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"Just as many say “content marketing” will someday evolve to simply be called “marketing,” some say “customer experience” will soon become the way of doing business." - Mike Weir Unicorn CRO, Advisor, Investor, Amongst the Pavilion Top 40 CROs to watch 2023
“Customer is king” is one of few statements that has aged like the finest wine. The reason is that customer satisfaction, no matter the period or type of business, is core to every aspect of it. The ideal has only come out stronger in modern times with structures such as customer experience, user experience, customer journeys, etc. On a day when customer dissatisfaction can take the shape of outrage within seconds, how important are customer journeys and their mechanics to enterprises?
Imagine an app’s user journey that UI designers create to foresee the ways in which the ones who ultimately hold the phone will interact with the app. You might as well picture a digital map of the app flow. Now, apply this exact concept to the way customers interact with products in the real world. That’s somewhat how a customer journey map works, like marketer’s storytelling where the story can very well turn true. Now that you have a reference for context, let’s dive deeper into customer journey mapping, its importance, customer journey mapping tools, their features, and some assistance in deciding which one to pick once you have taken the call to employ one.
Customer journey mapping tools are initial contact of a customer with your product, who discover key interactions along the way right up to retention and a long-term relationship between customer and product/brand. In business terms, it is a strategic tool that helps you visualise and comprehend your customer’s end-to-end experience journey with your product or brand. This process involves a qualitative comprehension of your customer’s engagements, touchpoints, emotions, thinking process, and more across different stages of their journey.
If you need to visualise, customer journey mapping tools look exactly like they sound. They are a proper map displaying customer interactions from initial discovery stage to purchase decision, after-sales experience, to the best-case-scenario advocacy and loyalty formation stage. They will give you data on pain points, key moments of truth, and areas of improvement in the customer experience your brand is providing.
The essentials for a customer journey mapping tools are briefly listed below.
Now you can see how drawing out a customer journey map can help you align your resources, processes, and plans better for achieving customer satisfaction. Nurturing customer-centricity is, after all, core to any business function.
Customer journey mapping, as we have seen already, is not a mean feat. It is complex and detailed with a lot of variables and parameters in force. The need for technological help is natural.
Customer journey mapping tools (or user journey mapping tools) collect qualitative and quantitative user interaction data digitally and present it to you in the most comprehensible manner. This in turn helps you draw out your buyer persona, almost like a character sketch in fiction. At their crudest, these tools illustrate your customer journeys in the form of digital whiteboards or mind maps.
These tools let you know where in the world or the web did your customer reach your website or store or product. They also help you study your customer’s behaviour on your website or actions with your product, while collecting direct feedback from them. These tools also let you define and highlight specific touchpoints, emotions, interactions, and channels involved in the customer experience. This kind of data can get quite nuanced and complicated. A tool dealing with such data would also need integrational and collaborative capacities to fit into your MarTech mix.
The more complex your customer journey is, the greater is your need for data to create a customer journey map. To achieve this goal, you need the right mix of tools. Mastering the process of drawing a customer journey map is almost artful, since it helps you gain insights which are only the starting point for further improvements and strategies. Before delving into your range of options for the right tool, let us try to understand the tool itself better.
I cannot stress enough upon precise visualisations with all the necessary details of the customer’s journey with your product with a life goal in sight. Providing this kind of clarity is the core functionality that you would need from a customer journey mapping tool. Plus, like any other tool in your toolstack, a customer journey mapping tool needs to be malleable to the right degree for your expanding toolstack, research requirements, team strength, and other factors.
Let us now have a look at some key features of customer journey mapping tools very quickly followed by a longer account as well.
Features you can’t compromise on include
Features that would certainly add extra value include
Features to look out for in your new customer journey mapping tool and why:
Now that we have gone through the essential features of customer journey map tools, let us also have a look at the goals that you can achieve if you put them to the right use.
Customer journey mapping tools have a lot of utility for an organisation’s marketing needs. If you really want to get to the depths of MarTech-powered marketing strategy and achieve impactful results, these tools are an essential part of the mix. Here are the key advantages of customer journey mapping tools.
Proactivity is not just a corporate buzzword but a necessity for employees at an individual level as well as organisations at a business level. Customer journey mapping tools are proactivity boosters that help you be ever-ready for action and iterations contributing to customer loyalty and success in the long run. Hence, if you are a startup, implementing such a tool in your armour as early as possible can help you immensely on your road to the top tiers.
