Customer journey maps have the potential to be the best tool your marketing department has – or a colossal waste of time. There are plenty of articles out there that will tell you how to build a customer journey map in “3 easy steps.” Those don’t work, at least not by our standards.
If your customer journey map isn’t moving you towards more conversions and awesome retention rates, it’s a waste of paper.
The way most people do customer journey maps looks like this: Bring your ‘best and brightest’ into a room for three hours, play “this is who we think our buyer personas are,” “this is what we think they’re feeling,” and follow it up with “these are where our touchpoints are.” In other words, it’s “brainstorming” with insufficient research. You’re not creating a map, you’re having an office party. And the customer journey map is the party game.
Do I sound harsh? Good. Because customer journey maps done wrong really burns my biscuits.
They have so much potential to be useful.
Actionable. Energizing. Even inspiring.
But to be truly useful, you have to approach them from the foundation of research, grounded in real, verifiable customer data. And that’s the step too many people miss, because it’s just not as much fun.
Forget fun – this is marketing strategy.
When a customer journey map does its job, it becomes a tool that lets you (and your marketing team) visualize your relationship with your target customer from first eyes-meeting-across-a-crowded-room encounter to mutually fulfilling partnership.
It shows the most likely places to meet your target, what they need there (depending on which stage of the sales funnel they’re in), what they get there currently, and where mismatches in expectations and desired outcomes may be losing them.
If this sounds like I’m describing more than just a customer journey map, you’re absolutely right.
This definition is much simpler:
“a customer journey map is merely an illustration or diagram of all the places (touchpoints) your customers come into contact with your company online or off.”
To make your journey map actionable, it can’t be merely an illustration of touchpoints. It has to illuminate the relationship, in its entirety. It has to pay attention to not only where prospects are, but what they need – and how to give that outcome to them in a way that moves them closer to your desired destination.
This journey map will become your visual cheat-sheet to understanding your customer on a deep, meaningful, actionable level.
It’s not simple. But there are three steps.