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Customer Journey Maps

What are customer journey maps.

Customer journey maps are visual representations of customer experiences with an organization. They provide a 360-degree view of how customers engage with a brand over time and across all channels. Product teams use these maps to uncover customer needs and their routes to reach a product or service. Using this information, you can identify pain points and opportunities to enhance customer experience and boost customer retention.

“ Data often fails to communicate the frustrations and experiences of customers. A story can do that, and one of the best storytelling tools in business is the customer journey map.” — Paul Boag, UX designer, service design consultant & digital transformation expert

In this video, Frank Spillers, CEO of Experience Dynamics, explains how you can include journey maps in your design process.

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Customer Journey Maps – Tell Customer Stories Over Time

Customer journey maps are research-based tools. They show common customer experiences over time To help brands learn more about their target audience. 

Maps are incredibly effective communication tools. See how maps simplify complex spaces and create shared understanding.

Unlike navigation maps, customer journey maps have an extra dimension—time. Design teams examine tasks and questions (e.g., what-ifs) regarding how a design meets or fails to meet customers’ needs over time when encountering a product or service. 

Customer journey maps should have comprehensive timelines that show the most essential sub-tasks and events. Over this timeline framework, you add insights into customers' thoughts and feelings when proceeding along the timeline. The map should include: 

A timescale - A defined journey period (e.g., one week). This timeframe should include the entire journey, from awareness to conversion to retention.

Scenarios - The context and sequence of events where a user/customer must achieve a goal. An example could be a user who wants to buy a ticket on the phone. Scenarios are events from the first actions (recognizing a problem) to the last activities (e.g., subscription renewal).

Channels – Where do they perform actions (e.g., Facebook)?

Touchpoints – How does the customer interact with the product or service? What actions do they perform?

Thoughts and feelings – The customer's thoughts and feelings at each touchpoint.

A customer journey map helps you understand how customer experience evolves over time. It allows you to identify possible problems and improve the design. This enables you to design products that are more likely to exceed customers’ expectations in the future state. 

Customer Journey Map

How to Create a Customer Journey Map for Exceptional Experiences?

An infographic showcasing seven steps to create customer journey maps.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

Define Your Map’s Business Goal

Before creating a customer journey map, you must ask yourself why you're making one in the first place. Clarify who will use it and what user experience it will address.

Conduct Research

Use customer research to determine customer experiences at all touchpoints. Get analytical/statistical data and anecdotal evidence. Leverage customer interviews, surveys, social media listening, and competitive intelligence.

Watch user researcher Ditte Hvas Mortensen talk about how user research fits your design process and when you should do different studies. 

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Review Touchpoints and Channels

List customer touchpoints (e.g., paying a bill) and channels (e.g., online). Look for more touchpoints or channels to include.

Make an Empathy Map

Pinpoint what the customer does, thinks, feels, says, hears, etc., in a given situation. Then, determine their needs and how they feel throughout the experience. Focus on barriers and sources of annoyance.

Sketch the Journey

Piece everything—touchpoints, timescale, empathy map output, new ideas, etc.). Show a customer’s course of motion through touchpoints and channels across the timescale, including their feelings at every touchpoint.

Iterate and Refine

Revise and transform your sketch into the best-looking version of the ideal customer journey.

Share with Stakeholders

Ensure all stakeholders understand your map and appreciate how its use will benefit customers and the organization.

Buyer Journey vs User Journey vs Customer Journey: What's the Difference?

You must know the differences between buyer, user, and customer journeys to optimize customer experiences. A customer journey map is often synonymous with a user flow diagram or buyer journey map. However, each journey gives unique insights and needs different plans.

Customer Journey

The customer journey, or lifecycle, outlines the stages a customer goes through with a business. This journey can vary across organizations but includes five key steps:

1. Awareness : This is the first stage of the customer journey, where the customers realize they have a problem. The customer becomes aware of your brand or product at this stage, usually due to marketing efforts.

2. Consideration : Once customers know about your product or service, they start their research and compare brands.

3. Purchase : This is the stage where the customer has chosen a solution and is ready to buy your product or service.

4. Retention : After the purchase, it's about retaining that customer and nurturing a relationship. This is where good customer service comes in.

5. Advocacy : Also called the loyalty stage, this is when the customer not only continues to buy your product but also recommends it to others.

The journey doesn't end when the customer buys and recommends your solution to others. Customer journey strategies are cyclical and repetitive. After the advocacy stage, ideally, you continue to attract and retain the customers, keeping them in the cycle. 

There is no standard format for a customer journey map. The key is to create one that works best for your team and product or service. Get started with customer journey mapping with our template:

This customer journey map template features three zones:

Top – persona and scenario. 

Middle – thoughts, actions, and feelings. 

Bottom – insights and progress barriers.

Buyer Journey

The buyer's journey involves the buyer's path towards purchasing. This includes some of the steps we saw in the customer journey but is specific to purchasing :

1. Awareness Stage : This is when a prospective buyer realizes they have a problem. However, they aren't yet fully aware of the solutions available to them.

2. Consideration Stage : After identifying their problem, the buyer researches and investigates different solutions with more intent. They compare different products, services, brands, or strategies here.

3. Decision Stage : The buyer then decides which solution will solve their problem at the right price. This is where the actual purchasing action takes place.  

4. Post-Purchase Evaluation : Although not always included, this stage is critical. It's where the buyer assesses their satisfaction with the purchase. It includes customer service interactions, quality assessment, and attitudinal loyalty to the brand.

All these stages can involve many touchpoints, including online research, social media interactions, and even direct, in-person interactions. Different buyers may move through these stages at different speeds and through various channels, depending on a wide range of factors.

User Journey

The user journey focuses on people's experience with digital platforms like websites or software. Key stages include:

1. Discovery : In this stage, users become aware of your product, site, or service, often due to marketing efforts, word-of-mouth, or organic search. It also includes their initial reactions or first impressions.

2. Research/Consideration : Here, users dig deeper, exploring features, comparing with alternatives, and evaluating if your offering suits their needs and preferences.

3. Interaction/Use : Users actively engage with your product or service. They first-hand experience your solution's functionality, usability, and usefulness to achieve their goal.

4. Problem-solving : If they encounter any issues, how they seek help and resolve their issues fall into this stage. It covers user support, troubleshooting, and other assistance.

5. Retention/Loyalty : This stage involves how users stay engaged over time. Do they continue using your product, reduce usage, or stop altogether? It includes their repeated interactions, purchases, and long-term engagement over time.

6. Advocacy/Referral : This is when users are so satisfied they begin to advocate for your product, leaving positive reviews and referring others to your service.

Download this user journey map template featuring an example of a user’s routine. 

User Journey Example

Understanding these stages can help optimize the user experience, providing value at each stage and making the journey seamless and enjoyable. 

Always remember the journey is as important as the destination. Customer relationships start from the first website visit or interaction with marketing materials. These initial touchpoints can influence the ongoing relationship with your customers.

A gist of differences between customer, buyer, and user journeys.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0

Drawbacks of Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey mapping is valuable yet has limitations and potential drawbacks. Recognize these challenges and create more practical and realistic journey maps.

Over-simplification of Customer Experiences

Customer journey maps often risk simplifying complex customer experiences . They may depict varied and unpredictable customer behaviors as straightforward and linear. This simplification can lead to misunderstandings about your customers' needs and wants. As a result, you might overlook customers' diverse and unique paths. 

Always remember that real customer experiences are more complex than any map. When you recognize this, you steer clear of decisions based on simple models.

Resource Intensity

Creating detailed customer journey maps requires a lot of resources and time. You must gather extensive data and update the maps to keep them relevant. This process can strain small businesses or those with limited resources. 

You need to balance the need for comprehensive mapping with available resources. Efficient resource management and prioritization are crucial to maintaining effective journey maps.

Risk of Bias

Creating customer journey maps carries the inherent risk of biases . These biases can arise from various sources. They can impact the accuracy and effectiveness of the maps. 

Alan Dix, an expert in HCI, discusses bias in more detail in this video.  

Common biases in customer journey mapping include:

Assumption Bias: When teams make decisions based on preconceived notions rather than customer data.

Selection Bias: When the data doesn’t represent the entire customer base..

Confirmation Bias : When you focus on information that supports existing beliefs and preferences. Simultaneously, you tend to ignore or dismiss data that contradicts those beliefs.

Anchoring Bias : Relying on the first information encountered (anchor) when making decisions.

Overconfidence Bias : Placing too much trust in the accuracy of the journey map. You may overlook its potential flaws.

These biases may misguide the team, and design decisions based on these maps might not be effective.

To address these biases, review and update journey maps with real user research data. Engage with different customer segments and gather a wide range of feedback to help create a more accurate and representative map. This approach ensures the journey map aligns with actual customer experiences and behaviors.

Evolving Customer Behaviors

Customer behaviors and preferences change with time. A journey map relevant today can become outdated. You need to update and adapt your maps to reflect these changes. This requires you to perform market research and stay updated with trends and customer feedback. 

Getting fresh data ensures your journey map stays relevant and effective. You must adapt to evolving customer behaviors to maintain accurate and valuable customer journey maps.

Challenges in Capturing Emotions

Capturing emotions accurately in customer journey maps poses a significant challenge. Emotions influence customer decisions, yet you may find it difficult to quantify and represent them in maps. Most journey maps emphasize actions and touchpoints, often neglecting the emotional journey. 

You must integrate emotional insights into these maps to understand customer experiences. This integration enhances the effectiveness of customer engagement strategies. You can include user quotes, symbols such as emojis, or even graphs to capture the ups and downs of the users’ emotions..

Misalignment with Customer Needs

Misalignments in customer journey maps can manifest in various ways. It can impact the effectiveness of your strategies. Common misalignments include:

Putting business aims first, not what customers need.

Not seeing or serving the varied needs of different customer types.

Not using customer feedback in the journey map.

Thinking every customer follows a simple, straight path.

Engage with your customers to understand their needs and preferences if you want to address these misalignments. Incorporate their direct feedback into the journey map. This approach leads to more effective customer engagement and satisfaction.

Over-Reliance on the Map

Relying too much on customer journey maps can lead to problems. These maps should serve as tools rather than definitive guides. Viewing them as perfect can restrict your responsiveness to customer feedback and market changes. Treat journey maps as evolving documents that complement direct customer interactions and feedback. 

Make sure you get regular updates and maintain flexibility in your approach. Balance the insights from the map with ongoing customer engagement. This approach keeps your business agile and responsive to evolving customer needs.

Data Privacy Concerns

Collecting customer data for journey mapping poses significant privacy concerns. Thus, you need to create a balance. You must adhere to data protection laws and gather enough information for mapping. 

You need a careful strategy to ensure customer data security. Stay vigilant to adapt to evolving privacy regulations and customer expectations. This vigilance helps maintain trust and compliance.

Learn More about Customer Journey Maps

Take our Journey Mapping course to gain insights into the how and why of journey mapping. Learn practical methods to create experience maps , customer journey maps, and service blueprints for immediate application.

Explore this eBook to discover customer journey mapping .

Find some additional insights in the Customer Journey Maps article.

Questions related to Customer Journey Maps

Creating a customer journey map requires visually representing the customer's experience with your product or company. Harness the strength of visual reasoning to understand and present this journey succinctly. Instead of detailing a lengthy narrative, like a book, a well-crafted map allows stakeholders, whether designers or not, to grasp the journey quickly. It's a democratized tool that disseminates information, unifies teams, and aids decision-making by illuminating previously unnoticed or misunderstood aspects of the customer's journey.

The customer journey encompasses five distinct stages that guide a customer's interaction with a brand or product:

Awareness: The customer becomes aware of a need or problem.

Consideration: They research potential solutions or products.

Purchase: The customer decides on a solution and makes a purchase.

Retention: Post-purchase, the customer uses the product and forms an opinion.

Advocacy: Satisfied customers become brand advocates, sharing their positive experiences.

For a comprehensive understanding of these stages and how they intertwine with customer touchpoints, refer to Interaction-Design.org's in-depth article .

A perspective grid workshop is a activity that brings together stakeholders from various departments, such as product design, marketing, growth, and customer support, to align on a shared understanding of the customer's journey. These stakeholders contribute unique insights about customer needs and how they interact with a product or service. The workshop entails:

Creating a matrix to identify customers' jobs and requirements, not initially linked to specific features.

Identifying the gaps, barriers, pains, and risks associated with unmet needs, and constructing a narrative for the journey.

Highlighting the resulting value when these needs are met.

Discuss the implied technical and non-technical capabilities required to deliver this value.

Brainstorming possible solutions and eventually narrowing down to specific features.

The ultimate aim is to foster alignment within the organization and produce a user journey map based on shared knowledge. 

Learn more from this insightful video:

Customer journey mapping is vital as it harnesses our visual reasoning capabilities to articulate a customer's broad, intricate journey with a brand. Such a depiction would otherwise require extensive documentation, like a book. This tool offers a cost-effective method to convey information succinctly, ensuring understanding of whether one is a designer or lacks the time for extensive reading. It also helps the team to develop a shared vision and to encourage collaboration.  Businesses can better comprehend and address interaction points by using a journey map, facilitating informed decision-making and revealing insights that might otherwise remain obscured. Learn more about the power of visualizing the customer journey in this video.

Pain points in a customer journey map represent customers' challenges or frustrations while interacting with a product or service. They can arise from unmet needs, gaps in service, or barriers faced during the user experience. Identifying these pain points is crucial as they highlight areas for improvement, allowing businesses to enhance the customer experience and meet their needs more effectively. Pain points can relate to various aspects, including product usability, communication gaps, or post-purchase concerns. Explore the detailed article on customer journey maps at Interaction Design Foundation for a deeper understanding and real-world examples.

Customer journey mapping offers several key benefits:

It provides a holistic view of the customer experience, highlighting areas for improvement. This ensures that products or services meet users' needs effectively.

The process fosters team alignment, ensuring everyone understands and prioritizes the customer's perspective.

It helps identify pain points, revealing opportunities to enhance user satisfaction and loyalty.

This visualization allows businesses to make informed decisions, ensuring resources target the most impactful areas.

To delve deeper into the advantages and insights on journey mapping, refer to Interaction Design Foundation's article on key takeaways from the IXDF journey mapping course .

In design thinking, a customer journey map visually represents a user's interactions with a product or service over time. It provides a detailed look at a user's experience, from initial contact to long-term engagement. Focusing on the user's perspective highlights their needs, emotions, pain points, and moments of delight. This tool aids in understanding and empathizing with users, a core principle of design thinking. When used effectively, it bridges gaps between design thinking and marketing, ensuring user-centric solutions align with business goals. For a comprehensive understanding of how it fits within design thinking and its relation to marketing, refer to Interaction Design Foundation's article on resolving conflicts between design thinking and marketing .

A customer journey map and a user journey map are tools to understand the experience of users or customers with a product or service.

A customer journey map is a broader view of the entire customer experience across multiple touchpoints and stages. It considers physical and digital channels, multiple user personas, and emotional and qualitative aspects.

A user journey map is a detailed view of the steps to complete a specific task or goal within a product or service. It only considers digital channels, one user persona, and functional and quantitative aspects.

Both are useful to understand and improve the experience of the users or customers with a product or service. However, they have different scopes, perspectives, and purposes. A customer journey map provides a holistic view of the entire customer experience across multiple channels and stages. A user journey map provides a detailed view of the steps to complete a specific task or goal within a product or service.

While user journeys might emphasize specific tasks or pain points, customer journeys encapsulate the entire experience, from research and comparison to purchasing and retention. 

Customer journey maps and service blueprints are tools to understand and improve the experience of the users or customers with a product or service. A customer journey map shows the entire customer experience across multiple touchpoints and stages. It focuses on the front stage of the service, which is what the customers see and experience. It considers different user personas and emotional aspects.

A service blueprint shows how a service is delivered and operated by an organization. It focuses on the back stage of the service, which is what the customers do not see or experience. It considers one user persona and functional aspects. What are the steps that the customer takes to complete a specific task or goal within the service? What are the channels and devices that the customer interacts with at each step?

For an immersive dive into customer journey mapping, consider enrolling in the Interaction Design Foundation's specialized course . This course offers hands-on lessons, expert guidance, and actionable tools. Furthermore, to grasp the course's essence, the article “4 Takeaways from the IXDF Journey Mapping Course” sheds light on the core learnings, offering a snapshot of what to expect. These resources are tailored by industry leaders, ensuring you're equipped with the best knowledge to craft impactful customer journey maps.

Literature on Customer Journey Maps

Here’s the entire UX literature on Customer Journey Maps by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Customer Journey Maps

Take a deep dive into Customer Journey Maps with our course Journey Mapping .

This course will show you how to use journey mapping to turn your own complex design challenges into simple, delightful user experiences . If you want to design a great shopping experience, an efficient signup flow or an app that brings users delight over time, journey mapping is a critical addition to your toolbox. 

