Journey into the land of discovery and imagination with a Customer Journey Map

Do your customers feel refreshed and filled with joy after they do business with you, or are they weary and exhausted, dying to crawl into bed after a long, frustrating trip?

Sometimes when you take a trip, it’s a dud. You get a flat tire, somebody gets sick, the hotel is a one-star hotel and not a four-star hotel.

Other times, you have an extraordinary adventure. Things work. Travel is smooth. You get what you want, and more. Exciting things happen. You can make exciting things happen for your business with a customer journey map.


Every time a customer interacts with your business, it’s a trip. It’s the customer’s journey.

A customer journey map is:

  • A visual tool
  • An actionable plan.

A customer journey map is an adventure.

Picture yourself holding a Rand McNally classic, old-school map. (Very handy when you have no cell service.)

You can look at a map and mark the roads you’re going to take. You can plan a trip. You can do both. A customer journey map is about doing both. Your business is the destination.

If you visit the U.S., you can go to New York City, and take steps in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and a ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty.

If you visit France, you can take steps to arrive in Paris, then visit the Eiffel Tower, then switch paths to Rue Bonaparte to visit the Laduree pastry shop.

If you visit the U.K., you can take a path to Buckingham Palace, the Isle of Skye, or join others at the Edinburgh festival.

You may have heard about your trip opportunities from different sources. You may take different companions on each trip. Your travel modes may include plane, trains, boats, or a flying Roadster. You will arrive and depart from multiple points. Some roads lead in, some roads lead out. People go where there are no roads.

An old-school roadmap displays many roads, similarly, your customers have an incredible number of options. A map points out things you might want to see, and places you might want to stop.

There are destinations within destinations. Your customer journey map will explore customer options, channels, and possibilities.

Rand McNally publishers use atlases and foldout maps. You can draw your customer journey map on a large whiteboard or use professional customer journey software. You can use simple graphics from Word, spreadsheets, tables, or specialty apps.

Many professional customer journey mapmakers use post-it notes in early brainstorming sessions. Just make sure you have ample room for extending ideas.

To create an exceptional customer experience, customer journeys should not be limited to roadmaps. They should be unlimited through imagination.

What would happen if your customers thought you were the most interesting place in the world to shop? What would happen if half of your customers told all their social media friends about the fabulous product or service they received from your business?

Business would skyrocket.

Examining customer journeys helps you find out the hows and the whys. How can I be more interesting? Why aren’t my customers leaving reviews?

In the Harvard Business Review from March, 2017, CX expert Luke Williams from Qualtronics urged companies to focus on customer experience to “best allocate precious time and resources.”

Every trip needs money. A customer journey map helps you spend your funds wisely. (There are those of us who spend extravagantly on trips, but customers are worth your investments of time and money.)

A traveler might pull into a city and never buy a thing. A potential customer might visit your website and never click on more than two links. To find out why, create a customer journey map.

When do you pull out a map?

When you’re planning. When you’re lost. When you’re curious.

When do you create a customer journey map?

When you’re planning. When you’ve lost customers. When you’re curious.

Not sure where to start with your journey map?

  • Make a list of new products and services you’re offering.
  • Make a list of your three most underperforming products and services.
  • Make a list of your top three performing products and services.
  • Make a list of your conversion woes.
  • Make a list of your channels.

Customer Journeys are Emotional

Journeys are interactive and full of emotion.

When creating a customer journey map, you’ll explore your customer’s interactions and emotions while having interdepartmental interactions and a few emotions of your own. Journeys leave an impact.

Robert Hohman, Co-Founder of Glassdoor, said his first trip from America to Europe made him realize how interconnected the world was. There is a sense of awe in a new adventure, and in an outstanding customer experience.

In the future, that sense of awe will be discoverable through technology that reads emotions.

Poppy Crum, the Chief Scientist at Dolby Labs, presented to a 2018 Ted Talk audience the data visualizations that revealed people’s emotions through Co2 levels while educating the audience on technology’s growing abilities to read human emotions.

Planning for the future? Tend to your customer’s emotions. Emotions are central to outstanding customer experiences.

Does your business leave your customers with a life-changing impression?

Three emotional questions to ask yourself:

  1. How can I make a life-changing impression upon a customer?
  2. What emotions does my business evoke?
  3. What emotions do my customers experience while doing business with my company?

Imagination is Required

Starman and his Roadster could not have made it into space without imagination.

When you explore two things happen:
1. You make discoveries
2. You have adventures – Interview Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, Startalk April 2018

A customer journey map will help you make discoveries about your customers and your business.  Those discoveries will help you design new business adventures.

