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What is customer journey mapping?

6 min read
When you’re looking to improve customer experience, it’s important to think like your customer: to understand their point of view and be mindful of them at every step of their journey with you. That’s where customer journey mapping comes in.

Journey mapping visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs and perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with your brand. It’s the perfect middle ground between pure data and storytelling – because one without the other can leave you in the dark, plus make it hard to communicate CX across your organisation.

You can use a journey map for any of these reasons:

  • Insights – get a better understanding of your CX by cross-referencing journey maps with core metrics
  • Impact – identify opportunities to optimise your CX, by focusing on the moments that matter most to your customers
  • Issues – diagnose serious CX issues, whether in a single journey or across multiple ones
  • Innovation – identify where new products or services can improve existing customer journeys, or create completely new ones

Selecting a customer journey

All customer journeys fall into one of these 4 categories:

  • Onboarding eg taking out insurance, buying a car or opening an account
  • Maintaining eg taking car to mechanic, calling for technical help or changing your address
  • Using/owning – buying a bus ticket, making an insurance claim or using a smartphone
  • Renewal – insurance, subscriptions or services

You can look at one customer going through journeys across all 4 categories, or how different customers go through a single journey.

Identifying your customer touchpoints

A customer journey map includes all of the touchpoints a potential customer has before, during and after an interaction with your brand.

This includes things directly influenced by your organisation as well as those influenced or controlled by third parties. This is an important distinction as, while you may not be responsible for a particular part of the journey, it still affects the experience your customer has.

  • Before – how did they get to you? For example, your customer may find out about you through adverts, billboards, social media, online reviews or good old-fashioned word of mouth.
  • During – what did they do with you? This might be your point of sale (POS). It could be your website, branch, store or delivery. Customers may interact with sales assistants and call centres.
  • After – what did they do after? This might include invoicing, queries, returns, product support, product or service lifetime, newsletters and customer feedback surveys

Once you understand and map every touchpoint in your customer journey and collect feedback from each, you’ll be able to spot pain points along the way or areas where you could improve the experience.

How it works

Creating a customer journey map is simple. Here’s an example for a customer looking to take out a mortgage. The customer touchpoints in our example below are highlighted in bold.

Your customer has seen an advert for an attractive interest rate and their brother recommended your mortgage.

Your online mortgage calculator said the repayments were affordable, so the customer had a helpful face to face meeting in a branch, and went home to fill out the online application form.

They instantly received an email with a decision in principle, telling them it had been accepted, inviting them to complete the full application.

The customer takes a few days to fill in and received an ‘application received’ message.

Some of the information was missing, so a contact centre agent calls them to explain what information they need to provide.

Finally, the mortgage is agreed and the customer receives a letter with a binding mortgage offer.

Once the customer has then gone through the house buying process, had their surveys carried out and confirmed their exchange date, they receive final confirmation of the mortgage including direct debit details, terms and conditions etc. The process is now complete.

So that’s a total of 11 touchpoints – and for many home buyers there will be much more back and forth too – up to the point of purchase.

After completion there may be more, like annual or monthly statements or interactions with the customer if they want to increase or decrease how much they pay each month.

What to fix, and where?

On the face of it, you might have a satisfied customer. They may give high NPS or CSAT scores as they now have their mortgage and a lovely new home.

But how many other customers started the application form, gave up filling it in because it was too complicated and went to another provider? Or received a mortgage in principle only for the full application to be rejected?

This is where journey mapping is essential. By gathering feedback at each touchpoint, you can start to understand how each one contributes to the overall experience. Was there a stage that was particularly difficult? Where did your customer service fail to match up to their expectations?

Being able to pinpoint specific pain points along the customer journey means that you can step in and make improvements at the moments that matter.

Using customer experience data and mapping it back to specific touchpoints is how you start to understand the key moments that influence customer behaviour. By analysing this feedback side by side with your core CX metrics, you’re able to identify the improvements that will have the biggest impact on your customers and their overall experience as well as the impact on organisation metrics like win rates, sales and customer lifetime value.

See how Qualtrics can help you optimise every step of the customer journey