Customer Journey Mapping is the practice of creating flows to show how customers will interact with your product or organization when trying to complete a certain objective. That objective could be trying to contact a customer service rep, implementing software into an existing system, requesting a refund or account upgrade, or a full cycle process such as product discovery to trial to engagement to purchase. Any actions or objectives your customers or users are aiming to achieve can be mapped to fully understand their process.

Creating these customer journey maps forces us to view our product from the perspective of a user. The process of actually creating the journey map makes us walk through each step a user has to take in order to achieve their objective, and easily points out any holes or flaws we may have in our user experience. When creating customer journey maps, it's important to stay focused and create a realistic linear replication of how your users would engage with your product. Follow these five essential guidelines to help you get started.

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1. Know Your Personas

In order to create an effective customer journey map, you first need to know who your main character or characters are. These characters are your personas. Personas are prototypical representation of a certain subset of your users. Most products will have 3-5 key personas that they target. Before creating a customer journey map, you should first create user personas so you can fully understand what decisions your customers will make throughout their interactions with your product.

2. Don't Be Too Specific

When creating customer journey maps, it's important not to focus too much on the nitty gritty details of things, and instead focus more on the customer's journey to achieve their objective as a whole. Getting caught up in specifics will waste time and resources and almost certainly end up in you creating dozens of customer journey maps that could have easily been compiled into one.

3. Don't Be Too Broad

It's also essential to remember to not be too broad. Different users may be looking to achieve radically different objectives from using your product, and if this is the case, then they need to have different customer journey maps. A user who wants to use your product to increase their sales team's conversion rate will have an entirely different journey and user experience than one who wants to use the product to send monthly newsletter emails to paying clients.

4. Mark Any "Moments of Truth"

Always remember to mark any and all "moments of truth". "Moments of truth" are when a customer has a sudden realization or makes a definitive decision about the quality of your product. For example, if a customer is searching for a new bed, they walk into a store, pick a bed that looks nice to them, and check to make sure the price is within their budget. Then they lie on it and realize it's uncomfortable. That is their "moment of truth" and they decide not to purchase the bed. Realizing your customers' "moments of truth" with your product will help you isolate where you're losing customers on your conversion funnel and what aspects of your product need to be improved most.

5. Use Visuals

Most importantly, use visuals. Customer journey maps are complex flows that can mean something entirely different to the person who created it versus those who view it afterwards. Creating visuals and incorporating them into your customer journey maps will allow everyone who views them to have a similar understanding of exactly what the customer is experiencing. These visuals should be general and easy to understand by all, and will provide clear, unwritten context to complex situations.

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