Start with defining what your customer journey currently is.  Let’s pretend Starman is a customer. Elon Musk wants to send people to Mars. He currently has his persona (Starman).

  1. Starman is outfitted for space. He wants to test the spacesuit.
  2. Starman arrives at the lift off pad.
  3. Starman gets loaded into a Roadster.
  4. The Roadster gets loaded onto a rocket.
  5. The rocket lifts off into space.
  6. The Roadster gets shuttled into space with Starman at the wheel.
  7. David Bowie fills the airwaves. ­
  8. Starman takes his journey into space.
  9. Boeing offers to tow Starman back to earth.

There are not enough sticky notes to cover Starman’s journey.

Focus on one: Use your imagination.


There are endless types of customer journeys. Put on your customer’s hiking boots, pull up the bootstraps, and take a hike.

You choose the destination.

The Atlas Map

Customer Journey to Commitment Phase Map:

  1. What is our customer persona?
  2. How is the customer approached the first time?
  3. When does a customer make the first purchase?
  4. How do customers make repeat purchases?
  5. When do customers become loyal, dedicated customers?
  6. When do customers become brand advocates?

Create a Customer Journey Phase Map for your business.

The Local Map

A customer journey can be an examination of a typical customer experience from point A to point B. We can call it a customer journey segment map.

Meet Silly Sam. Sam collects farm miniatures.

  1. Sam opens an email with a link to a funny looking farm from the Funny Farm Factory.
  2. He clicks on a link which is a unique URL with a picture of a hilarious looking farm, complete with a smiling emoji.
  3. Sam clicks on a link and is brought to a page that shows him how rare and unique this funny farm is.
  4. He clicks on another link to see what the purchase price is.
  5. Sam leaves the website. (The funny farm was too expensive—but the Funny Farm Factory doesn’t know this.)
  6. The next day Sam checks his email and sees a discount offer and payment plan options for the unique farmhouse.
  7. Sam clicks on the embedded 3-D views of the farmhouse several times.
  8. Sam uses his phone to order the funny farm miniature.
  9. He talks to a Funny Farm representative at an outsourced call center.
  10. The representative tried to upsell a Funny Farm club membership.
  11. Sam declined.
  12. Sam uses an automated system to process the credit card information.
  13. Sam calls the number after a week because his farm did not arrive.
  14. Sam was put on hold for a very long time.
  15. The customer service agent at the call center looked up the postal tracking information.
  16. The customer service agent informed Sam it would arrive the next day.
  17. The company never heard from Sam again.

Sam probably got his farm, but he may have not been happy with the farm. He may have regretted the purchase decision. He may have been frustrated with the company.

The Funny Farm Factory can examine its marketing follow-up campaigns, product quality, customer target market, product pricing, call center training, procedures and data, mailing processes and IT to see where improvements can be made in the process.

Sam may have not been the ideal customer.

Create a Customer Journey Segment Map for your business.

Examining the Steps in a Customer Journey Map

When you create a journey map, you mark down each step of the journey and then you examine each step in detail. If there are too many steps in a journey, break it up into smaller segments.

Driving from New York to California without stopping would kill you unless you’re in a driverless car that never needs refueling and it was legal to sleep in the car. (We’re not there yet.)

Driving from NY to CA taking a few states at a time makes the trip more manageable, and more pleasurable. You see more things. You discover more places.

Imagine your view when walking along a city street. Now imagine the same view from a plane. When you examine the touchpoints in the customer journey, make sure you look at the steps from both perspectives.

Write down the steps of a customer journey for a typical customer.

Stop and examine the following at each touchpoint of the journey:

  • Purpose of the step
  • Processes involved
  • Reasons behind the processes
  • Channels
  • Google Analytics
  • Departments and people involved
  • Options the customer has at each step
  • Actions of the customer at each step
  • Alternative options not yet available
  • Options competitors offer
  • Emotions of customer at each step
  • The environment
  • Usability
  • Design
  • Prior step, next steps, repeat steps
  • Conversion Rates
  • Customer data
  • Relationships
  • Persona
  • Novelty

Examine the touchpoints of a customer journey.

Novel journeys

Never under estimate the power of novelty.  In a 2016 Journal of Marketing article, Understanding the Customer Journey through Customer Experience, the authors considered the question of novelty important and related to “customer satisfaction, service quality, relationship marketing, customer relationship management, customer centricity, and customer engagement.”

Do you have a novel business?

Do you have an element of novelty in your customer service experience?

