Customer journey mapping helps businesses become more customer-centric and identify areas where their customer experience (CX) isn’t up to scratch.
Just ask Rentokil. Before working with CustomerGauge, the company had been using a conventional customer experience management (CXM) framework. However, the team was finding that survey responses were low and the little data they did get suggested that many customers weren’t happy — they just didn’t really know why.
But when the company began to implement Account Experience (AX) and created their own B2B customer journey maps, they saw where their weakness lay.
For example, getting in touch with account managers was a major pain point for customers. As a result, Rentokil improved access to their account managers and they saw churn drop dramatically, while customers’ willingness to recommend their service rose.
As Rentokil discovered, having a clear understanding of your customer journey is the first step to implementing a successful customer experience program.
Why? Because it documents all of your customer’s interactions, touchpoints, and lets you spot the areas that are letting you down. Once you know what the friction points are, you can better manage them.
And that matters particularly in B2B where customer journeys are typically much more complex. With more stakeholders involved in purchase decisions and different players in a single customer account using your product, that’s to be expected.
However, that’s not just an abstract issue. When 77% of B2B buyers consider their purchases to be difficult, it can have a negative impact on your bottom line.
That’s why you need to learn the basics of customer journey mapping for B2B. In this article, we’ll show you how to get started.
What Is Customer Journey Mapping for B2B and Why Does it Matter?
Customer journeys might seem simple: you offer a product and the customer buys it.
But in reality, there’s a lot more going on. From awareness to reviews and referrals, customer journeys start well before you know your customer’s name and they finish long after they’ve made a purchase.
And that’s the beauty of customer journey mapping. These maps literally draw out your customers’ entire journey to give you visibility over every interaction they have with your brand.
In this way, customer journey maps help you to…
Clarify touchpoints across all channels, including online and face-to-face interactions. Businesses now face the challenge of customer journeys crossing multiple channels. Tracing them all will give you a clear view of your customer experience.
Be truly customer-centric. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What's it like to do business with your company? What do they feel in each interaction? Customer journey maps exist to tell you exactly that.
Identify areas for CX improvement. Your customer journey map supports your CX, AX, or NPS program by helping you see which touchpoints need more resources, improvement, or personnel.
Battle churn and grow revenue. By improving every touchpoint, you’ll cut the moments in your customers’ journey that are too difficult, frustrating, or unsatisfying. This way, you’ll boost your customer retention and earn growth.
By visualizing the customer journey, companies can connect insights from each touchpoint to the actions that directly impact revenue. As a result, customer journey mapping is an essential first step for improving your B2B CX.
What a Customer Journey Map for B2B Can Look Like
No two companies’ customer journey maps are the same. And they’re not static documents either.
Customer journey maps for B2B need to evolve with the business. As you launch new products or services, change elements within a touchpoint, or remove interactions that add little to no value for your customer, your map should change, too.
Although all customer journey maps will vary from business to business, industry to industry, they’ll all begin with awareness. This stage is when your customer has their initial contact with your company, such as an advert, a brochure, a blog post, or a recommendation from a friend.
From there, they’ll take different forms. In B2B, they tend to be a bit more complex. Let’s do a comparison.
A simplified view of Phillips’ B2C customer journey map might look like this:
Alternatively, a B2C business like BMW with a different product and customer journey may create a simple customer journey map like this:
Note how both customer journeys go beyond the first purchase. That’s because your customers will continue to interact with you long after they have just bought your product.
In B2B, though, things look a little different. The journey still starts with awareness and continues long after the purchase, but many of the touchpoints in each stage are different (for example, you’ll rarely have a sales call or training in B2C).
Our CustomerGauge customer journey map is a little more detailed and shows the different kinds of touchpoints across all channels within each of the stages of the customer's journey.
Here’s an example one employee made while onboarding and attending CustomerGauge Academy:
How to Map Your Customer Journey
So, how do you start a customer journey map? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
We all view the world from our own perspective, and the same is true when it comes to mapping customer journeys. It’s so easy to end up mapping your internal processes and how customers fit into them. But that’s not the point.
The challenge is to turn this on its head, to look at your business from the outside in, just as your customers do.
As CustomerGauge’s VP for Education and Services, Cary T. Self, explains:
“When we’re talking about being customer-centric or account-centric, I think what’s vital is understanding that everything you’re doing should benefit the customer experience. In that, there are departments that own different journey points, there are different places where you engage with your customer, your account, your client — and I think [those are] the most important parts of the journey to be aware of.