We will begin with a short introduction to mapping — why it is so powerful, and why it is so useful in UX. Then we will get familiar with the three most common types of journey map — experience maps, customer journey maps and service blueprints — and how to recognize, read and use each one. Then you will learn how to collect and analyze data as a part of a journey mapping process. Next you will learn how to create each type of journey map , and in the final lesson you will learn how to run a journey mapping workshop that will help to turn your journey mapping insights into actual products and services. 

This course will provide you with practical methods that you can start using immediately in your own design projects, as well as downloadable templates that can give you a head start in your own journey mapping projects. 

The “Build Your Portfolio: Journey Mapping Project” includes three practical exercises where you can practice the methods you learn, solidify your knowledge and if you choose, create a journey mapping case study that you can add to your portfolio to demonstrate your journey mapping skills to future employers, freelance customers and your peers. 

Throughout the course you will learn from four industry experts. 

Indi Young will provide wisdom on how to gather the right data as part of your journey mapping process. She has written two books,  Practical Empathy  and  Mental Models . Currently she conducts live online advanced courses about the importance of pushing the boundaries of your perspective. She was a founder of Adaptive Path, the pioneering UX agency that was an early innovator in journey mapping. 

Kai Wang will walk us through his very practical process for creating a service blueprint, and share how he makes journey mapping a critical part of an organization’s success. Kai is a talented UX pro who has designed complex experiences for companies such as CarMax and CapitalOne. 

Matt Snyder will help us think about journey mapping as a powerful and cost-effective tool for building successful products. He will also teach you how to use a tool called a perspective grid that can help a data-rich journey mapping process go more smoothly. In 2020 Matt left his role as the Sr. Director of Product Design at Lucid Software to become Head of Product & Design at Hivewire. 

Christian Briggs will be your tour guide for this course. He is a Senior Product Designer and Design Educator at the Interaction Design Foundation. He has been designing digital products for many years, and has been using methods like journey mapping for most of those years.  

All open-source articles on Customer Journey Maps

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Journey mapping 101.

definition of customer journey map

December 9, 2018 2018-12-09

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Journey maps are a common UX tool. They come in all shapes, sizes, and formats. Depending on the context, they can be used in a variety of ways. This article covers the basics: what a journey map is (and is not), related terminology, common variations, and how we can use journey maps.

In This Article:

Definition of a journey map, key components of a journey map, journey-map variations, why use journey maps.

Definition: A journey map is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal.

In its most basic form, journey mapping starts by compiling a series of user actions into a timeline. Next, the timeline is fleshed out with user thoughts and emotions in order to create a narrative. This narrative is condensed and polished, ultimately leading to a visualization.

Basic Journey Map

The terms ‘user journey map’ and ‘customer journey map’ can be used interchangeably. Both reference a visualization of a person using your product or service.

While the argument can be made that the term ‘customer’ does a disservice to the method (because, especially for certain business-to-business products, not all of end users are technically customers, i.e., product buyers), alignment on what you call the map is far less important than alignment on the content within the map.

Journey maps come in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of how they look, journey maps have the following 5 key elements in common:

Scenario + Expectations

Journey phases, actions, mindsets, and emotions, opportunities.

The actor is the persona or user who experiences the journey. The actor is who the journey map is about — a point of view. Actors usually align with personas and their actions in the map are rooted in data.

Provide one point of view per map in order to build a strong, clear narrative. For example, a university might choose either a student or a faculty member as actor — each would result in different journeys. (To capture both viewpoints, the university will need to build two separate maps, one for each of the two user types.)

The scenario describes the situation that the journey map addresses and is associated with an actor’s goal or need and specific expectations. For example, one scenario could be switching mobile plans to save money, and expectations for it include to easily find all the information needed to make a decision.

Scenarios can be real (for existing products and services) or anticipated — for products that are yet in the design stage.

Journey maps are best for scenarios that involve a sequence of events (such as shopping or taking a trip), describe a process (thus involve a set of transitions over time), or might involve multiple channels .

Journey phases are the different high-level stages in the journey. They provide organization for the rest of the information in the journey map (actions, thoughts, and emotions). The stages will vary from scenario to scenario; each organization will usually have data to help it determine what these phases are for a given scenario.

Here are some examples:

  • For an ecommerce scenario (like buying Bluetooth speakers), the stages can be discover, try, buy, use, seek support.
  • For big (or luxury) purchases (like buying a car), the stages can be engagement, education, research, evaluation, justification.
  • For a business-to-business scenario (like rolling out an internal tool), the stages could be purchase, adoption, retention, expansion, advocacy.

These are behaviors, thoughts, and feelings the actor has throughout the journey and that are mapped within each of the journey phases.

Actions are the actual behaviors and steps taken by users. This component is not meant to be a granular step-by-step log of every discrete interaction. Rather, it is a narrative of the steps the actor takes during that phase.

Mindsets correspond to users’ thoughts, questions, motivations, and information needs at different stages in the journey. Ideally, these are customer verbatims from research.

Emotions are plotted as single line across the journey phases, literally signaling the emotional “ups” and “downs” of the experience. Think of this line as a contextual layer of emotion that tells us where the user is delighted versus frustrated.

Opportunities (along with additional context such as ownership and metrics) are insights gained from mapping; they speak to how the user experience can be optimized. Insights and opportunities help the team draw knowledge from the map:

  • What needs to be done with this knowledge?
  • Who owns what change?
  • Where are the biggest opportunities?
  • How are we going to measure improvements we implement?

Customer Journey Map Example

There are several concepts closely related and thus easily confused with journey maps.

It is important to note that this section is only meant to help your personal understanding and clarification of these terms. It is not advised to debate or attempt to shift a whole organization’s language to abide by the definitions stated here. Instead, use these definitions to guide you towards aspects of another method that your team has not previously considered.

Journey Map vs. Experience Map

Think of an experience map as a parent to a journey map. A journey map has a specific actor (a singular customer or user of a product) and specific scenario (of a product or service), while an experience map is broader on both accounts — a generic human undergoing a general human experience.

The experience map is agnostic of a specific business or product. It’s used for understanding a general human behavior; in contrast, a customer journey map is specific and focused on a particular business or product.

For example, imagine the world before the ridesharing market existed (Uber, Lyft, Bird, or Limebike, to name a few). If we were to create an experience map of how a person gets from one place to another, the map would likely include walking, biking, driving, riding with a friend, public transportation, or calling a taxi. Using that experience map we could then isolate pain points: unknown fares, bad weather, unpredictable timing, paying in cash, and so on. Using these pain points, we would then create a future journey map for specific product: how does a particular type of user call a car using the Lyft app?

Journey Map vs. Service Blueprint

If journey maps are the children to experience maps, then service blueprints are the grandchildren. They visualize the relationships between different service components (such as people or processes) at various touchpoints in a specific customer journey.

Think of service blueprints as a part two to customer journey maps. They are extensions of journey maps, but instead of being focused on the user (and taking the user’s viewpoint), they are focused on the business (and take its perspective).

For the Lyft scenario above, we would take the journey map and expand it with what Lyft does internally to support that customer journey. The blueprint could include matching the user to a driver, contacting the driver, calculating fares, and so on.

Journey Map vs. User Story Map

User stories are used in Agile to plan features or functionalities. Each feature is condensed down to a deliberately brief description from a user’s point of view; the description focuses on what the user wants to do, and how that feature will help. The typical format of a user story is a single sentence: “As a [type of user], I want to [goal], so that [benefit].” For example, “As a checking account holder, I want to deposit checks with my mobile device, so that I don’t have to go to the bank.”

A user story map is a visual version of a user story. For example, take the user story above (“As a checking account holder, I want to deposit checks with my mobile device, so that I don’t have to go to the bank.”) and imagine writing out the different steps that the team plans for the user to take when using that functionality. These steps could be: logging in, beginning deposit, taking picture of check, and entering transaction details. For each step, we can document required features: enabling camera access, scanning check and auto filling numbers, and authorizing signature. In a user story map, these features are written on sticky notes, then arranged based on the product release that each functionality will be added to.

While, at a glance, a user story map may look like a journey map, journey maps are meant for discovery and understanding (think big picture), while user story maps are for planning and implementation (think little picture).

Although a journey map and user story map may contain some of the same pieces, they are used at different points of the process. For example, imagine our journey map for Lyft indicated that a pain point appeared when the user was in a large group. To address it, the team may introduce a multicar-call option. We could create a user story map to break this feature (multicar call) into smaller pieces, so a product-development team could plan release cycles and corresponding tasks.

The benefits of journey maps (and most other UX mappings ) are two-fold. First, the process of creating a map forces conversation and an aligned mental model for the whole team. Fragmented understanding is a widespread problem in organizations because success metrics are siloed; it is no one’s responsibility to look at the entire experience from the user’s standpoint. This shared vision is a critical goal of journey mapping, because, without it, agreement on how to improve customer experience would never take place.

Second, the shared artifact resulting from the mapping can be used to communicate an understanding of your user or service to all involved. Journey maps are effective mechanisms for conveying information in a way that is memorable, concise, and that creates a shared vision. The maps can also become the basis for decision making as the team moves forward.

Journey mapping is a process that provides a holistic view of the customer experience by uncovering moments of both frustration and delight throughout a series of interactions. Done successfully, it reveals opportunities to address customers’ pain points, alleviate fragmentation, and, ultimately, create a better experience for your users.

Additional articles are available, discussing: 

  • When to create customer journey maps
  • The 5-step process
  • Journey mapping in real life

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Customer Journey Maps: How to Create Really Good Ones [Examples + Template]

Aaron Agius

Updated: April 17, 2024

Published: May 04, 2023

Did you know 70% of online shoppers abandoned their carts in 2022? Why would someone spend time adding products to their cart just to fall off the customer journey map at the last second?

person creating a customer journey map

The thing is — understanding your customer base can be very challenging. Even when you think you’ve got a good read on them, the journey from awareness to purchase for each customer will always be unpredictable, at least to some level.

Download Now: Free Customer Journey Map Templates

Download Now

While it isn’t possible to predict every experience with 100% accuracy, customer journey mapping is a convenient tool for keeping track of critical milestones that every customer hits. In this post, I’ll explain everything you need to know about customer journey mapping — what it is, how to create one, and best practices.

Table of Contents

What is the customer journey?

What is a customer journey map, benefits of customer journey mapping, customer journey stages.

  • What’s included in a customer journey map?

The Customer Journey Mapping Process

Steps for creating a customer journey map.

  • Types of Customer Journey Maps

Customer Journey Mapping Best Practices

  • Customer Journey Design
  • Customer Journey Map Examples

Free Customer Journey Map Templates

definition of customer journey map

Free Customer Journey Template

Outline your company's customer journey and experience with these 7 free templates.

  • Buyer's Journey Template
  • Future State Template
  • Day-in-the-Life Template

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

The customer journey is the series of interactions a customer has with a brand, product, or business as they become aware of a pain point and make a purchase decision. While the buyer’s journey refers to the general process of arriving at a purchase, the customer journey refers to a buyer's purchasing experience with a specific company or service.

Customer Journey vs. Buyer Journey

Many businesses that I’ve worked with were confused about the differences between the customer’s journey and the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is the entire buying experience from pre-purchase to post-purchase. It covers the path from customer awareness to becoming a product or service user.

In other words, buyers don’t wake up and decide to buy on a whim. They go through a process of considering, evaluating, and purchasing a new product or service.

The customer journey refers to your brand’s place within the buyer’s journey. These are the customer touchpoints where you will meet your customers as they go through the stages of the buyer’s journey. When you create a customer journey map, you’re taking control of every touchpoint at every stage of the journey instead of leaving it up to chance.

For example, at HubSpot, our customer’s journey is divided into three stages — pre-purchase/sales, onboarding/migration, and normal use/renewal.

hubspot customer journey map stages

1. Use customer journey map templates.

Why make a customer journey map from scratch when you can use a template? Save yourself some time by downloading HubSpot’s free customer journey map templates .

This has templates that map out a buyer’s journey, a day in your customer’s life, lead nurturing, and more.

These templates can help sales, marketing, and customer support teams learn more about your company’s buyer persona. This will improve your product and customer experience.

2. Set clear objectives for the map.

Before you dive into your customer journey map, you need to ask yourself why you’re creating one in the first place.

What goals are you directing this map towards? Who is it for? What experience is it based upon?

If you don’t have one, I recommend creating a buyer persona . This persona is a fictitious customer with all the demographics and psychographics of your average customer. This persona reminds you to direct every aspect of your customer journey map toward the right audience.

3. Profile your personas and define their goals.

Next, you should conduct research. This is where it helps to have customer journey analytics ready.

Don’t have them? No worries. You can check out HubSpot’s Customer Journey Analytics tool to get started.

Questionnaires and user testing are great ways to obtain valuable customer feedback. The important thing is to only contact actual customers or prospects.

You want feedback from people interested in purchasing your products and services who have either interacted with your company or plan to do so.

Some examples of good questions to ask are:

  • How did you hear about our company?
  • What first attracted you to our website?
  • What are the goals you want to achieve with our company? In other words, what problems are you trying to solve?
  • How long have you/do you typically spend on our website?
  • Have you ever made a purchase with us? If so, what was your deciding factor?
  • Have you ever interacted with our website to make a purchase but decided not to? If so, what led you to this decision?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how easily can you navigate our website?
  • Did you ever require customer support? If so, how helpful was it, on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • Can we further support you to make your process easier?

You can use this buyer persona tool to fill in the details you procure from customer feedback.

4. Highlight your target customer personas.

Once you’ve learned about the customer personas that interact with your business, I recommend narrowing your focus to one or two.

Remember, a customer journey map tracks the experience of a customer taking a particular path with your company. If you group too many personas into one journey, your map won’t accurately reflect that experience.

When creating your first map, it’s best to pick your most common customer persona and consider the route they would typically take when engaging with your business for the first time.

You can use a marketing dashboard to compare each and determine the best fit for your journey map. Don’t worry about the ones you leave out, as you can always go back and create a new map specific to those customer types.

5. List out all touchpoints.

Begin by listing the touchpoints on your website.

What is a touchpoint in a customer journey map?

A touchpoint in a customer journey map is an instance where your customer can form an opinion of your business. You can find touchpoints in places where your business comes in direct contact with a potential or existing customer.

For example, if I were to view a display ad, interact with an employee, reach a 404 error, or leave a Google review, all of those interactions would be considered a customer touchpoint.

Your brand exists beyond your website and marketing materials, so you must consider the different types of touchpoints in your customer journey map. These touchpoints can help uncover opportunities for improvement in the buying journey.

Based on your research, you should have a list of all the touchpoints your customers are currently using and the ones you believe they should be using if there’s no overlap.

This is essential in creating a customer journey map because it provides insight into your customers’ actions.

For instance, if they use fewer touchpoints than expected, does this mean they’re quickly getting turned away and leaving your site early? If they are using more than expected, does this mean your website is complicated and requires several steps to reach an end goal?

Whatever the case, understanding touchpoints help you understand the ease or difficulties of the customer journey.

Aside from your website, you must also look at how your customers might find you online. These channels might include:

  • Social channels.
  • Email marketing.
  • Third-party review sites or mentions.

Run a quick Google search of your brand to see all the pages that mention you. Verify these by checking your Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. Whittle your list down to those touchpoints that are the most common and will be most likely to see an action associated with it.

At HubSpot, we hosted workshops where employees from all over the company highlighted instances where our product, service, or brand impacted a customer. Those moments were recorded and logged as touchpoints. This showed us multiple areas of our customer journey where our communication was inconsistent.

The proof is in the pudding — you can see us literally mapping these touch points out with sticky notes in the image below.

Customer journey map meeting to improve the customer journey experience

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Customer Journey Map: Definition with Examples


Improved customer service, customer loyalty, and increased ROI; 3 things that every organization wishes they could achieve overnight. It’s possible, although not overnight, but with the right tools and the effort.

One such tool is the customer journey map and it’s there at the top with the other powerful tools that help drive customer-focused change effectively.  

In this guide, we’ll explain the steps you need to take to create a customer journey map that drives the expected results while avoiding the common mistakes others make. Scroll down to learn:

  • What is a Customer Journey Map?
  • What Are the Benefits of Using a Customer Journey Map?

Factors to Consider Before Creating a Customer Journey Map

What are the components of a customer journey map, how to create a customer journey map in 6 steps, tips and best practices when creating a customer journey map, common mistakes to avoid when creating your customer journey map, customer journey map definition.

A customer journey map, also known as a customer experience map, is a visual representation that outlines the various steps and touchpoints a customer goes through when interacting with a company, product, or service. It chronologically represents each step of interaction the customer takes with your business. A customer journey map usually starts with the initial step of when the customer discovers your product/ service and depending on your goal it can extend as long as you want to.

Customer journey map is a tool used to understand and analyze the customer’s experience, from the initial awareness or consideration of a product or service through the purchase and post-purchase stages. It reveals customer actions, emotions, pain points and expectations along the customer journey. And it helps the business see things from the customer’s perspective which in turn helps the business gain a deep understanding of the needs of the customer.

What are the Benefits of Using a Customer Journey Map?

