By taking the time to understand your customers, mapping out the customer journey, and identifying their needs and pain points, you can put your business on the path for success and create exemplary customer experiences for those you serve.

Once you have determined the type of journey map you want to create (see Journey Mapping Part 1: What They Are and Why They Matter), it’s time to get started!

What You’ll Need:

  1. Butcher Paper
  2. Markers (not ballpoint pens)
  3. Post-It Notes
  4. An open mind and a great team

*The CX Team at UpliftCX has created a useful journey map template and example that can be downloaded and used for your next mapping adventure.

In an ideal world, you would create this map with a diverse team of key stakeholders from multiple departments within your organization. This is important, for diverse perspectives allow you to think about a customer journey critically and factor in all departments/channels involved in the process.

We recommend printing a larger version of this template, or creating your own large scale template using a large piece of butcher paper and markers, and affixing it to a wall for this exercise. We also recommend using Post-Its to map out various elements of your customer journey, for Post-Its help you get your ideas out quickly and can be easily moved around if necessary.

The Journey Map Structure

The journey map template we have provided is broken up into 5 sections: Stages, Channels, Narrative, Feeling, and the High/Low plotting chart.

  • Stages: As the name implies, these are stages or phases of the customer journey. These include things like the research and discovery, shopping, purchasing, and post-purchasing stages. Some customer journeys may only have two stages while others have ten or more. Regardless of how many stages you have, it is important to capture all stages of the customer journey to create a comprehensive journey map that will serve as the foundation of your design process.
  • Channels: In this section you will identify the various channels or touchpoints your customers interact with during every stage of the customer journey. Some examples of channels/touchpoints could be your company website, physical retail store, store associate, or mobile application. You will also use this section to plot when different channels are used in each stage of the customer journey.
  • Narrative: The narrative details what the customer is doing (i.e. actions) during a given stage in the customer journey.
  • Feeling: The feeling section lists the various emotions that a customer feels during a given stage of the customer journey. This may also include information surrounding why the customer is feeling a particular emotion during that stage.
  • High/Low Plotting Chart: This chart can be used to help you visually see where the high and low points are in your customer journey. You can use this section to quickly identify the low points in your journey,

Mapping Tips and Considerations

Here are some additional tips and things to consider when creating your first journey map:

Identify your goals for this exercise

  • Are you trying to make minor improvements within your organization?
  • Do you want to solve for one issue or a larger organizational problem?
  • Are you trying to create an innovative new customer experience unlike any that has been done before?

Motivations for creating a journey map will vary depending on who is conducting the exercise, so it is important to take the time to identify what your goals are for creating a journey map. Once you figure this out you can determine which type of map you want to focus on (current, future, or ideal).

2. Create your map through the lens of a single customer persona

The customer journey, expectations, and goals will vary depending on the persona you are exploring. It is naive to think that all of your customers will experience or interact with your business in the same way, and the best way to account for this is by creating a single journey map for each customer persona you create. By representing all customer segments in this exercise, you can better plan for the future and more effectively serve your customer base as a whole.

Read more about how to develop customer personas here.

3. Talk to REAL customers

I cannot stress this enough. Real customer insights should be the foundation of your customer experience (CX) design process. Regardless of how well you “think” you know your customers, customer research, namely in-person interviews, are critical to the journey map process.

Read more about the importance of talking to real customers here.

4. Support your qualitative findings with quantitative figures

Qualitative research is gathered through customer interviews and ethnographic observations (difference between peoples and cultures). This type of research helps us understand why people do the things that they do. While qualitative findings and real customer quotes will serve as the basis of your customer experience (CX) design, you won’t be able to get buy-in unless you have the quantitative findings to support your recommendations.

Quantitative research is anything that can be measured numerically and is often gathered through the use of surveys, questionnaires, or other tests. This type of measurable research helps understand the statistical likelihood that an action will take place in a given customer experience. By gathering concrete figures you can ground and support your recommendations with irrefutable evidence.

5. Take a big picture approach when mapping

Your customers expect an integrated approach and a seamless end-to-end experience. They could care less about the fact that your department doesn’t talk to another department. When one cog in the machine is faulty, it affects the entire machine (experience in our case) and perception of your business as a whole. When creating your journey map, don’t just map out the parts of the journey that your department or team is responsible for. Do your due diligence and map out the entire experience and all the channels and touchpoints your user will come in contact with along the way. This will help you identify issues in your department and beyond, and help you work with other groups to create the best experience possible for your customers.

6. Maps won’t always be linear

Some customer journeys are cyclical or repetitive in nature, so don’t expect that your map will always look linear. The important thing is that you capture all interactions with your business in your map.

7. Feelings are forever

At the end of the day your customers will forget about the actual interaction that took place, but they will never forget how that interaction made them feel. Brian Solis, author of X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, states that “experience becomes a memory, whether it’s good or bad...and it can be measured by how someone decides to share the experience with someone else.“ When creating your journey map and identifying areas for improvement, think about that emotional journey that your customers go through when interacting with your business. Consider how those negative emotional interactions can be turned into positive experiences.

I hope that you found this article and the attached templates helpful in your journey mapping process. Happy mapping!

This article originally appeared on Linkedin.