“What a lot of companies do is, instead of identifying those points from a customer perspective, they immediately make it product-centric and they look at themselves internally. Then the journey becomes a map for what they’re doing and it’s not really customer-centric. So look again at your journey map. If each of those journey points is not customer-centric, if they’re not benefiting the customer, get rid of them.”
Finally, before you get your pencil’s out, remember one thing: there’s no need to make your customer journey maps pretty. They’re there to be living, changing documents that you actively engage with. Feel free to make it a little scruffy!
1. Determine the objective for the mapping exercise
The first step is to determine the objective of the customer journey map. What do you want to achieve with it? How do you plan to use it?
Answers to these questions will depend on your role within the business. For example, a supervisor or manager may want to illustrate inter-team handoffs so they can improve communication or justify a new role in the business.
On the other hand, the aim of a high-level view of the customer journey from end to end could be to reduce service costs by removing little-value touchpoints, shrinking the sales cycle, or improving consistency in communication with customers.
Whatever your goal, it’s good to have this front of mind before you begin.
2. Gather the right stakeholders to work together
No single department is responsible for the entire customer journey. Each team influences different touchpoints and will have a unique perspective on them. Frontline staff, account managers, support teams, and other employees that interact directly with customers will provide some of the best insights.
Get them all involved in your mapping exercise. To map your customer’s journey completely, you’ll need to work cross-functionally. It’s the only way to gather unique insights about each stage of the customer’s journey.
3. Identify your customer personas
Companies have different buyers and users and each may have different customer journeys.
To better understand your customer journey, you’ll need to imagine it from a single persona, considering that ideal customer’s goals and expectations from their point of view.
You may already have customer personas identified. But, if you don’t, it’s likely you have a good grasp of the types of customers that use your services or purchase your products. You’ll need to choose one of these customers and put yourself in their shoes.
This is done by asking some questions about that particular persona and how they engage with your business:
What channels would they initially come in contact with your company on?
When and how would they make contact with your business?
What do they need from your business at each stage of their journey?
The answers to these questions will help you in the following stage:
4. List all of the touchpoints for each persona
Your touchpoints will range from awareness to post-purchase care and referral. Within each of these key touchpoints sit many interactions across different channels. What’s more, different personas may have different touchpoints.
List all the touchpoints for one persona, then repeat the process for a different persona until you’ve mapped your customer journey for all types of customers.
When listing the touchpoints for each persona, include all of the channels the persona uses to interact with you.
Group the touchpoints and channels into key touchpoints or stages of the customer’s journey. Although we see all customer journeys starting with ‘awareness’, a customer is more likely to view the initial stage of their journey as ‘research’.
Remember: always align your suggested map with your customer’s point of view. If customers don’t identify with the journey, it’s most likely wrong.
5. Map the emotional journey
A perfect customer journey deliberately evokes specific emotions within the customer. The aim is to create pleased or happy customers over the course of the journey, so it helps to list which emotions each touchpoint tries to evoke.
List the kinds of emotions you’re aiming to create at each key touchpoint or stage of the customer’s journey. Mapping the touchpoints, channels, and emotions together delivers a deeper understanding of the experience of the customer.
This understanding is the basis for the insights derived from the mapping process and how it can inform NPS surveys and other requests for feedback.
6. Visualize the complete customer journey map for B2B
Put all of those details together so you can visualize the customer's journey from start to finish.
You want to understand what it’s like doing business with you from the customer’s point of view and what to measure with NPS surveys and other customer feedback mechanisms.
Putting all of the key touchpoints, channels, and emotions you wish to evoke together as a visualization needn’t be fancy or complicated.
7. Stay open to change and improvement
Remember, customer journey maps can change. The customer journey is not fixed in stone, as they might approach you through different channels or you may start offering a different service.
They’re supposed to stay flexible for exactly that reason.
Being open to changing your customer journey map has one particularly important rationale. The point in the map is to help you improve your CX, meaning that change is absolutely necessary.
That’s why we say your customer journey map should be ugly (and drawn with a pencil).
Because change and improvement are the whole point!
Customer Journey Mapping for B2B Is Just the Beginning
After mapping your customer journey, you’re able to identify possible issues with each of the touchpoints.
You can link touchpoints to specific business functions and departments and understand how each department impacts your customer’s experience.
But the bottom line is this: it’s essential that each team continues to think about its role in the customer journey and how it can be improved.
Sign up to our customer journey mapping training course to learn more!