“Customer journey mapping” is a hot phrase right now in the CX industry and there is a massive appetite to fully understand how customers move through the buying cycle using this method. However, there seems to be significant confusion about how to approach this task effectively. In fact, 63% of CX professionals map their customer experience according to recent Forrester research. But a separate study from the CMO Council says only 5% of marketers believe they’ve mastered the ability to predict the customer journey and truly understand which of their CX initiatives are driving value.

How can you overcome the key challenges? Clearly, getting a handle on customer behaviors, motivations and goals across all touch points — both digital and physical — is key. Although you will need to build a unique customer journey map specific to your business, these six best practices are a good starting point for action:

  1. Create customer personas
    Evaluate how different customers interact with your brand and establish specific groupings representing this variety. Then ‘project’ these personas across all potential customer touchpoints and map them to specific tasks to provide a consistent and engaging customer experience.
  1. Develop a customer research protocol
    The first draft of your map, a customer research protocol provides a solid base to work from. This essentially involves outlining your target customers and their desired journey to purchase, helping you understand the type of customer journey maps you should build.
  1. Incorporate qualitative research
    Before you build your customer journey maps, conduct qualitative research – be this focus groups, interviews or diary studies with your customers. Involve an independent trained moderator where possible to incite more candid feedback.
  1. Co-create with customers
    Although potentially a big challenge to pull off, more extensive and direct collaborations with your customers can deliver highly valuable information to inform your customer journey maps. Whether this is as simple as a one-day workshop or as complex as an ongoing, multi-city project, you can uncover pain points or moments of truth that would otherwise have been difficult to locate.
  1. Internal stakeholder workshops
    Bring all your customer-facing functions together for one day to understand all aspects of the customer experience you deliver. To get off on the right foot, you should clearly communicate that the goal of these sessions is to build empathy with your customers and identify any commonly-held internal CX assumptions.
  1. Triage your CX pain points
    This method – commonly referred to as the ‘quick-fire approach’ – seeks to identify the biggest issues impacting your customer experience. Key stakeholders start by outlining an “assumed” journey map, before ranking each moment of truth or problem area in order of importance. Rapid brainstorming sessions then generate solutions. Once all involved agree on an action plan, you can generate a basic journey map that can then be assessed and updated on the go.

The missing ingredient: Real-time Voice of Customer
While the six best practices highlighted here can help you to build an effective customer journey map, incorporating your Voice of Customer into your analysis and taking action on this can elevate it to the next level.

As Liz Miller, Senior VP of Marketing at The CMO Council, points out: “We have to stop thinking
 about customer experience as a loosely connected tapestry made up of random acts of marketing… and think of the customer experience across every touch point.”

To provide an enriching and consistent CX with limited resources as the number of channels available to your customers continues to rise, you need to turn each touchpoint throughout the journey into a listening post that captures critical customer-specific information. An effective Voice of Customer (VoC) program provides the insight to not only improve the accuracy of the research and design aspect of your mapping process, but also makes maintaining and updating your customer journey maps over time easier. The result is a far more dynamic and agile approach across multiple channels in real-time.

If you want to find out more about how you can harness your Voice of Customer in your customer journey mapping processes, download our ebook.