Is there novelty in your relationship marketing?

Is there novelty in your customer engagement procedures?

Seth Godin, back in his Purple Cow days, explained novelty, why you should target early adopters, and why an $85 million dollar oven mitt is not a good idea.

Quick analysis: report cards

When you create a customer journey, take a look at each touch point and determine the channels used. Give each channel a grade. For instance, Google 8, Instagram 5, Facebook -1. What channels are performing well? What channels need improvement?

You can do the same for products and services.

Budget accordingly.

What is your best performing channel? Why?
What is your worst performing channel? Why?

Trigger points and Pain points

Look for trigger points and traffic patterns in customer experience.

At what points were customers triggered to a favorable action?
What triggers customers to make a buying decision?
What triggers the customer decision to click on a promotion?
What triggers loyalty?
What triggers brand advocacy?

Identify pain points.

What triggered a customer leaving?
How is the call center handling phone calls?
How are customers responding to the business response to customer complaints?
Do burdensome usability issues exist?
Do burdensome process standards exist?
How can you make onboarding easier?
How can you make transactions easier?
How can you make revisits easier?

Nobody wants to carry heavy baggage on a journey. Make the customer journey light and pain free.

Facebook addressed a pain point by creating a “Like” button so people could show appreciation for a post, interact, and not have to engage in a full conversation. A “Like” lets you interact a little, without really interacting.  (Introverts rejoiced.)  Pinterest on the other hand found a Like button distracted users and opted for a Save button.

Interacting with the little Like and Save buttons are examples of microinteractions—small moments in the customer journey. These small moments can make a big impression.

Microinteractions – Bring the magnifying glass to the journey

Clicking “Like” only takes a second, but the applied concept contributed to usability, pain relief, data collection and branding.

A “Like” is a little thing that is a big thing. Hitting the snooze button on your phone’s alarm is a microinteraction. How many times do you hit the snooze button?

Sending a holiday greeting e-card to customers is a microinteraction. (And cheaper than snail mail.)

Hannah Levenson lists some best practices of microinteractions in mobile usability design over at the Appsee blog, and the best practices start with user research. Guess what a customer journey map includes? User research.

What microinteractions can you build?

Oracle Modern CX 2018 Jedi Wisdom posted by Silicon Valley SaaS CMO @descahill  (Illustrator B. Pope)(Just tilt your head a little if the tweet frame is bothering you.)

Pack and Unpack Customer Data

The wisdom of Yoda isn’t enough to optimize your customer journey map.

Pack and unpack your data when you’re walking through the customer journey.

Sources for Journey Data:

  • Website Analytics
  • Mobile Analytics
  • Key Performance Indicator Reports
  • Call Center Data
  • Social Media
  • SEO Reports
  • Sales and Marketing Reports
  • Customer Complaints
  • Customer Comments
  • Customer Emails
  • Mining Customer Knowledge

Make a list of your available sources for customer journey analytics.

Question Customer Knowledge to Develop CX (Customer Experience)

Do you ask your customers questions?

Do you consider your customers a partner in your business?

In the 2002 article, Five styles of Customer Knowledge Management, and how smart companies put them into action, three authors explained the difference between Knowledge Management, Customer Relationship Management, and Customer Knowledge Management in this easy-to-understand chart:

Image source: GIBBERT, Michael, LEIBOLD, Marius, PROBST, Gilbert. Five styles of Customer Knowledge Management, and how smart companies put them into action. 2002 

To optimize customer experience, do not neglect customer knowledge. Customers know things you do not know.

Get Personal

Every been to the doctor? Now imagine comparing two reports: a medical history from your doctor, and a medical history written by you.

A doctor’s report: Patient reports migraines interfering with household activities.

A self-created medical history“I had this migraine that was so bad I couldn’t even make the roast beef dinner for the kids and I ended up on the couch all day while the kids had frozen dinners and went on a Nickelodeon binge.”

Which report is more beneficial to a business?

Right away we can see how pharmaceutical products, food products, meal preparation products and services, delivery services, pillow and blanket products, and any app marketing towards children (and their parents) can benefit from customer-created history.

These insights will give you a competitive advantage.

Are your customer experiences and customer personas created by your business or created by the customers?

Have you ever asked a customer what they want? About their moods?

Here are some simple sample questions you can ask through a targeted email program or social media polling.

Tailor them for your website, business, products and services. These questions will open opportunity for exploration. When you review the responses, look for patterns and innovative ideas.

