How to Design the Ultimate Digital Customer Journey

One of the best tools available for creating a good customer experience (CX) is journey mapping. For us, journey mapping is a key point in our customer experience strategy process, wherein we take the time to understand two important dynamics: the present journey and the future journey we want to create.

Journey mapping is charting a customer experience for a given task to an outcome. A highly detailed process, journey mapping helps you identify customer needs and navigational hurdles, which in turn ensures that the right content and actions are in places your customers would expect to find it. Navigating the perfect customer experience while maintaining a focus on user experience doesn’t have to be a painful process if you follow the right steps. These include creating journey maps, determining the current user path, and mapping out user behaviors.

Create Journey Maps for the User, Not the Stakeholder

Often, a company set on using journey maps to improve their customer experience journey starts off with the right intentions. However, where the team may fall short is designing the customer experience journey from their own perspective.

The major distinction between a customer journey map and a journey map built from an internal business point of view is that a journey map will use the customer’s experience as the foundation. That is, each stage and step of the journey is based on what the customer does, not the business process perspective. This distinction extends to what the customer thinks and how they feel as they interact with your brand across multiple touch points. Simply put, if you don’t place the customer at the center of the mapping process, how can you expect to accurately represent their experiences?

So the question becomes, how do you make sure you’re creating the journey map that is focused on the user? Three key ways to create journey maps that ensure positive customer experiences are:

  • Determine the current user path
  • Map out the behaviors
  • Determine what the user path should look like

Determine the Current User Path

The first main goal for using a journey map is to determine what the path of the customer is for the specific action(s). When building digital products, a sitemap or list of views of the application is often the first tangible deliverable in mapping out customer experience.

Usually, a diagram is laid out to show a structure of a website or application and supports exercises around customer journey mapping, the process of following a customer experience for a given task or outcome. These exercises ensure content is located in places users would expect to find it, by identifying additional content needs and identifying any hurdles during the navigation process. Questions to ask include:

Pick a setting, a routine we want to understand (For example, the online ticket buying journey):

  • What are stages or steps involved?
  • Who is involved? What is involved?
  • How does a person feel at every step?
  • What are they ultimately trying to do?
  • What are their sources of frustration?

By answering these questions, you can drill down and get the type of information needed to create a successful journey map.

Map out the User Behaviors

Next, it’s time to map out the user behaviors for the entire process, including all of the variables. These behaviors are the specific actions required to accomplish the goal laid out in step one.

This is where gaps in content and functionality that you discovered in step one are mapped out, discovered and often removed.

To understand the key difference in step one and step two, it helps to think in terms of a common life event; for example, take the home-buying process. It’s important to understand that there are several people involved in the home-buying process, including the buyers, sellers, Real Estate agents, loan officers, inspectors, etc.

The journey map should include the exact specific actions the home buyers have to take to prepare their current house to sell, and the various other specific actions needed in order to purchase the new home and move in. As you map out the user behaviors, and drill down into more detail, you can start to see the fuller picture of the buyer’s journey.

Also, different personas will have different journey maps. For example, a single buyer may have a different experience from a buyer who is married, or one who has children. To truly improve customer experience, it’s imperative to map each and every persona, through each and every journey.

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Determine What the User Path Should Look Like

Once you have determined the current user path and mapped out the user behaviors step by step, you can then use this information to recreate the user’s experience the way that it should happen. This is when you can lay out the steps to improve the process and create the ultimate customer experience.

Keeping in line with our home buyer example, this is the step where you can streamline the experience for the buyers. What steps can be streamlined to provide a less stressful experience?

Journey Maps are a Key Piece of Customer Experience

Having a clear understanding of your customer’s needs, preferences and pain points is an important part of being able to market your brand and sell your product effectively.

Putting customer experience at the front and center of your strategy ensures your offerings are relevant to your target audience. Additionally, a good customer experience promotes loyalty and increases the opportunities for lifetime customers.