HelloHow? Using customer journey maps for qualitative data visualization

by | Jul 7, 2022

Have you ever wished that you could walk a mile in your customer’s shoes? Imagine how much insight you could gain if you had a step-by-step overview of a customer’s use of your product. While you might not literally be able to walk a mile in their shoes, you can do the next best thing: create a customer journey map. Customer journey maps are one of the many ways to visualize data to better understand your customers and visually demonstrate their experiences with your product in a concise and engaging way.

What is a customer journey map?

Harvard Business Review defines a customer journey map as “a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination.” These visual maps can encompass the entire process from start to finish or can focus on a singular section of a longer, more complicated process.

How do I gather information for my customer journey map?

A customer journey map consists of many types of information. When one sets out to create a map, they can source information on their user personas (key customer attributes) and journey steps from a variety of sources:

  • Customer feedback: A logical place to start is to collect customer feedback, or to reference previously collected customer feedback. Companies often have feedback mechanisms in place to continuously collect comments from customers to improve their experience.
  • Primary research via a third-party vendor like HelloInfo: If a company does not have customer data or is looking to refresh existing data, primary research in the form of in-depth interviews can be conducted with customers to gain insights on everything from their user experience to their pain points and wishes for future iterations of a product or service.
  • Surveys: Surveys with open-ended questions about the journey a customer takes and their experience with a product or service is a great way to inform a customer journey map. A concise set of questions can provide many of the data points necessary to create a robust representation of a customer’s journey.
  • Tracking metrics (if applicable): Metrics from user experience tracking software such as UserTracker and Dynatrace can also be downloaded and used to inform customer journey maps.
  • Review sites: Depending on the product or service, third-party review sites such as G2 or Capterra might also house information on the customer journey, provided first-hand by customers in the form of reviews.
  • Input from sales team: Sales teams spend tons of time talking to customers, gaining insight into their needs and wants. Collecting this insight from the sales team is an easy way to source information on customers.

Now that I have customer data, how do I create a journey map?

First, ask yourself, what is the purpose of the customer journey map you are developing? Is it to map every single step in the process for an operations team, or is it to paint a high-level picture for an executive team? Your results will be very different depending on what your end goal is. It is best to start with your end goal and work backwards.

As an example, let’s draw from a recently completed project by HelloInfo to illustrate how a customer journey map can be created for a software company’s design workflow product. In this project, HelloInfo mapped the customer user experience (UX) journey across multiple workflows that the design product is used for.

Our first step is to think about what type of layout makes sense for the process; is it linear, circular, or some other route? In our case the process starts in a linear fashion but then diverges at multiple points.

Next, we must add the steps we are focusing on in the process. It is important to label each step clearly and differentiate each step using titles, colours, icons, numbers, or a combination of each, so that it is clear to whoever is looking at your map what each step is. To help with the flow of the map, you might find it useful to include arrows to direct the viewer through the process. In our example, an arrow should be placed between each workflow action the customer takes with the product.

To add value to your customer journey map, include the data points you collected that relate to your customers’ pain points, challenges, and use habits. This will provide a more holistic picture of your customers’ user experience. In our example, we might include statistics around the length of time customers typically spend on each workflow step, or the points in the workflow where they collaborate with other users.

Benefits of mapping your customer journey

When done correctly, customer journey maps help companies really get to know and understand their customers, and their habits while using their products. This in turn helps to:

  • Shine a light on customer pain points so they can be remedied,
  • Concisely define customer personas which can be leveraged for targeted marketing efforts,
  • Raise awareness around the customer experience within an organization and subsequently shift the focus from the company to the customer,
  • Identify gaps in service or areas where proactive support can be offered to customers,
  • Provide a visual aid for stakeholders who are not familiar with the granular details of customer interactions and experiences.

While these are just some of the benefits of customer journey mapping, this visual tool can be a great way to gain insight into your customers’ experiences and keep their journey top of mind when making changes to existing products or introducing new products. Interested in learning more about customer journey maps or how HelloInfo can support you in your research and data visualization? Schedule a call with us.

Here at HelloInfo, we help our clients answer questions so they can make strategic decisions. Our HelloHow? blog series outlines different frameworks and approaches to carrying out strategic intelligence research. For other HelloHow? articles, see our blog, Spotlight.

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