Now that you have gathered how these tools work and why they work, let us have a look at your best options to kick off your journey towards superior customer experiences.
It is true that marketing and business needs are subjective to organisation, product, market, and other factors. However, some level of objective comparison helps as an initial step in picking just the right tool. Here’s our take on the 10 best tools in the market at present for you to check out from the exhaustive global lot.
Zipy.ai is essentially a digital CX platform featuring product analytics, error tracking, API performance, and session replay, and a lot more. Its customer journey tool focuses on 3 simple steps to CX success - analyse usage, monitor errors, and drive product adoption.
One very useful feature of this tool is real-time Slack alerts for error distribution analytics by customers. This gives a major impetus to proactive efforts in the right directions. Another plus is the unified platform of Zipy, which enables all relevant teams to access relevant data independently, thus allowing them to work together seamlessly.
Zipy also helps you prioritise for sprints assuredly by analysing critical bugs and enhancements in time with advanced filtering and feature usage insights. The user session replay feature takes it many steps further with granular drop-off, engagement, and other insights. With the advanced filters, you can also figure out your ICPs (Ideal Customer Profiles) and enrich every stage of the customer journey.
Pricing: 14-day free trial (No credit card required). Starter, Startup, Growth, and Enterprise plans billed monthly or annually.
Another AI-powered tool, Aiava claims to be the tool that ‘fixes’ your customer journey, by being a modelling tool for your strategy plus collaboration tool for your organisation.
It offers multiple templates within categories such as SaaS, mobile app, website, NGO, ecommerce, etc. It is essentially a tool wherein you feed data in words and receive an output in visuals through auto-complete, mention actors, and channels. Other features include sub-journeys, multiple customer journey map viewing formats (slideshow, text-based story, swimlane view, etc.), organisation blueprint, team engagement features, and speculative scenario definition. It stands out among the other customer journey mapping tools as it allows all kinds of teams and members to focus on their relevant jobs in customer journey mapping by providing them with specialised features to work on.
Pricing: 14-day free trial (No credit card required). Basic, Premium, and Teams packages. Basic plan starting from $19/month.
eDrawMax can be called an AI-powered, comprehensive diagram creator which gives it an advantage over other customer journey mapping tools. It is almost entirely focused on visualisation of your journey map for recording, tracking, and actionable insight derivation amongst other things. It offers 210+ types of diagrams including flowcharts and circuit diagrams.
It enables collaboration with a cloud system where intuitive collaboration becomes possible on an infinite canvas of a workspace.
Along with 1500+ built-in templates and 26,000+ symbols, it also offers a unique UGC (User-Generated Content) library of charts, trying to create an almost artful community for charts and diagrams. The community goes as far as to enable social media sharing of visual plans.
Pricing: Free Trial available. Individual, Team and Business, and Annual Plans with sub-plans. Individual plans start from $69 for 6 months.
Whimsical is an out-and-out visual tool that calls itself the ‘hub for visual collaboration’, and is not specifically does not fall among the group of customer journey mapping tools. It works with 4 major formats - flowcharts, wireframes, mind maps, and documents. With a wide range of building blocks and template options, Whimsical also makes visual collaboration smoother with sharp features assisting project management, team meetings, UI and UX research, etc. for all departments from engineering to product. One thing that gives Whimsical a considerable advantage is its new AI text-to-flowchart feature. It also gives you an option to connect with ChatGPT 4 through a plug-in for generating flowcharts and mind maps.
Pricing: Starter (free plan), Pro, and Organisation plans. Pro starting at $10/month/editor as part of an annual billing plan.
As opposed to the above few tools, ShiftX is one of the most dedicated tools among the realm of customer journey mapping tools. Apart from optimising operations and fostering customer satisfaction, ShiftX also claims to help you with compliance.
As a collaborative tool, ShiftX lets you invite teammates, assign tasks, and comment on steps, amongst other things that help in tracking and aligning mapping operations for your organisation/brand.
Apart from mapping, this software also offers process mapping and routine procedure management solutions. Unlike other customer journey mapping tools can be integrated with a plethora of options from Google Docs and Notion to Trello and others.
Pricing: Free, Starter, Team, and Enterprise plans. Starter plan starting at $10/user/month.
