Customer journey planning is a vital but daunting task. So here are my top tips for effectively mapping your customers’ journey. 

Please bear in mind that in reality customer journeys are not linear but circular, and can flip backwards and forwards between stages but for the purpose of easy thinking in this blog we’ll use a linear analogy.

1. Start top level

Over the years we’ve modeled using everything from 3 stages to 10 stages. We’ve settled somewhere in between with a 7 stage model which has enough granularity to make sure the peak moments are captured but not too convoluted to become onerous. Our BE.ACT tool covers Awareness, Exploration, Shortlist, Purchase, Usage, Advocacy and Retention. 

For each stage we map the objective, behavioural insight, barriers to overcome, strategy and activity.

On first pass don’t map every last email/interaction/touchpoint as you’ll get lost in a sea of post it notes/arrows or excel spreadsheets. Simply map the key intersects and then at a later stage you can add that level of granularity.

Customer Journey Planning template

2. Focus on one audience at a time

Because you need to focus tightly on what an audience is thinking, doing and feeling to arrive at behavioural insights, you cannot mix your audiences. Pick your most important segment and start there. 

3. Think experience & communication

As you are starting to think about interactions or interventions with your audience, think both experientially and from a communication perspective. 

For each stage plot a peak moment*, the thing that’s going to start to embed your brand, product or service as their chosen one and move them down the journey.

4. Don’t lose steam 

Sounds obvious but we’ve been in plenty of situations where buckets of energy has been expended on the first few stages and then the back couple of stages have been skipped over. 

Avoid this at all costs!  We often find that when we start to talk about the motivations for someone recommending a brand or product wonderful insights and product truths emerge that can actually create better product moments earlier in the process. (Incidentally we’ve tried starting at the end of the journey and working backwards – but that doesn’t really work either). 

5. Get customers involved 

At every opportunity we have, we talk/listen to customers about their journey. If we can, we often have them in a workshop as the ‘journey experts’ to kick off and inspire the sessions.

6. Get colleagues involved too

Customer journey planning should not only include marketers; expand sessions across the business paying particular attention to customer interfacing roles. We’ve found their insights are worth their weight in gold and if customers can’t be in the room they are the next best thing.

7. Workshop it

You’ve probably gathered by now that we prefer to do this exercise collaboratively. Not only do you get buy in from key stakeholders you always, always get a better result.  

8. Use it to drive growth experiments* 

We’ve started to use the stages in the customer journey planning process to identify and focus on areas that we can leverage to drive growth. Using a  combination of growth hacking thinking and design sprint methodology in just 2 hours we can create a plethora of experiments that can improve key performance metrics. 

Like all experiments some will go well and less well. We’re going to write more about these in the coming weeks. 

9. Share, share and share again

Once you’ve done it, get the map visualised and share it across the entire organisation. Any visualisation of the process can focus colleagues attention around each moment and frequently leads to new ideas emerging from across the organisation.

10. Plan.Repeat.Plan.Repeat

Like everything in modern marketing nothing stands still, so we always advocate that this is an annual task at minimum and more frequently in faster moving data driven categories.

As you can tell customer journey planning is a bit of a passion area for The Behaviours Agency, so if you need help with yours get in touch today.

By Sue Benson

Managing Director

*Reading List

When designing customer journeys we turn to these books for inspiration.

  • The power of the moments – Chip & Dan Heath 
  • Customers Included – Mark Hurst and Phil Terry
  • The Customer Experience Book – Alan Pennington
  • Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh
  • Hacking Growth – Sean Ellis