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How to Use Surveys to Map Ecommerce Customer Journeys Like an Expert

Mar 01, 2021 | 6 minutes

For any successful ecommerce business, customer experience is one of the most important considerations. 

Modern online consumers are becoming increasingly demanding, and have less tolerance for poor customer service or unintuitive checkout systems. In fact, 96% of customers claim that customer service is a crucial factor in their decision to be loyal to a brand. 

Simply put, if you can’t provide a first-rate purchasing environment, you are likely to lose money and see customer loyalty switch to your more forward-thinking competitors. 

In order to maximize your turnover and increase customer retention, you need to keep them satisfied at all times.

The data on the matter of customer retention is quite conclusive about this: It costs 6 to 7 times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. 

To improve your customer retention rates, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand every stage of their buying journey.

The following guide will outline the importance of mapping out the customer journey for ecommerce sites, and how surveys are an excellent tool for achieving this.

Understanding the customer journey 

The customer journey refers to the series of steps a buyer takes when making a purchase. It starts from the moment they are aware of their need for a product or service you provide, and culminates in a transaction. 

The exact length and direction can vary, but it will usually follow five distinct stages, known as the five A’s of the customer journey:

  1. Awareness: The customer identifies a need and starts looking for a solution to their problem, becoming aware of your company or site in the process.

  2. Acquisition: The customer starts to actively consider, try out, and ultimately purchase your product or service.

  3. Adoption: The customer starts to see success and value from their purchase.

  4. Assimilation: The customer becomes a loyal one, regularly using the product or service and forming an attachment with it.

  5. Advocacy: The customer becomes an advocate for your company, recommending the product or service to others, or promoting your business via social media or word of mouth.

These five stages show that a successful customer journey is not just about making money from purchases: It is about creating and maintaining a loyal customer base that advocates for your business. 

At the end of the day, those customers will be the ones who will make repeat purchases and promote your company to other like-minded people. 

This said, the best way to ensure the optimum customer journey is to map it out.

Mapping the customer journey involves visualizing every single stage of the process, giving you a full insight into their experience. It enables you to determine exactly what they want from your product or service, as well as identifying any areas throughout the process where you are not delivering.

How to map the ecommerce customer journey

Mapping an ecommerce customer journey is more than just understanding what happens at each stage of the buying process. 

A good customer journey map requires visualization, in the form of physical diagrams or flowcharts

There are many methods to visualize customer journeys: some use complicated spreadsheets, while others use post-it notes stuck to the boardroom wall.

The goal of the visualization is to outline exactly what the buyer is going through at each stage of the journey. 

This means you should understand the following:

  • What they are thinking

  • The issues they are going through

  • What they are seeing on your site

  • The value they expect to receive

The more comprehensively you understand your customers, the better you will satisfy their needs. 

Now, let’s dive into the mapping. 

To map the customer journey successfully, you need data. You’ll need to create detailed buyer personas for your customers, including their demographics, objectives and pain-points. 

It’s also crucial that you take the customer journey yourself while adapting their mindset. This will enable you to see exactly what they are seeing, through their eyes. You can subsequently assess the level of value you provide and pinpoint any areas where your service is lacking.

However, this is not always possible, or easy to do. This is where surveys come in.

Using surveys to map the ecommerce customer journey

Creating customer feedback surveys is the most effective way to get insight into their experience on your ecommerce site. 

Rather than adopting the mindset of your buyer personas and asking yourself what your customers think about certain aspects of your site, you can actually ask them.

This will provide you with accurate data about their experience, and also with new perspectives on the customer journey that you are unable to see from your position within the business. 

By answering surveys, your customers will be able to tell you where your site, product, or service need to be improved, as well as what they love about your business. 

How to create effective surveys for customer journey mapping

There are many tools you can use to create customer survey forms. Platforms like Survey Monkey, Paperform, and Google Forms are all intuitive and easy-to-use, and the opportunities are endless. 

These tools allow you to create questions that your customers can easily answer without too much hassle. 

It’s also worth considering how you present your survey to your customers. Popular ways to do this are:

  • Pop ups

  • Via email

  • Instant messaging (Facebook Messenger, SMS, chat)

In any case, you must be careful to not interrupt the buying process. To achieve this, sending a link to a survey via email or text after the purchase is a good method.

The questions you ask in your surveys will of course depend on multiple factors including your buyer personas, your business, and your ecommerce site, but your goal should be to fully understand their experience. 

You need to be extremely careful about how you do this. 

Surveys can be intrusive and annoying, and even damage the customer experience, so you must ensure it fits seamlessly and discreetly into their journey. 

To help you out, here are some Do’s and Don’ts of creating a customer feedback survey:

  • DO provide a mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions have a limited set of possible answers (such as “Yes” or “No”) while an open-ended question allows for a free-form answer. Closed-ended questions are more likely to get a response from time-pressed consumers, while being easier to analyse statistically. Open-ended questions are still beneficial because they may allow you to receive more information than anticipated.

  • DON’T make your survey too long

  • DO keep your survey in the sweet spot of between five and ten questions, which will give you enough information without putting people off.

  • DON’T ask leading questions (e.g. Do you agree that …?). This guides your customer to a specific answer, which might lead to confirmation bias problems.

To elucidate these points, here are some examples of questions you might ask in your survey.

  • How well does the product meet your needs? (Very Poorly, Poorly, Fine, Well, Very Well)

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy was it to find what you were looking for?

  • What would you change about your buying experience?

How to analyse a customer journey mapping survey

After you create your survey and send it out to your customers, it’s time to analyze the results. 

Compiling the results and aligning them with each stage of the journey will enable you to spot any areas for improvement along the way. There are many things to look for, but the most important are:

  • Areas where customer expectations are not met e.g. helpful features found on your competitors’ websites.

  • Unnecessary touchpoints that could be eliminated e.g. having to check the site for updates, rather than receiving transactional emails or SMS notifications.

  • Points of friction where their experience is more difficult than it could be e.g. confusing navigation.

  • Time spent on each stage of their journey. 

  • Points where expectations are met or exceeded e.g. excellent customer service.

Analyzing these results will enable you to adapt the journey accordingly, making it easier and more efficient for every single user.

As a result, you will experience higher levels of customer satisfaction, acquisition, and retention. Your customers will be much more loyal and willing to purchase from you in future, resulting in more money for your bottom line.


In conclusion, surveys should be an integral step for any business in mapping the customer journey. 

They provide accurate, real-time data that improves the customer experience and translates into tangible business benefits. 

As long as you ask the right questions and map your results to each stage of the journey, you will have all the information you need to provide the best service possible.


Rebecca DiCioccio

Rebecca DiCioccio is the marketing manager at Paperform. Outside of work, Rebecca can be found exploring the outdoors, or with a book in hand.

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