Skip to main content

Walk a Mile in Your Customers’ Shoes: How to Create a Customer Journey Map

In 1968, Joe South wrote a song, later covered by Elvis Presley, called “Walk a Mile In My Shoes.” 

Here are the lyrics:

If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour, if we could find a way
To get inside each other's mind
If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your own ego I believe you'd be
I believe you'd be surprised to see
That you've been blind
Walk a mile in my shoes

If only salespeople would walk a mile in their shoes, they might understand why the customer abandoned the shopping cart or walked away from the deal.

The problem is you don’t “get” what the customer goes through to complete the sale. A lot happens between the moment they learn about your brand and conclude the deal. 

Customers have specific experiences along the customer journey. You must walk a mile in their shoes to understand.

How do you do that? By learning how to create a customer journey map.

What Is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of where a customer is now, where they want to go, and the path they can take to get there. It’s the process of achieving a goal, such as buying your product.

The customer journey map is for your benefit. It enables you to see what customers go through. It shows:

  • The customer’s motivations and needs

  • Key events along the journey

  • Challenges, gaps or areas of friction in the path

This is an example of a customer journey map (source: Lucidchart).

You use this information to create the process and touchpoints. This will show whether customers can reach their goals, why they might not, and how they can.

The customer journey is not always straight. Customers might have to take different paths or go back steps. The map shows all this.

You can create the customer journey map using a whiteboard, Excel spreadsheet, sticky notes, infographics, or special software. 

Why Do You Need a Customer Journey Map?

You might think you know your customers’ needs and challenges. But do you really?

The reasons to create a map are to understand customers’ motivations and needs, and adjust your customer journey to maximize their success.

Creating a customer journey map produces several benefits.

Switch from Outbound to Inbound Marketing

The map focuses your marketing efforts inbound. It enables you to create content that appeals to customers.

You’re focusing on the customer’s success and satisfaction instead of the sale. The map helps you to understand what is pushing customers out and what would interest them enough to stay.

Focus on the Right Customer Segments

The process involves researching customers’ motivations, needs, and pain points. This gives you a better understanding of their demographics and psychographics.

You’ll learn more about ideal customers and their goals. You might discover you’ve been marketing the wrong way to prospects or to the wrong prospects.

Chili Piper integrates with your CRM and marketing automation software to automatically create and update opportunities when a prospect takes an action.

Turn Customer Service from Reactive to Proactive

The customer journey map outlines activities that create positive customer experiences. It also reveals obstacles, pitfalls, and gaps.

This means you can be proactive with customer service. For example, you can inform customers about potential shipping delays or extended hours during holidays.

Increase Customer Retention

Identifying potential obstacles and gaps in the customer journey enables you to address them before they become serious. That means fewer negative customer experiences and fewer reasons to leave.

The map enables you to spot actions that can lead to customer turnover or churn. You can then take steps to prevent it from occurring.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

Set Clear Goals

Here’s a not-too-spicy take: Set a goal before creating a map.

Ask yourself:

  • Why do you need a customer journey map?

  • What goals are you trying to achieve with the map?

  • Who is your target customer?

  • What experience are you creating the map for?

To help with setting your goal, create a buyer persona. It should represent your average customer to see what they go through on the customer journey.

Research Your Customers and Prospects

Get feedback from customers and prospects who are interested in your products or services. Use questionnaires or engage in user testing to collect your research. 

Possible questions include:

  • How did you learn about our company?

  • What encouraged you to visit our website?

  • What problems are you trying to solve with our products?

  • What prevented you from purchasing through our website?

  • What is your experience with customer support?

Select Customer Personas

You’ve collected the data. Now focus on one or two customer personas.

The customer journey map outlines a specific customer’s experience. Too many personas will “spoil the broth.”

Start with the most common persona. Sketch the route they would take in their first interaction.

Outline the Touchpoints

List all touchpoints on your website that customers use to interact with your business. Also list touchpoints that you think they should be using.

This will help you understand the steps being taken to make a purchase. It explains:

  • Why customers are leaving your site too soon

  • Whether it is taking too many steps to complete the sale

  • Where you can remove obstacles or simplify the process

You can apply this process to your social channels, paid ads, email marketing, third-party sites, and other channels.

Focus on common touchpoints. Then:

  • List customers’ actions when interacting with your brand (e.g., clicking on links within emails) to achieve certain goals

  • List motivators or emotions that would drive customers to take those actions; this enables you to create a smoother customer journey

  • List obstacles (e.g., shipping costs) that could prevent customers from taking specific actions; this enables you to find ways to overcome them

Choose the Appropriate Customer Journey Map

Select the type of customer journey map that meets your specific needs:

  • Day in the life: Customers’ actions, thoughts, and emotions in their daily activities

  • Current state: Customers’ actions, thoughts, and emotions when they interact with your company

  • Future state: Customers’ actions, thoughts, and emotions when they interact with your company in the future

  • Service blueprint: This map simplifies one of the other maps, including factors that can affect the customer experience (e.g., people, policies, processes, technologies)

Identify Existing and Required Resources

Determine the resources you have and need to support the customer experience. This will help you see where you might be lacking.

For example, does your customer success team have the tools to onboard new customers or hand them off? Use the map to advise leadership on investing in onboarding tools.

For example, Chili Piper’s Instant Booker accelerates the time from contract to onboarding, automating the handoff from sales to CS. It can also help increase the efficiency of your onboarding process, with automated reminders, scheduling onboarding sessions at once, and more.

 

Include data on how it will affect your business and provide value. This will help you convince stakeholders on why to invest in these resources.

Your customer journey map will touch nearly every part of your business. This will highlight all resources that go into creating the customer experience. Take inventory of the resources you have and the ones you'll need to improve the customer journey.

Take the Customer Journey

You’ve created the customer journey map. Now see if it’s accurate.

Use the customer journey map to answer:

  • How far are customers going on your website before leaving?

  • At what touchpoints should you provide customer support?

  • Where can you add value or provide solutions?

Put yourself in the place of a customer persona. Follow the customer journey by doing online searches, visiting your website, going through your social media, and reading your email marketing. 

Analyze, Revise, Rinse, and Repeat

Analyze the data to determine where you are now, and make changes to get where you want to be.

When you took the customer journey, what was lacking? You don’t have to guess, as you experienced it. Change whatever will address customers’ pain points and create a better experience.

The customer journey map is never complete. Review it regularly to find ways to improve it. Use customer feedback and data analysis to identify obstacles and gaps.

About the Author

David Gargaro has more than 20 years of experience as a content writer and copy editor. His content has appeared in Business.com, ITPro.com, RHB Magazine, Advisors Magazine, and more. In his free time, he enjoys reading, catching up on TV shows and movies, watching hockey, and playing with his daughter.

Profile Photo of David Gargaro