Chapter 16: Customer Journey Mapping

What is a Customer Journey Map?

In our customer-centric world, providing a superior customer experience is a priority for any organization pursuing real success. Today’s organizations are doing everything they can to better understand their customers. Whether your brand is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), a start-up or a corporation, global or local, providing exceptional customer experience is a must. One of the best ways to get to know your target audience is by walking in their shoes and mapping each and every interaction you share. This is where the customer journey map comes in.

We should note here that not every organization has “customers” in the commercial sense of the word. Healthcare agencies have patients and their families; non-profits have donors, members, and supporters; governments have citizens, residents, and taxpayers (with many people being all three, but some people fitting into only one or two categories, such as recent immigrants or children). In this chapter, the term “customer” is used to mean the target audience the communicator is hoping to motivate to behave a certain way and take certain actions; the text is written with a commercial setting in mind, but this is also applicable to other settings, such as non-profit organizations or government agencies.


A chart that tracks a specific customer's journey with a company. It includes their thoughts and feelings, channels, and quotes at various stages.A customer journey map is a visualization of an end-to-end customer experience. It’s essentially a visual narrative that allows you to understand each process your customer encounters with your organization, spanning each step from their initial engagement to, hopefully, a long-term relationship. As Matthew Fairweather, Director of Matthew Fairweather Ltd., stated:

Customer journey mapping is really a mixture of art and insight … But that’s just a visual aid. The real work in journey mapping is using all of the customer information and data available to you from across the business and delivering a process and structure to their experience.

A great customer journey map should highlight how your customers discover, research, purchase, interact, and even promote your offerings. One of the easiest places to start is by outlining all the touch points your organizations has with its target audience. In the graphic below, the touch points are listed in the boxes and represent customer interactions as they move through each of the stages. And, as you can see, these touch points can be either online or offline.

Stages in the customer Journey: Awareness, engagement, conversion, retention, and advocacy.

Touch Points at Various Stages in the Customer’s Journey
Stage Touch Points
  • Paid ads (online and offline)
  • Radio/TV/print/outdoor ads
  • Email/direct mail
  • Promotions, sales, cupons
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Events (online and offline)
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social media
  • Retail store
  • Salesforce/call centre
  • Events (online and offline)
  • Website/eCommerce shop
  • Social (media) commerce
  • Retail store
  • Demo call/salesperson
  • Online chat/IM
  • Customer success reps
  • Training materials
  • Support portal
  • Customer success reps
  • Tech support reps
  • Online chat/IM
  • Social media support
  • Newsletters (online and offline)
  • Loyalty and incentive programs
  • Community forums
  • Events (online and offline)
  • Endorsements
  • Social media shares/reviews

Simply stated, a customer journey usually includes the following five stages:

The stages in the customer's journey organized in an inverted pyramid.

Please note that depending on your organization, you may choose to rename some of the stages from above or perhaps even break up a stage into multiple stages. For example, if you are in HR and mapping the “customer journey” for recruiting new employees, “Conversion” could be changed to “Application Submitted” and “Engagement” might be broken up into “First interview,” “Second Interview,” and so on. So, feel free to tweak the specific names and number of stages to best fit your organizational processes. But do make sure that you are capturing all the steps in your target audience’s journey.

In addition to specific stages and touchpoints, a great customer journey map also includes additional information and details. Here are six more areas to consider when building a comprehensive customer journey map:

  1. Customer’s Perspective
    When you build your customer journey map, ensure that you are mapping and presenting everything truly from the customer’s perspective. This is a great opportunity to use the audience archetypes that you have created to closely map out their customer journeys. Organize the stages to reflect the conversion process from your customer’s perspective, as opposed to your own internal processes. This can often include aspects out of your direct control, such as social media influences, web searches, and steps your customers take even before you enter the picture.
  2. Customer’s Thoughts, Emotions, Pain Points, and Goals
    For every stage of your customer journey map, write out what your customers are thinking, contemplating, feeling (even fearing), struggling with, and what they hope to accomplish. This will help you, as an organization, meet and address those specific needs. Here are a few examples:

    1. Customer Thoughts
      Customer thoughts represent what customers are thinking at a specific stage of their customer journey. Examples include:

      • I hope I can find _____?
      • Is this organization credible?
      • How do I use _____?
      • Is there support post-purchase?
      • How does ____ compare to other offerings in the market?
      • How much does it cost?
      • How long will it take to get it?
    2. Customer Feelings
      Customer feelings reflect what customers might be feeling at a specific stage of their customer journey. Examples include:

      • Excited – often at the beginning when a “solution” is a possibility
      • Curious – usually at some point when doing research or trying to find out more information
      • Confused – for complex or complicated products/services
      • Hopeful – perhaps after purchase, but before using the product/service
      • Impressed – post-purchase
      • Frustrated – when things go wrong
      • Overwhelmed – too much information

      (For visualization purposes, emotions are sometimes represented by emojis.)

