Last updated Dec 11 2020

How to choose a customer journey mapping tool to improve CX


“The right tool depends on a few things: the complexity of your customer journey, the maturity of your understanding of the journey, the structure of your team, and
why you’re mapping the customer journey—that is, what you want to learn from it.

—the Hotjar Team 👋 (from this chapter about CJM tools)


The important thing is: it's not about the tool you choose; it’s how you plan to use it. Let’s dig deeper into why you need customer journey mapping tools, and how specific features can help you accomplish your goals.

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How CJM tools help you improve the customer experience

Customer journey mapping tools give you the data you need to anticipate users’ needs and priorities, and include:

  1. Tools for getting customer data (through behavior and traditional analytics)
  2. Tools for visually presenting the data

But, as we said (and will keep saying), it’s more about how you use the tool than which tool you choose.

Your customers each have a different way of interacting with your product or site. When you create a customer journey map, you can follow all the possible pathways that your users take.

Armed with the knowledge of your users’ behavior, you can eliminate confusing steps—or guide them to the next step more easily. The data is there telling you, ‘this is where the user needs help,’ and you’ll be ready and listening.

Here are four examples of insights you can get from CJM tools:

1. Improve the customer experience

Without knowing where your customers encounter issues during their user journey, any attempt to guide them will be based on a hunch. When you understand how they interact with your product or website, it’s easier to guide them down the most successful path.

CJM tools let you take the customer data you have and turn it into actionable insights. When you can visualize your product or website ecosystem, you can easily spot potential blockers or pain points in the customer journey, and make data-driven improvements to the customer experience (CX).

2. Spot errors and bugs

In a perfect world, customers would inform you of every product or website bug they encounter as soon as they notice it. But in reality, customers often just get frustrated and give up—which, if you’re a business selling online, can look like high bounce and exit rates, and low conversion rates.

Customer journey mapping tools help you identify errors and bugs, so you know what to fix to improve the journey.

3. Find potential bottlenecks in the process

A bottleneck is a point that slows or even stops website visitors from reaching their final destination: interacting with your website in the way you intended. You have a vision for how someone should behave, and a bottleneck prevents that from happening. A bottleneck can include:

  • Difficulty navigating your pricing
  • Struggling to find how to get in touch with your Sales team
  • Not understanding whether your product has the feature they need

But it manifests itself as:

  • MQLs that are no-shows in demos
  • High bounce rates
  • High traffic with nothing to show for opt-ins

But you can’t know whether a customer is behind on their journey if you don’t know what the major milestones are. Use CJM tools to identify bottlenecks and find solutions.

If you're using Hotjar: use Session Recordings to identify bottlenecks and blockers that users experience from page to page throughout their customer journey on your site. Recordings let you see how real users interact with and navigate through your site, giving you the insight you need to improve the user experience (and increase conversions).

Hotjar Session Recordings

4. Get useful customer feedback

Some customer journey mapping software includes feedback tools—like voice of the customer (VoC) tools—which let customers tell you how they feel in their own words.

You can also use behavior analytics and digital experience tools to find out how your customer personas act on your web pages. Sometimes, what you thought was brilliant and intuitive is just confusing—but you can't really know until you learn how real users experience your site.

If you’re using Hotjar: the Incoming Feedback widget gives you instant visual feedback for your site or app, directly from your users. Find out what they love (or hate), and identify issues, blockers, and opportunities to improve the customer journey.

Tip: use Incoming Feedback and Session Recordings together to get an even clearer understanding of how people are experiencing your site or app.

Incoming feedback GIF

5 features to look for in a mapping tool

Customer journey mapping is a long process, but it doesn’t need to be a painful one. Any CJM tool can be useful, but, like many things, it all depends on your goals and resources.

Here are five features to look for in a journey mapping tool:

1. Drag-and-drop abilities

If you need coding skills to map out your customer journey, it’ll be challenging to get input from all the stakeholders. It should be easy and frictionless to move things around and edit them. Check whether your tool requires you to design the map personally or if the software can do it for you.

2. Collaboration and sharing features

This was helpful in 2020. From 2021 onward, it’s essential. Having a CJM tool that lets you easily share and collaborate with other team members makes a huge difference—not only when you’re creating your journey map, but when you finish it too, and it’s time to share it with the rest of your team.

3. Draft revision control

If someone makes an edit you want to take out later, can you revert to an old version? Make sure the tool you’re eyeballing stores saved versions as tracked changes. If you’re making plenty of changes, as tends to happen when creating customer journey maps, this is an important feature to look out for.

4. Intuitive journey building

Does the software help guide you to the next step, or are you left scratching your head? Even though all customer journeys are different, some CJM software makes it easy for you to take the next step.

5. Simple data integration

Do you have to manually input all the data, or can you easily integrate your existing data into the customer journey map? Tools like Miro let you add your Hotjar heatmap analysis onto a virtual whiteboard, and other tools like UXPressia integrate with your web analytics tools in real-time.

Discover how visitors are experiencing your site

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FAQs about customer journey mapping tools

Analytics tools prices range from free to $400/month, while customer journey mapping tools range from free to $100/month or more. It depends on your product and how important a data-driven customer journey map is to you. Bear in mind that building out the first map will take more human resources than maintaining it down the line.

To create a customer journey map:

  1. Gather data using analytics and feedback tools
  2. Get input from everyone who is involved in your customers’ journey
  3. Begin to draw the journey map out using any of the tools listed above

For detailed steps, read chapter one of the customer journey map guide, which will help you create a map from start to finish (in just 2 ½ days!).

You can create your first map in a matter of days. The first part of this guide explains how to create your first customer journey map in just 2.5 days.