Eight leading customer journey mapping tools driving CX growth
It’s no secret that ecommerce has been booming over the last few years. Even before the pandemic, shoppers realised the convenience of researching, comparing, and buying products all without leaving the sofa.
By mid-2019, ecommerce was predicted to grow a further 10.9% by the end of the year, with brands embracing online-only retail or a hybrid digital and bricks-and-mortar approach.
Of course, the pandemic only accelerated this growth. In fact, according to the ONS, the UK ecommerce market accounted for a record 35.2% of all retail in January 2021- the highest proportion to date.
A growing apathy for the high street means that brands must strive to create an online experience that rivals in-store ones.
A key part of that all-important customer experience? Knowing exactly what’s going on in your customer journey, whether they’re shopping in-store or online.
Here’s a quick look at what we’re going to cover in this article:
What is a customer journey?
In short, a customer journey is every sequential interaction your potential customers have when interacting with your brand.
It spans from brand awareness - think billboard ads or guerilla social media campaigns - to purchase, and moving forward to the post-purchase experience: Unboxing, follow up emails, and customer engagement for future purchases.
Whether your customers’ experience causes them to make a purchase or get put off at the final hurdle by pricing or other concerns, it’s important to know what’s going on in their heads - and what you can do to reduce those obstacles and produce a higher conversion rate.
Why should you map a customer journey?
A visual representation of the path your customers are taking will help you and any other key stakeholders properly identify where you need to focus your energy.
You’re probably already aware of the benefits of process mapping: It provides a blueprint detailing core processes - the ones that keep your business up and running. It’s an essential part of knowing how to run your business efficiently and effectively.
Put simply, mapping a customer journey allows you to implement process improvement in areas across the customer experience that need it most.
It might help you to work out that you’re wasting time on endless Instagram posts that don’t address customer issues, for example. Or it might demonstrate that you have an engaged and dedicated Instagram following who just need a bit of a nudge to make a purchase.
Perhaps your socials are doing brilliantly and attracting loads of potential new customers - you just need a customer onboarding process template to really get them invested in the brand.
Organisation and task management can be hugely helpful when trying to identify aspects of the customer journey that need work. When you’ve pinpointed what needs attention you can assign team members tasks that will streamline the customer journey.
As you and your team make incremental changes to improve the customer journey, a workflow platform can be hugely beneficial in keeping track of progress. Having a clear picture of the process allows you to allocate extra resources where you need them, whether it’s additional team members or customer segmentation research.
How to create a customer journey map
Whether you’re using sticky notes on a whiteboard or sophisticated customer journey mapping software, the basics of what you’re trying to do remain the same.
The idea is to get inside your customers’ heads, figuring out what will boost conversion rates and customer engagement.
So where to start?
It’s important that you know what you want to get out of a customer mapping exercise.
Are you looking to get more people interested in your brand as a whole? Is there a big launch coming up that you’d like customers to engage with?
You need to know what your classic buyer persona is (or what you’d like it to be) - which brings us neatly onto knowing your audience.
Know your target audience
You might have multiple different customer journey map templates for each of your different types of customers.
A beauty ecommerce store might want to target young people who are interested in more affordable skincare and those more established in their careers and looking for the perfect perfume.
If it’s clear that those audiences will engage with different facets of your site and brand, it’s a good idea to have different user journeys mapped out for them.
The best way to discover these customer personas is to conduct thorough customer research. If you’re a SaaS company, that might involve inviting people to test out your software and report back about their thoughts and feelings.
For consumer brands, customer feedback and questionnaires are often a brilliant way of gathering information.
Essential questions in your questionnaire should include:
- What is it about this brand that they resonate with?
- How did they first hear about the company - was it word of mouth, social media or TV ads?
- How easy do they think it is to find what they need on the site?
Also, you could be gathering customer data via connected media from those who are already using your site and following your social channels. While you can place some focus on demographics, it’s useful to think about personality types and interests as well.
Once you’ve developed an idea of your customers, you can group them into persona groups. However, it’s important that only similar customer personas share customer journey maps. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
Laidback Lauren is 28, loves yoga and dogs, and spends most of her mornings listening to the Career Talk podcast on her runs. She’s interested in fitness, but mostly just likes to be active and isn’t particularly obsessed with one sport over another.
Sporty Sarah, on the other hand, is also 28 - but much prefers weightlifting over yoga. Exercise makes her feel powerful and strong, and it’s important to her that she has the best equipment to help.
