Customer journey mapping

Authors

Mario Stipetic

Introduction

Customer journey mapping is an approach that analyzes interactions that customers have with a company and the emotions they experience in that process. To companies, it became one of the most important techniques for visualizing the customer's experience, since it provides a view on their business from the customer's perspective. It has many benefits but many companies avoid it because they consider it too complicated to use. This doesn't have to be the case. In fact, any company can do it because it doesn't have to show every detail of the customer's experience.

It is often compared with a user persona since they both represent a typical user experience. Customer journey mapping offers a broader approach with a focus on customer experience. User persona tends to deal with much detail and focuses on the customer person.

The importance of customer journey mapping

It offers a variety of useful information for employees of the company. It explains the motivations for the user's actions and feelings they have during the process and offers insight into the user's background. It also explains the way the customers move through the sales funnel.

This comprehensive view opens many possibilities for improvement. Perhaps the most important benefit of it is that it accurately locates problems that interrupt customers in their actions because it utilizes a user-centered approach. Too often companies concentrate only on their goals and forget that users and their needs should be in focus. It is not enough just to follow new technological trends but also to employ them in a way that serves the customers best.

Approaches to creating a customer journey map

There are two types of approaches in the process of creating a customer journey map: analytical and practical.

Analytical approach

This is a logical approach for many companies since website analytics offers a lot of data about the users, which include their characteristics (e.g. gender, age, location, occupation, etc.). It will also include their goals and motivations. Their interpretation is crucial because this data often don't show us user's satisfaction with the website. It is easy to be too optimistic and think, for example, that users spend a lot of time on the website because they like it and not because they are having problems with the interface. For the best results it important to include data from every source that affects the customer journey. This is often not just the company's website but also the company's presence on social media. The most important benefit of this approach is to locate critical points that prevent customers from buying products.      

Practical approach    

An analytical approach is a great way to collect and analyze data about the users, but it is not enough to describe the customer journey. For the whole picture, user experiences must be employed. Surveys should be conducted among the customers but also among the personnel that deals the most with customers. This can be challenging if the company is selling many products, has many employees in various sections and many types of customers. In that case, prioritizing should be made in order to save valuable resources. Sometimes there will be gaps in that process that will require guessing.              

Creating a customer journey map

Although every company will have its own idea about steps that should be taken to create a useful customer journey map, there are some basic steps that should be followed.

Setting goals

Goals of a customer journey map should be clearly defined from the start of this process. This can be, for example, an increase in selling of the products and attracting more customers while keeping old ones. Some goals can emerge during this process but that will be secondary goals with a low level of importance for the whole process.

It is important not to get lost in the details because it takes too many resources that can be used for other activities. It is also important not to speculate too much about the possible paths that a customer could choose. It is probably the best approach to select one type of customer and outline his individual journey. After him to select another one and so on.

Customer research

Companies should determine their target customers and research their behavior, habits, goals, and needs in order to get a better understanding of them. An interview is a good way to do that since it offers direct contact with customers. Assumptions are sometimes good to fill some gaps and to accelerate the process but it is not enough for getting the best possible results. Of course, interviews with employees that deal with customers the most are essential.

Registering touchpoints

Touchpoints are places on the company's website in which customers interact with a company. It is very important to record them since they are crucial points that decide the desired outcome. Every touchpoint is important but some are more important and they should have priority dealing with.  Their usage can indicate problems in customer's interaction with the company's website. For example, if customers are using fewer touchpoints than predicted that can mean they are giving up the idea of making a purchase. It is also useful to register potential touchpoints in order to get the most out of the company's website.

Registering pain points

It is crucial to locate problems that customers are experiencing on the company's website. A major problem is often a messy interface. Many users easily go to another website if the interface is badly done since the competition is huge in many businesses. Some other often pain points are price, shipping terms, warranty terms, etc. Registering these points can help a lot because some of these points can usually be solved relatively simple and they also offer a good foundation for solving more difficult ones.

Registering customer's actions

A company should register every action that customers make in contact with her. They are not limited to the company's website like touchpoints. They can be, for example clicking on the ad, internet search for the company, contact through the social media or email, reading reviews or comments about the company, etc.

Running a customer journey workshop

It is a good practice to organize a customer journey workshop since it brings far better results than working in a small group. Many stakeholders should be employed in order to obtain as many relevant opinions as possible.

Selecting attendees for a customer journey workshop

The most useful attendees of the workshop are usually members of the personnel that deals the most with customers. Customers have also valuable experiences to share but they are limited to their own experience. Still, it is good to have them represented, if possible. Managers generally don't deal with details of user experience but they are important attendees since they make far-reaching decisions for the company. Other employees can be important, for example, web developers with their suggestions about the technical implementation of the business ideas.

Determining scope

Running a customer journey workshop doesn't have to be too complicated but there are some delicate parts. One of them is the very start when the company must decide what to map. The decision will depend on what will better serve the company's main objectives, more or less detailed perspective. This decision will, of course, have long long-term consequences.

