Experience map vs customer journey map: what tool can serve your needs better?

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22 Jan
12 Dec

Experience maps and journey maps are two powerful tools in the discovery of user pathways. They allow you to see the world through your customer’s eyes: what they do, where they click, and which pages they visit. Despite sounding similar, each of these maps has a distinct role in shaping the customer experience, and your task is to find the one that fits your needs the best. 

If you’ve ever found yourself puzzled over the differences between journey maps and experience maps, you’re not alone. People mistakenly may choose the wrong tool for the wrong task and thus lose a considerable piece of opportunities. With this in mind, today, we’d like to outline the main aspects of both methods to help you choose the right approach for your specific goals. 

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map (CJM) is a visual story of user interactions with your brand from the buyer’s perspective. It’s a designed graph that illustrates the steps customers take, from initial contact with your product to the ultimate purchase or service experience. This map highlights the user’s path, exploring whether there might be problem areas or any issues to solve.

A journey map visually depicts how users interact with your product

To make the map, you need to pinpoint all stages of interaction with the product and gather valuable data throughout each step. Then, an analysis will help you optimize the customer experience, ensuring that every touchpoint effectively meets their needs and expectations. As you get more customer insights or as your services evolve, update the map, keeping it relevant and dynamic.

Think of a journey map as your GPS for navigating the customer experience, guiding you to the best route for meeting their needs and solving their problems.

CJM features

Various elements make CJM a powerful tool for understanding the customer experience and enhancing their journey through your product. These components are crucial for dissecting and improving how users interact with your service or offering. Let’s outline what makes CJM so effective.

  • Touchpoints that define how customers interact with your brand, such as visiting a website or contacting support.
  • Timeline presenting the user’s actions in chronological order with the progression of the customer’s experience.
  • Pain points that spotlight the areas where customers encounter challenges or frustrations.
  • Channels representing the diverse mediums through which customers interact with your platform.

These features together create a detailed and insightful picture of the customer’s experience, leading businesses to make upgrades and adjustments for enhanced user satisfaction. 

Goals of a customer journey map

Whether you offer a service or product, the journey map allows you to see the entire customer path and immediately identify gaps in the user flow. Basically, it has three goals, that include:

  1. Understand customer behaviors, preferences, and experiences throughout their journey.
  2. Pinpoint stages in the journey where customers face challenges or dissatisfaction, offering opportunities for improvements.
  3. Ensure all departments and team members understand and prioritize customer needs and experiences, leading to more user-focused decisions and actions.

By mapping the customer’s journey, businesses can better connect with their clients and make more effective and targeted solutions. But do not forget about the other powerful element — an experience map — that we will lay out in the next paragraph.

What is an experience map?

A user experience (UX) map is a broader tool compared to a journey map, as it offers a more holistic view of a customer’s overall interaction with your platform. It goes beyond the specific process of buying or using a product, covering every aspect of the user experience. Simply put, a UX map isn’t confined to direct interactions with your product or services — it considers the broader context of the customer’s experiences, which impact their perceptions and choices.

An experience map highlights the tiniest detail of the user’s journey, paying attention even to external factors that shape their decisions.

It also takes a sneak peek at what your competitors do in the same context. This broader view includes factors like references, referrals, reviews, and support interactions, offering an understanding of the customer’s experience in the larger market landscape. All in all, an experience map helps get user’s motivations, challenges, and emotions across various touchpoints, providing comprehensive insights into their relationship with your brand.

UX map enables you to connect with users on a deeper level 

Experience map features

When it comes to understanding the full scope of customer interactions, an experience map is an invaluable tool. Key features of this technique include:

  • Customer’s feelings and behavior at different stages of interaction with a brand or market.
  • Analyzing competitors to gain insights into how they impact the customer’s experience and decision-making process.
  • Factors like social media, reviews, and word-of-mouth that impact customer perceptions and choices.
  • The goals that customers aspire to achieve or the experiences they desire throughout their journey.

Understanding these UX map features helps create a detailed picture to build stronger, more enduring relationships with customers.