Custellence is another good alternative in the realm of customer journey mapping tools. Its emphasis, like quite a few other tools, is on collaboration and visualisation, the barebones elements of a journey map. Its maps are intuitive and interactive, which means that the learning curve is smaller and smoother with this solution. Drag-and-drop elements, templates, and other features make this possible.
With Custellence, you can easily share, collaborate, and also manage your team involved in customer journey mapping tools on a single, simple but detailed dashboard. With its curated icons and colour palette, you can imbibe creativity and empathy for stakeholders while presenting customer journey maps on Custellence.
Pricing: Standard (free), Professional, and Enterprise plans. Professional plan starts at $28/month/member on an annual billing basis.
UXPressia is a customer journey mapping, customer persona, and impact mapping tool. It makes for a good comprehensive customer experience tool with a variety of features. The journey map hierarchy feature allows easier comprehension of customer journey mapping strategy and initiatives giving it advantage over the other customer journey mapping tools.
With UXPressia, you can also standardise maps and curate them differently for different audiences and purposes. With 20 sections consisting of different content types including text, charts, icons, videos, images, etc., you can also templatize finer details such as icons, illustrations, titles, and touchpoints. Collaboration is possible both real-time and asynchronously. You can also tweak details while presenting maps by hiding personas and sections or using the filtering feature within the map view functionality. Given its integration capabilities with Google Analytics, Azure, Jira, and mixpanel, connecting your journey maps with business KPIs and web analytics data becomes a breeze.
Pricing: Free, Starter, Pro, and Enterprise plans. Starter starting at $16/month/user.
JourneyTrack is an enterprise-grade journey mapping tool which has something useful for all kinds of businesses. It positions itself as a ‘Customer Experience Cloud’ that supports digital transformation of business’ CX efforts.
With JourneyTrack, you can hold team workshops, create journey maps from templates or in a custom manner, create personas with elimination of biases, collate insights into an Insights Hub, source industry recommendations, and much more. Integrations provided by this new software may be limited, although they include the crucial Jira and Qualtrics integrations. A unique feature of JourneyTrack is the DEI (Diversity and Inclusion) panel which assesses representation in the personas you create. Apart from allowing unlimited participants which other customer journey mapping tools kind of don’t allow, it also enables you to create a journey from a workshop with just a single click.
Pricing: Free Basic, Starter, Professional, and Enterprise plans. Starter starting at $2000/month, billed annually.
As the name suggests, Visual Paradigm’s strong suit is its visual representation capability with diagrams and other related features which can be seen in some customer journey mapping tools. The website has listed out each visual feature of their journey maps in a very structured visual manner. These features include stages, personas, separators, lanes, colour coding, area charts, configurable chart cells, cross stages, CX charts, and data traceability.
Visual Paradigm offers instant report prints of your desired customer journey maps with its Doc. Composer. This basically enables you to present your journey map data in various orientations and orders in just a few clicks.
Pricing: Free trial for 30 days. Subscriptions and Perpetual plans available which include a lot of tools that other customer journey mapping tools may or may not have.
Milkymap is yet another software that focuses more on customer journey visualisation than other aspects of journey maps. One look at its creatively fresh website and you will know that it is all about visuals, design, and emotions. What it provides when compared to other customer journey mapping tools is that it has intuitive tools for tracking emotions, touchpoints, and interactions of your customers. Its user-friendly interface is quite known.
The tool is quite simple and hence allows every creator from a newbie to an experienced CX professional to work on a journey map with ease. Its unique CX Life Cycle Model® enables you to streamline CX metrics and other data into one model for all possible categories. To take the fun aspect of customer journey mapping even further, Milkymap has a gamified community which helps you share and access knowledge to analyse and improve your work to higher degrees.
Pricing: Satellite plans for individuals and Galaxy plans for teams. Satellite plans starting at €9/month (plus VAT).
You will find a lot of advice columns and articles comparing, analysing, and pitting customer journey mapping tools against one another. They are a great exercise in research, which you should ideally undertake once you have gone through the list above. However, the point of this blog is more of asking you to put advice into action.
How? There are free trials available for each of the amazing customer journey mapping tools discussed above. It is a simple process after checking out each tool’s features briefly, which I suppose you already have. Shortlist the ones that appeal to you, and buy free trials for each of them. Next, use all of them simultaneously for a week or two. This will make real-time comparison and analysis better. Once you have actually gained field experience, you can pick your armour prudently for the journey ahead. Or should I say, your map for the journey ahead?