Customer journey mapping: How to get started

Taking the first step is always challenging, but if you start with the right approach, the steps of journey mapping will fall into place. Most use cases can be covered with either a current-state vs. future-state approach or a hypothesis vs. research approach. Ask yourself which approach will best identify your customer’s experience, highlighting the pain points and gaps in their journeys.

Before you pick an approach, make sure your champions are by your side. Champions are anyone you work with who believes in believes in the process you are taking the organization through and will support the effort and work to get others to do the same. Your organization’s core team and stakeholders are your natural champions but remember that each step on a customer’s journey may have its own stakeholders – and additional champions.. Engaging and educating the team is key; make sure each team member understands the importance of experiencing a customer’s journey from the customer’s point of view.

The first step is to review your customer’s goals for buying your product or service – do some internal and external investigation to develop a point of view.

What do we already know about the customer persona? Internal investigation can consist of formal research or informally speaking to people familiar with the users and scope in question, asking them for their opinion on this actor before doing any formal interviews. Formal methods include customer interviews, inquiries, customer surveys, support logs, web analytics, social media channels and competitive analysis.

What’s next? Create a hypothesis map, also known as an empathy map. On the Y axis, put the customer’s actions, thoughts, emotions and insights – use verb phrases like “compare plans online” to identify actions and contextual adjective phrases like “frustrated: unable to find information” for emotions. On the X axis, put the journey phases, such as discover, learn, try, and buy – use first-person statements like “why did I get this email?”

Collect these phrases on sticky notes – don’t color-code them – to synthesize internal views of customer actions, mindsets and emotions. This map will help you identify gaps in internal research. Don’t forget, this is a team effort; make sure all contributors are working towards the goal!

At this point, you have already started structuring your journey map. You may have identified gaps and questions that need to be validated or vetted among various teams.

The next step is to conduct external research to validate or invalidate your hypothesis and finalize the questions. External research makes use of interviews, interface analysis, shadowing, inquires, diary studies and competitive analysis to gather qualitative information about your competitor. Focus groups are good, but they have the potential to influence the thought process.

Finally, it’s time to evaluate the journey to determine key functional areas and opportunities. From there, select a journey mapping tool that works best for you. We recommend the following: Mural, Excel, Visio, PowerPoint, or Smaply.

We hope that you’ve found this journey mapping blog series to be interesting and informative. For more details about customer journey mapping, reach out to Vinay Sharma, Director of eCommerce at Pierce Washington.

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