    3. Customer Pain Points
      Customer pain points are specific problems that prospective or existing customers are experiencing at a specific stage in their customer journey. Examples include:

      • ____ takes too much time. (process pain point)
      • ____ is too complex and I don’t understand how to use it. (product/service pain point)
      • I can’t find the information I need. (accessibility pain point)
      • I can’t connect with the appropriate person. (support pain point)
      • It’s too expensive. (financial pain point)
    4. Customer Goals
      Customer goals highlight what a customer is looking to accomplish at a specific stage of their customer journey. Examples include:

      • I want to find out how much it costs.
      • I want to solve “this” problem.
      • I want to learn about _____.
      • I want to buy ____.
  3. Customer Activities
    What does the customer actually do at every step along the customer journey?
  4. Content
    As you review each stage of your customer journey, think about what content (articles, FAQs, video, white papers, videos, training materials) you need to provide to address the customer’s issues.
  5. Time
    The length of a customer experience provides important context. Does a typical stage last minutes, days, weeks, or months? How long does your customer remain in a specific stage? A great journey map recognizes that this information is essential and takes time into consideration.
  6. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)/Data Collected
    At each stage, the organization should think about what data it will collect, measure, evaluate. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that show the organization is performing well (or not) in meeting the target audience’s needs at that specific stage? Often organizations will focus on high-level KPIs and outcomes, but by creating KPIs for each stage, an organization can better identify function and dysfunction in the customer journey.
  7. Opportunities
    Once mapped out, where are the gaps and the possibilities? The main purpose of any customer journey map is to improve your customers’ experiences and satisfaction. Given all of the above considerations, where is there room for improvement or new opportunities?

If you want to see some very good, visual examples, please read the following articles, Nine Sample Customer Journey Maps – And What We Can Learn from Them and 144 Best Customer Journey Map Templates and Examples.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of customer journeys. To better complete your customer personas and customer journeys, you will need to collect and analyze lots of data about your customers. This customer research is critical to the accuracy, precision, and validity of these tools. While the goal of these tools is to improve the customer experience and to make better customer-focused decisions, if the underlying data is not appropriate, recent, and/or accurate, your entire analysis may be flawed. So, if you are planning to use customer personas and customer journey maps as a strategic, decision-making tool, do make sure you have the appropriate data to support it.

Here is a YouTube video (6 mins), Customer Journey Map Workshop, that does a good job explaining how data, audience archetypes, and customer journeys work together.

Benefits of a Mapped Customer Journey

This process takes a lot of time and effort; what makes that a worthwhile investment?

  • Consistency of touchpoints across the entire organization
    Similar to the audience archetype, customer journeys are a valuable tool in understanding your audiences and the various touch points across the entire organization, highlighting how the various departments and teams can work together to create a more seamless user experience.
  • Deeper understanding of audiences
    As mentioned previously, your customer journey should include your audience’s needs, wants, pain points, and preferences at each specific stage of the journey. By identifying these characteristics, organizations can better provide support, content, and services.
  • Closer and stronger relationships
    Organizations with detailed customer journeys tend to develop closer and more meaningful relationships because they know exactly what audiences need, when they need it, and where/how they need it. This level of personalization and customer care translates into more loyal audiences and ones that often turn into brand advocates.
  • Tailored and timely communications
    From a marketing communications perspective, knowing what to communicate, when to communicate it, and through which specific channels ensures that organizations are optimizing their return on activities and investments. These activities deliver more personalized and targeted messaging, which can resonate more with target audiences.
  • More targeted product development
    As mentioned, customer journeys are also a great tool in identifying product or service development opportunities. For these development teams, customer journeys can identify areas where an organization might introduce new products and/or new ways to improve existing products and services to better serve your target audiences. In other words, customer journeys are not just about marketing, but about the overarching organizational customer experience.
  • Improved identification of cross and up-selling opportunities
    From a sales perspective, customer journey maps identify those opportunities to create cross and up-selling opportunities that are complementary. Remember that this should not be the sole focus of your customer journey. However, there are times when complementary products or services will significantly improve the customer experience. Customer journey maps can serve as strategic tools in uncovering these opportunities.

Customer Journey Optimization

While customer journey maps are helpful in identifying new opportunities, they also allow organizations to quickly identify areas to optimize and/or automate processes or communications based on the data. In building your customer journey maps, think about the key data that you will collect along the journey and how that data can help in making better organizational decisions.

Customer Journey Online Tools & Articles

Here are some articles and online tools for developing your customer journey:

Depending on your needs and complexities of your customer journeys, there are several ways to map your customer journey. Here are a few examples and options:

  • Whiteboards and Post-Its
    Sometimes the easiest and simplest option is to get everyone together in a room and use a whiteboard and post-its to brainstorm and map our a customer journey. The Post-Its allow you move ideas around and can make creating a first version much easier. If you want to do something online / virtually, there are many free online whiteboard and collaboration tools such as Padlet, Miro, Lucidspark, and Ayoa that allow groups to perform activities like these online.
  • Excel or PowerPoint Templates
    Depending on how much real-time collaboration you want, you can also create customer journeys simply using Excel or PowerPoint. There are websites that will sell you inexpensive PPT templates or you can simply search for free customer journey templates online. That said, here is an Excel customer journey template as a starting point.
  • Online Customer Journey Mapping Tools & Technologies
    As mentioned in our Customer Persona Chapter, there are a several online services like Smaply and Flow Mapp. If you are looking for tools that can incorporate data from other databases / services and apply machine learning to that data, check out Mnemonic AI, and Delve AI, which combine customer personas with the customer journey mapping process:[1]

    • Mnemonic AI
      Mnemonic AI analyses publicly available data and internal data and extracts the crucial insights to generate personas for your product, service, or organization. Mnemonic AI can import your internal data such as surveys, interviews, CRM, email analytics, web analytics, and call logs, as well as leverage external data such as social media, reviews, and third party research.
    • Delve AI
      Create data-driven personas and customer journeys for your organization using your Google Analytics data. Delve AI also offers competitor personas and a variety of B2C and B2B industry-specific comparisons.

Media Attributions

  1. Persona Creation. Automated. AI powered.


This chapter was adapted from Foundations in Digital Marketing: Building Meaningful Customer Relationships and Engaged Audiences by Rochelle Grayson, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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Social Media & Reputation Management Copyright © 2023 by Sam Schechter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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