The Basics of Customer Journey Mapping

Journey maps are tools that help you visualize your research and reveal critical insights. Here, I layout a list of what to include in journey maps, provide links to examples, and share tips from my experiences building them.

Customer journey maps serve as a fundamental tool in guiding professionals across various areas of focus. These maps offer a unique perspective, enabling individuals to see their products or services through the eyes of customers. By identifying key touchpoints and moments of truth, users can pinpoint areas for improvement and innovation. This approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also boosts brand loyalty and drives business growth.

Despite their widespread use, many organizations struggle to fully leverage the potential of customer journey maps. In this resource, we are going back to the basics. The aim is to underscore their significance and outline key elements for optimizing their effectiveness.

This resource is invaluable for researchers, strategists, designers, and all professionals responsible for developing customer experiences. Whether individuals are new to customer journey mapping or seeking to enhance their current practices, this guide provides essential insights and strategies for creating impactful customer journeys.

Why Customer Journey Maps Are Important

A customer journey map is an essential tool for visualizing a user’s path towards accomplishing a goal. It takes into account their entire journey from beginning to end, including key channels, interactions, and moments of truth. By highlighting what the user is thinking, feeling, and doing at every stage, a journey map provides valuable insights that can help marketers and product designers create more relevant and engaging experiences for their customers.

But the benefits of journey mapping go beyond just improving customer experiences. Let’s take a closer look at how journey maps can help both organizations and the people within.

Organizational Benefits

Revealing Customer Needs and Identifying Actions

One of the significant benefits of journey mapping is that it provides a comprehensive list of customer needs arranged in a logical sequence. This enables organizations to understand how customers fulfill their needs, independent of the organization. By looking at customer interactions from their perspective, organizations can gain a deeper understanding of what their customers are about and how they view the organization.

Getting Team Members on the Same Page

In the process of creating great marketing or developing products, multiple team members are often involved. Each member may have a different understanding of the customer and their needs, which can result in disconnected or competing activities that break the customer experience and waste resources.

Journey maps are an excellent way of facilitating collaboration and ensuring that all parties have a shared understanding of the problem space, the customer’s experience, the potential solution, and a common language to use. The process can break down organizational silos, build consensus, and create a cohesive cross-functional team.

Creating a More Customer-Centric Organization

Journey mapping helps to develop customer empathy in all areas of the organization, not just marketing. By bringing together a cross-functional team to create a common visualization of a user’s journey, the mapping process encourages sharing of information, discussion, and hearing customer research first-hand. This helps the team walk in the user’s shoes, leading to a better understanding of the user’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations, resulting in a more impactful work.

Team Member Benefits

Journey mapping offers benefits to team members in various roles:

  • Business Leader: An experience journey map helps you see how customers move through the entire sales funnel, uncovering opportunities for value creation, and revealing gaps or customer pain points that are preventing success.
  • Marketer: Experience maps help you understand which channels customers use and why they use them, enabling you to develop the right communications, delivered at the right time, encouraging users to take desired actions.
  • Designer: Experience maps give you insight into the user’s tasks, allowing you to deliver a frictionless, intuitive interface that helps them achieve their goals.
  • Content Writer: Experience maps help you understand what a customer is thinking, feeling, and doing, highlighting the questions you need to answer with your content.
  • Analyst: Experience maps help you understand what touchpoints need to be measured, how data is related to each other, and what questions your data needs to answer.
  • Technologist: Journey maps provide context about how the technical solutions you are building fit into the big picture.

<aside> šŸ’” Before starting your journey mapping effort, it’s essential to consider how different members of your group might incorporate it into their workflow. Incorporating these specific items in the map’s structure and content can help journey maps gain more traction and deliver even more impact.

For example, what specific items might the journey map include that would be helpful to them? Write these down andĀ incorporate them as you determine your maps structure and complete the content.

When journey maps are crafted with consideration for how specific roles will use them, they gain more traction and deliver even more impact.

If there is one thing that I have learned working in business, it is that most every employee wants to do a great job and deliver their highest contribution. And if you can equip them with the tools to do it and clear the way, their potential is unlimited and they will deliver their highest contribution.


