You may think you have a pretty good idea of where your customers live, how old they are, maybe even how much money they earn, but according to Nicholas J. Webb, author of What Customers Crave, that may not be the most powerful information. “I don’t care how old my customers are or whether they shop at Tiffany or Walmart,” says Webb. “What I do care deeply about is what they love and what they hate.”


Understanding what moves your customers to make purchases can help you make significant improvements to your marketing efforts and your customer service. A customer experience map is a tool that helps you create a story of how people interact with your company: from initial contact through engagement and purchase into a long-term advocate.


How to Create a “Funnel Matrix” to Document Your Customer Experience

“Before you can move your customers through a sales funnel, you have to understand who they are and what drives them at every step of the way,” Jaime Levy, author of the book UX Strategy and the founder of a user experience strategy and design consultancy. To do this, she suggests grouping your customers into the following stages. Use these stages as the vertical axis of your customer map:

  • Suspect stage—These are people who might possibly require your product or service.
  • Lead stage—These are people who express an interest and have offered some personal information, such as an email address.
  • Prospect stage—This is anyone who has a need and strongly wants this need met through purchase or consumption of your particular product or service.
  • Customer stage—These are people who have paid to use your product or service.
  • Repeat customer stage—These are customers who regularly use your product or service.
  • Referrer stage—This is somebody who brings other suspects to your product by spreading the word. In fact, Levy notes, “reference users can refer people regardless of what stage of the funnel they are in—these are the people you want to love and make insanely happy.”


Across the horizontal axis, create five columns in which you:

  1. Define what your customers look like
  2. Identify the user process or mindset they are in
  3. Decide what features or service you need to provide in order to address their process or mindset
  4. Indicate your customers’ desired response
  5. Determine how you will measure success—for each stage of the journey


For example, if you have a design agency and your specialty is creating corporate logos, here is what your customers’ actions might look like at each stage:

  • Suspect stage: The owner of an Italian restaurant, Crazy for Gnocchi, searches the web looking for design agencies to create a logo that leverages their homemade pasta as a differentiator.
  • Lead stage: The owner fills out the Contact Us form on your site and asks for a quote.
  • Prospect stage: The owner has spoken with another agency and is trying to decide which can better meet their needs for their budget.
  • Customer stage: The owner has decided to go with your firm to create a logo.
  • Repeat customer stage: Crazy for Gnocchi is so happy with the logo you designed, they also use your firm to create a new website.
  • Referrer stage: A patron of Crazy for Gnocchi compliments them on how cool their logo is, and the owner tells them about the great designer who created it and mentions your website.


Once you have your matrix in place, continue to tweak and measure your axes based on real customer observations. Each person is different, but over time, you will learn to recognize patterns that can help you move more types of customers toward a sale.


Putting Your Map into Action

Start by mapping just a few customers, so you can begin to envision the types of customers you would like to reach and how they might interact with your product or service at each stage. You might uncover some insights that can help you employ new marketing strategies, offer discounts or promotions, or design special events—such as customer appreciation days — targeted to each group. Then, as new customers sign up for your mailing list, interact on social media or purchase a product, you can revisit your map periodically to fine-tune your horizontal access.


Customer experience maps are an ongoing process that can help you come up with creative new ways to find customers, and keep the ones you already have happy and coming back for more.


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