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How to Understand Your Customers with Customer Journey Mapping

customer journey mapping
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Looking for ways to better understand your customers? If so, this article is for you. Here’ we’ll be discussing how customer journey mapping can be used to understand your customers better, eliminate their pain points, and build trust and sales as a result.

In Stephen covey’s book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, he says the fifth habit of highly effective people is “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Similarly, Dale Carnegie wrote in his bestselling book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” if you know how to concern yourself with what others want first, then you’ll have the world with you, but if you don’t, you’ll live a lonely way. As a result, we know it’s very important to study and understand our prospects and customers. Otherwise, we won’t be able to experience the levels of business success we’d like. If you’re having a difficult time putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, it could cause:

  • Low converting sales offers
  • Low traffic or not many interested prospective clients
  • Poor retention
  • and, other negative consequences you don’t want.

Customer journey mapping is a practice that helps to better understand the customer and what they may be experiencing on their route to interact with your business.

How Online Customer Journey Mapping Can Help

To plan better customer retention, mapping and understanding the customer journey can be very helpful.  You want to understand the journey from discovery to post conversion engagement, which typically looks something like this:

Discovery > Identified Need/Problem > Research > Conversion > Post Conversion Engagement

Your goal when mapping your customer journey should be to identify the emotions and feelings of customers going thru your service funnel.  When you can understand what parts of your service funnel make your customers feel uncomfortable, you can mark this as a pain point, and plan to overcome the issue.

Of course, as you’re starting your business, you will have pain points because you will have limits, but in order to scale, grow, and increase your revenue, you want to consider the pain points and determine how you can balance them the most effective way to crack a hole in your revenue ceiling.

Here’s an example of what an online customer journey map could look like:

online customer journey mapping

Photo Attribution: Picture from Trello Board

Yours will look different because your business will have different points of engagement, different emotions triggered at each, and so on.  The key is to be as accurate and to understand your customer perspective as much as possible.

Tools for Online Customer Journey Mapping

There are some tools that are designed specifically for online customer journey mapping, and there are others that work effectively, but aren’t designed with those specifics.  One tool designed specifically to may customer journeys is Canvanizer.  You can use Canvanizer for free to create an online customer journey map that is easy to customize.

When you create a canvas in Canvanizer, it allows you to map the pre-service experience, during the service, and post-service.  As a tool specifically designed for online customer journey mapping, it will ask specific questions, and create a clear and understandable display.

online customer journey mapping

If you feel more comfortable using something you’re already familiar with, I’d recommend you use Google Docs (Sheets or a normal Word Doc), Microsoft Project (is an ideal solution and has many versatile business uses), Microsoft Office, Canva, or Trello to do online customer journey mapping as well.

Offline Alternatives for Customer Journey Mapping

While customer journey mapping is vitally important, many people prefer to do their customer journey maps offline.  The same principles apply offline or online regarding the content for mapping, however, the tools are a little different.  If you want to create a customer experience map offline, you can use bullet journals, sketchbooks, dry erase boards, chalk boards, or even Post-it notes could give a good visual representation of what you customer may be feeling and experiencing.  I’ve written an article here on Bullet Journal Ideas for Entrepreneurs, you should check it out!

Customer Journey Mapping Examples

Rather than sitting in front of the screen with a blinking cursor, but no words flowing, you can get inspiration from Pinterest.  There are several examples of Customer Journey Maps and Customer Experience Maps that you can use for inspiration. Check them out here.

How to Increase Customer Loyalty with Online Customer Journey Mapping

Some Things You Want to Include in Your Customer Journey Mapping to Increase Customer Loyalty are…

Map Where Customers are Leaving

If you have a subscription model and your customers are leaving within the trial period or within the first month, this can create a big problem for the company because it limits the lifetime customer value significantly.  When you increase your lifetime customer value, it increases your revenue, and overall bottom line.

To plan for higher retention, you want to map where customers are leaving, get an idea of who is dealing with the customers at this point, what systems are in place, and how you can positively change the emotions of the customers at this point in the service funnel.  If you’re having trouble brainstorming the possible reasons your customers may be leaving, check out this article on the Fastest way to Lose Customers.

Find Points Where You Can Manage Expectations

how to increase customer loyalty with online customer journey mappingManaging expectations begins when the customer first discovers your company and is stabilized throughout the customer journey.  Many startups try to give the illusion of being an established company because they think the customer wants to see something that’s “all put together” when in fact, customer retention is better correlated with authenticity and honesty.

Be honest with your customers.  If a process is new, say it’s new and you’re working on it.  If many people called off work and it’s effecting your service delivery times, be honest and say so.  The worst thing is to have misdirected expectations that your customers mistake as intentionally bad customer service.

Make it a practice to manage expectations throughout the customer journey and use your customer journey map to carve out areas in your process where you can manage customer expectations.

Deliver More Than You Promised

This can be simple or complex.  You can deliver a thank you note or thousands of dollars in bonuses–it’s entirely up to you.  The point is that one way to get immediate cool points is when you exceed expectations.

The customer may be expecting a burger, and you throw in fries.  The customer may have been expecting standard seating, and you upgrade them to first-class.

Within reason, you can deliver more value to your customers than they expect.  Use your customer journey may to brainstorm places in your customer journey where you can add more value than your customers expect and watch your retention rates increase.

