Happy customers are good for business. In fact, 52% of customers are willing to pay more if they know they’ll receive great customer service.
By staying on top of your sales interactions, you can improve their experience across the entire customer lifecycle. One popular way to do that is by understanding and mapping the customer journey.
However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of customer journey map templates out there. Not only do they differ in style, but many differ in purpose (e.g., understanding the current customer journey vs. predicting it in the future).
This article will look at eight styles of customer journey map, so you can understand which is right for your business, situation and objectives.
So, what exactly is customer journey mapping? Before exploring the examples below, check out our related article answering this question and more.
Example of what a completed current-state customer journey map looks like.
A “current state” customer journey map, sometimes called a CJM, aims to assess how customers are presently engaging with your business. The result is a factual map of their journey, accurately recording all the customer touchpoints and how they experience them.
A current state map should tell you what’s actually happening in the customer’s journey, not what you wish was happening. By gaining a realistic picture of how customers interact with your business, you can identify what’s working and any potential roadblocks or sources of friction. This way, you can double down on positive customer experiences and optimize the rest.
For example, understanding every existing touchpoint helps marketing teams plan and provide relevant content for each stage of the customer lifecycle. Sales and marketing teams can also collaborate to create sales enablement content so every sales funnel touchpoint is customer-centric and nurtures prospects toward making a purchase decision.
To accurately represent the customer’s journey, look at quantitative data (to see what customers are doing) and qualitative data (to understand why they’re doing it). Use surveys, conduct interviews and gather customer feedback to learn about your customers and the different stages they go through.
You don’t have to limit a customer journey map’s scope to only your customers. Using the same principles to create a competitor customer journey map lets you discover how customers engage with your competitors and use those insights to provide a superior experience.
Example of what a completed future-state customer journey map looks like.
Instead of recording what’s currently happening in the customer journey, future state maps help you visualize what that journey could look like.
In the above example, Iris Wu and her team used a student’s journey as the basis for their customer journey map. Once they understood how that process worked, they were able to create a future state map to propose a better journey. That then served as a roadmap for a new and improved service.
While the current state customer journey helps you see what you can fix, a future state map helps you imagine what’s possible. According to Gina Bhawalkar, a principal analyst at Forrester, a future state drives strategy and helps align your teams around a future vision.
Rather than reacting to problems after they arise, a future state map helps sales and marketing teams be more proactive and create workflows that address customer needs from the very start.
Unlike most customer journey maps, a future state map can be more aspirational than factual. Imagine a vision for your new product, service or experience and use brainstorming and ideation to picture how the perfect customer journey could look. What would you want your customers to think, feel and do at each stage?
While it’s not solely grounded in research, it should still be realistic. As with Iris Wu’s customer journey map example, having a clear idea of the current state is a good starting point before you start proposing future journeys. Review or create buyer personas to uncover existing pain points and better understand the ideal customer journey
As it follows the same structure, you can use the same free customer journey map template for both current and future state journeys.
Future state customer journey map template: Google slides and PowerPoint customer journey map template
Example of a completed strategic customer journey map.
Strategic maps are also known as macro customer journey maps. They help you take a step back and see how forces far beyond your business or industry can affect your customers’ perspectives and experiences.
A strategic customer journey map encourages you to think long-term about the customer and their journey.
For example, many of you will remember the movie rental store Blockbuster. Although we can’t say this with any certainty, Blockbuster might have made different choices if it had drawn up a strategic user journey map in the late ’90s or early ’00s.
The company might have noticed that the rise of alternative movie providers like Netflix could disrupt the customer journey at the time. They might’ve seen that the emergence of these new companies illustrated users’ desires to rent movies quicker and avoid paying late fees. Blockbuster might also have jumped on the opportunity to purchase Netflix when it had the chance (and when it cost just $50 million).
This big-picture thinking helps companies make smarter decisions about their long-term strategy and direction. It also ensures marketers and salespeople understand the bigger picture behind the customer journey.
While no one knows exactly what the future holds, you can make an educated guess on how current trends and patterns may affect your customers. Are new technologies changing the way customers use your product or service? If you’re targeting a specific demographic, how will their needs and behaviors change in the future?
By considering different realistic scenarios, you can find potential opportunities for innovation and protect yourself from becoming obsolete. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Remember, this should be a high-level appraisal, not a detailed manifesto on every possible outcome in the next 100 years.
Example of what a completed tactical customer journey map looks like.
From the macro to the micro – a tactical customer journey map breaks down your overall customer journey into smaller components, a series of sub-journeys that customers go through. This allows you to get into the finer details and optimize every step of the journey, no matter what route the customer takes.
Your and your customer’s long-term success requires strategic thinking but this is futile if the individual steps don’t work. Both marketing and sales teams can benefit by looking at the journey’s separate elements, particularly those exclusively handled by their department.
A tactical approach helps you pinpoint every potential touchpoint that involves sales or marketing, so every customer has the best possible experience.
Instead of simply thinking about the journey from ideal prospect to paying customer, consider the other potential journeys they go through.
What happens when someone first downloads your app?
What happens when they need to add a new user to the account?
What happens if they upgrade their hardware?
What happens if the product develops a fault?
Likewise, consider what happens across different communication and social media channels.