Goals of an experience map

The purpose of an experience map is to provide a comprehensive view of the user’s interaction with your product or services, offering insights that go beyond individual transactions or moments. Now, let’s take a look at the three main goals of a UX map:

  1. Gain a holistic understanding of the customer’s experience to inform strategic design decisions.
  2. Assess how external factors like competitor actions, market trends, and user feedback influence the customer’s behavior.
  3. Outline whether your target audience’s requirements are effectively met by your offerings and which points might need improvement.

By achieving these goals, an experience map allows businesses to see the bigger picture of their customer’s journey and develop strategies to adapt to the evolving market landscape.

What do they have in common?

Once we figure out what customer journey and experience maps are, it’s time to determine their similarities. As you noticed, these two methods have a lot in common, especially when it comes to understanding the customer’s interaction with a product or service.

They both aim to capture the user’s emotions, behaviors, and pain points at various stages of engagement. Customer journey and UX maps visually represent the outcomes, making it easier to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for better visitor satisfaction. Additionally, they are instrumental in aligning business strategies with customer needs, ensuring that decisions made are customer-centric.

Understanding customers’ actions is the foundation of a successful business

What is the difference between a CJM and a UX map?

While both journey experience maps deal with customer interactions, they differ in scope and focus. Below, we outlined some of the main points of difference.

They both aim to capture the user’s emotions, behaviors, and pain points at various stages of engagement. Customer journey and UX maps visually represent the outcomes, making it easier to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for better visitor satisfaction. Additionally, they are instrumental in aligning business strategies with customer needs, ensuring that decisions made are customer-centric.

  • Multi-channel vs Single-channel. CJM focuses on a single-channel approach to track the customer’s experience within a specific, singular channel or point of interaction, like a website or a physical store visit. Experience maps, on the other hand, adopt a multi-channel perspective to consider the user’s journey across various channels and touchpoints, encompassing a more comprehensive range of interactions.
  • Customer experience. UX maps are designed to capture the overall customer experience, considering their entire relationship with a product or service, including indirect and external influences like market trends or competitor actions. In contrast, CJMs concentrate on specific user experiences; they zoom in on the customer’s journey, detailing each step and interaction within that defined path.
  • Time frame. A long-term timeframe is usually covered by experience maps, capturing the customer’s entire lifecycle with a brand and their evolving experiences. Alternatively, customer journey maps focus on a more specific and defined timeframe, detailing the sequence of events in a particular interaction or journey with a product or service.
  • Depth of emotion. With UX maps, you can get a broad overview of a customer’s emotions, considering how they feel about your company over time. This includes a general sense of satisfaction, loyalty, or overall sentiment. Journey maps, in turn, study the detailed emotions experienced at each touchpoint or stage, capturing immediate reactions and feelings related to particular user interactions or experiences.

By providing different insights, both types of maps play a crucial role in guiding businesses toward more effective and empathetic customer experiences. This combination allows companies not just to see what their customers do but also to understand how they feel.

Which method should you choose?

When deciding between a journey map and an experience map, think about what you really want to uncover. Are you zooming in on how customers interact with a specific product or service? If so, a CJM is perfect for that exploration in every step of the journey. It offers a detailed roadmap of the customer’s experience, allowing you to address specific issues and find new opportunities.

But what if you want to grasp the bigger picture of your visitor’s journey, including everything from market influences to long-term relationships? In that case, an experience map is your best bet. It provides a comprehensive view of the customer’s interactions within the wider context of their life and the market, helping you strategize on a larger scale.

So, what’s your focus? Pinpointing specifics or exploring the broader picture? Your answer to that will guide you to the right choice.

The final word

As we wrap up our exploration of experience and customer journey maps, remember it’s all about choosing the tool that best fits your needs. In the end, whether you decide to choose the first or the second option, you’re taking a step towards better understanding your customers — and that’s always a move in the right direction.

To gain even more insights about building relationships with your users, subscribe to Halo Lab’s newsletter. Our team has a lot to share with you, so join our community and be the first to explore all the latest IT trends!

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