If you sell sports clothes, you may well want to target both of these personas. But while Laidback Lauren might be easily swayed by aesthetic posts on Instagram, Sporty Sarah could be much more convinced by positive testimonials and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Once you know who your audience is and what drives them, it’s time to work out when they come into contact with your business.
A touchpoint is any time your customer comes into contact with your business over the span of their journey. In other words, it’s the bits of the customer experience that you have direct control over.
It can be seeing a LinkedIn post or Google ad, or the final package they receive.
A quick look at Google Analytics should give you a good idea of where your digital traffic is coming from, but do take into account offline factors as well.
Knowing what these customer touchpoints are is so important because it means you can work out which ones are failing your business and causing customers to keep their distance.
It’s all very well offering beautifully packaged goods delivered in record time - but if your site advertising doesn’t tell your brand story well enough, then huge chunks of potential customers won’t ever find that out.
It’s key to keep your brand purpose in mind throughout these touchpoints. If you have touchpoints that customers aren't interacting with, check if they're in line with the customers you're targeting. Are they being skipped in the customer journey because there are no clear signposts to it?
The actions that go with them
Once you know what your touchpoints are, it’s time to work out which actions your audience takes once they see them.
Identifying how touchpoints are currently being used gives you vital clues about the health of your company. Are potential customers struggling through various interactions before making it to checkout? Are they leaving the site early having not bought anything at all?
Some touchpoints might lead solely to lead generation or brand research, while others could lead directly to a sale, skipping over many other steps.
Try to think of all the actions a customer might take from the start of their journey with you. Are they having to click through various pages to even find your site? This risks customer burnout, where users get bored before they discover your brand purpose.
Or are they whisked straight to a sales page? This cuts down on the actions that must be taken - but potentially opens up a can of worms: browsers might have no idea what the brand ethos is, and might miss essential FAQs.
Map out emotional factors and customer motivations
You’ll need to work out what your customer needs: what is causing people to take the actions that they’re taking. Is it that you can offer the perfect solution to their worry?
The action a customer takes can also be a negative one - that is, click away from the page or just not buy anything.
Perhaps you have a segment of subscribers who have browsed the site a few times, and signed up to emails - but never made a purchase. This could be the perfect time to get your CRM team involved and see if an email remarketing campaign might prompt them to finally take the plunge.
A well-timed blog on how your product could improve their wellbeing/be a great alternative to Zoom phone/take their dinner parties to the next level might well be the final piece of the puzzle.
Equally, it could be worth considering an interactive digital assistant embedded into your page, which can answer any immediate questions potential customers have in real-time as they arise.
Recognise pain points in the customer experience
Defined as a persistent problem for customers, a pain point can be anything from a minor irritation to a guarantee that they won’t shop with your company again.
It might be that your call centre’s average handle time is too short, and customers just aren’t getting the information they need. Conversely, the calls might drag on, leaving your customer experience advisors tied up - and waiting times to skyrocket. This might suggest that you need to work on a more comprehensive FAQ section to free up calls for more complicated matters or hire more call centre staff.
Maybe you need to perform an agile exploratory test before launch to identify any potential edge cases that might arise with your product.
It might be something as simple as shipping costs. Did you know that 61% of UK shoppers would abandon their cart if the shipping costs were unexpectedly high? And 41% would simply give up if delivery times were too long for their liking.
Create a visual
Okay, it’s time to actually start mapping and collating all this information - personas, touchpoints, pain points - into an easy-to-read visual representation.
Include simple notes of where and how you think improvements could be made, as well as where things are going well.
Having an actual map means that you’ll be able to follow the flow of the customer journey, despite how complicated it seems when you have endless reams of paper covered in scribbles with your insight. In fact, some maps even take the form of flowcharts.
Also, visualisation is always helpful when you’re trying to explain your dream to other stakeholders.
Team members will find it helpful to know where their tasks fit into the whole, while more senior stakeholders - like, say, those in charge of budgets - will be able to see how your plan proposes to tackle those pain points and make more overall sales.
Try the journey out yourself and revisit your map regularly
The most obvious way to come upon these pain points? Go through the entire customer experience yourself.
Either try to consider what that journey is like from the perspective of your target customer persona or invest in some user experience testing.
It can be tempting to rest on your laurels once you have a customer journey map in place, but be sure to revisit it regularly. New technologies and trends can totally shift how your customers experience your brand.
All of these steps can be done manually and will give you some pretty comprehensive results. If you’re looking for a sophisticated helping hand, read on.
Customer journey mapping software
Several businesses are looking into technology like business process automation, which allows you to automate repetitive aspects of your business. Why should customer journey mapping be left behind?
