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Customer Journey Mapping. Sounds … faddish? Or maybe like just another marketing jargon term? If you’ve run across customer journey mapping and feel as though it’s yet another upsell by a marketing agency or it’s simply a trend within the world of UX and online optimization, read this post first.

Customer journey mapping (also known as simply journey mapping or path to purchase studies), is actually an incredibly powerful tool. It’s certainly not new, though it has been given new wings, thanks to some clever branding around the name. In fact, customer journey mapping has long been a tool used by qualitative and quantitative researchers. In essence, journey mapping is meant to give organizations a way to better understand the actual purchase and/or customer service process customers go through. By doing this, companies can address gaps, heighten and improve the progression, and, hopefully, retain customers by enhancing how customers interact with a brand.

Customer journey mapping has a broad reach: In the customer experience (CX) world, it’s commonly used to understand how customers get customer support from online and traditional channels, including call centers. In marketing, companies may use it to enhance an online shopping experience, dissect how customers shop while in a store, or see how a browsing experience works in practice.

Customer journey mapping is meant to break down a sequence of events that occur as customers interact with a brand – a conceptual framework, if you will. By, quite literally, mapping out the stages that customers go through, either online or in person, a company can more fully see blind spots and areas to further enhance in a customer’s buying and customer support-seeking process. To illustrate how customer journey mapping is used in practice, below is a recent example that InterQ did.

Customer journey mapping in practice: An educational website

Recently, we helped a client improve the structure, flow, and content of a large and very complex website. The firm is a nonprofit foundation that seeks to educate, inform, and create a dialogue between religion and science. With 8 identified personas that the site was built to speak to, the foundation had a complex site to manage, and they wanted to learn how to improve the site and enhance how people find, share, and consume content on the website.

To tackle the problem, our team created a “hybrid” customer journey mapping qualitative study. We began by spending a full day with the foundation’s leadership team. We had them walk us through each of the customer personas, and we sought to learn what the intended customer journey was meant to look like for each of the 8 personas.

Once we completed this process, we then hosted focus groups (both online and in-person) with the 8 persona types. The first half was devoted to a discussion about mindsets and attitudes, as it related to the topics on the website. In the second half, we then went through the actual website and mapped out how people navigated through the various sections. This was incredibly illuminating in terms of where people naturally went on the site, and it showed striking and meaningful ways to improve the experience – even through seemingly small changes in design and functionality.

The combined customer journey mapping process delivered a much more robust picture of how the foundation could re-structure parts of the website and optimize content for the various personas. As compared to traditional focus groups, this hybrid customer journey mapping approach gave an experiential, hands-on-way to make changes that were driven by the various audiences’ inputs.

When should you consider using customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping can be tailored and modified to almost any instance when a company is seeking to illuminate and improve how a customer interacts with a brand, products, and customer support – either virtually or in-person. Using qualitative interviewing techniques, and by overlaying quantitative data (including website heat mapping, eye tracking, and facial emotion analysis), we’re able to develop an incredibly illustrative and practical way for a company to truly understand the customer experience. When presented in a mapping format, it helps companies make clear decisions that apply cross-functionally across design teams, sales, customer support, and marketing.

Interested in customer journey mapping? Contact us today to learn more >