How to Structure Customer Journey Map

Journey maps can take many forms depending on the company and customers they focus on. Despite their differences, journey maps serve similar purposes and should have similar content.

My Preferred Journey Map Structure

I prefer to organize journey maps into four zones, each with a specific focus. This structure creates a predictable layout while allowing for creativity. It also enables tailoring the map to specific situations.


Journey Map Examples

While the above structure is my personal preference, there are many other wonderful journey map structures that may work for you. The following journey maps are real examples generously shared online by various organizations and individuals.

<aside> šŸ’” A PDF with images of each of these maps can be downloaded here.


What Content to Include in a Journey Map

In the journey map structure that was introduced above, there are four zones that contain key information about your customers: The Lens, The Experience, The Insights, and The Meta. In each of these zones, businesses can gather key information about their customers and their experiences to inform improvements.

About Each Zone


Zone A: The Lens

This zone describes WHO and the WHAT is being examined. This zone includes two key components: Persona and Scenario. The Persona identifies the specific user that is the focus of the journey map. The Scenario describes the reason why the persona is engaging with the company and outlines their expectations of the engagement.

Zone B: The Experience

This zone describes the customer journey in detail. This zone includes Phases/Goals, Actions/Tasks, Touchpoints/Channels, Mindsets, and Emotions. Phases/Goals are the big, high-level steps that users go through to accomplish their goals. Actions/Tasks describe the actions and behaviors of users throughout the journey. Touchpoints/Channels identify where the interaction between the user and the brand happens. Mindsets describe the thoughts that the user has throughout the journey. Emotions describe the feelings that the user has throughout the journey.

Zone C: The Insights

This zone highlights improvement opportunities. This zone includes Insights/Opportunities, Ideas/Actions, Metrics, and Ownership. Insights/Opportunities highlight gaps, pain points, and opportunities in the experience that have been uncovered through the journey mapping effort. Ideas/Actions determine hypotheses (or recommendations) about how to close gaps, relieve pain points, and take advantage of opportunities to optimize the experience. Metrics highlight the measures of success that will help businesses ensure that this area of the journey is optimized. Ownership assigns ownership (and sometimes timelines) to make the map even more actionable.

Note: It’s important for businesses not to skip Zone C: The Insights, which is the most crucial part of journey mapping and the reason why businesses undertake it in the first place. Most companies tend to focus on the other areas in their journey map, but leave out the insights. This is problematic because insights help businesses identify pain points and opportunities for improvement, which can lead to significant improvements in the customer experience.

Zone D: The Meta

This zone details about the map that describe who, when, and who created it. This zone includes Descriptive Information and File Location. Descriptive Information includes the Business Unit or Department, Enterprise mapping, Date updated, and Research-level. File Location describes where the map can be found.


Beyond the Zones

In addition to items mentioned above, there also several other pieces of information that can be included to take the map even further.

  1. One important element to consider is moments of truth, which are defined as interactions between a customer and a company that have the potential to be a turning point in the customer’s perception of the company. These moments can be particularly critical in shaping the overall experience of the customer and should be carefully identified and analyzed.
  2. Another valuable addition to the map is the emotional journey, which can be depicted using a visual line or chart that shows the emotional highs and lows of the experience. This overlay can help to provide additional insight into how customers are feeling at different points throughout the journey and can be used to identify areas where emotional engagement could be improved.
  3. Tools and technology are also important to consider, as they can have a significant impact on the overall experience. For example, identifying the devices or tools that users are using to accomplish their goals can help to pinpoint areas where technology might be causing frustration or creating barriers to success.
  4. People are also an important consideration, as they can play a critical role in the customer journey. Understanding who else is involved at each step can help to identify areas where collaboration or communication might be improved.
  5. Data is another important element to consider, particularly in today’s data-driven world. Identifying when data is being collected and used can help to identify opportunities to better personalize the experience and make it more relevant to the customer’s needs and preferences.
  6. Finally, content is an important consideration as it can have a significant impact on the overall experience. Identifying what types of content might be consumed at each stage of the journey and whether it is useful and relevant can help to pinpoint areas where content could be improved or optimized.

Printable Checklist

To help ensure that all of these elements are considered, a downloadable checklist has been created. This printable checklist provides a quick reference for all of the key elements that should be included in a comprehensive journey map.

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