There are many benefits to customer journey mapping. The customer journey map helps

  • To enhance the customer experience. It helps businesses gain insights into customers' various touchpoints and interactions with the product or service.
  • To reduce costs by identifying the areas the business should prioritize investing in and spending effort on. Customer journey mapping can help businesses identify and eliminate unnecessary touchpoints or processes that may not add value to the customer journey. Get valuable insight into what the customer is expecting from your brand, their internal motivations, and needs which will, in turn, help you improve your customer experience.
  • To innovate and differentiate by discovering the gaps between customer expectations and current customer experience, unmet customer needs, pain points, and opportunities.
  • To improve customer satisfaction by identifying severe customer experience issues and eliminating them effectively.
  • To increase customer loyalty by helping to build strong customer relationships by understanding their needs, preferences, and emotions.
  • To align teams by facilitating collaboration within organizations. This helps to provide a shared understanding of the customer’s journey, enabling different teams to align their efforts toward a common goal.
  • Data-driven decision-making based on gathered insights from customer research, feedback, and analytics.

Before you delve into creating a customer journey map, it is important to consider several factors to ensure that the final outcome is accurate, effective and actionable.

  • What is your team trying to achieve? Make sure to define your objective and purpose of creating the customer journey map, clearly.
  • Identify the target customer segment as different customer segments may have different touchpoints, pain points and requirements leading to different journeys.
  • Carry out a thorough research by gathering data and insights via customer research, feedback and analytics. Conduct customer interviews, surveys, feedback forms, social media and website analytics among others.
  • Make the customer journey mapping a collaborative effort by involving cross-functional teams. Invite the marketing, sales, customer service, product, and design teams to work together to understand and align efforts.
  • Consider including the emotional aspects of the customer journey such as feelings, motivations and perceptions at each touchpoint.

A customer journey map typically includes the following components:

  • Touchpoints: All of the interactions and experiences a customer has with a company, including in-person, online, and mobile interactions.
  • Customer personas: Representations of the target customer segments, including their demographics, behaviors, motivations, and pain points.
  • Emotions: A visual representation of how the customer feels at different touchpoints during their journey.
  • Channels: The ways in which a customer interacts with the company, such as website, phone, or in-person interactions.
  • Data and insights: Customer behavior data and insights from surveys, analytics, or other sources.
  • Pain points and opportunities: Identifications of areas where the customer experience can be improved, as well as opportunities for innovation and differentiation.
  • Recommended actions: Specific recommendations for improving the customer experience, based on the journey map analysis.
  • Alignment with company goals: A visual representation of how the customer journey aligns with the overall goals and strategy of the company.

At a glance, a customer journey map may look easy to make. But there are many details you need to pay attention to when creating one. In the following steps, we have simplified the process of creating a customer journey map.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that customer journey maps may differ from company to company based on the product/ service they offer and audience behavior.

It’s also important to have the right kind of people who know about your customer’s experience in the room when you are mapping the journey.

Here are 6 six easy steps that you can follow when creating a customer journey map.

  • Build your buyer persona
  • Map out the customer lifecycle stages and touchpoints
  • Understand the goals of the customers
  • Identify obstacles and customer pain points
  • Identify the elements you want to focus on
  • Fix the roadblocks

Let’s look at each step in more detail.

Step 1: Build Your Buyer Persona

Creating a customer journey map begins with defining your buyer persona, which profiles your target customer based on extensive research.

The buyer persona usually consists of demographic data such as age, gender, career, etc. in addition to other behavioral and psychographic details like customer goals, interests, lifestyle, challenges, etc.

Your business can have one or many buyer personas depending on how many audience segments you are targeting. And to avoid creating a customer journey map that is too generic, you need to create separate customer journey maps for each of the segments you identify.

You need to also be careful to rely on real data rather than assumptions to avoid creating an erroneous customer profile that won’t do much for you.

You can gather as much data as you want from online research, questionnaires, surveys, direct customer feedback, interviews and with tools like Google Analytics.

Here’s our guide on creating a buyer persona . Refer to it to create your own buyer persona in 4 simple steps. Start with a template to save time.

Buyer Persona - What is a Customer Journey Map

Creating the buyer persona will also shed light on the goals of the buyer, which is another thing you need to pay attention to when mapping your customer’s journey.

Step 2: Map Out the Customer LIfecycle Stages and Touchpoints

What are the stages your customer goes through to come into contact with your product/ service? Breaking down your customer journey map into various stages will make it easier to understand and refer to.

Now, these stages may vary depending on your business situation, sales funnel design, marketing strategies, etc. but usually, it would contain – Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Retention.

Map out the touchpoints to clarify the customer lifecycle stages even better. A touchpoint refers to any moment in their journey when a customer comes into contact with your brand (i.e. website, social media, testimonials, advertisements, point of sale, billing, etc.).

The data you collected during your buyer persona research will give you a pretty good idea about the customer touchpoints along the lifecycle stages; these include the steps they take when they first discover your brand to purchasing your product and subsequent interactions.

Identifying all potential touchpoints may sound overwhelming, but you can always rely on tools like Google Analytics which will generate behavioral reports (which show the user path throughout your website)  and goal flow reports (display the path a user takes to complete a goal conversion) for you to work with.

Or you can follow the traditional method and put yourself in the shoes of your customers and take yourself through the journey to identify the actions.

At the same time try to determine the emotional state (delighted/ frustrated) of the customer as they take each action. Knowing how they feel will help you understand whether they would go from one stage to the other in the journey.

Step 3: Understand the Goals of the Customers

This is where you need to focus your attention on understanding the goals your customers are trying to achieve at each stage. When it comes to optimizing your customer’s journey, it will help immensely if you know what your customers are trying to achieve.

Some methods you can use here include survey answers, interview transcripts, customer support emails, user testing, etc.

Once you know the goals your customers are trying to gain at each phase of the journey, you can align them with the touchpoints.

Step 4: Identify Obstacles and Customer Pain Points

By now you know what your customer is trying to achieve at each stage of the customer lifecycle, and each of the steps they take to get it done.

If your customer journey is perfect, then you won’t have your customers abandoning their purchases, leaving your landing pages without filling the forms, clicking the CTA only to close the tab, etc. If your journey didn’t have any roadblocks at all, then you wouldn’t be needing this user journey map in the first place.

But that’s not the case here, is it?

There might be many things that you are doing right to make your customer experience a smooth one, but there can still be many roadblocks that frustrate your users. In this step, you need to work on identifying what these roadblocks and pain points of customers are.

Maybe the product price is too high, or the shipping rates are unreasonable, or maybe the registration form is a few pages too long. Identifying such roadblocks will help you apply suitable solutions to improve your customer experience.

You can rely on the research data you gathered to create your buyer personas here as well.

Step 5: Identify the Elements You Want to Focus on

There are several types of customer journey maps and each focuses on a variety of elements. Based on your purpose, you can select one of them.

Current state: These maps show how your customers are interacting with your brand currently.

Future state: This type of map visualizes the actions that you assume or believe will be taken by your customers.

Day in the life: This type of map tries to capture what your current customers or prospects do in a day in their life. They will reveal more information about your customers, including pain points in real life.

Step 6: Fix the Roadblocks

Now that you know the issues/ roadblocks your customers come across as they interact with your brand, focus on prioritizing and fixing them to improve each touchpoint to retain customers at all stages of the journey.

Customers are constantly changing, and so should your customer journey maps. Test and update your customer journey maps as often as necessary to reflect the changes in your customers as well as in your products/ services.

Here are some templates you can start with right away.

Customer Journey Map - What is a Customer Journey Map

Here are a few additional tips and best practices to ensure your customer journey map is accurate and effective.

  • Use or create personas to better understand your customer and tailor your journey to specific customer segments. For example, if your business is fashion retail, you can develop personas such as ‘working professional,’ ‘fashionable mom,’ ‘teenage fashionista,’ etc.
  • Use data and metrics to support your map and make it data-driven. Include data on customer satisfaction scores, conversion rates, or customer retention rates to identify areas for improvement. This can also help to prioritize actions and allocate resources effectively.
  • Use multiple channels, both online and offline, to interact with customers. For example, a customer may discover your product or service on social media, then research more on your website, visit the store for a demo, and then make the final purchase.
  • Go beyond existing touchpoints to include anticipated future customer needs as well. For example, if you are in the hospitality industry, you could include potential pain points and opportunities for pre-arrival, check-in, stay, check-out, and post-stay.
  • Always keep the customer at the center of your customer journey map. Consider the customer’s emotions, preferences, and motivations at each touchpoint to create a more customer-centric experience. For example, a customer journey map for a subscription-based meal delivery service can include touchpoints for menu options, selecting meals, placing an order, receiving, and providing feedback.
  • Customer journeys are dynamic and can evolve due to customer behavior, market trends, and business strategies. Therefore, continuously review and update by monitoring customer behavior, trends, and business strategies. Keep the customer journey map flexible and adaptable to changes.
  • Create and present the journey map in a visually appealing and accessible format so stakeholders can easily understand it. Use visuals, diagrams, and infographics as required.
  • A customer journey map is not a one-time exercise but a continuous process: test and iterate. Validate the map with real customers to ensure accuracy and relevance. Gather feedback, and conduct usability testing to gather additional insights to refine and make the map accurate.
  • Keep it simple and accessible. Use clear and straightforward language and visual elements while avoiding jargon and cluttering. Make sure the customer journey map is easy to understand and accessible to all relevant stakeholders.

Creating a customer journey map can be a complex process. Here are a few mistakes you should be aware of and avoid at any cost.

Making assumptions without data

A common mistake is relying on assumptions without proper data or research. It would be best to put time into gathering data and insights from various sources. Make sure to carry out thorough research. Use a combination of qualitative and quantitative data to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Focusing on one touchpoint

Another mistake is focusing only on one touchpoint or a single interaction rather than considering the entire end-to-end journey. This can result in an incomplete or biased customer journey map. To avoid this, take a comprehensive approach and consider the whole customer journey from initial awareness to post-purchase stages. Include all relevant online and offline touchpoints, channels, and interactions.

Not involving cross-functional teams

Involve cross-functional teams in customer journey mapping to get diverse insights and a holistic view. Not involving different teams can result in biased views and missing valuable insights from different perspectives. Encourage team collaboration and communication to align the customer journey map and gather input from different stakeholders. This can help uncover blind spots and identify opportunities for improvements.

Failing to validate with real customers

Not validating the customer journey map with real customers can lead to inaccurate assumptions. Also, relying on internal assumptions or team perspectives will lead to skewed views and away from the reality of customer interactions. To avoid such a dilemma, validate the map through feedback loops, usability testing, and customer interviews. Gather input from actual customer experiences, preferences, and pain points.

Ready to Map Your Customer’s Journey?

Customer journey maps are a great way to gain deeper insight into your customers and their experience with your organization. Taking the time to understand how your customers interact with you, what they feel and what they want to achieve can go a long way toward retaining them.

Follow these 6 steps to get your customer journey map right. Use a template to save time.

And don’t forget to leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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FAQs About Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey maps can improve customer experiences by providing companies with a clear understanding of their customers' experiences with their products, and services. This information can be used to identify pain points and areas for improvement, allowing companies to better meet the needs and expectations of their customers. By using customer journey maps to optimize the customer experience, companies can:

  • Align resources and efforts to meet customer needs better.
  • Create a more personalized experience for customers.
  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Reduce customer churn.
  • Increase customer lifetime value.
  • Enhance the overall customer experience.
  • Improve operational efficiency.
  • Facilitate cross-functional collaboration to improve the customer experience.
  • Stay ahead of the competition by offering a differentiated and superior customer experience.

The tools needed to create a customer journey map vary depending on the complexity of the map and the size of the company, but some common tools include:

  • Customer feedback: Surveys, customer interviews, and focus groups can be used to gather customer feedback and understand their experiences.
  • Analytics tools: Data analytics tools, such as website analytics, customer behavior tracking, and customer relationship management systems, can provide insight into customer behavior and preferences.
  • Customer journey map software: Tools like Creately that can be used to create visually appealing customer journey maps.
  • Project management software: Tools like to manage the journey mapping process and keep track of progress.
  • Collaboration tools: Tools like Creately, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Workspace can be used to collaborate with team members and stakeholders.
  • Identifying and resolving pain points in the customer journey
  • Improving customer onboarding and retention
  • Optimizing marketing and sales efforts
  • Designing a customer-centric website or app
  • Aligning cross-functional teams to deliver a cohesive customer experience
  • You can use customer journey maps to drive customer-centric strategies in your organization by Identifying pain points or gaps in the customer experience and developing targeted solutions
  • Aligning cross-functional teams and processes to meet customer needs
  • Optimizing touchpoints to deliver a seamless and satisfying customer experience
  • Utilizing insights from the customer journey map to inform marketing, sales, and customer service strategies

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Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

Everything you need to know before customer journey mapping

definition of customer journey map

Both customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) professionals should require the use of user or customer journey mapping in determining the ideal customer and user experience, says Forrester Analyst Leah Buley in this EffectiveUI blog post .

The rising importance of CX and UX has inspired us to share our collection of the most comprehensive instructions from our corporate Miro library, which we hope will be helpful in your customer journey mapping too.

Look through this brief presentation about customer journey mapping or read the full article below.

Why did we collect this information? Because current trends prove that ideal customer experience is going to be a cornerstone of a company’s success soon.

According to Econsultancy Digital Trends 2015 report , which was based on a global survey, customer experience is considered to be the main opportunity in 2015-2020 to differentiate from competitors, beating out current markers of success (like product quality and competitive pricing).

Read our recent post on the four remote collaboration trends that drive the adoption of virtual whiteboards for customer journey mapping.

It means that customer experience soon will be, if it is not already, the key factor determining referral, retention, revenue and overall growth in the majority of businesses.

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definition of customer journey map

Another study conducted by Esteban Kolsky (a customer strategist, researcher, and consultant) shows, among other things, that customers are looking for a guaranteed quality experience.

Kolsky’s results show that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers regularly complains and that the rest simply churn; he also finds that 67% of consumers cite bad experiences as the reason for churn. Ultimately, at least 91% of unhappy customers will simply leave without a complaint.

Currently, most companies are struggling to get customers’ attention and acquire new-comers, but this is not a financially sound strategy: “it is 6-7X more expensive to attract new customers than to keep existing customers,” according to the research.

That means that the real competition starts in the middle of the marketing funnel and that the focus really needs to be on improving the experience for existing customers. The question then becomes: How best to implement strategies that will be successful in this area?

What is customer journey mapping?

The customer journey map (CJM) is one of the main tools that allows us to understand and improve customer experience. This video from Peer Insight shows a sample Customer Journey Map in action; but in essence, it is a graph which illustrates the steps customers go through: from initial contact, through the process of engagement, and hopefully into long-term loyalty. It may focus on a particular part of the story or give an overview of the entire customer experience as they interact with a company — whether it is a product, a website, a retail store, a service, or any combination of these. It usually treats individuals as real or potential customers, so it shows a path how people either become customers or leave.

The more interaction steps are described, the more complicated — but also the more informative and useful — such a map becomes.

There is an endless number of customer journey map templates, but a basic template includes a specific persona, the steps beginning-to-end of the customer experience (including touchpoints), and the potential emotional highs and lows. Other parts of the journey are optional and depend on your objective.

As Paul Boag, a user experience consultant, speaker & author of Digital Adaptation, says, participation in creating customer journey map is useful for all involved in product development :

However, the finished map could be simplified and expanded to the entire company under the condition of non-disclosure.

The process of customer journey mapping

The process of customer journey mapping varies from one company to another. Usually, it depends on the resources you have (people, time, equipment, etc.), the template, and the facilitator’s experience. Below you can find one of thousands of possible scenarios for customer journey mapping.

Step 1: Gathering information

During this phase, you have to define a customer persona that is relevant to your goal and the scope of activities you would like to assess, and then gather the maximum data about this persona. How does one gather this data? You will want both quantitative and qualitative information to gain the deepest insight into your customer.The more data you can get — the more chance you have to understand customer values and experience correctly.

The more data you can get — the more chance you have to understand customer values and experience correctly.

Quantitative customer research like surveys, testing, and web analytics will show you conversion rate and customers’ pain points. While this is important, it is almost useless without qualitative research that complements your data and gives deep understanding of customers’ emotions, goals, attitudes or motivations. Qualitative research includes interviews, focus groups, and field studies. Kerry Bodine , customer experience consultant and the co-author of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, even suggests inviting customers to a journey mapping workshop where you can ask them directly about their thoughts and feelings at each step of the journey.

definition of customer journey map

Step 2: Introducing the team

To kick things off, start with an introduction phase to ensure that everyone is on the same page before you begin. Set up a date for the workshop, create a shared space, and get together a cross-functional team that represents different departments and seniority levels.

Uncontrollable meetings neither help your team be productive, nor boost creativity. Usually, they lead to chaos, where everybody is speaking at the same time, or someone is starting to dominate in the conversation. Nancy Halpern , Principal at KNH Associates suggests to develop “the rules of the road” that limit each person’s speaking time to prevent anyone from dominating.

