Customer Experience Journey Map – the Top 10 Requirements


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Customer Experience Journey Map Example

A customer experience journey map is an incredibly useful tool to understand and improve your customer experience. A great map documents your customer experience from your customer’s eyes, helping you to understand not only how customers interact with you today, but also identifies improvement opportunities.

Unfortunately, there is no standard for a customer experience journey map. It can be built following high-quality design principles, or use smiley faces. It can be a work of art, or something that looks like it belongs on a napkin.

I have included an sample on the right, as well as some useful links at the end of this post for those unfamiliar with a customer experience journey map. The map may go by a different name, such as customer experience map, journey map, touch point map, etc. The map provides a visual representation of how your customer uses your product or services, or how potential customers go through the shopping process.

In this post, I will detail the criteria we use at SMS Research Advisors to design and build our journey maps. Please give feedback and comments as to what you see as critical.

The 10 Critical Components of a Great Customer Experience Journey Map:

  1. Represent your Customer’s perspective. The customer experience map needs to represent the interactions as your customer experiences it. It often includes interactions that happen outside of your control, such as a social media interaction or a web search. When developing educational content with a large retailer , we discovered that most of the shopper education was complete before they ever visited that retailer’s website.
  2. Use research. Do not use internal staff to build these – that just makes a process flow. Depending on the scope, the journey map process can involve interviews or ethnographies, possibly combined with surveys. Some companies bring customers in and build them interactively internal staff. This can be a very powerful experience, although the small sample size can create bias. Better to do the research first, then bring in your customers to build the final map.
  3. Represent Customer segments. You will be amazed at how different segments have different customer experiences. In a pre-sales project for a service company we found that one segment typically spent two hours researching the category, while another consistently spent more than six weeks doing the same, using very different tools. Imagine trying to represent these very different experiences as one.
  4. Include Customer goals. A great journey map shows what the customer is trying to accomplish at each stage of the process. Goals can change as the process unfolds.
  5. Focus on emotions. Emotions are critical to any experience, whether B2B or B2C, and a great customer journey map communicates these emotions. But I’m not an advocate of the smiley and frowny faces prevalent in many journey maps.
  6. Represent touch points. The customer journey map is often built to demonstrate the order and type of touch points – including those not in your control.
  7. Highlight moments of truth. Some interactions have more impact than others. Great maps separate those critical moments of truth from the rest. For example, when visiting a hospital, a bad check-in taints the rest of the patient experience.
  8. Measure your brand promise. A critical outcome of a great customer experience map is the measurement of how the experience supports the brand promise. If your brand promise is to have an experience that is either effortless, highly customized, or unique, then your journey map is an excellent way to document whether your customer feels you are meeting that goal.
  9. Include time. Experience length provides important context. Does the typical call last 30 seconds or 10 minutes? Did shoppers spend 20 minutes or 40 hours deciding on a product?
  10. Ditch the PowerPoint. Most journey maps appear to be created via PowerPoint. But PowerPoint is built to communicate basic information on-screen, usually by bullet points. Why limit yourself to such a tool for something as important as your customer experience? Use a desktop publishing application to communicate the richness of the experience.

Some optional criteria to consider:

  1. Break the experience into phases. In a longer experience, customers are accomplishing different things at different times. For example, early shopping phases typically involve trying to figure out what questions to ask, whereas later phases are more transactional. By understanding the customer’s mindset at each phase, you can customize the experience around relevant needs.
  2. Bring in Customer Verbatims. While not strictly required, verbatims bring the customer experience to life.
  3. Include Customers and Non-Customers. A pre-sales journey map should always include non-customers, as they may be following a different path to make a decision. One research project showed how non-customers were far more likely to use in-person meetings to make a purchase decision – which our client did not offer. This realization was critical to their improvement efforts.
  4. Use your other Voice of the Customer components. Rather than being a one-off project, the journey map should incorporate components of your Voice of the Customer program (NPS, Satisfaction, the Customer Effort Score) to link it to your other efforts.

These 8+4 criteria will ensure you have a rich document that can serve as the foundation for your customer experience efforts. In the next few posts I will be showing examples of how we apply these principles to some of our journey maps.

There are a ton of good posts out there about how customer journey maps support your Voice of the Customer program. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I really like the examples at this site. Chris walks through different examples, and provides his perspective on each. I particularly like how he calls out the need for both qualitative and quantitative research for making the map.
  • This site has a great case study of a complex gamer’s map. They certainly follow #10 – ditch PowerPoint!
  • Would you believe the government of the UK created a guide to creating a customer journey maps?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Tincher
Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers. This lifelong passion for CX, and a thirst for knowledge, led him to found his customer experience consulting firm, Heart of the Customer (HoC). HoC sets the bar for best practices and are emulated throughout the industry. He is the author of Do B2B Better and co-author of How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer?, and he also writes Heart of the Customer’s popular CX blog.


  1. Great post! I love the comprehensive list you've outlined. I'd like to add to what you were saying with your point #10. I agree that the right tools are in order if you want to develop a robust, data-rich map that will provide the actionable insights your company needs to fully understand and then transform its customer experience.

    Like you said, PowerPoint (Visio and many other programs) just doesn’t cut it for developing the insight-packed maps that we're talking about. They weren’t designed with the needs of customer journey mapping in mind.

    The company I work for, Touchpoint Dashboard, has a web-based customer experience mapping tool that really streamlines the mapping process, yet provides an incredibly detailed analysis of the overall customer experience – more so than what a linear map on paper or in PowerPoint can provide. You can test drive the tool on our website – we'd love to get your feedback. Thanks again for sharing your map building principles – they are excellent!


  2. Jennifer,

    Thanks for the comment! I’ll take a look at the software and let you know what I think.



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