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Product Management: Customer Journey Map

What Is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visual depiction of all steps a customer or prospect takes when interacting with your company with a specific goal in mind. This could include, for example, the path a visitor to your website takes to reach your trial-signup page. You might also develop a customer journey map to document the entire process a customer goes through to buy your product — from their first visit to your website, through signing an agreement with a sales rep.

Why Are Customer Journey Maps Important?

Customer journey mapping is an important process because it can help various teams across a company gain a better understanding of the experience that prospective and existing customers have when dealing with their organization.

Sales teams, for example, can develop customer journey maps to get a holistic, objective view of every step a prospect must take as they move through the sales funnel. When stepping back and viewing this entire process, for example, the team might discover there are too many steps — some of which are unnecessary or could at least be shortened — and that as a result, they are losing prospects.

Similarly, when they can see and review their entire sales funnel, the team might realize there are missing steps in their customer’s journey, meaning they are asking their prospects to take too big a leap at some point to the next stage in the sales funnel.

In other words, creating a customer journey map allows a team or company to view things from the vantage point of customers and prospects coming to their business through any number of touchpoints and channels. The team or company is then in a better position to identify any areas of that experience that could be streamlined or improved.

What Can Product Managers Learn from a Customer Journey Map?

Product managers can benefit in several ways from creating customer journey maps. For example, by mapping out the entire first-time-user experience, from landing on your product’s website to actually purchasing it, you and your product team can take a more objective look at the process from a potential user’s point of view.

This can help you better understand where a prospect might become confused or frustrated along their journey — as well as where your cross-functional team has created a compelling message or painless transition that will carry the prospect along to the next stage of the buying process.

You can then share this journey map with marketing, sales, design, and other teams across the company so you can work together to improve the customer experience where it’s needed.

As an example, here is a ProductPlan customer journey map that UX Raw founder Jeremy Rawson created to depict his experience with our company, from the first website visit through creating his company’s first product roadmap with our app.

customer-journey-map

Other things product managers can learn from customer journey roadmaps include:

  • The step-by-step process a prospect goes through when viewing your product demo, and whether this process is too drawn out, not informative enough, or otherwise not compelling.
    • Whether your marketing or sales teams have created too many obstacles for interested prospects to try or buy your product.
      • Whether some area of your product itself does not allow your users to complete the desired action in a logical or streamlined way.

For a deeper discussion, read our blog on how journey maps can help product managers build better products.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

Marketing expert Aaron Agius offers the following six-step process as a customer journey map template.

Step 1: Decide what you want from this journey map.

Before you can start creating a journey map, you need to determine what your objectives are for it. Do you want to know how customers go through your sales funnel, for example, or how they interact with your support team, or how they use some aspect of your product to achieve a goal?

You can create several customer journey maps, each addressing specific interactions your customers have when interacting with your company. But you’ll want to keep each map focused on a single aspect of the customer’s journey, to avoid confusion and to give your team a clearer picture of that journey.

Step 2: Figure out your personas’ goals.

This step will help you better understand where your prospects and customers are coming from, what they need and value, and how they view themselves. When you have all of this persona data to check against your journey map, you’ll have a clearer picture of where your current customer journey conflicts with the process you’re asking them to go through.

For example, let’s assume your primary personas are executives who describe themselves as “extremely busy” in your surveys or the market research you’ve reviewed. Knowing this, when you view your journey map, you will want to make sure your current buying process does not include too many steps or take any longer than necessary.

Step 3: Identify all touchpoints.

Now you will want to identify all of the channels a prospect could possibly take as their first step with your company. This could include online ads, social media posts, organic search leading to various pages on your website, or your company’s outbound marketing emails.

Next, you’ll want to assign to each of these touchpoints the likely emotional triggers that compel users to take action and seek to engage more deeply with your company or product.

At the same time, look for any obstacles that could be stopping users from taking further action on any of these channels. When they see a social ad, for example, perhaps your product’s cost is a turnoff. Or perhaps the next-step action — filling out a lengthy form, for example — might turn prospects away.

Step 4: Determine what you want your journey map to show.

Here Agius lists the four types of customer journey maps you can use:

Current state: A detailed walkthrough of how customers currently engage with your business.

Day in the life: Also a detailed walkthrough of your customer’s journey with your company today, but put into the broader context of everything else your customer does in the day.

Future state: Your vision of how you’d like customers to interact with your product, company, etc. in the future.

Blueprint: A map of either your current-state or future-state customer’s journey, but with roles, responsibilities, and possibly timelines added for implementing your desired improvements.

Step 5: Take the customer journey yourself.

Now you’re ready to act as your customer and take the path your company has put in place to achieve whatever objective you’re trying to measure.

If you want to learn exactly what steps your prospects must go through to download your free trial, or speak with a sales rep, or complete an action using your mobile app, take that journey now.

Important: You will also want to document every step of your journey, and make notes at each stage as well about insights you’ve had, pain points you’ve identified, and any gaps or unnecessary steps in the process.

Step 6: Adjust your journey map as needed.

After you’ve completed the journey and reviewed your notes, you will want to make all necessary changes to the map.

Then you can begin translating those changes into action across your company — which could mean updating your sales process, streamlining your free trial funnel, etc.

Here are a couple of other examples, taken from Agius’s Hubspot post on customer journey maps. You can use these as templates to start your own journey map.

customer-journey-map
A sample customer journey map showing how a hypothetical customer might interact with a restaurant.

 

future-b2c-customer-journey-map
A future-state customer journey map designed for Carnegie Mellon University, showing the emotions it hopes students will experience and the actions they’ll take when interacting with the university across many different touchpoints.