Do you remember the last time you wanted to swear at a local business? Maybe you were stuck in an unnecessary line while employee after employee “went on break.” Perhaps it was a year-long game of phone tag played with the cable company that put you over the edge. What you experienced, amongst other things, is a broken customer journey. The most profitable companies in the world use customer journey maps in order to offer a better customer experience. 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.

Here’s an example customer journey map from Starbucks.

starbucks-customer-journey-map-example

Customer journey analysis isn’t just to help a company become more profitable, it also helps business owners put themselves in their customer’s shoes. By scrutinizing every single touchpoint, a company can quickly find and diagnose problems and remove unnecessary steps from the purchase process.

But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 corporation to map your customer’s journey. Every business, big or small, can and should think through each step that makes up the customer journey to make sure it’s been carefully crafted. Unfortunately, a quick search of local business reviews shows that the opposite is usually true. Few local business owners have actually analyzed the customer’s journey at their business. Analyzing the customer journey is one of the fastest ways to improve customer satisfaction, increase your bottom line, and streamline your business processes. 

How to Create a Simple Customer Journey Map

If you want to create your first customer journey map, the worst thing you can do is to Google “How to create a customer journey map.” It will leave you feeling overwhelmed by how detailed many of the examples are. The best example is the one that works for your business. First, let’s create a very basic example customer journey map showing the touchpoints at a local coffee shop.

Warning: Customer journey maps come in all shapes and sizes. The most complex maps show touchpoints, customer stages, steps, duration, etc. If you’re creating a customer journey map for the first time it’s best to keep it simple.

Coffee Shop

  1. Drive to business
  2. Stand in line
  3. Order 
  4. Pay
  5. Wait
  6. Pickup

Next, look for opportunities to remove, or speed up some of these steps to make the process more convenient. Let’s create another map, but this time we will assume the coffee shop offers online ordering.

Coffee Shop Optimized

  1. Drive to business
  2. Stand in line
  3. Order 
  4. Pay
  5. Wait
  6. Pickup

By removing unnecessary steps, the coffee shop has made it easier and more convenient for their customers. If customers are in a hurry in the morning, the new and improved customer journey might be the difference between whether or not someone stops for coffee. Not every business has the resources to build a mobile app for online ordering, but there are plenty of companies your coffee shop could partner with that offer online ordering and already have a mobile app. The key to this process isn’t that you build expensive technology, it’s that you simplify the customer journey. Removing steps from the process is just one small example of how you could offer a more convenient experience.

Another option for improving your customer journey is to speed up an existing step. This could be as complex as rearranging your store or as simple as moving a line from one side of the business to the other to improve flow. If this added convenience led to 10 new sales each day, your business would see more than 3,000 additional sales per year. This simple example helps to illustrate just how big of an impact customer journey mapping can have on your business. Some of the largest corporations have literally spent decades trying to provide faster, or simpler methods of delivering goods and services.

McDonald’s Customer Journey

They say that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So why not take a page from the book of one of the most successful businesses of the last century. For more than six decades, McDonald’s has dominated the industry it helped create by shortening the amount of time it takes to order a hamburger. Here’s what their customer journey has looked like over the years.

Restaurant Industry Circa 1960

  1. Get in car
  2. Arrive at restaurant
  3. Order from waiter
  4. Wait for food
  5. Eat
  6. Wait for bill
  7. Pay
  8. Get back in the car
  9. Arrive at home

McDonald’s Circa 1960

  1. Get in car
  2. Arrive at restaurant
  3. Order from waiter
  4. Wait for food
  5. Eat
  6. Wait for bill
  7. Pay
  8. Get back in the car
  9. Arrive at home

McDonald’s Circa 1975

  1. Get in car
  2. Arrive at restaurant
  3. Order from waiter
  4. Wait for food
  5. Eat
  6. Wait for bill
  7. Pay
  8. Get back in the car
  9. Arrive at home

McDonald’s Circa 2018

  1. Get in car
  2. Arrive at restaurant
  3. Order & pay via Uber Eats
  4. Wait for food
  5. Eat
  6. Wait for bill
  7. Pay
  8. Get back in the car
  9. Arrive at home

By removing and combining steps in the process of ordering a hamburger, McDonald’s has managed to serve billions of burgers over the last 60 years. Although your business might not have all the same resources as Mickey D’s, every business has the ability to create a basic customer journey map to better serve customers.

World-class Convenience

Creating a customer journey map doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t be. A truly great customer journey is often the simplest one. Ask yourself, and your employees “How far away are our customers from the cash register?” You don’t literally have to shorten the distance from the door to the cash register–although it might not be a bad idea–but you should regularly try and remove hurdles keeping customers from doing business with you. 

If you’re feeling stuck, try visiting competitors online and in-person to see how your business stacks up. Modern technology is making world-class convenience affordable for any-sized businesses. So even though you might not be located in the heart of Silicon Valley, there’s no reason you can’t compete with the most innovative local businesses in the world.