Determining relevant information

Another delicate part of a customer journey mapping is determining what information to map about the user. This will also vary upon the company's business and target users but typical information is:

  • Efforts
  • Touchpoints
  • Emotions
  • Questions

Determining phases of user interaction

It is also crucial to determine the main phases a customer goes through in dealing with a company. These will vary upon the company's business but they can, for example, be:

  • Discovery
  • Analysis
  • Comparison
  • Selection
  • Purchase
  • Shipment
  • After sales support

Customer journey grid

With determined phases of user interaction and the user information, the company can create a grid with this data on its axis. It is recommended to be huge so many people can put information on it. It is good to segment attendees into groups with each group assigned one part of the job. That will accelerate the whole process a lot.

Pitfalls of a customer journey workshop

Customer journey mapping is a very useful technique but it can lead to unreliable results. This can happen if, for example, wrong data is selected for analysis. This the reason why the customers should be employed to confirm the results. It is easy to misestimate the results when a company deals only with data collected by employees.

After relevant data has been selected, it is important to make use of it. This sounds logical but often a customer journey map remains unused. That is why it is recommended to make it visually appealing in order to attract more employees to get involved. This will usually be some form of an infographic or a spreadsheet. Storyboards are also very popular because they represent gathered data in the storylike form. Here again, simplicity is very important since it is very easy to get lost in too many possibilities. Also, in a simple customer journey, other employees can easily contribute to its creation.

Conclusion

Customer journey mapping is a very useful technique for any company that wants to significantly increase purchases. Its potential to visualize business is enormous which makes it great in engaging more employees in the process since it is easier to connect with something that is represented graphically than just with pure data.

Although it helps a lot, companies must be cautious while conducting it because its quality will depend upon the chosen data for analysis. This can lead to great results but it can also lead the company in the wrong direction. In order to avoid these dangers, it is very important to follow some basic rules based on experience in dealing with them. If done in the right way, the results will show up even just small ones in the start.

What will be the most important 2020 fashion eCommerce trend based on your professional experience?

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6. Video is still on the rise

Video is already pretty popular on eCommerce—but it’s still growing.

There’s no mystery why retailers are gravitating toward more videos—they can increase conversions, click-through rates, and web traffic. In fact, Forbes found that 65 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a product video. 

Shoppers are attracted to this advertising method because it feels more authentic and can provide valuable information. Dollar Shave Club experienced first-hand how effective video marketing can be when its unexpectedly funny first video received nearly five million views and generated 12,000 orders within the first two days of its release.

Source: HubSpot.com

This format is so beneficial because it’s very easy to share and elicits an emotional reaction from viewers. The Aberdeen Group found that companies utilizing video in ad campaigns boosted revenue 49 percent more quickly year-after-year than those that do not.

According to Cisco, video will be 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2022. That’s up four-fold over 2017 and demonstrates just how important video will be to eCommerce (and all businesses) in the coming years.

Experiment with one or more of the following video formats and add embedded videos to your product pages or link to videos in your Jilt post-purchase emails to pique customer interest and boost revenue.

Product demos

  • Allow consumers to see product from 360-degree angle
  • Highlight and explain major features
  • Answer common customer questions

How-to videos

  • Delve deeper into a product’s features and demonstrate how to use them
  • Popular video type for social media
  • Get customers excited about everything your product can do

User-generated customer reviews

  • Build trust about your product
  • Add a layer of authenticity to your reviews

Lifestyle

  • Build a narrative around your brand and tell stories about your product
  • Videography feels more like a movie or short film
  • Great for your social media platforms

6. Shoppable ads on social media

Both Google and Instagram introduced shoppable ads in the past couple of months. We will only see more of this trend, making it super easy to shop while you're scrolling on the Instagram. The photo-sharing social media platform is quickly becoming the central hub for branded fashion content and powerful user-generated marketing. In the fashion industry, it can be difficult to build trust. By turning to influencers, fashion brands can gain endorsements from trusted product curators who boast massive followings.

Not only that, but retailers could learn a thing or two from Instagram when it comes to shopping on mobile. The app has made the customer journey to purchase super easy with a native payment integration into the app.

7. Shared economy trend in fashion

Brands like Uber and Airbnb made solved huge problems for us, making it easier and cheaper to book a place or get a ride. Shared economy is slowly entering the fashion world, and we can only expect to see it more in 2020. The sharing economy is making it easier than ever for consumers to get expensive looks affordably, either through renting or swapping outfits.

While the idea has been around for a while, with services such as Rent-the-Runway catering to designer tastes, it’s Chinese consumers that are taking the concept mainstream. In a competitive economy, China’s post-’90s generation rents outfits to keep up with fast-changing trends.

The impact of the shared economy on the fashion e-commerce is dramatic. Brands can offer users great outfits without having to worry about wholesaling or manufacturing. Instead, they can simply focus on providing an easy-to-navigate customer experience. It’s no wonder such accessible and affordable models are taking their place among the top fashion e-commerce trends.


