Creating a customer journey: Buyer personas and mapping
Understanding your customers is no easy task. You may have an idea of their wants and needs, but when it comes to mapping their customer journey, you find that the data doesn’t add up. In their 2022 study, the Baymard Institute revealed that 70% of online customers abandoned their cart. For many this may seem like odd behaviour. Why would a customer browse a site, choose a product or service and then close out at the checkout? Yet, this is a common scenario for business that can be affected by a number of elements. What it usually comes down to is a lack of understanding of a customer’s journey (whether towards engagement or sale) and your business’s target audience.
Over the next three blogs, we will look at the key elements of planning, implementing and reviewing your customer journey. In this article, we outline how to create a customer journey map in 6 steps using your buyer persona research.
A note on customer interaction
When we come to map out a customer journey, it can be tempting to draw a line from A to B, that is, a linear path from an initial interaction with your business to a sale. However, this is rarely how a business sale works. Think about the last purchases you made. How did you decide to make the purchase? Why did you choose that particular company?
Here’s an example. A customer needs to put their car in for a service. Initially they Google local mechanics. They compare prices and read customer reviews. After this, they phone a couple for a quote and availability. The receptionist at mechanic B was helpful and friendly, clearly outlining the price structure and a selection of times. As they are in a rush for the service, they go with this mechanic even though they’re a little more expensive.
This is a fairly standard scenario for a customer journey, which reveals the lack of linearity in the process. It also shows the customer’s the needs (getting a service), the pain point (lack of time) and touch points (Google search, Google maps, online reviews, business website and direct interaction by phone). This is why thoroughly researching your buyer personas and continually reviewing this against the reality of your customer interactions and sales process is vital.
How to create a customer journey map
1. Define the goal
Creating a useful customer journey map starts with defining your goals. Are you mapping the entire journey of a particular persona? Or are you looking to create more touch points towards a specific interaction, such as signing up for a webinar? Having a clear goal for your customer journey map will give you more relevant data to review.
2. Build out your buyer personas
You will need to create a buyer persona for each of your target audiences. This because each persona will have different wants and needs and may want to interact with your business in different ways. If you are a new business this is no easy task and will often involve trial and error. Any data you can gather will be helpful in narrowing down your buyer personas. Look to carry out feedback your your ideal customers, such as interviews, focus groups or surveys.
3. Define customer goals, expectations, and pain points.
Once you have a better idea of who your target audience is, spend some time thinking about what they want. What problem do they have that your product or service can solve? What expectations might they have as they begin their journey? What problems might they face, or what about your product, service or business interaction might cause them frustration?
4. List out the touchpoints of your customer journey
Touch points (the point where a potential customer interacts with your business) can occur across many different channels. As we outlined in the example earlier, this may include search engines, your website, your social media channels, apps, advertising, or face-to-face interaction. It can be useful to list all of your touch points and cross reference them with your buyer personas. What touch points do different personas use? Are there any that they use that you have yet to implement? Where can you strengthen your touch points?
5. Map your customer journey
Now you have gathered the data you need to construct your customer journey map you need to put it all together. There is no right way to create a map and you should use whatever works for you and your team. This may be low tech and visual, such as a story board or a digital map on Excel or a User Experience (UX) tool.
6. Review and refine your customer journey map
Your customer journey map will only ever be as useful as it is truthful. Review your customer map by testing the journey yourself. Analytics, surveys and reviews can also help you to understand if your planned customer journey matches the reality. With this information, you should continually review and refine your customer journey map to create a seamless process.