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Customer journey mapping for product managers

Before clicking “buy” or “subscribe,” customers encounter a range of information and consider multiple factors that influence their decision-making process. The process of mapping this customer journey is an important part of the product management process, helping companies develop user-centric products and efficient go-to-market (GTM) strategies.

Product managers play a vital role in fostering a deep understanding of this customer journey across their organization—from customer support to product design. They collaborate cross-functionally with different departments, working with everyone to reach, acquire, activate, engage, and retain users. Product managers also create and disseminate these journey maps. In this article, we will delve into understanding customer journey mapping, its significance, key phases in the process, and efficient tools product managers can use for the process.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of a user’s interaction with your product or service. It is usually depicted graphically to foster a shared understanding and empathy for the various thoughts, ideas, emotions, and feelings that a user experiences while engaging with your product, service, and brand. Developing journey maps involves conducting in-depth customer research and collecting insights from various stakeholders within your organization.

A typical customer journey map includes elements such as user personas, a timeline, customer emotions and sentiments, customer touch points, and the channels through which these interactions take place. This tool serves as an effective means of communication within an organization, allowing teams to gain valuable insights into the key areas of the user’s experience that require the product team’s attention.

Why is customer journey mapping important?

Customer journey mapping is a powerful tool that enhances the overall user experience. A research study by Salesforce indicates that a staggering 84% of customers believe that the customer experience and their interactions with a company are equally vital as the quality of the product itself. In this section, we’ll look into the various reasons why customer journey mapping is so crucial.

1. Visualizing the user experience

Customer journey mapping provides a tangible way to measure and understand the customer experience, which can often be somewhat abstract and challenging to grasp fully. By visualizing this entire process, product managers receive a clear and comprehensive view of the product from the user’s perspective.

2. Identifying improvement opportunities

One of the key benefits of customer journey mapping is its ability to pinpoint potential areas for improvement. Customer journey maps allow teams to see the product from the user’s viewpoint with the help of user research and visualization. This shift in perspective helps to identify potential areas for improvement and reveals pain points that might otherwise remain hidden.

3. Aligning cross-functional teams

In a dynamic organization, different teams, such as UX, marketing, and product development, often view the user experience from distinct angles. Customer journey mapping serves as a centralized document that brings these teams into alignment. It ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding what the user’s journey looks like, fostering a more cohesive product development process.

4. Enhancing collaboration

Customer journey mapping offers an excellent opportunity for various disciplines to collaborate and combine their unique perspectives. Product marketing, with its focus on user interactions, and customer support, armed with in-depth, frontline knowledge, can merge their insights to gain a 360-degree view of the customer experience. This collaborative approach leads to a more holistic understanding and improved decision-making.

Five key phases of customer journey in product management

The customer journey, also known as the user journey, includes the various stages a customer goes through when interacting with a company, from initial awareness to brand advocacy. Understanding this journey is crucial, as it allows companies to improve their strategies for each stage, maximizing revenue and fostering long-term customer relationships.

Phase 1: Introducing your company and products

Introducing your company and products is the initial point of contact between potential customers and a company. During this stage, the company’s primary goal is to create awareness about its brand and products. Effective reach strategies include:

  • Content marketing: Create informative and engaging content that attracts potential customers and establishes the company as a thought leader in its industry.

  • Social media marketing: Use social media platforms to connect with potential customers, build relationships, and promote the company’s offerings.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Optimize website content and online presence to improve search engine rankings and increase organic traffic.

Phase 2: Turning leads into customers

Acquisition involves converting potential users into paying customers. Turning leads into customers requires moving from awareness to persuasion Effective lead generation strategies include:

  • Clear and compelling value proposition: Clearly communicate the unique value that your company’s products or services offer, addressing the specific needs and pain points of potential customers.

  • Targeted marketing campaigns: Tailor marketing ideas, messages, and campaigns to specific customer segments, increasing the likelihood of resonating with their needs and interests.

  • Streamlined sales process: Simplify the sales process to make it easy for potential customers to make a purchase, minimizing friction and maximizing conversion rates.

Phase 3: Onboarding and initial engagement

This phase focuses on onboarding new customers and encouraging their initial engagement with your company’s products or services. This sets the stage for long-term customer satisfaction and retention. Effective activation strategies include:

  • User-friendly onboarding: Provide a smooth and intuitive onboarding experience that guides new customers through the product’s features and functionalities, minimizing confusion and frustration.

  • Personalized engagement: Tailor the onboarding experience to each customer’s individual needs and preferences through customer segmentation, enhancing the sense of personalization and value.