How can prospects and customers contact you?
Do all channels get the same high level of service?
What happens if they switch channels mid-journey?
How do you share relevant information between departments and staff?
Once you’ve identified these sub-journeys, follow the same journey mapping process as you did with the current state customer journey map. Talk to existing customers and conduct additional research into what happens at each stage, identifying actions, thoughts and emotions for each step. Use these insights to create smart, automated campaigns that cater to your customers’ needs throughout the customer journey.
Example of how a completed “Day in the life” customer journey map looks.
One problem with traditional customer journey maps is that they often only consider direct customer interactions with the company. “Day in the life” customer journey maps fix this by looking at the customer, their daily routines and activities, and whether they’re related to your company.
“Day in the life” maps help you see the customer as an individual instead of just an account number. Like the strategic map, this type of customer journey encourages you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
With this deeper understanding, marketers can create campaigns that take into account their customers’ daily lives. At the same time, salespeople can speak confidently about how your product or service fits in with other activities and can improve customers’ lives.
Never assume you know what your user persona’s daily life is like. While you may have already researched how customers interact with your product or service, you’ll likely have to go back and do more research to find out about their typical day.
The only way to get this information is to actually talk with the people represented by your customer persona. To help keep them in mind throughout the process, it’s a good idea to include a summary of their persona within the customer journey map.
Example of what a completed service blueprint looks like.
Technically, service blueprints differ from customer journey maps but are essential to better understand the journey and provide the best possible service. The service blueprint overlaps with the customer journey, showing what’s going on under the surface in your organization.
A practical customer journey map needs to inspire action. Adding a service blueprint to your existing customer journey map template shows how different employees and stakeholders engage with the customer and what impact this has on the user experience.
For managers, this can help identify gaps in your service and present opportunities for improvement. A service blueprint also helps salespeople and marketers understand their responsibilities at each customer touchpoint and how those align with other departments. By mapping your sales process to the customer journey, your team can be more effective while providing customers with the help they need most.
Service blueprints work best when based on an existing customer journey map. Once you’ve understood the steps in your customers’ journey, you can begin adding details on how different stakeholders deliver that experience at each stage.
This includes both “onstage” (direct interactions with the customer) and “backstage” ( unseen actions that take place behind the scenes) activities. You should also include the physical evidence for the action and the support processes that enable team members to deliver that service.
Pay particular attention to where responsibility for a customer is handed over to another department (for example, when marketing hands a qualified lead over to sales) to ensure a seamless transition.
While you’ll still need to conduct research, in most cases, you’ll do this within your organization rather than with customers. This research might involve observing how team members currently carry out tasks and reviewing customer support tickets to identify unnecessary friction.
Example of what a completed circular customer journey map looks like.
Customer journeys aren’t always straightforward. By picturing the customer journey as circular, you can see what happens after the initial purchase.
Whatever kind of business you’re in, focusing on the customer journey cycle can lead to better results. For example, e-commerce and retail stores want customers to make repeat purchases. SaaS and other subscription-based services rely heavily on customer retention.
A circular customer journey map encourages you to think about the customer’s entire lifetime value rather than one-off purchases. Marketers can create content that helps customers get the most out of their investments. At the same time, salespeople can follow up on existing customers with cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
The main difference between a circular customer journey map and any other type is the presentation. You still need to know your personas, identify all potential touchpoints and take note of the customers’ behaviors, motivations and emotions.
Pay particular attention to any touchpoints during the retention and advocacy stages. What do you need to do to hold on to a customer? At what point are they most likely to churn?
As the example shows, this journey won’t be a true cycle; an existing customer doesn’t go right back to the first stages of awareness. Pinpoint where the cycle starts again so that you can streamline your process and reach out to returning customers without overwhelming them with obsolete information.
Example of what a completed empathy map looks like.
Empathy maps are useful for understanding your customers on a deeper level. That means thinking about them as people rather than just a series of actions. Although all good customer journey maps include emotions, empathy maps take this a step further, providing a more complete picture of the customer.
Just like a “day in the life” customer journey map, an empathy map helps you better understand your customers. As a marketer, an empathy map helps you create content that directly addresses the customer’s questions. A sales rep can use this knowledge to leverage relationship selling and build more meaningful relationships.
Divide your empathy map into quadrants, each one relating to the customer and how they use your product or service:
What does the customer say?
What actions does the customer take?
What is the customer thinking?
How does the customer feel?
To uncover this information, you’ll need to conduct qualitative research, such as user interviews, questionnaires, field studies and panel testing.
What a customer says or does is relatively easy to uncover with interviews and analytics. However, understanding the customer’s thoughts and feelings is harder. For example, when interviewed face to face, a customer may play down any negative experience to avoid potentially hurting the interviewee’s feelings.
In these situations, the customer’s tone of voice may reveal more about their feelings. Sometimes what the customer doesn’t say can be just as insightful as what they do. If the customers give short answers or gloss over an essential step in the journey, try to understand their reluctance.
With customer journey mapping, you can learn more about your customers and how they interact with your business, allowing you to provide a better customer experience.
With so many customer journey map templates available, choosing one that matches your current objectives is crucial.
By choosing the right template for your needs, your sales and marketing teams can provide an even better service and ensure customers are happy with their experience.
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