Last July, I had the opportunity to join Landbot as a Lifecycle Marketing Manager, and my first project to carry out was clear — developing Landbot’s customer journey map.
There was a real need to understand our customer experience. We knew that this representation would become a powerful tool to detect and analyze all our customers’ actions and touchpoints throughout their journey.
So, if you are looking for actionable tips and best practices on how to create a customer journey map from a real experience, you are in the right place.
In this article, I want to share with you ten best practices that I wish I had known before starting the project. Let's dive in!
1. Always Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
It may seem obvious, but this is the first rule of customer journey mapping and the easiest to forget during the process. You must always think from the customer's point of view.
Don’t dive into internal processes, integrations, or tools that your team uses. Of course, this is helpful information for you to know, but it should never be your focus. Does the customer know that you are sending emails from Mailchimp? Or a deal is created in your sales platform when they book a meeting with your team via a chatbot? The customer doesn’t know and frankly doesn’t care. They just want to have the greatest and smoothest experience of all time.
2. Get Inspiration, Avoid Replication
If you landed here, maybe you were searching for customer journey mapping content. As you might have noticed, there’s plenty of it: articles, guides, ebooks, webinars, templates... There are really useful resources out there that will help you during your research phase, but think of them only as a source of inspiration. Pre-select the assets that you find more helpful and gather the most actionable insights.
Replicating a customer journey map from another business will be tempting, but I strongly recommend not to do it. Your customer experience through the buying journey is unique. Every business has its own, so never think that your customer journey map will be better or worse than others.
It is great to get inspired by external experiences, but always think that your own internal and external stakeholders will be the most valuable sources of information that will help you find the inspiration you need.
3. Interview Customers and Key Internal Stakeholders
Since you must put yourself in your customers’ shoes, your customer journey map should be based on customer feedback. However, interviewing internal stakeholders will also be crucial.
In our case, I selected the key internal stakeholders from each department and prepared an interview script to follow during the video call. The main questions were:
- What interactions are we generating with the customer at this stage? (Email, call, message, notification, bot, etc.)
- How are we tracking these interactions?
- Have you detected any barrier or opportunity at this stage?
On the one hand, you will start understanding your customer’s experience at every stage of the journey. On the other hand, you will detect inconsistencies and gaps between stages and customers’ actions. Which is the whole point of creating a customer journey map. 😌
Depending on your deadlines, I highly recommend hosting a workshop with all the key internal stakeholders. If your company follows a remote-first model, some amazing collaborative tools like Miro help you set up online workshops. However, if possible, it will be better if you have the opportunity to host it in person.
Regarding customer feedback, surveys can be time-consuming, so I suggest using a chatbot to automate responses and save you time.
Finally, don’t forget to document everything so that you and the rest of your stakeholders can always look it up when needed. At Landbot, we use Notion for this stage of the process.
4. Use Data, but Don’t be Obsessed with It
Gathering data from customers and departments with direct interactions will let you create a hypothesis map with gaps where there will be no existing data, which is ok. Lean on qualitative data and try to supplement your findings with quantitative data from analytics or market research.
5. Work on a spreadsheet before thinking about design
We are talking about a visual representation of the customer journey, so we may think focusing on the design first will be the right decision. I’m afraid to tell you, it’s not. Center attention around the data first, and don’t think about design until you really understand the whole customer journey.
In our case, we first used a spreadsheet in Google Drive to organize the information and validate it with the rest of the team.
6. Choose a Format that Works Best for You
Once your draft is ready, the fun part begins — designing your customer journey map!
If your design team can handle it, great. If not, you can find a lot of tools that will provide you with great templates and resources to build it.
While there are a few ways to structure your map, at Landbot, we decided to design a hybrid format between a spreadsheet and a timeline using Miro.
We color-coded the five different journey stages and used other graphics such as emojis and icons to describe customers’ feelings:
In the timeline, we grouped customer actions by sub-stages (for example, discovery, research, and exploration in the awareness stage) and added triggers that activate the following groups of actions.
7. Make it Simple
Customer journey maps can be overwhelming, so think about the simplest way to represent them, covering most actions and touchpoints simultaneously.
Some quick tips:
- do not dive into details;
- avoid technical language as much as you can;
- create more than one map if needed.
Follow the same structure and format and build different customer journey maps based on product, buyer persona, marketing approach (inbound or outbound), etc.
It is challenging, but always keep in mind that your entire business should be able to understand most of it.
8. Make it Actionable
It is really important to involve leadership from across your company in the project from the beginning. This will make the customer journey map significant and actionable once it is finished.
Don’t think about it as a pretty picture to look at. Define initiatives to implement from the previously detected opportunities, prioritize, plan them, and build a dashboard to track KPIs through the journey.
9. Don't Seek Perfection
There will be some moments during the creation process in which you will get obsessed with representing the perfect journey.
Spoiler alert: your customer journey map will never be perfect.
You can always represent the most accurate version of your customer experience. Still, you will never be able to reflect the thousands of different paths that customers take through the journey.
10. Present the Map and Share it With the Whole Company
Creating a customer journey map would not make sense without sharing it with all employees. In our case, we first shared it with leaders across Landbot before presenting it to the whole company. This let us have their feedback and validation to make it public.
Here are some tips on presenting your customer journey map to your company:
- Give some introduction with basic concepts about customer journey mapping: what is it, key features, and why it is important to have one. There will be employees from other departments who won’t know what a customer journey map is and who will appreciate this.
- Show the final result, but avoid going into too much detail.
- Focus on the benefits of this tool for the whole company and always highlight the importance of putting the customer front and center in the company’s thinking.
- Tell them about what’s next at the end. It is very important to talk about actionable initiatives that you will implement from that point.
- Share it and always ask for feedback. Any employee could give you valuable inputs to improve your customer support and journey map.
One More Thing
And that’s it!
Even though this is based on our experience building the Customer Journey Map at Landbot, I hope you will take inspiration and actionable insights from this article.
Just one more thing to keep in mind: a customer journey map is an ongoing project that you will need to modify constantly, and the entire business should be aware of that and help you keep it updated.
If you do that, and follow, if not all, some of these best practices, you’ll be good to go.
Once done, you are ready to dive into more fun experiments in lifecycle marketing!