  • Clear and actionable follow-ups: Offer ongoing support and guidance to new customers, ensuring they have the resources and assistance they need to derive maximum value from the product.

Phase 4: Fostering long-term customer relationships

Building long-term customer relationships involves retaining existing customers and encouraging their continued engagement with the company’s products or services. This stage is crucial for generating repeat business and fostering brand loyalty. Effective retention and engagement strategies include:

  • Ongoing value delivery: Continuously provide new features, updates, and improvements to the product, ensuring that it remains relevant and valuable to existing customers.

  • Customer loyalty programs: Implement loyalty programs that reward repeat customers and encourage brand advocacy.

  • Exceptional customer service: Provide responsive and helpful customer support, addressing customer issues promptly and effectively.

Phase 5: Turning customers into advocates

This particular phase is the highest level of customer engagement, wherein customers become brand advocates and actively promote the company’s products or services to their networks. This stage is crucial for driving organic growth and generating positive word-of-mouth marketing. Effective loyalty strategies include:

  • Community building: Foster a sense of community among loyal customers, providing opportunities for interaction, engagement, and peer-to-peer support.

  • Brand advocacy programs: Implement programs that incentivize and empower loyal customers to become brand advocates, leveraging their influence to reach new potential customers.

  • Continuous feedback and improvement: Actively seek feedback from loyal customers, incorporating their insights into your product roadmap prioritization process and demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement.

By understanding and effectively managing the five stages of the customer journey, product managers can improve their strategies to maximize revenue, foster customer loyalty, and drive sustainable business growth.

5 customer journey mapping tools for product managers

Using customer journey mapping tools can streamline your efforts to understand consumer behavior patterns and improve their experience with your product. While it’s possible to chart user journeys with a basic flowchart, these advanced tools offer advantages. They allow you to create intricate customer journey diagrams, provide customizable templates, facilitate collaboration, gather valuable feedback, and even assist in crafting user personas. With these tools at your disposal, you can elevate your ability to map and optimize the customer journey, ultimately leading to a more robust and customer-centric approach. Here are some tools that product managers can use for customer journey mapping:

1.Lucidchart

Lucidchart offers a seamless solution for simplifying the process of customer journey mapping. With a vast library of templates and an intuitive drag-and-drop interface on an expansive canvas, it equips users with the essential tools to create comprehensive journey maps. Lucidchart stands out with features including real-time collaboration features, in-app chat functionality, automatic synchronization, and effortless saving capabilities. As a web-based application, it eliminates the need for downloads or installations and can be accessed on any device, browser, or operating system.

2.Miro

Miro offers an effective solution for streamlining the customer journey mapping process. With a robust toolset, it provides users with the necessary resources to create insightful journey maps. Miro’s standout features include a collaborative platform, real-time interaction, and a versatile canvas for mapping, fostering seamless teamwork and creative brainstorming.

3.Smaply

Smaply excels in usability and value, offering an affordable solution that is accessible to a wide range of users. Its user-friendly interface ensures that customer journey mapping is an intuitive and efficient process. Smaply features collaborative tools, a well-organized canvas, and a variety of templates to enhance the mapping process. The platform also includes capabilities like commenting, task assignment, sharing, version tracking, and integration options, all of which make collaboration more straightforward, especially for remote and hybrid teams.

4.InDesign CC

InDesign CC, a part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite, is known for its robust design capabilities and the ability to create highly customized, professional-grade documents. However, it’s also a versatile tool that can significantly enhance the customer journey mapping process. It offers a rich array of features that empower users to create detailed and visually appealing journey maps. Users can leverage features such as precise layout control, typography, image manipulation, and a wide range of design assets to craft compelling journey maps.

5.Figma

Figma is a design tool renowned for its real-time collaboration and cloud-based platform, enabling seamless teamwork and creative brainstorming. It is a preferred choice for design-savvy individuals, and its collaborative features, such as real-time editing, commenting, and version control, make it easy for teams to work together efficiently, whether they are in the same location or scattered across the globe. Figma’s adaptability extends to responsive design, prototyping, and the ability to create interactive elements within journey maps. This makes it a good choice for mapping complex customer journeys and sharing them with stakeholders.

The best customer journey mapping tool for you will depend on your specific needs and budget.

Build a product that customers love with DigitalOcean

Creating a customer journey roadmap for product development and customer success is just one step in building a successful product. Explore DigitalOcean’s startup resources in The Wave for more advice on product development, go-to-market strategy, and business growth.

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