8. Brands are reducing wait time with the help of chatbots

eCommerce customers love chat. According to one study, 51 percent are more likely to make a purchase if they can have a live chat, and 44 percent say having their questions answered in real-time is one of the most important features an eCommerce site can offer.

And that’s cool… except it’s a big ask for a small company, and an impossible ask for someone running an eCommerce business solo.

That’s where chatbots come in. Rather than answering every question yourself in real time, why not have a robot do it—or, at least, serve as an initial screener?

It’s estimated that by next year, 85 percent of all customer service interactions will be handled by chatbots. (Oh, and the same study estimated that by next year, the average person will have more total conversations with bots than with their spouse. Welcome to our horrible automated future!)

And chatbot technology isn’t just available to companies that can afford AI developers or ones that have been building a secret army of robots in a sub-basement. There are plenty of affordable and simple chatbot apps available right now for both Shopify and WooCommerce.

If you’re on the fence about adding one, keep this one stat in mind: 29 percent of people say they’re more likely to buy something on a website with live chat, even if they don’t use it.

9. Increased number of direct-to-consumer brands

Direct-to-consumer brands, which handle every single aspect of their business from design to manufacturing to sales and distribution, are on the rise. There have been a number of high-profile successes in the space recently, including Casper, Warby Parker, and other brands you hear advertising on literally every podcast—so now, lots of others are following suit

There’s a strong appeal to running a DTC operation.  Without a bunch of middlemen siphoning off any money, you can cut costs and increase quality, like The Black Tux did by manufacturing their own tuxedos for their online rental store. You’re not at the mercy of major retailers, meaning you control your brand experience at every step. You “own” every single one of your customers and it’s easier to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing.

That being said—DTC is still a tough game. Managing every single aspect of a retail business is a significant undertaking that requires capital, organization, and lots of talented, specialized employees. However, as more bespoke DTC brands gain serious traction and siphon off significant market share from the mega-retailers, it’s a space that’s undeniably worth keeping an eye on—or, in the most ambitious cases, joining in on.

10. Omnichanel > Online

Due to Amazon's increasing popularity, a lot of bookstores went out of business. And few years later, Amazon is

There’s something almost poetic about it. Amazon drove countless brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business—and now that they’re gone, Amazon has started opening its own brick-and-mortar bookstores. There are now more than 50 Amazon Books locationsaround the U.S.

But—those stores don’t just sell a curated selection of popular books. They also serve as a place for people to come check out Amazon’s gadgets like the Kindle and Echo, and even to handle package pick-ups and returns. Amazon is using their physical locations for book sales, sure—but through another lens, that almost seems secondary to the other purpose of bridging other key gaps between the online and brick-and-mortar experience. With their stores, Amazon can now get the sales boost of people playing around with their gadgets, like Apple does at its Apple Stores. And by incorporating a staffed shipping department into the stores, Amazon can make the delivery and returns process on complicated orders go much smoother than they could via any online-only instructions or chats.

Amazon is far from the only one looking to establish a physical presence to shore up the vulnerabilities left by a virtual-only business—and secure even more customers by giving them that in-person, three-dimensional, tactile experience. Last year, more online-only retailers, including Rent the Runway, Everlane, Allbirds, and Adore Me, started making the move to add more physical locations, featuring curated collections and the in-person service touch, and that trend is continuing on now. It’s estimated that digital brands will open at least 850 physical stores in the next five years.

And as that trend continues, it will be interesting to see how many of the stores start stocking more inventory, rather than just a small sample, to achieve one of the other key benefits of the brick-and-mortar experience: The instant gratification of walking out with a shopping bag in-hand.

Summary

As technology and customer preferences continue to evolve, the eCommerce world is adjusting with it. That’s reflected in the trends we’ll see in the industry next year.


  1. Online shops are fighting high return rates with - reviews.
  2. AR shopping
  3. Search grows beyond text
  4. Mobile is the new desktop
  5. Video is still on the rise
  6. Shoppable ads on social media
  7. Shared economy trend in fashion
  8. Brands are reducing wait time with the help of chatbots
  9. Increased number of direct-to-consumer brands
  10. Online shops are going offline

What the experts have to say;
In your opinion, which of the trends will have the biggest impact on the world of fashion e-commerce in 2020?

Mostly, Artificial Intelligence looped into the Fashion Industry. As we can both agree how big an impact AI has on the market and has a huge scope as well. On those lines we provide conversational automation to the fashion e-commerce stores as well, therefore, powering fashion e-commerce and AI amalgamated with ML, NLP, NLU, NLG together.

Niharika Ayyagari - Verloop

Virtual reality shopping app

Crevia Soh is a founder of Aiverc, design watch online shop. She wanted to create a luxury watch that was bold and different, and allowed people to express themselves.

Greater personalization without a doubt, combined with ever increasing competition for customer loyalty.
profile image circle

Margarita Goroshkevic - AllRiot

Greater personalization without a doubt, combined with ever increasing competition for customer loyalty.
profile image circle

Margarita Goroshkevic - AllRiot

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Note: we will publish selected answers and get back to you by email
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