Create a shared space to get together a cross-functional team:

Once everyone has gathered, explain the stakes and the goal of the workshop and agree upon the schedule. Since customer journey mapping is a kind of brainstorming activity, consider additional exercises that will help you to warm up the participants or refresh them if they reach a deadlock.

Step 3: Brainstorming

Plan for the lion’s share of the time to be the brainstorming activity. Select a brainstorming technique  that you feel will best help your cross-functional team generate new ideas for future customer experience.

definition of customer journey map

The discussion will start with a briefing about the customer persona and then an analysis of the research.

Then, the team should generate as many touchpoints as possible and consider relevant channels between them. A touchpoint is a point of contact between the customer and your product.

Each touchpoint is an opportunity to strengthen the relationships with the customer and move towards the greatest customer experience. Usually, they are mapped either as a timeline , a tree , a spider or a wheel .

It is important to let your team “tell the story.” Do not interpret user feedback; rather, let your team see the whole picture by first capturing the stories via whatever creatively makes the most sense: stickers, mapping using flowcharts, writing stories with text, illustrating with pictures, acting if necessary — whatever works!

Visualization tips from @UXlady

“Use arrows to illustrate connection type between touchpoints”.

Direct connection. One task leads on to the next.

Bidirectional connection. One task leads to the next, but user can go back.

Controlled evaluation. User moves between different variables in a controlled environment.

Open exploration. User moves between different variables, related or not.

Facilitate the process so that maximum attention can be devoted to gathering touchpoints because they determine CX and what customers think of your service. Touchpoints and the path between them are vital because they are the exact places where we see users leaving.

While brainstorming, try to map as many existing and potential touchpoints as possible and encourage your team to put themselves in the shoes of the persona when analyzing.

definition of customer journey map

Step 4: Illustrating

After you have allowed sufficient time for brainstorming, the team is ready for the illustration phase, where we combine the results into one map. Each touchpoint is accompanied by specific information such as:

Make sure that even if you used a physical whiteboard for the customer journey mapping, someone is responsible for digitizing the final layout, because it should be an editable and shareable piece of work.

While digitizing your customer journey map, you are free to invent your template or use one of the thousands from the web. We use Miro template, which allows us to collaborate in real-time from any place and share the results with the entire company, including remote employees.

definition of customer journey map

Step 5: Creating an action plan & implementation

After the map is ready, analyze whether each touchpoint is convenient and gives value to the customer. The gaps between the desired customer experience and the one actually received should be your action plan . An effective action plan should cover deadlines, responsibilities, budget, KPIs and success criteria.

In Miro brainstorm touchpoints and barriers using Sticker tool , because it is easy to copy them and transfer to sticky notes backlog, prioritize using tags or Emojis, discuss and track progress via mentions in comments .

definition of customer journey map

Step 6: Revising your CJM

New popular tools, behavioral patterns and communication channels arise almost every month, and the customer journey map needs to be adapted accordingly. Consider establishing a standard schedule for revising your customer journey map. For example, it may be once per quarter. During the revision process, point out what may have changed and what KPIs have been achieved. If there are gaps or red KPIs, another brainstorming session starts. Online tools like Miro  (from $10 per month), Touchpoint Dashboard (from $65 monthly) and UX360 (from $500 monthly) will save you time on the illustration phase if you plan to repeatedly revise your CJM.

definition of customer journey map

10 reasons why CJM improves CX process and generates ROI

Now that you have an idea of what CJM is, and how to go about creating one, it is important to understand why implementing this process is so necessary for a company that wants to become or remain competitive in today’s changing market.

CJM shows who, where, when and how the customer interacts with the product or service, making the experience as transparent as possible.

CJM highlights the customer and what they value because it focuses on customer needs and feelings at every stage of interaction.

CJM helps you design the most economical system for lasting value.

CJM leads not only to improvements in current features but also showcases opportunities for innovation, allowing for “a-ha!” moments.

CJM allow the team to optimize costs because it highlights priorities and areas not valued by the customers so that you can relocate resources to the most critical gaps or to the touchpoints most likely to “convert” a customer.

CJM examines the brand promise that you sell to customers through many channels (for example, a complicated sign up form doesn’t correlate with an “effortless” characteristic).

CJM shows opportunities for improvement because the map reveals barriers. It examines whether the customer life cycle is in a logical order, or if there are gaps between the desired customer experience and the one that is actually received.

CJM helps to develop cross business alignment across the organization and improve external communication.

CJM, shared with the entire company, makes people who communicate with customers in the touchpoints feel more responsible for the experience they make.

CJM helps you to find ways to differentiate from your competitors.

4 tools similar to the customer journey map

definition of customer journey map

It should now be clear that having some kind of tool for your company to track customer interaction and visualize feedback is vitally important. However, you may be wondering why a customer journey map should be used. Why not a different kind of map, instead?

Several tools look quite similar to the customer journey map, although they serve different purposes and cases:

While the boundaries between the tools are becoming blurred because they all cover related topics, it is not the terminology that should be discussed, but the purposes and goals of each so that you can benefit from the tools to the fullest.

Basically, sales journeys, service blueprints , and process maps describe an Inside-out or a “backstage” company strategy. In other words — “how the service works,” “what we do,” and “how we create a set of experiences for a customer.”

On the other hand, the perfect customer journey or user experience map is a part of an Outside-in  world, where we describe “how the service is experienced” or “what happens to the individual” so it helps to adapt the product to the audience behavior.

However, there are no rules prohibiting you from merging parts from those Inside-out and Outside-in worlds, and it positively influences UX and CX when they are used in conjunction, so it could be even more useful to look at the intersection of all diagrams.

To understand how best to use each one, let’s briefly scan the tools in more detail.

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1. user experience focused maps (ux journey maps).

A UX map could be applied to:

The map shows how the experience fits into a person’s life. If a service is being considered, the UX journey map examines user engagement to improve the service and make the user’s life simpler and easier.

definition of customer journey map

Both a UX journey map and a customer journey map look quite similar because they cover the same ideas. However, according to Adam Ramshaw, Australian expert in customer experience management and customer loyalty management, they are different and treating them as if they are the same is confusing for all concerned .

The difference is that the experience map looks at individuals in the context of human behavior, while the customer journey map considers individuals specifically as current or potential customers.

Also according to Adam Ramshaw, the UX journey map doesn’t necessarily describe the interaction stage (like subscribing, purchasing or getting in contact), while the customer journey map covers the whole user path starting from awareness, going through sales and finishing with continuous service usage.

This means that while both styles of map perform essentially the same function, a customer journey map is more specifically tailored to the needs of a company looking to improve customer experience and especially how to improve or increase touchpoints.

The goals of the user differ from the goals of the customer.

2. Marketing automation or sales journeys (sales automation journey maps)

A sales automation journey map helps the marketing team increase sales by mapping the user’s path to becoming a paying customer through the use of triggers, or messages that reach a customer at the right time in order to increase brand awareness and hopefully create a loyalty loop that brings the customer back time and again, as seen in the diagram below.

definition of customer journey map

A sales automation journey map can often become quite complicated because it is not linear, and it needs to predict the path for many different personas to move from consideration to paying customer.

Fortunately, the steps are easily tracked and measured, which is why a sales journey map can help to customize marketing and sales strategy. It can be used to determine which scenario converts customers more frequently and which drives the biggest income from a single customer. The biggest difference from the customer journey map is that the sales journey map does not consider the product at all, merely the marketing needed to connect with the customer.

3. Service blueprint

A service blueprint is a visual tool designed to establish effective business processes. Just like product companies use blueprints to help them construct products and buildings, service businesses use blueprints to ensure all the factors are in place and the processes optimized to provide great customer experience. The service blueprint provides a visual for the person providing a service to see the steps in the process that they need to accomplish behind the scenes.

definition of customer journey map

Since it focuses on the process as opposed to the experience, a service blueprint shows the backstage of the Inside-out world, but will have a lack of information on user experience. Fortunately, a customer journey map covers this problem (mapping the user experience), and these two diagrams are often aligned. In this case, the customer journey map describes a user and acts as a step in the decision cycle, while a service blueprint captures the flow of all business processes impacted by the journey.

4. Process map

The process map is very similar to the service blueprint — it maps the process activities flow, plotting out responsibilities, business standards, and KPIs or success indicators . It’s necessary to map processes if you want to train the staff to a single standard, identify opportunities for improvements or assess the influence of any upcoming changes.

definition of customer journey map

A process map is often developed by specialists or by specific departments because it is important to have expertise in the internal process. This is different from how a CJM should be developed; since a customer journey map is not focused on the internal world, the team can (and should!) be cross-functional, representing all departments involved in the customer experience.

As you can see, any of the diagrams mentioned above could positively influence UX and CX, and the most powerful journey map combines all of these types of maps so that the internal perspective will be developed in conjunction with an understanding of the customer journey.

The most powerful journey map combines all of Inside-Out and Outside-In maps so that the internal perspective will be developed in conjunction with an understanding of the customer journey.

The most common mistakes while customer journey mapping

When developing a customer journey map, many companies that are eager to make use of a powerful tool fall prey to some common and easily correctable mistakes:

Customer journey map is an old document with restricted access

Customer journey map is a single linear path..

Flexibility is the key to great customer experience. Recreating a linear path of the customer experience is a waste of time because customers take many routes to complete a sale .

Customer journey map skips some touchpoints

considering them as occasional or unimportant. To make your map as useful as possible, you need to include every point where your customer comes into contact with your business. According to research from McKinsey & Company, the number of touchpoints is increasing in number by around 20% a year . Do not forget about social media channels, collision touchpoints , and the post-purchasing period!

Customer journey map is created from the company point of view

If you interpret your customer’s experience, you will wind up in a situation where you shoot in the dark because the chances that you guessed right are next to zero. Let the information speak for itself.

One customer journey map for all customers

Each customer persona is unique. You may wish to group them according to research results, but each group requires a dedicated customer journey map.

Customer journey analysis concentrates on the bad experience

It’s true that pain points are vital opportunities to dramatically increase customer satisfaction, but don’t forget to figure out your success points. These play an important role in emotional decision making, and extending the positive experience is an opportunity, too.

Customer journey map doesn’t include an action plan.

The gaps between the desired customer experience and the one actually received should be your action plan. Set it as a clear expectation of the result — each participant of the workshop should understand it. Then, carry the vision through planning and execution. Don’t neglect this! There are two ways to work with the gaps and barriers: improve the touchpoint or remove it from the process. If you let the situation flow as it is, it will turn out in the frozen or decreasing AARRR metrics because many disappointed users will continue silently leaving. And don’t forget that any successful changes conсern three angles of the process (not one) — customers, business processes, and corporate culture/structure.

A customer journey map is a powerful tool which, if used properly, positively influences customer experience, which in return improves retention and revenue metrics. Although it is not a magic bullet that can solve all your experience problems at once, it helps to add value for your customers.

The tool itself is rather complicated because it deals with behavioral patterns of different audiences and requires discipline. Trying to make the path simpler is tricky because it usually leads to the above-mentioned set of most common mistakes, like creating a CJM from the company perspective.

In Miro we decided that three simple rules make the customer journey map more effective:

Feel free to customize the process of the customer journey mapping and improve it from one revision to another.

Since this article is a collection of best practices across the web and Miro experience, we welcome you to share your thoughts, cases, and references in the comments below! Or check out the links to related templates (like Persona) and other useful links below.

Related templates and links

While creating the customer journey map, the following templates can help you make the process smoother. Use all of the templates together with the customer journey map on one endless online board to get a helicopter view of the problem.

Useful links:

1.  Outstanding customer journey mapping toolkit with several templates ;

2.  UX Project Canvas Template ;

3.  Practical Service Blueprinting Guide .

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What is a Customer Journey Map? Definition, Importance, Examples, and Process

By Paul VanZandt

Published on: April 28, 2021

What is a Customer Journey Map

Table of Contents

What is a Customer Journey Map?

Importance of customer journey map, examples of customer journey maps to elevate user experience, customer journey map process.

The principal goal of almost every business is attracting customers and driving profit. This is no secret, and some of the most successful companies make an effort to put the intentions and priorities of the customer first. How then, do you plan around what your customer wants Using various versions of a customer journey map helps teams identify, empathize, and target their customers in ways that position them toward their specific customer-facing goals.

This article will talk about what customer journey maps are, why they’re so important, and some common applications through IdeaScale Whiteboard . Check out our guides to online whiteboards and visual collaboration if you want to learn more about how IdeaScale Whiteboard enables collaboration for teams everywhere.

A Customer Journey Map serves as a dynamic visualization, illustrating the intricate pathway customers traverse when engaging with your product or service. Unlike mere records of tangible actions, our Customer Journey Map meticulously captures the nuances of customer assumptions, motivations, and emotions at every interaction. This strategic tool is a compelling narrative that unfolds the complete story of a customer’s experiences across all touchpoints with our brand.

Distinguishing between a Customer Journey Map and the process of Customer Journey Mapping is crucial. Our map functions as a comprehensive template, delineating the precise steps and actions that define the principal user’s journey. Meanwhile, Customer Journey Mapping, as a proactive and iterative process, entails deciphering customer actions and motivations, offering a visual representation that goes beyond the ordinary.

Our meticulously crafted Customer Journey Map is more than a static guide; it’s the cornerstone for strategic decision-making. By understanding and optimizing each stage of customer interaction, we not only elevate their experience but also set the stage for unparalleled brand affinity and loyalty.

Customer journey mapping is all about understanding your customer’s intentions and creating the most optimal user experience while interacting with your brand. In order to both attract new customers and maintain loyalty with the ones you currently have, optimizing your customer experience is vital.

Creating a unique, personalized, and effective customer experience increases the value of your brand to new and existing customers. This experience can create important actions depending on the specific endpoints different customers interact with and you customize their experience.

Revealing the different scenarios where customers interact with your product/service and their reasons for doing so helps create a better understanding of why they are using your product/service. Having a clear understanding of these reasons allows you to target different sectors of your potential customer base with different strategies to best turn use into conversions.

Customer journey mapping is a key point of interest with the end goal of improving customer experience , and without mapping their intentions and actions it can be easy to mislead the experience provided to the customer. For that reason, customer journey mapping is a vital step in determining how to target your customers effectively.

Learn more: Experience Map vs. Customer Journey Map

1. Storyboarding: Crafting Seamless Experiences for Higher Engagement

Storyboarding stands as a fundamental method in customer journey mapping, offering a dynamic approach to understand and improve user experiences. Begin by defining the scenario under examination, setting clear collaboration parameters, and establishing boundaries for focused contributions.

Break down each step of the user’s journey explicitly, aiming for simplicity. This allows for a granular examination of user emotions and intentions at every touchpoint. Storyboarding, a crucial technique for those new to customer journey mapping, is versatile and applicable to a wide range of customer-facing scenarios.

Persona Diagram

2. Persona Diagrams: Illuminating Customer Identities for Targeted Engagement

While not the most conventional approach, persona diagrams are powerful tools for delving into customer identity and traits. Unraveling your customer’s persona provides valuable insights into their motivations for using your product or service.

Persona diagrams encompass various aspects of your principal user, including their description, goals, attitudes, feedback, and solutions to their issues. This nuanced understanding enables precise targeting of customer needs, facilitating more effective communication and personalized interactions.

3. Customer Experience Map: Navigating Emotions and Impressions for Enhanced Satisfaction

Differing from maps focusing solely on specific actions, the customer experience map centers on the emotions and impressions felt by customers throughout the process. Select a scenario for analysis and deconstruct what customers need to learn, use, and remember.

By pinpointing the elements you want customers to use, learn, and remember, you not only shape the experience but also influence how customers interpret changes. Addressing these interpretations is crucial for refining your solution and filling any existing gaps in customer experience.

Retrospective Analysis

4. Engaging New Customers: Strategic Approaches for Attracting and Retaining Audiences

When envisioning the journey of potential users, consider not just existing customers but those you aim to attract. The Engaging New Customers board focuses on reaching and meeting the needs of prospective customers at every stage.

This board enables you to plan how to reach, impress, engage, and encourage the return of new customers. By dissecting their interaction stages, you can align your strategies with their intentions, providing a tailored experience to optimize their journey.

While not a traditional customer journey map, the Engaging New Customers board is invaluable for understanding the assumptions and needs of new customers. Teams seeking to break down and optimize user experiences should consider incorporating this dynamic tool into their toolkit.

Learn more: What are Customer Needs?

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, understanding your customers and providing exceptional experiences is paramount. One valuable tool that can help you achieve this is the customer journey map.

This visual representation of a customer’s interaction with your product or service offers deep insights into their experiences, pain points, and areas for improvement. In this blog, we’ll guide you through the process of creating an effective customer journey map.

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

Before diving into the customer journey mapping process, clarify your goals. What are your intended outcomes with the creation of this map? Whether it’s improving customer satisfaction, increasing conversions, or enhancing user experience, a clear objective will guide your efforts.

Step 2: Identify Your Personas

Understanding your target audience is crucial. Generate in-depth customer personas to depict diverse segments of your audience. These personas will serve as the foundation for your customer journey map, as different customer types often have distinct paths.

