The Hows & Whys of creating customer journey map Strategy

The options, when it comes to quantitative data, have always been many. The many analytical tools in the market have enabled companies to some extent to ascertain user behavior. But, do they really and completely? This is where a Customer Journey Map (CJM) comes into play, where businesses can now understand the customers’ journey and their qualitative feelings across the digital and traditional touchpoints.

What is Customer journey mapping?

It’s a way of mapping out a customer’s journey across the many stages, from discovering the need for a product, purchase, usage to post-sales. It’s a visual formatting of the journey that is easy to empathize with the customer and understand the underlying insights. It captures a particular customer’s experience, the typical actions they would do, emotions that they go through and the typical questions in their mind. In studying the various angles of this journey, insights are uncovered

From these various angles of study, we can uncover insights and identify a customer’s pain points along their journey.

Here are the steps to create a Customer Journey Map

  1. Define the scope
  2. Set up a research plan
  3. Get to know customers and create personas
  4. Conduct a CJM workshop involving important stakeholders
    • Map out the touchpoints
    • Visualize the journey
  5. Refine the journey
  6. Extract of insights from the CJM

Let us see how we can visualize a typical customer’s journey with various factors influencing a buying decision.

1. Defining the scope

For instance, think about the following:

  • What are we going to do with the information that we generate?
  • Using CJM, how can we improve our customer experience?
  • How are we utilizing the journey map to educate and engage employees on providing better customer experience?

At this point, it may feel raw, but this is the base made up of a set of goals that will provide direction.

2. Research plan

Data is essential for creating a well-informed customer journey. It’s important to know and implement the right methodologies to gain customer insights.  The 2 forms in this case are qualitative and quantitative research.

Quantitative and Qualitative research:

Research methods for customer journey mappingThere are various sources of data that can be refered to in this digital era. From website analytics, to social media or even mobile app analytics. They provide a lot of information captured through customer interactions across the many digital touchpoints, like where they come from and how they become a positive lead.

Tools like google analytics, social media analytics, search data help in setting a context of the research, besides which we need to derive customer stories from these sets of data as well as from data sourced through other methods.

Customer stories can be extracted through research methods like interviews, survey and focus group studies, workshops for both employees and customers.

Getting information from both employees and customers fills in gaps, as it may be difficult to derive all of the information from customers alone. Time and budget are also factors in choosing research methods. Nothing is a perfect solution, but an optimal list of methods must be arrived at to uncover the journey.

Starting off with a CJM workshop always helps to overcome those initial blocks. Remember to involve cross functional team members in these workshops to get multifaceted insights.

3. Customer knowledge and persona creation

Once the right research methods are identified, a CJM starts with knowing customer type and traits. A typical customer is described by personas (fictional characters) that reflect the personality, behavior, motivations and needs that drive them to a product or service purchase.

Customers can be studied through customer surveys, social media demographics, engagements and interviews. These are how personas are created that actually help in satisfying needs of typical customers.

4. Running a CJM workshop

It’s a good idea to validate those created personas through workshops and think up scenarios of how a particular customer would approach a product or service. Collect varied insights from consulting with cross functional team members.

Stages of customer journey

A typical customer often goes through various stages:

  • Need discovery: where the customer discovers their need or problem
  • Research: here’s where customers research about the various solutions available to solve or satisfy the need
  • Preparation: relates to any preparation before purchase like traveling to a particular store or getting ready for a photoshoot, and so on.
  • Purchase: this sales process starts from opting for a particular product, adding to cart, clarifications and finally purchasing the product or service
  • Post purchase: refers to any after sale support, CRM, and efforts on making the customers loyalty, etc.

We must keep in mind that each journey is different, varying by context and situation. It may be linear at times and at other times branches out into various other layers to reach the buying stage. Though not 100% accurate, it helps tell a story of a typical customer.

Attributes of a CJM

  • Visual representation of touchpoints and customer interactions
  • Customers’ foreseen actions
  • Questions in the minds of the customer
  • Customers’ underlying emotions
  • Opportunities for improvement
Mapping out the touchpoints

Important thing in a customer journey mapping is to identify touchpoints across the journey that impacts the customers’ buying decision. A touchpoint is something that any customer comes in direct or indirect contact with the brand through various stages of the customers’ buying journey.

Taking inventory of all touchpoints will help in capturing the big picture, finding opportunities to optimize those touchpoints. While some touchpoints like a company’s website, advertisements, mobile apps come under brand or company control, other touchpoints like word of mouth or online reviews do not.

Irrespective of direct control over a touchpoint or not, it is important to know what those touchpoints are. It empowers businesses with informed decisions that help improve the customer experience.

Empathy is key in taking inventory of touchpoints. A brainstorm session helps in listing out possibilities of customers reaching out or contacting the brand across all stages, purchase, during the purchase and post sales.

Points to ponder on uncovering the touchpoints:
  • What is the problem that a typical persona goes through? How would they find the solutions to solve their problem?
  • Is the problem something that the brand or company could solve? If yes, what could be the ways to have the solution reachable to the customers?
  • What are the possible channels that a typical journey of customer goes through to end purchasing the product or service?
  • What are the ways that a customer interacts post purchase?

By introspecting on what touchpoints are involved through various stages of a customer’s journey, we will be able to get the bigger picture.

What’s next?

Personas and possible touchpoints need to be listed out in each of the journey stages. A workshop should move in a direction so as to get insights in the following template:

Customer journey map template

Steps in the workshop:

  • Invite members from cross-functional teams across the organization
  • Create this framework on a large wall where it is seen by every participant
  • As a group, brainstorm and work through each column (stages) capturing various points on the respective rows of attributes
  • For each row, discuss and place post it notes of the suggestion and stick on the suitable cell of the grid

Pros of collaborative workshop

  • Reference to the accumulated data and research done combined with participant judgements make it easier to throw in points
  • Post-it notes are handy as it offers scope of change to make changes through the workshop
  • Participants will be able to grasp concept of the framework on completion of first stage
  • Other remaining columns only require replication efforts


So, that’s it – the first draft of the customer journey map is complete.

5. Refine the output

Though the collected data is refined to capture reality from the first round, it is important to regroup to validate the output and make changes on the go.  The customer journey should be relevant, engaging and useful to the stakeholders and not end up in an attic. Getting a designer to work on the framework through infographics and videos can help boost engagement with the stakeholders.

Example persona

An intro about this example persona is Peter Davidson, who wants to get photography services for his family on the occasion of his parents’ anniversary. Let’s look at his persona and his customer journey:

Persona creation






Example of a customer journey map:

Photo studio customer journey mapping

6. Extracting insights from the customer journey map

A well-thought out journey map is where the work actually starts. Once the journey is mapped, it’s easy to extract thoughts, customer actions and the loop holes in the process.

Each identified loophole presents an opportunity to improve. Based on this and other factors, come up with solutions to fill up these gaps in the process. The whole point of mapping is to identify how improvements can be made in the customer experience and thereby boost conversions.

Leveraging customer journey mapping

Leveraging customer journey mapHave a long-term outlook in mind that would drive better customer experience through insights from journey mapping. Take continuous efforts to keep current customers updated and reflective of the most current scenario.

Also, this journey map can be handy in employee training for better understanding of customers and businesses.

So, a customer journey map works to any business’s advantage as it guides the team on where to invest their efforts. For example, a gap in the online presence of a customer’s journey indicates the need for improvement in that specific touchpoint and in doing so helps shorten the sales cycle, generate more leads and conversions.

The biggest advantage of all being, the sentiment of both customers and employees are captured.

Great days ahead!

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