Customer Journey Maps (CJMs) help understand the experience a Customer (or User) has with a Product or service. They map their interaction with the offering from becoming aware of and deciding to acquire it, to using and staying loyal to it. Thus a CJM is a visualisation of the steps that a person goes through in their Customer Lifecycle, focusing on how they feel at each step.
- Visualise of (a part of) the customer (or user) lifecycle
- Evaluate the experiences the customer (or user) has with the product
- Identify specific high or low points of customer experience (successes/gains and failures/pains)
- Number of participants: 3–6
- Time needed: 90 mins – 2 days, depending on scope and level of detail
- Sticky notes in different colours
- Thick black markers
- CJM templates
- A large board or wall space
CJMs visualise the interactions of a customer with a product, focusing on their experience and its triggers. They start with a Persona in a specific life situation and try to find not a “true” or comprehensive representation of their interactions, but a coherent story about them that helps you adopt the customer’s perspective and see the product through their eyes.
Journey maps combine two powerful instruments—storytelling and visualization—in order to help teams understand and address customer needs.Kaplan (2016)
Conventionally, the scope of a CJM is the customer lifecycle from pre-purchase to loyalty. But depending on the questions you are trying to answer, it can also cover specific parts of that lifecycle, or even focus on the customer’s life situation without including the product: You can develop CJMs that tell a story about how a customer handles a specific situation without your product in order to better understand which problems your product can solve or which pains it can relieve.
So the very first thing to decide is the scope of the map you’re building, and whether it should capture the situation with or without your product involved.
The actual map is best built collaboratively in a team of 3–6 people, filling the following template from left to right:
- Set the scope of the journey by defining business goal, then switch to user perspective by briefly describing the persona that is going on the journey and their overall motivations.
- Start mapping the journey by describing, step by step, the persona’s intention, the specific motivation they have at this point or the problem they encounter, how they act to realise the intention, and the touchpoint at which they do it (e.g. place, medium, social situation, tool). Add the time to gain a sense of the durations involved. For all that, use sticky notes in the respective rows of the template, establishing one column per step of the journey. Be as granular as necessary to capture what the persona is thinking and doing in each step.
- Iterate on the description of the journey by adding, removing and shifting sticky notes until your group agrees that the map tells a coherent and interesting story with enough detail to make you “see” the process through the persona’s eyes.
- Mark the emotional state of the persona at every step by adding a dot in the reaction row of the template. After reviewing the relative positions of the dots, making sure that you have high-, low- and mid-points roughly correct, connect the dots to create a mood graph.
- Identify the extreme low-points of the mood graph and other relevant patterns in it (e.g. a sharp turn or a steady decline). These will inform your Problem Statements and can be further analysed with Why-How Laddering.
- When building the map, try to describe each step of the journey fully (including intention, action, touchpoint, and time) before going to the next. If you find this to be hard, you can try to map out the whole process using just one or two rows, e.g. time or action, and then flesh the others out in a second step.
- Also, starting in the middle, not at the beginning of the journey can be helpful. The middle is where the most important transactions (according to your business goals) happen.
- Use what you know about the persona of the journey to look at the process from their perspective. Avoid sneaking knowledge into your description that the persona wouldn’t have, and especially avoid describing an ideal process when you’re trying to map a real one.
- Use your imagination to “feel into” what the persona might want, do and experience on the journey. CJMs are as much about storytelling as they are about visualisation.
- Can process output of: Service Blueprints, Interviews, Quantitative surveys, Empathy Map, Persona
- Can feed input to: Problem Statement, Why-How Laddering, Design Studio
The use of this method is often implicitly consumerist – Customer-centric means consumerist most of time. When using the method, it should always be transparent whether the business goal is ultimately about creating new consumer needs or about improving how existing ones are being served.
Similarly, reducing people to the user or customer roles is a de facto ideological manoeuvre. When using the method, the personas explored should be accorded full humanity.
CJMs have evolved from ideas in Service Design, a
discipline that can be traced back to the writings of G. Lynn Shostack
in the early 1980s. Part of Service Design is developing maps of service
processes; Shostack already refers to “service blueprints” in her
The first example of service mapping that specifically focuses on the
customer journey seems to be the work done by OxfordSM (at the time
Oxford Corporate Consultants) in 1998 for Eurostar on their corporate
mission and brand proposition.Wikipedia
From there, the concept has spread in the 2000s and 2010s as part of Design Thinking’s and Service Design’s conquest of the business world, evolving into a myriad of variants and templates.
A very good and comprehensive introduction to customer journey mapping and other types of mapping is Kalbach (2021).
- Kalbach (2010): “Customer Journey Mapping Resources On The Web”
- Kalbach (2021): Mapping Experiences (2nd ed.)
- Kaplan (2016): “When and How to Create Customer Journey Maps”
- Wikipedia: “Customer Experience”