­ence on top of the assump­tion that your plan is cor­rect. Voila! Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence served.

Jour­ney map­ping, on the oth­er hand, demands an up-close look at each and every one of those touch­points and behav­iors. We may be able to say, in aggre­gate, that our demo­graph­ic uses Snapchat, so it would be in the jour­ney at some point. But, how are we to know why they use it, or how, or if it’s even an appro­pri­ate chan­nel?

To answer these ques­tions, we get close to users to bet­ter under­stand how cer­tain tools are used and why oth­ers aren’t. Insights like these can uncov­er unknown oppor­tu­ni­ties and help guide invest­ment deci­sions in a pro­found way.

3. Build­ing A Long-Term Rela­tion­ship We’d like to believe that, these days, brands real­ize that:

  • They sell more than one thing and a con­sumer may want more than just one of them.
  • They’ll prob­a­bly even­tu­al­ly make a new ver­sion of that thing to sell.
  • Peo­ple will talk about it after they buy that thing.

We’re con­tin­u­al­ly amazed at how often the brands we work with neglect the post-pur­chase cycle. The invest­ments they do make usu­al­ly stem from a ser­vice per­spec­tive.

This is a pas­sive way to sup­port loy­al­ty and advo­ca­cy – both are crit­i­cal for suc­cess and cost less than acqui­si­tion to boot. The jour­ney map helps us take this peri­od into account and look for ways to sup­port it.

Other Benefits

In addi­tion to bring­ing impor­tant emo­tion­al per­spec­tive to your customer’s jour­ney, and serv­ing as an inven­to­ry of key moments, maps pro­vide some oth­er key ben­e­fits:

  • Spot new oppor­tu­ni­ties: Things change fast. We may uncov­er a new device or plat­form in the mar­ket­ing mix that was­n’t there before. Now we can decide if we want to sup­port it and how.
  • Find gaps: We may be able to spot dis­con­nects between touch­points; for exam­ple, uncov­er­ing that our web­site isn’t geared well to dri­ve traf­fic to our social chan­nels, or vice ver­sa.
  • Iden­ti­fy tip­ping points: Once we have a full view of a par­tic­u­lar jour­ney it becomes eas­i­er to spot crit­i­cal steps that may not have been appar­ent before. This opens up oppor­tu­ni­ties to opti­mize them.

Customer journey map example

This is a Cus­tomer Jour­ney Map we cre­at­ed for a trav­el and tourism client to rep­re­sent the consumer’s trav­el plan­ning expe­ri­ence.

Creating the Map

Our jour­ney maps are com­posed of sev­er­al key com­po­nents:

  • Phas­es: These describe large buck­ets of activ­i­ties that hap­pen in the course of a brand or prod­uct expe­ri­ence. In the map above, designed for a trav­el and tourism client, we decid­ed their spe­cif­ic phas­es include Aware­ness (being exposed to the idea of the des­ti­na­tion and inter­nal­iz­ing a moti­va­tion to go), Con­sid­er­a­tion (eval­u­at­ing it ver­sus oth­er options), Plan­ning (the act of research­ing and book­ing), Expe­ri­enc­ing (the trip itself) and Advo­ca­cy (shar­ing expe­ri­ences and build­ing loy­al­ty).
  • Think­ing: This sec­tion details what the con­sumer is think­ing about dur­ing each of the major phas­es; sort of a ‘Psy­cho­graph­ics Lite.’ We com­pile these issues through a com­bi­na­tion of read­ing reviews, social media mon­i­tor­ing, focus groups, sur­veys, and first-hand expe­ri­ence as trav­el plan­ners our­selves.
  • Doing: This graph­ic is intend­ed to show all the var­i­ous moments along the jour­ney (and yes, is some­what styl­ized for effect). These touch­points are culled from a col­lec­tion of data such as ana­lyt­ics, trend reports, techno­graph­ics, our own first-hand expe­ri­ence as well as any intel­li­gence our clients can bring about feed­back or stud­ies they’ve done about their trav­el­ers.
  • Oppor­tu­ni­ty: This is the fun part. Once we under­stand phas­es, mind­sets, and atti­tudes, and the process itself, what’s our role, exact­ly? What should we focus on to help con­sumers? This sec­tion becomes our spring­board for cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing.

In Practice

Since adopt­ing jour­ney map­ping as a key com­po­nent of our strat­e­gy phase at the agency, we’ve put them to use in a num­ber of ben­e­fi­cial ways:

  1. Fuel for cre­ative teams. It’s been incred­i­bly valu­able for our cre­ative teams to have a robust pic­ture of a con­sumer jour­ney to use as inspi­ra­tion for solu­tions. It pro­vides the teams with a new frame­work to con­sid­er and can turn them on to new ideas, and char­ac­ter­izes for them a broad­er set of poten­tial con­tent solu­tions and deliv­er­ables than they may have con­sid­ered oth­er­wise.
  2. Con­cep­tu­al frame­work for clients. It’s incred­i­bly easy to become buried in the day-to-day exe­cu­tion of your mar­ket­ing plan, leav­ing lit­tle time to attain a holis­tic pic­ture of the actu­al land­scape you’re oper­at­ing in. These maps are a valu­able tool for cre­at­ing that view and nudg­ing clients to focus on a new area of their mix.
  3. Learn­ing from con­sumers. Any good strat­e­gy phase includes get­ting up close and per­son­al with your tar­get audi­ence, but jour­ney maps push that process into new and excit­ing ter­ri­to­ries. By visu­al­iz­ing an entire jour­ney, we can begin to find new areas of empa­thy, over­lap, con­fu­sion and all kinds of things that may be stand­ing in the way of con­sumers reach­ing their goals. And, after all, that should be the basis for any work we’re doing for a brand.

Jour­ney maps are an effec­tive way to get clos­er to your con­sumers, frame strate­gic issues more effec­tive­ly with clients, and give your cre­ative teams an addi­tion­al lev­el of inspi­ra­tion for cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing. We aspire to devel­op our maps in greater and greater detail, val­i­date them with more data, and con­tin­u­al­ly evolve them as our clients busi­ness and mar­ket changes over time.

Ben Peters

Written by Ben Peters

Senior Digital Strategist, Struck

Ben Peters provide insights and guidance to Struck's creative, UX, and development teams across the entire digital client base, as well as providing brand strategy for online and offline clients. Peters has more than 12 years of digital leadership experience on the agency side and 7 years of client-side marketing leadership for international musical instrument manufacturer Roland as well as seminal L.A underground music magazine URB.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

Discover why brands and agencies choose Linkdex

  • Get started fast with easy onboarding & training
  • Import and connect data from other platforms
  • Scale with your business, websites and markets
  • Up-skill teams with training & accreditation
  • Build workflows with tasks, reporting and alerts

Get a free induction and experience of Linkdex.

Just fill out this form, and one of our team members will get in touch to arrange your own, personalised demo.