What Is A Client Journey Map And Why You Should Care

Everyone (I assume) wants to deliver an extraordinary client experience. The challenge is where to start – and  how to do it in a way that not only creates deep engagement with clients but can be executed efficiently and profitably.

In order to marry meaning and profitability, I’d suggest there are two distinct phases in structuring a client experience. In Phase 1 your goal is to ensure the experience is appropriate and profitable. In Phase 2, your goal is to ensure the experience is extraordinary. I want to focus today on the latter but let me just clarify how the two phases differ in case it’s not entirely obvious.

Laying a Foundation Versus Creating Extraordinary

In Phase 1 I might decide that I can profitably deliver one client event a year for my clients. This is based on an assessment of the cost of the event relative to the value of the client relationship to the business. In Phase 2 I focus entirely on delivering an event that is meaningful, that reflects the goals and aspirations of my clients and that will create lasting impact.

To execute on Phase 1, which many of you will already have completed, you probably mapped out your client experience by segmenting your clients and then aligning each segment with a service level. Service level might include things like the number of reviews, educational activity or appreciation events. Phase 2 requires a different thought process. And, in my mind, the best way to think about Phase 2 is by creating a client journey map. By using this tool, you are putting yourself in your clients’ shoes as you map out what will be an extraordinary, engaging and perfectly tailored experience.

The Client Journey Map

Creating a client journey map involves identifying key points of interaction and the many ways in which that interaction can take place. As a result, instead of thinking only about “what” you will offer to clients, you are thinking about how they will experience the process. Key to client journey mapping is ensuring that the experience is extraordinary at every stage of the relationship, starting when the client is a prospect. At each step you define what extraordinary looks like and what processes would support you in delivering at that level.

Below is an image that highlights the structure of a possible client journey map. Along the top you’ll see the key points of interaction: introduction, initial contact, onboarding, plan development, reviews, education and appreciation. You may include different or additional contact points but we’ll work with this for our example. Down the side you’ll see examples of how a client might interact with you at each stage.


You can download a blank client journey map here if that’s helpful!

Client journey mapping examines how clients experience each key aspect of the process—how they hear about, connect with and work with you. However, it examines those things based on the many different ways in which people connect with you including phone, email, your website, social media or in person. For example, would a prospect get a consistent message about the work you do if he or she called your office, went to your website, found you on social media or sat in a meeting with you? If you’re using this kind of map, you’d note in each box what would constitute extraordinary at each stage and via each form of contact.

Getting Started

Creating an effective client journey map can be a complex process. So here’s where I thought we should start: definition and assessment. To follow you’ll find a description of each phase of my sample client journey map. I’d suggest that you need to start by asking yourself, honestly, how you stack up at each stage. To do that, I’ve provided a series of questions that you can consider as you work through the process.

Stage 1. Introduction.

The introduction stage begins when a prospect becomes aware of you and your business. It’s the first step in the client journey, because your relationship with a client begins before they start working with you. As a result, you’ll want the messaging and experience to be consistent and aligned with what a client would experience when they make the choice to work with you.

Achieving the extraordinary, at this stage, is all about clarity around your ideal client, your value and your messaging so that there’s consistency in what prospects hear, read and see—on your website, in your marketing collateral, even in the way you describe to prospects what you do in a conversation. That message also needs to accurately reflect what the experience will be like when a prospect becomes a client.

Consider the following questions:

  • What message do you want to communicate to your ideal prospects to let them know that you are exactly the right advisor for them, whether they were referred or found you some other way?
  • If a prospect comes to your website, is your business vision clear or do they see a message that suggests you can work with anyone?
  • If a prospect searches for you online, do your social profiles support a consistent message? Can they even find you?
  • If they arrived at your office would that same message and positioning be apparent in the office environment, the way they are greeted or the information that is sitting in the waiting room?
  • How is the experience, at the introduction stage, specifically differentiated based on your ideal client or offer?

Stage 2. Initial Contact

Initial contact includes what happens when a prospect reaches out to connect with you directly or online. It includes everything that transpires between making that first contact and actually connecting by phone or in person in a real-time conversation. This step is about setting yourself apart, making a prospect feel welcome and encouraging them to go to the next stage.

Achieving the extraordinary, at this stage, is all about starting to add real value before the prospect even steps into your office, anticipating questions and needs, and communicating that you fully understand those needs because you’re focused on working with people like them. This phase is not only about what information you provide but also how it is provided, which means using the communication methods that are appropriate for your target audience.