Step 3: Gather Data

To craft a precise customer journey map, data is imperative. Collect information from various sources, including customer feedback, surveys, interviews, analytics, and customer service records. Both qualitative and quantitative data are essential for a comprehensive view of your customer’s experience.

Step 4: Outline Touchpoints

Enumerate all the points of interaction where customers engage with your brand. These could include website visits, social media engagement, email communication, in-store visits, and more. Identifying all touchpoints is a critical step in understanding the customer’s full journey.

Step 5: Create a Visual Representation

Customer journey maps are typically visual, using diagrams, charts, or software tools. A visual representation makes it easier to understand and communicate the customer’s journey.

Step 6: Plot the Stages

Divide your map into key stages that customers go through in their journey, such as Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Onboarding, Usage, and Support. Customize these stages according to your specific business model.

Step 7: Document Customer Actions and Emotions

For each stage, detail the specific actions customers take and the emotions they experience. Understanding their mindset at each stage is essential for improving the customer experience.

Step 8: Identify Pain Points and Opportunities

During your mapping process, pinpoint areas where customers face challenges or frustrations (pain points). Simultaneously, identify opportunities to enhance the experience or add value to the customer’s journey. These insights will be instrumental in shaping your improvements.

Step 9: Link Touchpoints

Connect touchpoints to the stages of the customer journey. Determine how customers move from one touchpoint to another. This helps you understand the flow of the customer experience.

Step 10: Add Metrics and KPIs

Include key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics related to each stage. These metrics will allow you to measure the success of your customer experience improvements.

Step 11: Share and Collaborate

Collaboration is key. Share your customer journey map with relevant stakeholders across your organization, including marketing, sales, customer support, and product development teams. Encourage input and collaboration to ensure a holistic approach to improving the customer journey.

Step 12: Iterate and Improve

Remember that a customer journey map is a dynamic tool. It should evolve as your business and customer needs change. Regularly revisit and update it based on new data and customer feedback.

Step 13: Implement Changes

After identifying pain points and opportunities, work on implementing changes to address them. This could involve changes to your website, marketing materials, customer service processes, or product features.

Step 14: Monitor and Measure

Continuously monitor the impact of your changes by tracking relevant KPIs. Collect feedback from customers to assess whether their experiences have improved.

Customer journey maps provide some of the most effective methods of targeting new users and optimizing their experience. If you are looking to learn more about how to target your customers and create an enjoyable customer experience then try using the boards above.

You can check out our recent article on the Lander blog to learn more about content marketing, and if you are interested in learning more about virtual workshops check out our guides on IdeaScale Whiteboard and use our boards in our web app!

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What is customer journey mapping and why is it important.

On the surface, customer journeys may seem simple – your business offers a product and the consumer buys it. But look more closely and it’s easy to see that the customer journey is becoming increasingly complex. New technology innovations and economic fluctuations are redefining customer expectations every day, with the average consumer now using more than three channels to communicate with businesses. All these touchpoints create increasingly complex customer journeys, making it more difficult to always ensure a great customer experience. But customer experience is more important than ever and according to recent research from Salesforce :  

  • 88% of customers now consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products.
  • 71% of consumers switched brands at least once over the past year
  • 73% of consumers expect brands to understand their needs and preferences

So, customer expectations have undergone a major transformation. The question is then: how can brands meet these expectations and ensure every customer journey is smooth? One excellent way to understand and optimize the customer experience is a process called customer journey mapping .

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer journey (also called the buyer journey or user journey). It helps you tell the story of your customers’ experiences with your brand across all touchpoints. Whether your customers interact with you via social media, email, livechat or other channels, mapping the customer journey out visually helps ensure no customer slips through cracks.

This process also helps B2B business leaders gain insights into common customer pain points which in turn will allow them to better optimize and personalize the customer experience.

What is customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping (also called user journey mapping) is the process of creating a customer journey map, a visual story of your customers’ interactions with your brand. This exercise helps businesses step into their customer’s shoes and see their business from the customer’s perspective. It allows you to gain insights into common customer pain points and how to improve those.

Firstly, all the possible customer touchpoints are mapped out, for instance, a website, social channels, interactions with marketing and sales teams.

User journeys are then created across these various touchpoints for each buyer persona. For example, a millennial buyer persona may typically become aware of a product on social media, research it on the mobile version of your site, and finally make a purchase on a laptop computer.

The customer experience at each touchpoint should be included in a customer journey map. This can include what action the customer needs to take and how your brand responds.

Why is customer journey mapping important?

Customer journey mapping is important because it is a strategic approach to better understanding customer expectations and for optimizing the customer experience.

Customer journey mapping is just as important for small and medium-sized enterprises as it is for larger companies. Customer expectations are changing for all businesses, regardless of size – customers demand an omnichannel approach to customer service, marketing and sales.

One of the most important aspects of the customer experience is personalization. Customer journey mapping allows SMEs to create personalized experiences across all touchpoints – for every individual, across all channels.

Mapping the customer journey has a host of benefits such as:  

  • Allowing you to optimize the customer onboarding process
  • Benchmarking the customer experience desired by your customers against what they actually receive
  • Understanding the differences in buyer personas as they move from prospect to conversion through the buying funnel.
  • Creating a logical order to your buyer journey

However, the biggest benefit is simply understanding your customers more. The better you understand their expectations, the more you can tailor the customer experience to their needs.

How does customer journey mapping enable omnichannel marketing and customer service?

Today’s consumers want a highly personalized experience and this includes your marketing and customer service efforts. This interconnected approach is called omnichannel marketing and omnichannel customer service.

In terms of marketing, customer journey mapping plays a vital role in this process, as marketers can target one prospect across multiple touchpoints. For example, a customer who browses a product on a website can be retargeted with a social media ad later on.

To offer the best possible customer experience, omnichannel marketing is often backed up by omnichannel customer service. This is where the customer can receive customer support across any channel, such as on social media, messenger apps, or live chat. Again, customer journey mapping can allow your Customer Service team to better understand the customer experience and improve their ability to resolve issues.

How can I optimize my customer journey map?

Mapping out many different customer journeys across many different buyer personas can be quite time-consuming. And once you have mapped them out, you still need a way to offer a personalized omnichannel customer experience based on your map.

So if you’re serious about customer journey mapping then you need to invest in software that can take the hassle out of doing this. Customer journey mapping tools are typically part of marketing automation software like Marketing Cloud Account Engagement . They allow you to easily create customized customer journeys and automate marketing actions. This takes your marketing automation efforts to the next level – which in turn helps build long-lasting customer relationships.

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Customer Journey Map

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Customer journey map: The key to understanding your customer

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When you think of your customer, who comes to mind? 

Can you name their intentions, motivations, and pain points? Better yet, do you know why they are choosing your company among competitors? 

You can define customer needs with a customer journey map

Defining customer needs, problems, and interactions with your company may seem overwhelming and at times, unnecessary. However, understanding every customer’s experience at each stage of the customer journey is crucial for turning business insights into long-term improvement strategies. 

Creating a customer journey map can help you and your company visualize how customers feel at all brand touchpoints so you can avoid potential issues ahead of time, increase customer retention , and discover key information to make the best decisions for your business.

In this post, we will cover: 

What is a customer journey map?

  • How can customer journey maps improve customer experiences?
  • Where do I start with my customer journey map?
  • Why are surveys crucial for developing my customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual storyline of every engagement a customer has with a service, brand, or product. The customer journey mapping process puts the organization directly in the consumer’s mind to better understand the customer’s processes, needs, and perceptions.

Customer journey map retail journey

A journey map lays out all touchpoints that your customer may have with your brand – from how they first heard of you through social media or brand advertising, to their direct interactions with your product, website, or support team – and includes all of the actions your customer takes to complete an objective across a period of time. 

A visual representation of the entire customer journey can provide valuable insights into the thoughts of your customers. This can then lay the groundwork for essential changes to your product or service, or overall customer experience, marketing, and business strategy.

Using a customer journey map to improve the customer experience

Outlining your current processes helps to visualize what the customer is experiencing in real time and may unveil common pain points that need to be addressed. 

Through this mapping process, you’ll also be able to connect with your buyer and in turn, influence your organization to prioritize the customer experience ( CX ) through shared understanding. 

Gaining a deeper understanding of your customer

“Experience maps look at a broader context of human behavior. They show how the organization fits into a person’s life.” -Jim Kalbach, author of Mapping Experiences

How does your customer feel when they can’t get in touch with customer service on an issue they’re experiencing? Or, if their package doesn’t arrive on time? 

You may be imagining a situation where those instances happened to you outside of the workplace and can remember feelings of frustration. You assume this customer may feel the same and can relate to their sentiment. 

The ability to establish empathy for your customers and identify how they’re feeling at every turn is what makes customer journey mapping, a powerful exercise.

A customer journey map – or customer experience map – expands that empathy on a broader level so you have a true understanding of their experience and can be meaningful in your organization’s customer experience improvement strategies. Utilizing this approach allows you to take your customer’s perspective and use it as an opportunity to find solutions to any problem they may face when interacting with your company.

Your map can help answer questions such as:

  • Is my online interface user-friendly and matching customer expectations? Why is the user navigating away from the site so quickly? 
  • How often is my customer reaching out to customer support and is the team able to address the issues in a timely manner?
  • How is the customer interacting with my brand before they decide to make a purchase? How are they feeling at this stage?

Understanding the customer journey from an empathetic, bird’s eye view will give you deeper insight into customer needs at every touchpoint so you can take the steps to meet their expectations.

Creating a customer-centric company

Aligning towards the same company objectives is essential for strategic customer experience goal planning and success tracking. When you build a journey map, you have a customer-centered tool to refer to and distribute across the company. 

customer journey map customer-centric company

With your customer journey map, you can:

  • Use your map to train team members on CX standards and best practices
  • Present the visual diagram in company-wide meetings to map out customer-focused quarterly goals 
  • Include the sales team in your map assessment to improve onboarding flows 
  • Review the map with your customer service team to explore ways you can reduce obstacles throughout the customer lifecycle  

Using visual mapping to tell a story to your company not only sets a united standard for exceptional customer care, but also benefits customer experience and customer retention in the long run.

Customer journey map design

There’s no correct or incorrect way to create a customer journey map. However, before you begin, consider aligning your map with a chosen customer persona and think through which journeys and stages make the most sense for your business to measure. 

Creating a customer persona

A customer persona (or buyer persona ) is a fictional character that represents your average customer based on user and market research. Imagining this persona’s age, job function, personal goals, etc. can help you step into the customer’s shoes and thoroughly develop the customer journey story. 

Start by creating three personas at most to help in narrowing your character and design focus.

Deciding what to measure 

Next, you will need to decide what you want to measure and what goal you’re trying to achieve. 

Perhaps you want to revisit current customer success processes or take a closer look at your prospect’s experience through the selling timeline. Whatever you choose, your customer journey map is customizable and should evolve over time to meet your business needs. You may also create multiple journey maps in the future as new opportunities shift your curiosities and goals.

Organizing with touchpoints and stages 

As you begin your customer journey design, you may want to organize your map with touchpoints and stages: 

Customer journey map B2B customer journey

  • Identify touchpoints : A touchpoint is any moment a customer interacts with your brand. From advertisements, to a thank you note they receive after a purchase, consider including these touchpoints within your map so you can collect feedback and identify patterns on how they’re feeling at each interaction. 
  • Write out the stages : Every time your customer engages with your brand, there is a goal-driven action behind it. Break down the customer journey in stages (or phases) based on the customer’s need throughout their journey. 

Customer touchpoint mapping and journey mapping go hand in hand, but mapping out personas and defining specific customer touchpoints can seem time-consuming. Use Excel documents to organize your map or work from customer journey templates such as Qualtrics’ Journey Map Template to set a simple foundation for your diagram creation process. 

Using survey data to boost your customer journey map

Research is crucial to learn your customer’s motivations, roadblocks, continued pain points, and successes. If you don’t have the survey data to answer these questions, you could be building your map from assumptions, leaving room for misguided strategic planning down the line.

definition of customer journey map

Consider using Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), or Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys to capture first-hand customer feedback to include within your customer journey map. Then, choose between a variety of surveying channels (Email, Web, Link, or SDK) to reach your audience wherever they are.  

Here are some question examples to include in your survey:

  • [CSAT]: How satisfied were you with your onboarding experience? 
  • [CSAT]: How satisfied were you with our checkout process? 
  • [NPS]: How likely are you to recommend this solution to your peers? 
  • [NPS]: How likely are you to recommend this store to your friends or family? 
  • [CES]: The website made it easy for me to compare options
  • [CES]: The support reps made it easy to get my questions answered

After you select your survey, question, and channel, specify when and how often surveys are triggered throughout the customer lifecycle. Before you know it, your customer journey map includes up-to-date feedback for you to start analyzing and acting on CX feedback regularly. 

TIP : To get greater context behind a customer experience at each journey stage, create customized follow-up questions after your initial survey question. From free response to multiple choice, craft up to 10 Additional Questions to ensure your journey map (and future state of customer experience) gets a boost with detailed verbatim feedback.

Delighted makes it easy to ask the right questions at the right time. Use Delighted’s customer experience solution to craft impactful, automated customer surveys or customize one of our survey templates .

Additional customer journey map resources

For additional resources, check out these articles on how to optimize your customer experience program , and the questions you can ask at each stage of the customer journey:

  • 7 tips for an effective voice of the customer program  
  • 52 popular customer satisfaction survey questions by customer journey  
  • How to kickstart a customer experience program  
  • Your ultimate guide to customer journey mapping

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definition of customer journey map

Customer Journey Mapping: A Complete Guide

Understanding your customer’s journey with your brand – from first interaction to purchase and potential brand advocacy – can help you to stand out from the competition. But first you need to map that journey. Get the lowdown on all the elements of customer journey mapping with our guide.

In this customer journey mapping guide, you’ll discover:

What is the customer journey, what is a customer journey map, what’s included in a customer journey map, benefits of customer journey mapping., how to create a customer journey map..

  • Frequently asked questions.

Begin leveraging your customer journey map today.

A customer journey is a story about understanding your users and how they behave and interact with your website. It’s about learning what you can do to improve their visit, so they keep coming back.

Essentially, it’s the entire experience your customer has while communicating with your brand, product or service. It considers the complete interaction roadmap from brand discovery to purchasing and beyond.

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the interactions a customer has with your business. It helps pinpoint their:

  • Initial engagement with your brand
  • Conversion point / purchase
  • Further interactions with your brand

Using a customer journey map to analyze user behavior helps an organization understand how their customers progress through the entire sales process and their sentiment and experience during that time.

This process gives organizations a chance to view their brand from the customer’s perspective and identify gaps and opportunities within the user experience .

When brands use customer journey mapping, they examine each stage of the purchase process at a granular level. This gives marketing teams the opportunity to identify and align goals and customer needs in each stage of their funnel — ensuring a seamless customer experience and long-term customer success.

Mapping the customer journey has become more challenging as customers engage with businesses across so many different channels and multiple devices. From referral sites and social media to organic search, customers now have many ways to find and interact with your brand.

To create an effective customer journey map, you must ensure each customer interaction is accurately identified and included for targeting. When you analyze the customer journey, you are mapping different behavioral scenarios using existing data.

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A customer journey map is a graphic that depicts the stages customers go through when interacting with a brand. Companies often need to create several customer journey maps based on a 360-degree view of how customers engage with them.

When designing a customer journey map, there’s no set protocol. But there are guidelines, such as ensuring it’s:

✓ Visually appealing

✓ Comprehensive

✓ Understandable

Typical customer journey maps include infographics, diagrams and timelines.

A customer journey map is made up of several components, including:

1. Customer stages.

One of the first steps of creating a customer journey map is to identify the stages in the customer journey. There are at least four stages in a customer journey: enquiry, comparison, purchase, and installation.

2. Customer personas.

A buyer persona is a customer profile/s created with data, including search data, research, such as consumer reports, and other insights. It’s an important tool for creating journey maps, helping you to accurately predict those customers’ interests, challenges, and goals.

3. Customer touchpoints.

A customer journey map should always include touchpoints a customer is likely to use at each stage in the journey. For example, during the installation or service stage, a customer may use phone calls or chatbots to communicate with a brand. To align the customer experience and identify pain points between channels and touchpoints, the map should specify which channels are in focus.

4. Phases of the journey.

Each major phase of the journey should be broken down and represented on the map. This really helps stakeholders to visualize the process their customers are going through and the activities that sit in each phase.

5. Emotions.

One of the main goals of creating a customer journey map is to predict the customers’ emotions and feelings. This way, a brand can pinpoint potential pain points and successes.

6. Pain points or barriers.

Perhaps one of the most important things to put on your map are the areas where a customer is experiencing difficulties or issues with the product or service.

7. Customer goals.

It’s important to document the customer goals throughout the map and points at which goals change. A customer goal does not always remain constant throughout and this should be identified. Changing goals offer opportunities to identify improvements in the service.

