How do I get started with customer journeys?

Sample customer journey

Many thanks to Rodi Ivanov for inspiring this topic.

What is a customer journey?

A customer journey is a visual description of steps and experiences customers have from pre-purchase to post-purchase. The beauty of customer journeys is that they are defined from the customer’s perspective and help to get siloed organizations work better together. They also highlight weak touchpoints so they can be addressed.

How many journeys do I need?

Journeys are defined for specific personas (roles), so you will need as many journeys as you have personas. In turn, the number of personas  depends on the nature of your customers and the scope of your product lines. If you have a single product and a homogeneous customer base, a single persona (hence, journey) may be enough. But even then, if you are in the B2B space, you will likely need multiple personas for a given customer, for instance an IT persona and an end-user persona.

My observation is that many organizations have too many personas and too many, often poorly-defined journeys. If you are starting out, focus on identifying essential personas and their journeys, maybe 3-5. Better have fewer personas and journeys that are well-defined, well-understood, and used, than a multitude of mediocre journeys.

How many phases should be in a customer journey?

As in the previous question, it depends on your specific situation but start with a couple of phases for pre-sales (e.g., education/solution/selection) and a couple for post-sales (e.g., onboarding/retention/expansion). There is no theoretical limit but don’t go wild: complicated schemes are harder to remember and use.

Do journeys depend on product complexity?

Of course! As a simple example, the onboarding phase could consist of a couple canned videos for a simple product but require a few months of formal implementation work for a complex product..

How do customer segments influence journeys?

Customer segments usually enjoy different sets of deliverables (e.g., only enterprise customers get quarterly business reviews; mid-market customers do not) and are associated with more personas (e.g. enterprise customers have an IT persona; mid-market customers do not). If the differences in deliverables between segments are small, you can use a single journey and simply note high-touch deliverables.

By the way, creating journeys is a great way to identify and codify customer segments. If you are segmenting properly, you must see differences in the journeys!

Any wisdom you care to share about journey definition? Please add a comment.