If you are wondering why people came to your website but then didn’t buy. Or wondering why you are sure you have the best prices in the market, but it is not leading to calls or messages. Then the chances are you don’t understand the customer journey. The customer journey is the steps a customer needs to make before they are prepared to make a purchase from you. And it is as relevant to small businesses as it is larger ones. In this post we will explain everything you need to know about creating an effective customer journey map and how it can successfully benefit small businesses.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the steps a customer goes through to make a decision on buying your product. It examines the key steps, motivations, and areas of friction the customer experiences when they interact with your brand.
Why Make a Customer Journey Map?
Customers goes on a buyer journey when they make a purchase consisting of the stages of awareness, consideration and decision. For small businesses who may feel they understand their customers, or this is not relevant for their product as it is a simple decision, I always say to think through your own experiences of making a purchase. Not just for large ticket items which might be tens of thousands of pounds but hiring someone to do some plumbing or buying a new TV. The chances are you read reviews, you learnt about specs, and you got frustrated when you couldn’t get answers from a particular company and gave up on them. It is not just you that is going through that process but everyone of your customers.
Creating a customer journey map brings the following benefits:
Improve content – It will enable you to see where your content is lacking. For example, you don’t have a product sheet with detailed specifications.
Customer touchpoints – It will enable you to ensure you are providing answers exactly where your customers are looking for them.
Customer insight – You can learn the demographics and psychographics of your customers.
Proactive customer service – Understand points of friction, allowing you to reach out to delight your customers.
Improve customer retention rates – When you learn the journey that is delighting your customers you can ensure that is followed across your whole business.
Making a Customer Journey Map
How you decide to visualise your customer journey map, whether it is simply in an excel file, an infographic or permanently on post-it notes on a board in your office, is down to you. It will depend on how complex the journey is for your product, among other things. However, the steps you follow to create one thing will be similar.
Like for everything in life you should set goals and define what you are trying to achieve. For example, state it clearly that you are trying to get X number of customers to make a purchase either in-store or from your website. In order to do this successfully you have to make sure you have first created a buyer persona for the typical customer your product is targeting.
Don’t guess at customers’ concerns and motivations, you need to reach out to actual customers and prospects through questionnaires or panel interviews and collect data. Remember you should not be asking leading questions but trying to find information.
- What are the problems you are trying to solve?
- Have you been to our website? If so, how often and how much time have you spent there?
- Have you ever made a purchase with us? If so, what was your deciding factor?
- Have you ever interacted with our website with the aim of making a purchase but decided not to? If so, why did you decide not to continue?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy is it for you to navigate our website?
- Did you contact customer support? If so, how helpful was it, on a scale of 1 to 10?
- Is there any way that we can further support you to make your process easier?
Narrow Down Your Targeting
Doing the above research should reveal that the different personas who buy from you and the different ways they interact with your business. It is not a good idea to have more than one persona in each map, meaning it is best you select the one that offers the best opportunity for your business. If you find that you have more than one that contribute significantly you can always go back and create another map later.
List All Your Customer Touchpoints
Customer touchpoints are the places your customers go to find out about you. The obvious one is your website but then there is your social media, a store, or basically anywhere you can be found. They can also be different for different stages of the buyer journey and you have to be aware of that and include it into your customer journey map.
Understanding your touchpoints is important for many reasons. You may identify that content at a particular touchpoint is weak. Or you may find that your potential customers are visiting lots of different touchpoints but not taking an action and moving through the funnel.
|Before purchase||During purchase||After purchase|
|Social media||Store or office||Billing|
|Ratings and reviews||Website||Transactional emails|
|Word of mouth||Promotions||Service and support teams|
|Community involvement/CSR||Staff or sales team||Online help centre|
|Advertising||Phone system||Follow ups|
|Marketing/PR||Point of sale||Thank you cards/emails|
On the way to achieving their goals – answering the questions that convince them that your product is the right fit for them – customers have to take actions. These actions include filling in a form, clicking a link, or moving to another page. Write down all the actions a potential customer has to take to move themselves through a conversion funnel.
Emotions and Motivations
Respect the fact that emotions play an important part in helping people decide and that they experience different emotions at different stages of the buyer journey. For example, at the awareness stage there might be some cynicism at the prospect of a new solution, which might turn quickly to enthusiasm. While at the consideration stage nerves will kick in at the prospect of making sense of so many alternative solutions. In the latter case, identifying that will mean creating content that soothes those nerves.
Pain Points and Obstacles
Understand what obstacles are preventing your customers from moving forward. In the case of a bike seller who wanted to overcome objections to the cost of new midrange bikes, he made a chart to show that a £500 bike was actually a much lower proportion of average income today than a £100 bike twenty years ago. He also did a comparison on bike hire and on other activities to put the investment in perspective.
Pulling it All Together
Once you have done the above the next step is to visual it on a map with two axis. The horizontal column axis should cover the stages in the customer journey, while the vertical row axis should list out the key questions you are trying to solve for each of the different stages. These questions can differ depending on the type of map you want to create (it is covered in the next section); however, below I have listed out some typical ones from a Current State map.
- What is the lead thinking, feeling or doing?
- What is the customer’s action?
- What or where is the buyer researching?
- What will move the buyer along his or her journey with our business?
Identify the Right Map
There are four kinds of maps, designed with different purposes in mind. I have given an example below but you can view over 140 examples here from User Interviews.
This is the most common kind of customer journey map. They show the actions, thoughts, and emotions your customers experience while engaging with small businesses. They are best used for continually improving the customer journey.
Original Artist: Chloe Constantinides, Dapper Apps
Day in the Life
This map shows the thoughts, actions and emotions your customers experience on a daily basis in their life, rather than just with your business. These maps are most useful in reaching out to people who are totally unaware of what you do and addressing unmet customer needs.
This map highlights what you predict will be the thoughts, actions and emotions of your potential customers when they engage with your business in future. They are best when you want to lay out a vision of the future of your business.
These maps layer the factors responsible for delivering the customer journey experience onto one of the above maps. The elements include people, policies, technologies, and processes. They are best for identifying the detail of why current customer journeys happen as they presently do.
The result of a map like this may be to determine that customer service needs to be improved in a certain way and that means the whole company needs to be educated on how to implement it. For small businesses creating a customer journey map this is also important as it will apply to everyone who works in your coffee shop or if you have a small team of cleaners.
Test the Journey
Once you have designed your map based on the touchpoints, emotions, motivations and actions outlined above test out the journey from the perspective of your buyer persona. What happens when they are researching at the awareness stage on your website? How many actions do you have to take to move through the conversion funnel?
Amend and Improve
Once you have taken the journey you may find there were numerous problems with your website, and other touchpoints which need to be improved. If you took the journey from the prospective of your buyer persona then the improvements, you make should be accurate.
It doesn’t matter if you are a small business, a customer journey map like the above will enable you to better understand your customers, target them, reduce your spend on advertising, and turn more visitors into customers.
Once you have utilised a customer journey map to improve lead generation and sales, you need to send quotes, invoices and take payments. Hoof’s payment solution has all the tools to help you win business and more efficiently manage payments.