8. Positive experiences.

Let’s not forget that you should highlight what you are doing well in the map, so stakeholders understand that these activities are creating a positive customer experience and adding value.

Businesses that invest in accurate consumer journey mapping are able to make improvements to the customer experience that ultimately drive sales. Here are the benefits you can expect with a well-mapped customer journey:

✓ Fine tune your marketing initiatives.

You may structure marketing initiatives to move customers through your funnel in a certain way. Spending time identifying each individual customer interaction allows you to evaluate your current marketing efforts and see whether they need to be adjusted.

✓ Increased conversion rate.

By highlighting the different pain points each customer has at various stages of the purchasing process, organizations can better address customer needs ahead of time, so that leads convert faster and more efficiently.

✓ A more cohesive customer experience.

By mapping out the entire journey a customer takes with your company, it’s easier to identify weak points in the customer experience.

✓ Preparation for the future.

Digital moves fast, so your marketing must be agile. Digital customer journey mapping gives you a foundational understanding of your customers’ current interactions, highlighting changes that occur in real time as customer trends and expectations shift.

1. Set clear objectives for the map.

Before you can dive into creating your map, you must first ask yourself why you are making one in the first place. What do you want to achieve? One example could be to identify where conversions happen.

2. Collect the customer data and insight.

From email marketing to customer service, your company should be gathering data from every customer interaction. Use cross-departmental information and include both qualitative and quantitative data in your customer journey map. A marketing automation solution is a great way to collect this information in a centralized location.

3. Create your personas and define their goals.

Conducting consumer research is a great way to get valuable customer feedback. Use questionnaires and user testing to understand why consumers are interested in purchasing your products and services and see how they have interacted with your company before.

4. List out all the touchpoints.

Map every interactive moment a customer has with your brand — both online and offline. Customers may engage with your brand through in-store visits, sales events, digital marketing campaigns, interactions with your customer service team, your website, or social channels . For each interaction, note the potential actions a customer could take.

5. Identify customer pain points.

Identify what roadblocks are potentially stopping your customer from taking their desired action. Highlighting these potential obstacles in your customer journey can help you to overcome them.

6. Take the customer journey yourself.

After you’ve established a customer journey map, you should review it for accuracy. Follow the journey yourself and double-check your work to ensure you didn’t overlook any steps or actions during the mapping process.

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Frequently asked questions about customer journey maps.

How many customer journey maps do i need.

The more focused your customer journey map, the better. Customer journey mapping that focuses on one persona in one scenario tells a clear story. If you group too many personas into one journey, your map won't accurately reflect your customers’ experience.

Who should be involved in the customer journey mapping process?

You’ll need the help of marketing, customer services, sales, and related teams to gather your internal research. Additionally, you need executives and senior management involved in the process. Management often has the least amount of exposure to the customer, so will benefit from the new shared knowledge.

How much time should I spend on creating a customer journey map?

Mapping out many different customer journeys across many different buyer personas can be time-consuming. The research may take anywhere from three to 12 weeks to gather, plus time for data analysis and stakeholder readouts. You may want to conduct a one- to two-day workshop with internal stakeholders.

Customer journey mapping is no quick task when done manually. It also requires a marketing team committed to gathering and analyzing the necessary data and taking action on what the mapping reveals.

Marketo Engage gives you the tools you need to not only develop an actionable customer journey map, but to create marketing campaigns that deliver exceptional results time after time. Discover how you can improve your marketing initiatives and boost sales with a Marketo Engage demo.


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What is Customer Journey Map?

You want to create memorable first impressions and deliver differentiated buying experiences to your customer? You want to find out how your customers shop in today's digital world? What are the most influential channels and touch points in their customer journey and how can you impact these? How does this work for the new product category you wish to enter?

Customer Journey Map is a powerful technique for understanding what motivates your customers - what their needs are, their hesitations, and concerns. Although most organizations are reasonably good at gathering data about their customers, data alone fails to communicate the frustrations and experiences the customer experienced. A story can do that, and one of the best storytelling tools in business is the customer journey map.

Customer journey map uses storytelling and visuals to illustrate the relationship a customer has with a business over a period of time. The story is being told from the perspective of customer, which provides insight into the total experience of the customer. It helps your team better understand and address customer needs and pain points as they experience your product or service. In other words, mapping out the customer journey offers your business the chance to see how your brand first engages a potential customer, and then moves through the touchpoints of the entire sales process.

Why Customer Journey Map?

The purpose of customer journey mapping is to understand what customers go through and improve the quality of your customer experience, ensuring consistency and a seamless experience at all touchpoints and across all channels. There is no substitution for listening to your customers about how the steps in the journey are working out for them. Having built an understanding of the customer journeys with your business you are now in a position to improve the customer experience enables:

  • Provides a bird's eye view of the entire customer journey
  • Bring teams together to resolve specific customer hurdles for understanding core customer journey paths, where additional development will provide biggest impact.
  • Build faster and higher customer conversion rates by minimizing negative customer experiences, through identification of key steps and decision points.
  • Improved customer retention, through understanding how they transit through, say, each stage of a procurement cycle to ensure the correct information is available and accessible to all stakeholders.
  • Allows a business to zoom-in a single customer journey in a specific channel.
  • Understanding of required metrics to identify customer's progress and fall out points, providing opportunities to bring customers back on board.
  • Allows businesses to prioritize actions in their customer experience strategy
  • Reveals the gaps between various channels and departments

Why Customer Journey Map? (CJM)

Basic Concepts of CJM

Customer journey is a journey of a potential customer about different points of contact with a product, a brand or (touchpoints) of a company via all available channels until he performs a desired target action. A customer journey can extend over several hours or days.

  • Major target actions are purchases, orders or inquiries.
  • Touchpoints are any kind of contact points between customer and your business, from classical advertising (ads, TV or radio spot, etc.) through online marketing activities through to the opinion of a friend or information on review sites.
  • Available channels such as telephone, web, branch, marketing communications and service interactions.

Creating Customer Journey Map

Journey maps can take a wide variety of forms. The end goal, however, is always the same: find and resolve the pain points of your customers.

Step 1. Define your persona

Personas and journey maps are both important strategic tools that help provide an in-depth understanding of who your customers are, what they need, and how they interact with your business across all touch points. But more importantly, for sharing customer insights across the organization. Much of the information for creating a journey map comes from your personas (e.g., their goals, motivations, key tasks they want to accomplish, and current pain points), which is why it's best to create the personas first.

The first thing you need to decide is whose journey you are going to map such as, a specific customer type (persona), a potential (target) customer, or a segment of customers, depending on the purpose of your journey mapping initiative. Once you've created distinct personas, you can use them to create customer journey maps that describe each persona's experience at various touch points during their lifecycle with your company.

Define Persona

Step 2. Define your customer phases

Journey maps are typically organized by customer stages (sometimes referred to as phases). Each stage represents a major goal your customer is trying to achieve in their overall journey. You should build a customer journey map with stages that represent your customer's goal-oriented journey, not your internal process steps.

So once you've defined your persona, you have to identify the stages of the customer's journey. What process does it take to start from consideration all the way through buying your product or services? Based on the persona define the stages that your customer experiences with you over time. Define how, when and where they: discover your company, research your products or services, choose you over competitors, purchase from you, and maintain a relationship with you.

Customer Journey lifecycle

Step 3. Describe the Touchpoints Your Customer Uses to Interact with Your Organization

Customer touchpoints are your brand's points of customer contact, from start to finish. For example, customers may find your business online or in an ad, see ratings and reviews, visit your website, shop at your retail store or contact your customer service. This seems like a long list, but these are just a few of your touchpoints! Identifying your touchpoints is an important step towards creating a customer journey map and making sure your customers are satisfied every step of the way.

Customer Journey Map Example

Step 4. Conduct research

While you may need to offer some incentives for participation, most people are happy to help if they believe you are genuinely interested in their experience and will use their feedback to improve things for others.

For each stage of the journey, try to identify:

  • What were their goals, what did they want to achieve
  • What did they expect the process would be like
  • The steps and touchpoints they used to complete the stage
  • How did they feel emotionally during each touchpoint experience and why
  • Other thoughts they had during the stage
  • How long did it take to complete

Step 5. Determine points of friction

Once you have understood your persona's goals and written down their touchpoints, it's time to look at the big picture - the totality of their experience with your company. Every business will look through the lens of their customer personas differently. Walking through each of the journey map stages with your team will help you identify any points of friction within the customer experience.

Of course, every business is different and YOU will know your customers best. There are a few example questions below to get you started:

  • Where could friction appear in this particular touchpoint?
  • Are people abandoning purchases because of this?
  • Are customers not aware of this solution that you've already provided? If so, why not?

Step 6. Resolve

Journey maps aren't meant to be purely illustrative. A typical exercise should identify a few quick fixes, including opportunities to boost enjoyment and improve the journey. And, of course, most firms discover the process helps drive broader customer experience improvements as customer needs are better understood and met. In brief, mapping the journey should help lead to specific actions that improve the experience and drive the ROI. Treat your map as a living document to be revisited regularly and updated as required and remember to share it with any relevant stakeholders

Other Techniques for applying a CJM

Improvement and innovation using customer journey map.

Identifying opportunities to drive growth through investing in customer experience improvements is a key objective of many journey mapping initiatives. You should build a customer journey map as a tool to use in your action planning. This will show where you identify opportunities, assess their impact, cost, etc. and eventually set investment priorities for your organization.

Some maps explicitly list out the key opportunities on the map itself. This can be helpful as a communication tool, especially if the key opportunities are added after opportunities have been prioritized. In this way, the journey map becomes an ongoing communication and governance document.

Visualize Frontstage and Backstage In Journey Map

Up until now, I've focused on the frontstage or outside-in view of the journey. The backstage refers to the internal systems, processes, and people that are involved in delivering that journey. This is the inside-out view of the journey. When combined in a single journey map, these two views are often referred to as a Frontstage/Backstage Map or an Eco-System Map.

Mapping the frontstage and backstage on one map creates visibility to the internal resources and processes that are responsible for delivering the customer experience-visibility that can help your organization understand what is involved in delivering and ultimately improving the customer experience.

Customer Journey Map with Backstage

A checklist for Developing Customer Journey Map

Here are the questions you will ask yourself while creating a customer journey map:

  • How are your customers finding you and how do they solve (or cope with) the problem before using your solution?
  • What is the customer problem you are trying to solve? Or in other words, what are the common problems and pain points customers experience that your product can help alleviate?
  • How easy is it for customers to gain access to customer service for support?
  • How are you trying to improve customer engagement across channels?
  • Is it easy for the customer to pay for your product or service?

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Customer journey map

definition of customer journey map

A customer journey map shows the steps and touchpoints on the ‘path-to-purchase’ from when a customer first gains awareness of a product and service through to product comparison, selection and purchase.

They are often used as part of customer persona analysis, in order to summarize the buying process of a persona. They can be useful for communicating the vision of digital transformation for a business to show how the online value proposition (OVP) can support the customer across different touchpoints across the customer lifecycle .

Examples of customer journey maps

Retail example of a non-linear omnichannel purchasing journey.

This Boston consulting group example of selling a dress shows physical store ad digital out-of-store touchpoints. It focuses on different digital interactions in the buying process. Other customer journey maps have more detail on options for TOFU vs MOFU vs BOFU content interactions as part of content mapping .

definition of customer journey map

Financial services

This analysis from McKinsey is an example of a multichannel customer journey map summarizing the behaviour betwee online and offline channels. It shows the importance of digital media in green which are particularly important at the start of the journey. The call-centre and in-store become more important later in the journey.

definition of customer journey map

Car insurance

This  financial services customer journey mapping example  from research analysts GfK shows the complexity of today’s customer journeys across multiple devices and through time, particularly for high involvement or high-value purchases.

definition of customer journey map

Health insurance journey map

Like other journey maps this has stages from Awareness, through Research, Choice reduction and purchase. This  example is interesting since it is a research-based map with an evaluation of satisfaction with each stage.

definition of customer journey map

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The definitive 8-step customer journey mapping process

In business, as in life, it's the customer's journey that makes the company's destination worth all the trouble. No customer wants to jump through several different hoops to get to your product: they want it fast and they want it now.

Following certain customer journey mapping stages helps you improve your user's experience (UX) to create a product they love interacting with, ensures you stay ahead of key workflow tasks, and keeps stakeholders aligned. But a misaligned map can derail your plans—leading to dissatisfied users who don’t stick around long enough to convert or become loyal customers.

Last updated

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Product-led growth: what it is, how it works, and examples

This article walks you through the eight key stages of great customer journey mapping, and shows you how to adapt each to your unique business and product to optimize the customer experience from start to finish. 

Learn how customers interact with your product and website

Hotjar's Observe and Ask tools let you go ‘behind the scenes’ to understand your users’ product experiences and improve their customer journey.

An 8-step process for effective customer journey mapping

A customer journey map is a visualization of every point of interaction a user has with your company and product.

Mapping out the customer journey gives you insights into your buyers’ behavior to help you make changes that improve your website and the user flow between touchpoints. This helps you increase online sales and turn users into loyal customers and brand advocates.

Follow these eight proven steps to understand—and enhance—the customer experience.

Note: every business is distinct, so be sure to adapt these steps to your particular user and business needs. 

1. Define your purpose

The first step to creating a successful customer journey map is to define your product's vision or purpose. Without a clear purpose, your actions will be misguided and you won’t know what you want users to achieve during their journey on your website, product page, or web app. 

To define your purpose, consider your company’s mission statement and incorporate your specific user pain points as much as possible. 

Make your purpose specific to your company’s needs and goals—for example, the purpose of an ecommerce brand looking to help users navigate several different products and make multiple purchases will differ from that of a SaaS company selling subscriptions for one core product.

2. Make sure your team is aligned and roles are clear

Cross-functional collaboration is essential when mapping out your brand's or product’s user journey. Get insights from different teams within your organization to find out exactly how users engage with key touchpoints to derive a holistic sense of the user experience (UX), which will help you improve every aspect of the customer experience.

Lisa Schuck , marketing lead at Airship , emphasizes the importance of keeping “anybody that has a touchpoint with a customer” involved. She advises teams to “figure out how to align your external marketing and sales with your internal operations and service.”

Although sales, product, and marketing departments are often the key players in customer journey mapping, also involve your operations and design teams that are responsible for creating the user flow. 

If you have a SaaS company, for example, marketing creatives, sales teams, product owners and designers, and your customer experience department all need to participate in the process. Clearly define who’s responsible for different aspects of the map, and regularly check in to make sure your final map isn’t missing any important perspectives.

Pro tip: use Hotjar's Highlights feature to collect and organize key product experience (PX) insights and data on user behavior from teams across your organization to help you build your customer journey map. Then use Hotjar’s Slack integration to quickly share learnings with your relevant stakeholders to get buy-in and ensure everyone is aligned.

#Hotjar’s Slack integration Slack lets teams discuss insights in the moment, so they’re up to date with critical issues

Hotjar’s Slack integration Slack lets teams discuss insights in the moment, so they’re up to date with critical issues 

3. Create user personas

Once you’ve defined your purpose and involved all relevant stakeholders, it’s time to design your user personas . Use resources like UXPressia and HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool to help you design various product personas . 

Create a range of user personas to understand what each type of buyer needs to curate a journey that’s easy and enjoyable for every customer. This is an important early step in the customer journey mapping process—because if you don’t understand your users, you won’t be able to fully comprehend how they interact with your brand to better it.

Create user personas for all your product’s possible buyers—for example, to map out a B2B customer journey for a company in the hospitality business means developing personas for a range of different customers, from large chain hotel managers to small vacation rental owners. 

4. Understand your user goals

Once you’ve designed your user personas, it’s time to define their jobs to be done . What do your users hope to accomplish when they search for your product or service? What do they want to do when they click on your website? Address and answer these questions to build a deep understanding of your users’ goals and pain points to inform your customer journey.

In a SaaS customer journey , perhaps users are looking for helpful comparisons of product features on your website, or want to easily sign up for a trial account in the hopes that your product will solve their problems. But you won’t know until you ask . 

Once you have users or test users, get direct insights from them with Hotjar's Feedback tools and Surveys to ask buyers exactly what their goals are as they browse different pages of your website or interact with product features.

Since user goals are at the center of your customer journey map, define them early on—but keep speaking to your users throughout the entire process to make sure you’re up to date with their needs.

#Use Hotjar's Feedback tools to understand what your users want to do at key customer journey touchpoints—like when they land on your homepage

5. Identify customer touchpoints

After you understand your users and what their goals are, it’s time to identify the ways they interact with your company and your product. 

"Touchpoints are the moments the customer interacts with your brand, be it through social media channels, your product, or customer support. The quality of these experiences affects the overall customer experience, which is why it’s important to be aware of them. Consider what happens before, during, and after a customer makes a purchase or uses your product."

Key customer journey touchpoints for a website or product include your homepage, landing pages, product pages, CTA buttons, sign-up forms, social media accounts, and paid ads. 

