Customer journey maps are common mobile app user experience (UX) tools. By definition, a customer journey map is a visualization of the process a person follows to accomplish a particular goal. In its most simple form, journey mapping involves collecting and arranging user actions into a timeline. From there, product teams elaborate on the timeline with insights from user research to create a narrative that becomes the customer journey map.
It’s acceptable to use the terms customer journey map and user journey map interchangeably. Some will argue that using the term customer is inaccurate because not all end-users are customers; with that said, the title of a map is far less important than the content within the map.
Why Create a Customer Journey Map?
For mobile app development projects to succeed, product teams should always create customer journey maps to support the product’s primary business goal. The benefits of customer journey mapping are two-fold. First, the process breaks down departmental silos that negatively impact the chances of building a seamless UX into the product. A fragmented understanding of a customer’s end-to-end experience is a prevalent problem within organizations because success criteria are often siloed. An open flow of knowledge and frequent communication is crucial for setting goals and mapping the customer journey towards those goals. Collectively, a team has more knowledge, experience, and insight than an individual. The process of creating a journey map creates a united mental model or shared vision for the entire team.
Second, a customer journey map is an invaluable communication tool. Journey maps are essential for decision-making and eliminating ambiguity about the user without making assumptions. Product teams use customer journey maps to convey information in a way that’s both straightforward and memorable.
Overall, creating a customer journey map builds a holistic view of a customer’s entire experience with a mobile product by defining moments of irritation and delight through a series of interactions. If the process is completed properly, a journey map identifies opportunities to solve customers’ pain points, fix fragmentation, and create a mobile app UX that exceeds expectations.
The Five Elements of a Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map comes together in a variety of formats. Regardless of the size or design of a journey map, they all have the following five components in common:
1. User Personas or Actors
The user personas that are defined during a product discovery session serve as the foundation for a customer journey map. User personas are also sometimes referred to as actors throughout this process. The persona or actor is who the journey is for.
It’s best practice to create journey maps from a single actor’s point of view, which means a mobile product will likely have multiple customer journey maps. Focusing on one point of view will help product teams create a concise and concentrated narrative for that actor. For example, a sports team might choose either a player or a coach as an actor—each actor will have a personal customer journey. (To capture both viewpoints, the sports team will need to build separate maps, one for each of the two user types).
Effective user personas start with user research. User research is the only way to achieve an accurate understanding of the people interacting with the product. Conducting interviews and observational studies of the people in the contexts where they will use the product will reveal different actions, mindsets, and emotions. The insights from user research are absolutely necessary for ensuring the product’s design direction is relevant to users. The amount of research that goes into creating a user persona directly influences the accuracy of the representation.
2. Scenarios and Expectations
A journey map’s scenario focuses on the experience itself and the specific situation the journey map addresses. A scenario is associated with the end-goal of the actor, as well as the actor’s specific expectations throughout the experience. For example, one scenario could be the process of applying for university, and the expectations for that process to include easily accessible information to make an informed decision.
A scenario can be an existing journey, where the mapping process will pinpoint positive and negative moments within the experience. In contrast, a scenario can be an anticipated journey for the products that are still in a project’s design thinking stages. Typically, customer journey maps are best for sequential scenarios, describing a process, or products with multiple channels.
3. Journey Phases
Much like the name implies, journey phases are the sequential high-level stages of the journey. Journey phases provide the structure to organize the rest of the information for building a journey map (actions, thoughts, and emotions). Some example scenarios include:
- An e-commerce scenario (like purchasing a pair of headphones), the phases may include discovery, education, purchase, use, seek support.
- For large (luxury) purchases (like buying a new home), the phases may include engagement, education, evaluation, justification, planning, purchase.
- For a business-to-business scenario (like introducing a new internal software system), the phases may include awareness, research, trial, purchase, adoption, retention, expansion, seek support, advocacy.
4. Actions, Mindsets, and Emotions
At the core of a customer journey map is what the customer is doing, thinking, and feeling throughout the experience. Again, these data points are rooted in qualitative research observations. Actions, mindsets, and emotions are mapped out for each actor within each journey phase.
Actions are the tactile and physical behaviors of the customer. This information is not intended to be an extremely granular list of every interaction, but rather, it’s a narrative of steps the actor takes during each phase.
Mindsets coincide with the users’ thoughts, questions, motivations, and information needs at each stage in the journey. This information is collected from user accounts during the research process.
Emotions are marked by a single line across the journey phase effectively demonstrating the emotional highs and lows of the overall experience. This line acts as a contextual layer of emotion that indicates where the users are satisfied versus frustrated.
Empathy mapping is a useful tactic for interpreting the actions, mindsets, and emotions of the customer. An empathy map has four quadrants that represent four essential traits that customers demonstrated, expressed, or possessed during observational research. These four quadrants reference what customers said, did, thought, and felt. Documenting what customers said and did is straightforward; however, understanding what customers thought and felt requires meticulous observation and adequate experience. It’s necessary to pay close attention to the subtle behaviors, body language, tone of voice, suggestions, and conversations from observational studies to collect information to complete an empathy map. With an empathy map, product teams can better understand unexpressed or indirect reactions to a product’s design which helps form an accurate journey map.
The final component of a customer journey map identifies the areas (or opportunities) to improve the customer experience. This insight is how product teams act on knowledge from the customer journey map. It’s important to answer the following questions:
- What can be done with this information?
- Who has ownership of the change?
- Where are the biggest opportunities for improvement?
- How will we measure change?
Adapting to Changing Customer Behaviors
AppDynamics’ 2019 App Attention Index survey indicates that most buying decisions are based on the quality, performance, and personalization of a company’s mobile services. In the coming years, 85 percent of consumers expect to interact with companies based on the variety of digital services offerings (web, mobile, connected IoT devices) they provide. Traditional consumerism (face-to-face, in-store interactions) is declining and it’s essential for companies to learn how to analyze and anticipate the behavioral changes of customers. To succeed, companies need to recalibrate existing approaches to customer experience, which is now a mobile-driven relationship.
To ensure the customer experience is as smooth as possible, it’s necessary to implement customer-centric strategies to encourage one-time customers into loyal brand followers. Increasing brand loyalty begins with creating a high-quality, user-friendly experience for customers. A customer journey map helps illustrate the customer experience through the user’s perspective, identifying exactly how customers are interacting with a product or service and highlighting areas for improvement. Regardless of the type of experience, every association throughout a customer’s journey contributes to that customer’s perception of a brand.