What is the Customer Journey and Why Do You Need to Create One?

by Steve Hogan

Last updated on September 26th, 2018

customer journey

Do you know what a customer journey is and why you need one?

A customer journey is a story about understanding your users, how they behave while they visit your website, and what you can do to improve their trip, so they keep coming back.

Nowadays all we seem to hear in B2B and B2C is keeping companies relevant with great content using SEO, but in the process, many executives forget the essential part of the equation. The customer.

In this post, we will take an in-depth look at everything you need to know about how your customers act each time they connect with your brand.

What is a Customer Journey?

When you document “the customer journey,” you are mapping out different behavioral scenarios using existing data.

Creating a customer journey template may seem like a crazy idea. How can you possibly know what a customer will do once they set foot in your store or enter your website?

Believe it or not, this is an easy to use marketing tool anyone can create, and it can be invaluable to your organization’s future strategy.

With constant changes in technology and the new ways in which people buy products or services online, it’s essential to plan and anticipate how a customer will act every step of the way.

The last thing you want to do is set your goals using outdated expectations.

The Importance of a Customer Journey Map

Using a customer journey map to analyze user behavior helps an organization understand how their customers travel through the entire sales process and how they feel during their time there.

This approach provides two major benefits:

  • It allows decision-makers to stay focused on customers.
  • It helps make each step of the buying experience easier for potential leads.

You can have the best marketing team, but if your customers aren’t happy, you won’t get anywhere.

The best way to explain the process of mapping the customer journey is to look at it like a pinnable graphic that everyone on the team should have on their walls.

How to Map Out a Customer Journey Step-by-step   

The most important aspect of creating a compelling user journey map is to look at the process from the customer’s perspective. You will need two types of research to accomplish this goal:

Analytical research

Using your website’s analytics will tell you exactly where the customers are, how much time they spend with you, and when they leave. We will discuss what tools you can use to track user-generated content and place the data into an easy-to-interpret stream of information.

Anecdotal research

Acquiring this data is tricky. How do you find out what the customer is thinking?

Social media is useful for gauging how customers feel or think. When someone is satisfied or upset about his or her experience with a company, they could feel compelled to notify you on Facebook or Twitter.

Asking customers to fill out surveys about their experience can also help you collect anecdotal research.

Additionally, having tools to measure customer behavior is a must for accurate planning.

Step 1: Remember the Customer is #1, Always

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and doing all your planning around that motto will take you a long way. The customer is the reason you exist.

Many times, executives forget this important detail and focus on marketing, SEO, social media, and branding. Yes, these are all critical aspects of running a business, but you cannot forget about your customers and how they interact with your brand.

Are they satisfied with the experience? Is your website easy to navigate and does it have all the information a customer wants?

Step 2: Identify Customer Touch Points

Every time a customer comes into contact with your brand whether it’s before (an ad), during (visit to a store or website), or after (positive or negative feedback, return experience, newsletters) you have a chance to increase your sales.

These interactions are known as touch points.

With this information, you can identify obstacles that appear in the customer’s journey.

A seamless sales process where the customer is in and out in no time is just as important as offering high-quality products or services. Having satisfied customers translates into brand loyalty.

Step 3: Create a Graphic

This graph should not be too complicated, but it must include both analytical and anecdotal research data. It will highlight when customers stop interacting or when they get frustrated, so your team can adjust its strategy.

There are countless options in any given transaction, so it’s impossible to anticipate every possible scenario. But understanding where the blips are is crucial.

A graph is handy to understanding customer behavior, fixing the problems, and identifying successes as well.

Using emojis (sad, angry, neutral, happy, or excited) is helpful to quickly visualize the customer’s state of mind at any time.

customer-journey-step-3-create-a-graphic

3 Customer Journey Mapping Examples

Ensuring stellar customer service means that all your sales associates are on the same page. In addition, their training must reflect the policy that the customer always comes first.

To better interpret your customer journey, we will look at three practical examples of experiences that can happen countless times in any given part of the world. They have probably happened to you at one time or another.

Example 1: Fantastic User Experience (UX)

A young woman is surfing the web for a dress, and your website catches her eye. She has never heard of your brand, but her attention is immediately grabbed by how neat everything looks.

The drop-down menu on the women’s clothing landing page is easy to click on and search.  

There’s an option for price ranges (she doesn’t want to spend a fortune), and she also has the choice to click on the clearance box. Each product is fully described and includes measurements for different countries, materials used, and care instructions.

When the customer chooses the perfect dress, she quickly checks out and decides to sign up with a new customer account because she liked the experience so much.

She bookmarks the website for future reference. This is the time when you collect her email address or zip code for marketing purposes. You should also ask her to fill out an online survey once she’s received her first order.

The customer is so happy with her first purchase that she shares photos with her friends on social media. In her post on Instagram, she mentions your store and how easy-to-use your website was.

In this example, there are multiple places in which your efforts paid off. From the moment the customer noticed the layout (storefront) to the ease of checking out, every step mattered and the UX was flawless. Keep up the good work!

Example 2: Slow Loading Times  

A mom is shopping online with her toddler in tow. She’s stressed out, and the child is misbehaving. She’s looking for a specific toy for a birthday party and is not sure if you carry it, but she heard about your site from a friend (that’s great!).