Collaboration is key to identifying touchpoints throughout the entire customer journey. Include insights from different teams and stakeholders —your marketing and sales teams will have a strong understanding of the touchpoints involved pre-purchase, while the customer experience department can shed light on post-purchase touchpoints. 

Post-purchase touchpoints can help turn users into loyal customers and even advocates for your brand. 

In the words of Lisa Schuck, "When you create a raving fan, or a brand advocate, who goes out and tells the world how wonderful you are, you get social credibility and validity. It’s becoming more and more important to have advocates."

Pro tip : speak with your users regularly to get direct voice-of-the-customer (VoC) insights on what they love and what frustrates them on their journey. Place Hotjar Feedback widgets and Surveys at key website touchpoints like your homepage and landing pages to get valuable user insights on what you can improve. Use Hotjar’s survey templates to get inspiration for your survey questions. 

definition of customer journey map

An example of an on-site Hotjar Survey

6. Map out the customer journey

Once your user and product research are complete and all roles are distributed, it’s time to map out the full customer journey.

First, map out an overarching customer journey by putting your key touchpoints in order and identifying how your various user personas interact with them. Then, home in on the details, looking at how customers engage with specific aspects of your website, product, or social media accounts. 

Breaking down the mapping process into smaller phases will ensure you don’t miss any key interactions. 

Here’s how an ecommerce brand could lay out general touchpoints, then narrow each down into more specific actions:

definition of customer journey map

Pro tip : it’s helpful to think of the user journey in terms of different functions when mapping it out, like:

Connect: how are buyers connecting with your brand?

Attract: how are you convincing them to convert?

Serve: how are you serving customers when they want to purchase?

Retain: how are you promoting brand advocacy and customer retention ?

7. Test the customer journey

Once you’ve mapped out the customer journey, it’s time to take it for a spin. You can’t understand how your users move through customer touchpoints unless you test out the user flow yourself. 

Start with an informational Google search, then visit your website, check out your social media pages, and simulate the purchase process. This will help you get a better sense of how users interact with each touchpoint and how easy it is to move between them. 

Be sure to try out the journey from the standpoint of every relevant user persona. For an enterprise software company, this could mean looking at how decision-makers move through the user flow vs. the employees who’ll use your software day to day. 

By walking through the customer journey yourself, you can identify issues and difficulties that users may have to address them proactively. 

Try out the user flow with test users to get a realistic perspective of the user experience. Be sure to use focus groups that represent every one of your user personas. 

8. Use continuous research to refine your map 

Continuously map out, analyze, and evaluate the customer journey by observing users and getting their feedback. Hotjar Heatmaps and Recordings help you understand how your users are experiencing the customer journey on your website: create heatmaps to see whether users are clicking on CTAs or key buttons, and watch recordings to find out how they navigate once they reach your homepage.

Then, use Google Analytics to get an overview of your website traffic and understand how customers from different channels move through the user journey. 

Finally, once you have these combined user insights, use them to make changes on your website and create a user journey that is more intuitive and enjoyable.

#Watch your users as they navigate on your website during their customer journey to see where they're getting stuck with Hotjar Session Recordings

Pitfalls to avoid during the customer journey mapping stages

Jamie Irwin , director & search marketing expert at Straight Up Search , says companies should avoid these three common mistakes when mapping out the customer journey:

Don't map out the entire customer journey at once

Don't forget about the ‘hidden journeys’

Don't make assumptions about customer behavior

To sidestep these common pitfalls: 

Start by mapping out the overall journey, and only drill down into more detail once you have a broader, higher-level overview of the customer journey

Factor in every way that customers interact with your brand, even the ones you don’t have as much visibility on, like ‘dark social’ communications about your brand shared in private channels. Talk to your users to find out what they’ve heard about your brand outside of public channels , and use sticky share buttons to keep track of when your content’s shared through email or social media messengers.

Take a data-informed approach: don’t assume you already know your users —test out your hypotheses with real users and qualitative and quantitative data. 

Follow proven steps to successfully map out the customer journey 

Take the time to understand your business goals and users, involve the right teams, and test frequently to consistently improve your customer journey and make the decisions that will help you map out an experience that will get you happy and loyal customers.

FAQs about customer journey mapping stages

What is the purpose of customer journey mapping.

Customer journey mapping helps you visualize how users interact with your business and product, from the moment they find it until long after they make their first purchase. 

The purpose of customer journey mapping is to gain insights into the buyer's journey to create a more enjoyable, streamlined, and intuitive experience for your customers.

What are the benefits of following a customer journey mapping process?

The main benefits of a customer journey mapping process are: : 

Building on tried-and-tested processes

Not missing any key steps

Considering all buyer personas

Keeping all relevant stakeholders involved

Creating a valuable customer journey map 

Improving user experience

What happens if you don’t follow key steps in customer journey mapping?

If you don’t follow key steps when mapping out the customer journey, your map likely won’t give you the insights you need to enhance the experience users have with your most important touchpoints —like your homepage, landing pages, CTAs, and product pages. 

This can result in high bounce rates, low conversion, and unsatisfied users who fail to become loyal customers.

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Customer Journey Map

What is a customer journey map.

A customer journey map is a visual depiction of all steps a customer or prospect takes when interacting with your company with a specific goal in mind. This could include, for example, the path a visitor to your website takes to reach your trial-signup page. You might also develop a customer journey map to document the entire process a customer goes through to buy your product — from their first visit to your website, through signing an agreement with a sales rep.

Why Are Customer Journey Maps Important?

Customer journey mapping is an important process because it can help various teams across a company gain a better understanding of the experience that prospective and existing customers have when dealing with their organization.

Sales teams, for example, can develop customer journey maps to get a holistic, objective view of every step a prospect must take as they move through the sales funnel. When stepping back and viewing this entire process, for example, the team might discover there are too many steps — some of which are unnecessary or could at least be shortened — and that as a result, they are losing prospects.

Similarly, when they can see and review their entire sales funnel, the team might realize there are missing steps in their customer’s journey, meaning they are asking their prospects to take too big a leap at some point to the next stage in the sales funnel.

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What Can Product Managers Learn from a Customer Journey Map?

Product managers can benefit in several ways from creating customer journey maps. For example, by mapping out the entire first-time-user experience, from landing on your product’s website to actually purchasing it, you and your product team can take a more objective look at the process from a potential user’s point of view.

This can help you better understand where a prospect might become confused or frustrated along their journey — as well as where your cross-functional team has created a compelling message or painless transition that will carry the prospect along to the next stage of the buying process.

You can then share this journey map with marketing, sales, design, and other teams across the company so you can work together to improve the customer experience where it’s needed.

As an example, here is a ProductPlan customer journey map that UX Raw founder Jeremy Rawson created to depict his experience with our company, from the first website visit through creating his company’s first product roadmap with our app.

Customer Journey Map Example Graphic by ProductPlan

Other things product managers can learn from customer journey roadmaps include:

  • Whether some area of your product itself does not allow your users to complete the desired action in a logical or streamlined way.

For a deeper discussion, read our blog on how journey maps can help product managers build better products .

Learn the Anatomy of a Product Launch ➜

How Can I Create a Customer Journey Map?

Marketing expert Aaron Agius offers the following six-step process as a customer journey map template.

Step 1: Decide what you want from this journey map.

Before you can start creating a journey map, you need to determine what your objectives are for it. Do you want to know how customers go through your sales funnel, for example, or how they interact with your support team, or how they use some aspect of your product to achieve a goal?

You can create several customer journey maps, each addressing specific interactions your customers have when interacting with your company. But you’ll want to keep each map focused on a single aspect of the customer’s journey, to avoid confusion and to give your team a clearer picture of that journey.

Step 2: Figure out your personas’ goals.

This step will help you better understand where your prospects and customers are coming from, what they need and value, and how they view themselves. When you have all of this persona data to check against your journey map, you’ll have a clearer picture of where your current customer journey conflicts with the process you’re asking them to go through.

For example, let’s assume your primary personas are executives who describe themselves as “extremely busy” in your surveys or the market research you’ve reviewed. Knowing this, when you view your journey map, you will want to make sure your current buying process does not include too many steps or take any longer than necessary.

Step 3: Identify all touchpoints.

Now you will want to identify all of the channels a prospect could possibly take as their first step with your company. This could include online ads, social media posts, organic search leading to various pages on your website, or your company’s outbound marketing emails.

Next, you’ll want to assign to each of these touchpoints the likely emotional triggers that compel users to take action and seek to engage more deeply with your company or product.

At the same time, look for any obstacles that could be stopping users from taking further action on any of these channels. When they see a social ad, for example, perhaps your product’s cost is a turnoff. Or perhaps the next-step action — filling out a lengthy form, for example — might turn prospects away.

Step 4: Determine what you want your journey map to show.

Here Agius lists the four types of customer journey maps you can use:

Current state: A detailed walkthrough of how customers currently engage with your business.

Day in the life: Also a detailed walkthrough of your customer’s journey with your company today, but put into the broader context of everything else your customer does in the day.

Future state: Your vision of how you’d like customers to interact with your product, company, etc. in the future.

Blueprint: A map of either your current-state or future-state customer’s journey, but with roles, responsibilities, and possibly timelines added for implementing your desired improvements.

Step 5: Take the customer journey yourself.

Now you’re ready to act as your customer and take the path your company has put in place to achieve whatever objective you’re trying to measure.

If you want to learn exactly what steps your prospects must go through to download your free trial, or speak with a sales rep, or complete an action using your mobile app, take that journey now.

Important: You will also want to document every step of your journey, and make notes at each stage as well about insights you’ve had, pain points you’ve identified, and any gaps or unnecessary steps in the process.

Step 6: Adjust your journey map as needed.

After you’ve completed the journey and reviewed your notes, you will want to make all necessary changes to the map.

Then you can begin translating those changes into action across your company — which could mean updating your sales process, streamlining your free trial funnel, etc.

Here are a couple of other examples, taken from Agius’s Hubspot post on customer journey maps . You can use these as templates to start your own journey map.

Agius from Hubspot's Customer Journey Map

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Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience

  • Adam Richardson

Following on the first article on defining customer experience, this second installment looks at the first essential step of improving the experience you deliver, which is mapping out your customer journey. A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, […]

Following on the first article on defining customer experience , this second installment looks at the first essential step of improving the experience you deliver, which is mapping out your customer journey.

definition of customer journey map

  • Adam Richardson is a creative director at the global innovation firm frog design and the author of Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems Are Its Greatest Advantage . His background combines experience in product development, product strategy, and customer research.

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.css-14us1xl{box-sizing:border-box;margin:0;min-width:0;white-space:pre-wrap;} Customer Experience Journey: An Ultimate Guide

Learn about the customer experience journey: Its definition, importance, differences from customer experience, stages and building a customer experience journey map

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Why is it important to build a customer experience journey? 

Stages of a customer experience journey  , how to build a customer experience journey map , 5 tips to elevate client experience journey .

Consider a multichannel customer experience journey for a retail brand. A customer might first encounter the brand through an online ad, proceed to explore products on the website, seek advice from a live chat representative, visit a physical store for a hands-on experience, make a purchase via a mobile app and later receive follow-up communication via email or SMS regarding their satisfaction and future promotions. 

Mapping the client experience journey is a collaborative effort that involves various departments within organizations, including marketing, sales, customer service and product development. It requires a deep understanding of customer needs, preferences, pain points and behaviors, often necessitating market research , data analytics and customer feedback input.

Building a well-defined customer experience journey map provides executives with a strategic roadmap, optimizing the customer touchpoints that shape brand perception, drive purchase decisions and ultimately influence profitability. 

Loyalty and advocacy: A seamless, positive customer experience journey fosters customer loyalty and brand advocacy , translating into higher customer lifetime value and word-of-mouth marketing. Conversely, friction points breed dissatisfaction, churn and negative brand reputation, eroding shareholder value.

Note: If you’re looking for other ways to boost customer loyalty for your business and drive repeat purchases, referrals and positive word of mouth, implement proactive after-sales service . Here’s a 4-min video on the topic: 

Operational efficiency: Mapping the journey exposes inefficiencies across departments, revealing opportunities for operational streamlining and cost reduction. Streamlined interactions mean happier customers and higher employee morale, further enhancing the positive feedback loop. 

Data-driven decision-making: Client experience journey maps serve as living documents, continuously enriched by customer surveys , feedback and data analytics. This wealth of insights empowers data-driven decision-making across functions, enabling executives to anticipate and cater to evolving customer needs and preferences. 

Competitive advantage: The client experience journey ensures consistent customer engagement at every touchpoint, fostering a sense of connection and trust between the customer and your brand. You can cultivate a strong brand perception characterized by reliability, authenticity and empathy through personalized interactions, empathetic service and proactive support. This differentiates you from competitors who may falter in providing the same level of engagement and personalized service.  

Adaptability to evolving expectations: Customers today are increasingly self-sufficient and digitally savvy. They prefer purchasing via mobile and wearable devices without direct sales assistance. To adapt to the changing needs, you must offer digital customer service on the channels your customers frequent. Analyzing the customer journey helps to gain insights into their behavior and effectively tailor the approach to meet their evolving expectations.

Differences between customer experience journey and customer experience 

Customer experience, often expressed as positive, negative or neutral, is the outcome of the customer experience journey. So, they are not the same. Here's how they differ: 

Bonus Read: Customer Experience Optimization – All You Need to Know  

While specific models may vary, a customer experience journey typically unfolds through five distinct stages.  

Awareness: The first stage is the awareness stage, which aims to build brand awareness of your products or services among potential customers.  

For instance, if a professional is looking for project management software, they may first become aware of a particular solution through a sponsored LinkedIn post or a recommendation from a colleague. Exposure to information related to their needs helps them become aware of specific solutions, laying the foundation for further exploration. 

Consideration: This stage is where potential clients are interested in purchasing but still evaluate their choices. They're seeking confirmation that your solution addresses the precise issue that prompted their search. This is an essential stage in the client experience journey since purchasers need to understand why they should buy. 

For a GenZ shopper comparing options for a new smartphone, the consideration stage is characterized by meticulous research, customer reviews and perhaps even consultations with industry experts on YouTube or the comments section of an Instagram post. 

Decision: During the decision stage, customers are more likely to make a purchase as they have done most of their research and have a clear understanding of the problem and the ideal solution. This stage involves consultations with sales representatives, product demos or trials. The customers decide to engage with your brand through a purchase, subscription or contract agreement.For example, a B2B company might finalize a partnership with a software vendor after negotiating the terms and assessing the alignment of functionalities with their business objectives. 

Post-purchase: During the post-purchase stage, customers anticipate receiving strong customer support and tailored suggestions that complement their purchase or needs. Customer experience leaders recognize the significance of building lasting relationships and providing exceptional post-purchase experiences that promote customer loyalty - the ultimate stage in the customer experience journey. 

Loyalty: In the loyalty stage, consumers continue to use the product or service and may opt for more services or upgrade their subscription plan. For instance, a coffee enthusiast who regularly chooses a specialty brand and is impressed with premium blends and exceptional customer service may become an advocate on social media, recommend the brand to others and actively participate in loyalty programs. 

Must Read: Social Media Advocacy: Strategy and Best Practices  

Customer journey mapping allows you to identify each customer's needs and create an experience uniquely tailored to their preferences.   

But to build an accurate client experience journey map, capturing all customer touchpoints across all platforms and contact center channels is essential. Here is a step-by-step guide to mapping a client experience journey: 

Step #1: Define clear objectives 

Start by defining specific goals for your customer experience journey map. Determine what action you want your customer to take at each stage: free trial, subscription, sign-up, awareness or anything else. 

Step #2: Identify customer personas 

Conduct market research, gather customer feedback and create detailed buyer personas to identify their preferences, pain points and motivations. By gaining insights into their demographics, behavior and psychographics, you can tailor the journey to meet their specific needs and expectations.

Step #3: Gather customer intelligence 

Leverage website traffic, purchase data and customer engagement metrics to map customers’ behavioral patterns. Gather insights from these sources with the help of a unified customer experience platform to deepen your understanding of their thoughts, feelings and actions at each touchpoint. 

Step #4: Chart touchpoints 

Map out every digital and physical interaction across customer touchpoints, including website visits, social media engagement, email communication, phone calls, in-store experiences, product demonstrations and customer support interactions. Determine where and how customers engage with your brand.

A visual depiction of an omnichannel customer journey map with 5 stages

Step #5: Create logical stages 

Arrange the touchpoints chronologically to create a sequential narrative of the customer journey. Start with the initial awareness stage, followed by consideration, purchase and post-purchase interactions. Ensure that the sequence accurately reflects customers' typical path when engaging with your brand, considering multiple entry points and potential deviations from the standard path. 

Step #6: Add emotional context 

Try to capture your customers' feelings at each touchpoint based on their actions. Infuse emotions into your customer journey map since positive sentiments strongly impact purchase decisions.

Customer experience journey mapping tools with built-in omnichannel sentiment analysis capabilities help you quantify and visualize customer emotions throughout the journey. By tracking changes in emotional engagement levels over time, you can assess the impact of your customer experience efforts and adjust as needed. 