Just as we can use business process management software to coordinate strategies and data to improve business outcomes, customer journey mapping software can be used in a similar manner.
When you’re gathering information to create customer personas, you can use a Digital Assistant like Ve to interact with your customers as they’re shopping - both answering their questions about the site in real-time and helping you to understand customer preferences and concerns.
Customer journey mapping tools: some serious advantages
While there’s something to be said for good old fashioned pen and paper, customer journey mapping tools can expedite the process in ways that humans just can’t keep up with.
For one thing, customer journey mapping tools can automate the collection of data, gathering user feedback without you even having to lift a finger.
It’s also helpful to have a digital option to encourage multiple team members to collaborate. This is particularly important in these remote working times, where it might not be possible to gather around a whiteboard.
There are several different types of customer journey mapping tools - some of our favourites are below.
Okay, we’re biased, but between Ve’s Digital Assistant and connected media tools, you’ll barely have to lift a finger to gather crucial, actionable insights into your customers’ experiences.
Ve can create unique audience segments as it gathers data, your CRM team is sure to appreciate the reduction in data entry. It can even set up quick-fire experimentation to determine which tactic is most successful, continuously reporting back to you.
What’s more, this data can be used to directly target customers through Ve itself - whether that’s through micro-messaging, perfectly-timed promotional codes, or creating a convenient Digital Assistant hub.
It can essentially function as a digital personal shopper, enhancing the customer’s experience tenfold. The aim is to recreate an in-store experience - without forcing customers to leave the comfort of the sofa.
Responses to common questions can be automated and answered in real-time, reducing common pain points and provoking an increase in sales.
Smaply is a great tool to create an in-depth visualisation of the customer journey. It allows you to separate the journey into different stages, as well as add detailed notes to each section.
Create lanes for every relevant aspect of the journey - use one to jot down ideas for improvement, one for serious pain points, one for a project already in motion. Within these lanes, you can add in anything you think will help as an explanation: images, emotions felt or which channels were used.
You can also analyse the experiences of multiple personas throughout the journey, using storyboards to illustrate your point to stakeholders - remote team members and board members alike.
Originally standing for Customers First Now, CFN Insight - now known as Clarivate Customer Experience (UX) Services - put customers at the forefront of every business.
Targeting both revenue and retention rates, this program helps users to identify the most challenging of pain points and just what exactly is driving customer churn.
It offers action scorecards and easy-to-use reporting options and helps users to design surveys that get the answers they need. Plus, you can assign an ‘owner’ to manage particular touchpoints.
Integrating with web analytics, Uxpressia allows you to create personas, impact maps, and customer journey maps with ease.
The visuals are slick, and it’s a simple tool to use - which means you can spend more time using the data you’re gathering and less time feeling your way around the program.
Teams can collaborate on projects in real-time, no matter where they are in the world.
Custellence offers well-designed templates for customer journey maps, allowing you to collect all the information you have about customers in one place.
It doesn’t help you to collect the data or tell you how to implement it, but as a visualisation tool, it works well. Polished customer journey maps await.
Like Custellence, Lucidchart is a brilliant way to create professional-looking visuals, from building flowcharts to diagramming.
Team members can collaborate in real-time, gathering around a virtual whiteboard to add ideas and notes.
It can integrate with multiple applications, including Slack and Microsoft Office, and its uses aren’t limited to customer journey mapping: project management meetings and product ideation can all be improved with an interactive visual element.
Miro, like Lucidchart, is a brilliant way to add a visual element to meetings. Touted as an “online whiteboard”, you can create a rudimentary customer journey map with its ‘mapping and diagramming’ feature.
That said, because it is the equivalent of sticky notes on a wall, you can’t add in too much information, lest the visual becomes crowded and ultimately unreadable.
To demonstrate simple, fuss-free customer journeys and business processes, it works well. For anything a little more complicated, it might not be the best option.
Microsoft’s Visio does what it says on the tin: offers simple visualisation tools to help you demonstrate your plans to other stakeholders.
In terms of functionality, there are plenty of templates to choose from, and flowcharts can be customised with different shapes and colours to make different aspects clear. For anyone new to diagramming, this would be our choice.
Customer journeys can be complex and meandering, so it might be best to opt for something a little more comprehensive if that’s true for your company.
Customer journey mapping
Skipped to the end to find the short version? Here it is: Customer journey mapping can help you to boost sales and increase retention rates, simply by identifying which experiences your customers are actually having within the sales funnel.
Whether you opt for the manual version or plump for a mapping tool that helps you out, it can only improve your business practices. Why not try it out?