Consider the following questions:

  • If a prospect connects through your website, do they receive an immediate message that lets them know that you’re excited to speak to them, and when and how you’ll be in touch—or are they left hanging?
  • If a prospect calls your office, does the person who answers the phone share some information on the process, the company and your target market to begin to engage that individual, or just take a name and number?
  • If a prospect sets a meeting, do they receive a welcome package with information that reinforces their choice to meet, something that lets them know that you have expertise in working with clients like them as well as basic information like directions to your office? Or, do they simply receive a confirmation on time and date, and a list of documents to bring?
  • Do you ask if prospects want to receive the meeting confirmation by email, phone or text? Do you offer web meetings for the prospect or his/her partner if they find it difficult to come into the office?
  • How is the experience, at this stage, specifically differentiated based on your ideal client or offer?

Stage 3. Onboarding

Onboarding, quite obviously, refers to the process of bringing a new client into the business. When you think about onboarding you may think primarily about ensuring that you get the technical requirements exactly right, from setting up the account to transferring assets. What you can miss, however, is the fact that this period of time can be variously frustrating and confusing for new clients. As a result, onboarding done extraordinarily well, can create an opportunity to build a deeper relationship.

Extraordinary, at this stage, is all about ensuring clients have a clear picture of the process, demonstrating that they’ve made a great decision to work with you and anticipating their needs and questions.

Consider these questions:

  • Do your clients have a clear picture of what needs to happen with the transition and the associated timeline, or will they be left wondering where their money is and how their accounts are progressing?
  • Do you give clients the option to bring paperwork to the meeting or submit their information online, based on their preferences?
  • Do you anticipate client questions or concerns and ensure that you’re proactively reaching out to respond to those questions—even the unspoken ones?
  • Do you continue to add value to reassure the client that he or she has made a good decision even during this period of transition?
  • How is the experience, at this stage, specifically differentiated based on your ideal client or offer?

Stage 4. Plan Development

Plan development is the period of time during which you’re designing or executing on the plan or strategy you agreed on with your client. Extraordinary, at this stage, is all about connecting the plan to the client’s goals and future needs, and focusing clients on the outcome as much as the process. It’s about appreciating that clients may want to be more or less actively involved or prefer different methods of meeting.

Consider these questions:

  • Are you actively engaging couples in the process and ensuring that all questions have been asked and answered?
  • Are you involving the client’s other professional advisors in the process, as appropriate?
  • Are you establishing metrics to track progress that are meaningful to the client? For example, our research shows that older clients tend to focus on investment performance whereas a younger client might want to focus on progress relative to life goals.
  • How is the experience at this stage specifically different based on your ideal client or offer?

Stage 5. Ongoing Reviews

This stage refers to one of the most critical touch points in the client relationship—your ongoing review meetings. Every bit of research I’ve conducted with clients points to the importance of this aspect of the relationship in contributing to (or detracting from) engagement. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to assume that the act of meeting with a client and looking at their plan is enough. We’re missing a major engagement opportunity.

Achieving the extraordinary, at this stage, is about actively engaging the client in the process and giving them an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way by focusing on the issues that matter most (without assuming what they are).

Consider the following questions:

  • Are you certain that what you are covering in your review meeting reflects what’s most important to your clients?
  • Are your clients contributing to the meeting agenda?
  • Are your reviews inspiring, focusing clients on the future they’re building?
  • How is the experience, at this stage, specifically different based on your ideal client or offer?

Ongoing Communications: Education and Appreciation

Let’s shift to the last two stages in the client journey: education and appreciation. I’d put both under the umbrella of ongoing communications although you need to tackle them separately because they meet different objectives.

Extraordinary, at this stage, is all about creating meaningful communications and experiences that will add value and bind you closer to your clients. It’s about understanding how they want to experience education and appreciation (in person or online, passive or active), which topics are of interest and where they go for information (professional networks, social media, one-on-one).

Some questions to consider:

  • Do your communications reflect the unique needs of your target audience or are you trying to provide information that could be of interest to anyone?
  • Have you gathered input on what topics or events clients would find most valuable?
  • Do your communications inspire your clients to meet their goals?

I hope it’s clear that the questions are designed to challenge you at each stage – to force you to ask if you have created something extraordinary.

Next Step

As a next step, consider printing off a blank client journey map, setting aside several hours and defining extraordinary at each stage. If you work on a team, this is an ideal team exercise. Ask yourself how you stack up today and then use those honest answers to begin to define something great.

If it’s helpful to have these questions in a separate document, just add a comment below and we can pull that together.

Thanks for stopping by,

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3 Responses to What Is A Client Journey Map And Why You Should Care

  1. Dino Guzzetti January 19, 2017 at 5:55 am #

    Thanks for your insights, Julie. I look forward to our online seminar tomorrow.
    P. S. Please include these questions in a separate document if possible.

  2. Cindy Crean November 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    Please include questions in a separate document. Thanks


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