Sentiment analysis with Sprinklr Service

Step #7: Identify pain points 

As you map out the customer journey , identify potential pain points, bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. These could be areas where customers experience frustration, confusion or dissatisfaction or where opportunities exist to exceed expectations and delight customers. Pay attention to moments of truth — critical touchpoints that significantly impact overall customer experience. 

Step #8: Prioritize improvement areas 

Identify areas of improvement that will have the maximum impact if fixed. This may involve improving website navigation, streamlining checkout processes, training contact center agents or launching targeted marketing campaigns. Take those up on priority and use them as opportunities to elevate customer experience. 

Step #9: Validate and iterate 

Once you've created a draft of the client experience journey map, validate it by gathering feedback from stakeholders, including employees, customers and partners. Use qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as surveys, interviews, usability testing and journey mapping workshops, to gather insights and validate assumptions. Iterate on the customer experience map based on feedback, making adjustments and refinements as needed to ensure its accuracy and effectiveness. 

Here are five actionable tips to help take your customer experience to the next level: 

💬Embrace hyper-personalization with AI 

Utilize AI-powered recommendation engines, chatbots and dynamic content to deliver personalized experiences at each touchpoint. Anticipate needs, suggest relevant products and offer solutions before issues arise.

How Sprinklr AI helps:  

Sprinklr AI+ unlocks your business's potential by giving deeper insights into customer preferences and anticipating future behavior. Create targeted audience strategies, bespoke content, personalized product recommendations and impactful promotions. Transform every interaction into a valuable conversion opportunity. 

Product recommendation with Predictive Analytics ft. Sprinklr AI+

📲Adopt an omnichannel strategy 

To provide a seamless experience for customers, it's important to adopt an omnichannel customer service strategy . This means ensuring that conversations can smoothly transition between online, offline and mobile interactions. By using a unified platform that incorporates bots and intelligent routing, cases can be escalated to the right agents with complete context transfer. This results in a more unified and smoother experience for customers.

Good to know: With the modern omnichannel routing platform , you can streamline your workflows across channels and unlock the full potential of your agents. By leveraging AI to match customers with the right agent based on their unique needs and history, you can deliver personalized and efficient service that leads to happier customers. Learn more about omnichannel routing .

Omnichannel customer survey with Sprinklr Service

📞Elevate the voice experience 

Leverage voice bots and conversational interfaces to offer convenient, hands-free interactions. Integrate voice search, ordering and support options to cater to the growing demand for voice-based interactions.  

🥽 Harness the power of augmented reality 

Enhance product exploration and decision-making by offering augmented reality experiences. Allow customers to virtually try on clothes, visualize furniture in their homes or see how products work, all within the comfort of their own space.  

🏆Empower your employees as CX champions 

Equip employees with the tools and training to deliver exceptional service at every touchpoint. Foster a culture of empathy, active listening and problem-solving to create genuine connections and memorable experiences.

While the client experience journey presents numerous opportunities for businesses to engage and delight customers, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. From fragmented touchpoints to inconsistent messaging and a lack of personalized experiences, businesses often struggle to deliver the seamless, cohesive journey that modern consumers demand. 

Sprinklr, built on the world’s first Unified-CXM platform, addresses these challenges head-on. By providing deep insights into customer preferences and accurately predicting future behaviors, Sprinklr empowers you to create cohesive and consistent customer experience journeys at scale.

To know how Sprinklr works, hit the button below and register for a personalized demo from our experts today! 

Frequently Asked Questions

To measure the effectiveness of the customer experience journey, businesses can track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer satisfaction scores, Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer retention rates and customer lifetime value. Additionally, conducting surveys, analyzing customer feedback and monitoring customer interactions across various touchpoints can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement and optimization. 

Consistency across different touchpoints in the customer experience journey can be ensured through clear brand guidelines, standardized processes and integrated technology platforms. By aligning messaging, branding and service delivery across channels such as website, social media, email and in-person interactions, businesses can create a cohesive and seamless experience that reinforces their brand identity and values. 

Businesses can leverage AI to enhance the customer experience journey in various ways, such as personalized recommendations, chatbots for customer support, predictive analytics for anticipating customer needs and sentiment analysis for understanding customer feedback. By harnessing the power of AI technologies like machine learning and natural language processing, businesses can automate repetitive tasks, improve decision-making and deliver more personalized and efficient experiences to customers

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definition of customer journey map

Ultimately, we are seeking a better understanding of what it means to be human. In this quest, progress is not made by finding the “right” answers, but by asking meaningful questions. – Terry Winograd, Fernando Flores, “Understanding Computers and Cognition” [1]

Developing Sustainable Products with SAFe

Note: This article is part of Extended SAFe Guidance  and represents official SAFe content that cannot be accessed directly from the Big Picture.


In today’s world, customer, investor, government, and employee demands drive companies to carefully consider their products’ economic, social, and environmental impacts. As a result, the ability to develop sustainable products is becoming a top priority. Consumers are increasingly eco-conscious, gravitating toward brands that prioritize sustainability. This focus aligns well with the Lean-Agile practices described in SAFe, which emphasize iterative innovation, reduction of waste, and customer-centricity.

82% of respondents overall would be willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, up four points from 2022, and eight points since 2021, signaling that even with a worsening economic situation, the environment remains a consumer priority. Younger consumers (18–24 year-olds) are even more willing, leading at 90% . — Food Industry Executive Summary of 2023 Buying Green Report [2]

This article provides strategies for incorporating sustainability into Agile product development and applying systems thinking to the entire product life cycle.

Defining Sustainable Products

The term ‘sustainable’ is not new to Product Management. In SAFe it is used to recognize that products must evolve to meet changing customer and market needs throughout the product lifecycle. It is one of four fundamental properties of every solution:

  • Desirable – Do customers and end-users want the solution?
  • Feasible – Can we deliver the right solution through a combination of build, buy, partner, or acquire activities?
  • Viable – Does the solution create more value than cost?
  • Sustainable – Are we proactively managing our solution to account for its expected product-market lifecycle?

Sustainability has now taken on additional meaning. In today’s context, sustainable products also deliver tangible economic, social, and environmental benefits throughout the product lifecycle.

These three dimensions of sustainability are described below. Depending on priorities, values, solution contexts, and desired outcomes, organizations and products may emphasize them differently.

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability refers to products that are intentionally designed to be long-lasting, reusable, and can be recycled. These products are fit for purpose, designed to last, and promote the reuse of materials, reducing the need for costly replacement. This can be achieved through durable construction, timeless design, and ease of repair. Products designed for durability and modularity require fewer replacements and provide the potential for generating new revenue streams with repair, recycling, and upgrade services.

Additionally, products designed to be reusable and recyclable become part of a circular economy, where they are repurposed at the end of their useful life. This closed-loop system reduces the need for new raw materials, minimizes waste, and improves profitability. Similarly, waste and resource usage regulations are becoming stricter in many regional markets, which means penalty and fee avoidance are important factors in product development.

Social Sustainability

A socially sustainable product prioritizes the well-being and rights of workers and the affected communities and aims to bring benefits to society. For example, protecting fair wages, promoting safe working conditions, and respecting local customs are all examples of social sustainability.

Additionally, social sustainability puts a renewed focus on the need to design customer-centric products and the use of personas throughout the product development process. Considerations for skill development, local community initiatives and norms, and job development are key areas for positive impact. Enterprises that deliver socially sustainable products build more consumer trust, willingness to pay, and stickiness than their competitors.

On average, shoppers paid a 45% premium for ethically labeled versus unlabeled shirts. — Harvard University Study [3]

Environmental Sustainability

An environmentally sustainable product minimizes negative impacts on the planet and its natural resources throughout its lifecycle. This includes factors such as energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and pollution. 

This applies to physical and intangible products alike. Software applications, for example, impact the environment through electricity consumption. In fact, Internet use accounted for 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions in recent years. This figure is expected to double by 2025, with the potential for even higher growth rates considering the rapid growth of AI applications, which require massive amounts of computing power.

Enabling a Circular Economy as a Product Leader

Opportunities to improve sustainability often arise from a product’s broader value chain. Some organizations focus on improving sustainability in specific stages, such as design and development. Others strive for an entirely circular economy, building sustainability and minimizing waste throughout a product’s lifecycle. Product Management plays a key role in enabling circular economies to meet the needs of customers and stakeholders.

So, what is meant by a circular economy? In economics, circularity means a product, service, or resource is renewed or regenerated rather than wasted. Circularity is a key concept that should be integrated into product design to ensure that all aspects are considered, such as energy consumption during manufacturing, transportation, and end-of-life scenarios. Sustainable end-of-use and reuse strategies can be achieved by engineering materials that are easily recyclable or can be utilized for new development. Knowing how long materials will last also helps businesses make intelligent pricing decisions and retain consumers.

Furthermore, Product Managers influence consumer behaviors for product use and reuse in multiple aspects of the product lifecycle, including marketing plans and operational deployment ideation. Engineering plays an important role in designing products that can be easily disassembled and repurposed [4].

It is important to identify how a circular economy applies to a specific product context so that the product can be designed to keep materials in constant circulation. Figure 2 shows an example of this concept applied to a Data Center for Large Language Models.

AI Large Language Models are revolutionizing various sectors, but their data centers can have significant environmental impacts. Steps to creating a sustainable circular economy for AI data center products could involve:

  • Powering the data center with renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or geothermal.
  • Identifying green alternatives to single-use materials for the server farms and the construction. Innovative materials use industrial food waste or algae blooms to produce bio-plastics and composites using our current abundant resources.
  • Utilizing energy-efficient components for servers, cooling systems, and storage. Then, dynamically allocating energy-consuming resources based on real-time needs.
  • Implementing evaporative cooling, rainwater harvesting, and greywater reuse to reduce freshwater needs for energy and cooling further.
  • Capturing the generated waste heat and sending it to nearby buildings or district heating systems.
  • Designing the data center for disassembly and reuse of material components. Using materials that can be composted back into fertilizer.

Practices for Developing Sustainable Products

The practices and considerations described below are useful in identifying ways to improve sustainability. Product Managers must also consider additional approaches to cater to their specific needs and desired outcomes in alignment with their organization’s strategy and values.

Fostering Innovative Sustainability with Design Thinking

SAFe recognizes design thinking as a critical dimension of the core competency of Agile product delivery. To ensure sustainability throughout the entire lifecycle of a product, design thinking should be utilized. The double diamond model illustrates the iterative phases of divergent and convergent thinking, explained further in the design thinking SAFe Framework article.

The first diamond involves identifying areas of need in the target market(s) and considering opportunities to address sustainability concerns with current and future products. The second diamond focuses on ideating and prototyping solutions that address previously identified challenges and opportunities. These are useful opportunities for Product Management to understand market and user needs and to design and test solution opportunities iteratively.

As seen in Figure 3, applying design thinking throughout the product lifecycle offers multiple opportunities to evaluate and improve a product’s sustainability. This ability is critical to the research and hypotheses testing required to address all three dimensions of a sustainable product.

Developing sustainable products involves continually testing design aspects such as eco-friendly materials, usability, and recyclability. These testing practices reflect the full product lifecycle, focusing on creating more positive and longer-term economic, social, and environmental outcomes.

Gemba at All Points of the Product Lifecycle

Gemba is a Lean term and practice from Japan, meaning ‘the real place,’ where the customers’ work is performed. In addition to spending time with customers using their products, product leaders should also spend time observing each step in the development process. Gemba identifies opportunities to eliminate waste or better serve consumers that can be prioritized and acted upon.

Identify target market populations, including the needs of underserved populations. Ask users how and why they are making purchasing decisions. Watch how the products are used, taking specific notes on how they are used unexpectedly. Consider user needs for product solutions that promote sustainability, like energy-saving modes or data-efficient operation. Understand the current customer usage or problem set in the context of reusability and product lifetime. Observe how products are being disposed of and if there is access to the disposal methods hoped for.

Recognize the Critical Role of Solution Context in Developing Sustainable Products

Solution Context identifies the critical aspects of the environment in which a product or solution operates (Figure 4). Understanding the solution context is crucial to value delivery. It provides an essential understanding of the solution’s requirements, usage, installation, operation, and support. The solution context impacts all elements of solution development, including solution intent and design, non-functional requirements (NFRs), development priorities, solution implementation and testing, supplier and material selection, release governance, and innovation.

Understanding the solution context also helps identify opportunities to create more sustainable products.

Interoperability: Products can contain complex networks of interdependencies that must be managed carefully. These connections also create great opportunities for creating connected and innovative sustainable solutions. Designing products that can seamlessly interoperate with related systems avoids generating unnecessary or duplicate components and adapters that consume additional energy and materials.

Maintenance, Operational Support, and Sustainable Infrastructure: A focus on sustainable infrastructure, as well as how the product will be maintained in the operational context, allows for easier upgrades and repairs and extends a product’s usable life, which reduces economic and environmental waste. It also creates more opportunities for employment through easily managed and operated repair and recycling systems.

Standards and Regulations: Product leaders with a good grasp of sustainability regulations, standards, and customer needs can avoid fees and penalties. Furthermore, they can identify areas where innovative solutions that meet and exceed regulations can be built. This can be the deciding factor between a generic product and a whole-product solution that is differentiated from the competition.

All aspects of the solution’s context contain unknowns that can be revealed by exploring the solution in its intended operating environment. For more information on the solution context , read the related SAFe Framework article.

Apply Empathy Techniques to Identify Sustainable Concerns Important to Customers

It is important to clearly identify the product’s purpose in the target customers’ eyes by creating personas and empathy maps and identifying jobs to be done. Product Management should spend time with customers to understand their sustainability concerns. Empathy maps are a particularly powerful way to uncover trends in customers’ attitudes that can easily go unnoticed.

Market and community perspectives on sustainable considerations change rapidly and vary across regions and cultures. Not only creating but maintaining and updating persons is key to creating the right innovation for the right market at the right moment.

Use Journey Maps to Highlight Opportunities for Improving Sustainability

A customer journey map illustrates the user experience through their products and services. Customer journey maps allow teams to identify ways products can be improved to create a better end-to-end user experience. Journey maps are useful for revealing sustainable practices and new opportunities along the user interaction touchpoints. Figure 5 shows an example of a young couple purchasing groceries and highlights opportunities for improving the sustainability of the product at each step. Product Management and researchers can use them to foster development opportunities for reuse, ways to educate users on available sustainable options, and more.

Product Management should create journey maps representing the full life cycle of the product. Teams should then brainstorm solutions that address user needs while minimizing environmental impact and fostering long-term economic value. Where applicable, features and stories should include details around accessibility and inclusivity of key end-user personas, community feedback from under-represented end users, and user path tests through the functionality being built. These activities should consider the environment the product will most likely be used within and what changes the product will have on those using, supporting, buying, and disposing of the product.

Developing and Testing Sustainable Products

A focus on sustainability naturally overlaps with the definition of Non-Functional Requirements (NFRs) for a product. Common NFRs related to sustainability include accessibility, scalability, profitability, interoperability, and privacy. For example, performance-based NFRs can reduce CO2 for web-based applications. The faster customers can achieve their goal with a product, the less total energy will be consumed. These NFRs should be clearly defined, and the product should be regularly tested to ensure each new feature adheres to them. For more information on Non-Functional Requirements (NFRs) , read the related SAFe Framework article.

While developing sustainable products, their social, economic, and environmental impact should be measured. The ongoing impact should also be assessed regularly throughout the product life-cycle, from material sourcing to disposal and as new functionality is added. For example, A/B testing can be used to compare the impact of different product versions simultaneously.

A focus on developing sustainable products is more crucial now than ever, driven by increasing expectations from consumers, investors, governments, and employees. By integrating sustainability into core Agile Product Development practices and aligning with Lean-Agile methods, organizations can bring focus to reducing waste and improving customer-centricity.

This approach also paves the way for a more sustainable future. Through durable, reusable, and recyclable product designs, products aim for economic sustainability. By prioritizing the well-being of workers and communities, products strive for social sustainability. By reducing our ecological footprint, products deliver environmental sustainability benefits. This not only helps organizations adhere to regulations and satisfy consumer demands but also builds trust, encourages loyalty, and supports the organization’s reputation for the long term.

[1] Winograd and Flores. Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design . Addison Wesley. 1987. [2] New Data Reveals Consumers Increasingly Choose Products in Sustainable Packaging Globally, Despite Rising Prices. Date Written: April 25, 2023. Retrieved on April 22, 2024. https://foodindustryexecutive.com/2023/04/new-data-reveals-consumers-increasingly-choose-products-in-sustainable-packaging-globally-despite-rising-prices/

[3] Consumer Demand for Fair Labor Standards: Evidence from a Field Experiment on eBay. Date Written: April 12, 2011. Retrieved on April 24, 2024. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1811788 [4] 5 New Sustainable Design Materials. Retrieved April 23, 2024. https://luxiders.com/new-sustainable-design-materials/

[5] Stories That Deliver Business Insights. Date Written: December 19, 2013. Retrieved on March 22, 2024. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/stories-that-deliver-business-insights/

Last Update: 10 May 2024

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