The customer clicks on toys, and the page takes forever to load (not great).

She tries the workaround of typing a keyword into the search bar. There are zero results for her search. Frustrated, the customer leaves and goes to Amazon, where she can order in two clicks, and get her toy in plenty of time for the party.

You can almost bet this person will never come back to your website again. She may even leave a negative comment on social media.

Have you ever clicked on a website you heard about just to be stuck with slow loading times?

You don’t want to hear that your customers are having this experience. Improving your site’s loading times can help you reduce your bounce rates.

In 2018, people expect everything to happen immediately, and website speed optimization is critical. If a customer has to sit there and see the timer going around and around, they will go elsewhere.

If you are not aware of things like your bounce rate and the time spent on your page, you have a problem. In this instance, a customer experience map can be eye-opening for your team.

Example 3: The Failed Checkout

Your customer goes online and is excited to purchase a product from your website.

Your brand is easily recognizable, and he’s seen your ads on TV while watching football, so he decides to try it even though he is a senior citizen that rarely buys anything online.

The experience is smooth until he gets to the checkout.

The customer keeps typing the wrong card number and has missed one or two numbers at least three times. He is not a computer person but thought it would be easier to shop online than going to the store.

Every time he types in the wrong credit card number, the screen clears out all the other fields, and he must start from scratch.

Even if your website works seamlessly through the shopping process, having an inefficient checkout can kill a purchase. Your order forms need to be programmed so that if the user makes a mistake, they need to fill out only that field and the page preserves the rest of the data.

Repeatedly inputting the information can increase your abandonment rates. The worst part is that, at that point, the customer is ready to purchase – and your website won’t let him.

customer-journey-example-3-failed-checkout

These customer journey mapping examples go to show you how you can fix simple things to make your website UX better so you can ultimately increase your revenue.

Using Free Customer Journey Templates

If you have a traditional business with a storefront, it’s easy to visualize how your customers navigate your store during any given day. But how can you determine why a customer gets frustrated online?

Unless they specifically leave a comment expressing frustration, it’s very hard to collect that data without the right tools.

Is it impossible to monitor each customer’s behavior and the reason why they may be exiting earlier than you want them to? Why aren’t the visitors converting into sales?

At Crazy Egg, we take the guesswork out of the equation and provide you with concrete ways to record, analyze and interpret visitor activity on your website. This data will allow you to draw conclusions that will help your website conversion rates.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could figure out why customers stop clicking, or know where they click the most?

Now you can, and it will help you improve your UX exponentially.  

Optimizing your Buyer’s Journey By Understanding How They Navigate

By definition, the customer journey is a map of your UX at each touchpoint.Your goal is to increase the lead generation for your business. Optimizing how users navigate your website and making this process more efficient will keep them coming back and spending money with you.

The following is a checklist for understanding roadblocks where people may be getting frustrated or discouraged.

Answering the following questions will allow you to understand what happens each time someone enters your website:

  • Is your main page attractive? Are users interested in staying and exploring multiple pages? Pages with good quality images and simple designs tend to do very well.
  • Does the user know how to navigate your website? Do they give up at some point during their search, or can they easily click on the menu and find what they’re looking for?
  • Do you have a strong CTA (Call to Action) at the end of your articles? Make sure your CTAs are moving visitors to taking the next step down the sales funnel.
  • Do your visitors scroll down to view more content? Are your articles informative and easy to understand? Do they include links to more relevant content on your site?
  • What about your bounce rate? How quickly do visitors exit the website? If they leave after a few clicks, you have a problem. The longer a person stays on your site, the higher the chances for conversion.
  • Is the time on the page long or short? If your visitors exit too quickly it can mean that you have things to fix. When people leave right away, it’s because they don’t like what they see, or they can’t find what they’re looking for.

To optimize your buyer’s journey and better understand how they navigate, consider using a website click tracking tool on more than one page. Doing this will help you identify those with the most traffic.

You can also see which pages are responsible for the most conversions.

Start using Crazy Egg Snapshots  

To generate personalized user behavior reports for your site, you can start using the Crazy Egg’s user behavior tracking tools. Crazy Egg is straightforward to set up, and we offer a free 30-day trial for you to try.

Just sign up to create a new account, and once our tracking code is installed we will provide you with all the information you need to improve your website in no time.

customer-journey-videoWatch the video

Conclusion   

customer-journey-conclusion

Many things can distract you from your goals.

We hear a lot about using content marketing and SEO to achieve good rankings with the search engines and drive traffic to your business.

But as technology and the way in which consumers shop changes, you should never lose sight that the customer experience makes or breaks the success of your company.

Understanding what kind of experience she or he has when visiting your website is crucial to your long-term growth, and an essential component of mapping out the customer journey. Once you are able to visualize how your visitors interact with your brand and determine why they stay or leave,  you can achieve a better experience for current and future customers.

 Start using website click tracking tools from Crazy Egg for free today. It will not only keep the visitors on your page but translate into conversions.

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Steve Hogan

As a former English major, Steve is a firm believer in clear, educational and entertaining content. He's a big fan of Gary V, Seth Godin and Jay Acunzo.

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