Map Ways to Add Transparency

Whether you’re sharing your story, your company background, or simply being honest about your current limitations, transparency goes a long way!  Being accessible and relatable can skyrocket customer loyalty!

You want to include in your customer journey map, places where you can establish transparency.  I love how Dave Ramsey provides an example of transparency in good times and bad.  As the owner of a multi-million dollar company, he still shares how he was bankrupt, how he started his company on his card table, and how he was open about various growth quirks he had along the way to achieving the business successes he has today.

Daymond John is also a good example of an entrepreneur who provided some great transparency during hard times, and it got him a long way.  In his book, The Power of Broke, he talked about how he couldn’t afford inventory when he started Fubu.  To overcome his financial obstacle, he used the same dirty shirt and has several celebrities take pictures with it on.  He wasn’t all that transparent at that time, but now he admits, “The shirt was dirty and it stank!”.

Find Ways To Encourage Customer Loyalty By Mapping Opportunities

They say, “you don’t get what you don’t ask for”.  Many companies with high customer retention rates, ask for customers to return.  I know this may sound like common sense, but its true!  Chick Fil-A is a great example of this…

how to increase customer loyalty with online customer journey mappingThey have signs that say “Welcome”, “We hope to see you again soon”, they call people by name, and they create a custom experience for their customers even though they are in the fast food industry.  Many of the things you would include into your customer journey map that fall in this category are very inexpensive.  You can ask your customer service personnel to ask customer to return back, you can make people feel welcome, be inviting, and repeat verbiage that lets others know you sincerely want them to return.

My church is a great example of a place where they “ask for customer loyalty”.  If I’m not there for one week, people will text, call, or ask saying, “I haven’t seen you in awhile”, or “we want to see you back at church this Sunday”.  It works like a charm because I feel the expectation for my return, and I feel bad when I don’t deliver on the expectation.  Include in your customer journey map ways you can encourage customer loyalty.

Map Ways to Get Personal

Calling customers by name, getting to know their background and stories, establishing a genuine connection, and remembering important dates are all ways of getting personal.  Getting personal makes people feel special.  When you make people feel special, they are more loyal.  Maya angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Getting personal makes people feel cared for, honored, respected, and cherished: all good feelings.  Add into your customer journey map ways you can get more personal with your customers

Map How You Can Stay Top of Mind

how to increase customer loyalty with online customer journey mappingEmail marketing, customer follow-up calls, postal marketing, newsletters, or simply providing a quality high demand product or service are all valid ways to stay top of mind, but they require persistence and consistency.  It’s easy to let the tasks required to stay top of mind fall off the wayside because they may not clearly and directly correlate to revenue or other KPIs, however, they directly effect staying top of mind.

Staying top of mind (in a positive way) effects customer retention.  Find ways you can include in your customer service funnels prompts to stay valid and top of mind to your customers.

Map Prime Opportunities to Prove your value

It’s the internet age and it’s so easy to get tangled into the next big thing.  Find ways to revisit your competitive advantages and prove to your customers you’re still relevant and valuable.  Take a look at the oldest companies in the US!  Companies who were able to adapt past the migrations or new technology, the “trends”, and fads.  Analyze how they were able to maintain a continual impression of value, and adapt ways you can continually prove your value and stay relevant.  Your value should be an automatic expectation.  Include in your customer journey maps ways you can prove your value.

Be There When Things go Wrong

When things go wrong and people are experiencing hard times, you can establish a level of appreciation you may not be able to experience otherwise.  You see churches who aid in hurricane relief or toy stores who donate to homeless or orphan children.  When you map opportunities to support someone when things are going wrong, you can build strong and long lasting relationships.

Map Opportunities for Change

how to increase customer loyalty with online customer journey mappingPeople appreciate “updated versions”.  They like to see that the quirks that may have bothered them before have been addressed and updated.  Curiosity alone may cause some customer to return because they’re simply nosy enough to experiment and see how the changes modify the customer experience.  Find opportunities to upgrade current processes and features to make your offer more appealing to your customers.

Map How You Will Accept Feedback

There’s live chat, feedback tabs, surveys, user testing, analytics, tracking, recording, and a plethora of other tools that can enable you to get feedback.  Don’t be too proud or “set in your ways” to accept feedback.  Map opportunities in your customer journey where they can provide feedback to you.

Final Words on How to Increase Customer Loyalty with Online Customer Journey Mapping

Everyone has limitations: time, finances, and connections (human resources). Companies are not exempt from the normal limitations. A company owner who has high retention rates challenges the limitations to make the best balance for their companies. Will that be you?

I recommend you take the time to draft a customer journey map and add the current pain points from your service design.  Analyze how you can balance your resources to alleviate more pain points.  I hope this article was helpful to show you how to increase customer loyalty using online customer journey mapping.  If you have questions or concerns, please leave them below.  I’d love to help you out.

If you’d like to start or grow a business, check out my free e-course! It’s a framework to grow your business: from idea to full-time income, and from full-time income to enterprise. Check out the free e-course here.

Now, it’s Your Turn…

Have you done online customer journey mapping before?  Have you used any of the methods enclosed here?  What were your results?  Have you seen this improve customer experience?  Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below.

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