  1. The last time you visited our website, were you having a good day or bad day? __ Good __ Bad
  2. What was the weather: ___ Sunny ___ Rainy ___ Cloudy ___ Snowy ___Windy
  3. Can you tell us more about that day? _____________________________________
  4. What would make your life easier? ________________________________________
  5. What would you like to see on our website? __________________________________
  6. What made you happy yesterday? ___________________________________________

Do it now.

Question one positions your business to develop a social media strategy accordingly.
Question two allows you to see how weather affects your customers mood.
Question three provides insight the customer’s daily activities.
Question four opens the door to innovation.
Question five improves the usability experience.
Question six tells you what makes your customers happy.

It doesn’t take much effort to figure out that a divorce or DUI lawyer will have more people answering “bad” and champagne retailers will have more people answer “good” to question one.

But customer moods and decisions change with weather. Sometimes a divorce whim was from feeling of confidence, and the DUI request for assistance is a willingness to straighten out a life.

A champagne a toast could be in memory to a deceased loved one.

Questions three to six can also provide insight into customer relationship networks involving family, friends and co-workers.  Once relationships are identified, your business will have new customer journeys to create.

Make the survey short but give customers the opportunity to vent and reminisce. Offer opportunities to collect answers in text and voice form.

Don’t ignore voice.

Forbes reported fifty-five percent (55%) of companies surveyed are planning on investing in voice technology to improve the customer experience.

You can segment the customer experience questions into smaller polls. Make the questions part of an ongoing customer journey campaign.

What are you going to do with the information you collect from customers?

You are going to make your customer experience excitingly excellent.

But first, you must know what your customers are currently experiencing.

Creating Outstanding Customer Experiences

Trademarks of exceptional customer experience:

  1. A customer’s needs and desires are anticipated.
  2. A customer’s emotions are attended to.
  3. Communication is succinct and informative.
  4. Communication frequency and means are adjusted to customer preference.
  5. Accessibility is seamless.
  6. Environment is a joy to experience from beginning to end.
  7. The customer finds what it needs and more.
  8. The brand contributes positively to the customer even after the final transaction.
  9. The customer journey is fluid.
  10. A relationship is built.

If we go back to the basics of nature, we can see there are five types of experiences:

  1. Sensory
  2. Thinking
  3. Feeling
  4. Acting
  5. Social

Professor Bernd Schmitt from Columbia Business School is often credited in the academic world with applying these experiences to customer experiences.

In his 2010 report on experience marketing published in Foundation and Trends in Marketing Journal, Bernd also talks about extraordinary customer experiences.

He lists four types of extraordinary experiences:

  1. Flow
  2. Peak
  3. Epiphanies
  4. Transcendent.

Flow and Peak customer experiences require immersion. Intense focus. Flow tends to be internal, and Peak tends to be external.

Epiphanies help customers redefine themselves, whereas Transcendent experiences are more radical self-defining moments.

Is your customer experience ordinary or extraordinary?
What can you do to change it?
Brainstorm where your business can implement flow, peak, epiphany and transcendent customer experiences.

Who are the stars of extraordinary experiences? Harley Davidson, Pringles, PlayStation, Gatorade, Ikea, and others.

Extraordinary customer experience differentiates these companies. It is a competitive advantage. Even if you’ve never ridden a Harley or drank a Gatorade, you are probably familiar with the brand’s customer experience image.

In what substantive areas do we have a competitive advantage? Consumer Experience.

Benefits are not in the products. Benefits are in the consumer experience. – Chris Janiszewski, Consumer Research Conference, 2009 (paraphrased)

Take a look at your customer journey map and identify the senses at each touchpoint. Which senses fell off the boat or didn’t make it to the journey?

Image source: Experience Map Template from Pinterest search result created by Brand 360 Group

Searching for Free Customer Journey Templates

Sticky notes may leave you in a sticky situation when you need to transfer your customer journey map between departments, share it, or send it out for some executive attention.

If you don’t want to spend the time taping notes together, and creating graphs aren’t your strong point, just do a search for “customer journey map templates” on Google and Pinterest.  A Twitter Photo search will also produce template samples. Add the word “free” and you’ll find some basic free downloads of customer journey maps.

You can even try adding the words “emotions” or “channels” to help narrow down your search to meet your specific needs.  Even if you don’t use a template from the search, you’ll find the inspiration you need to get started.

Image source: Customer Journey Map from Twitter Photo Search posted by @AdilsonChicoria IBM Studio Lead

Hire Customer Experience (CX) Specialists as Your Guide

The idols of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and tech executives—Google, Apple, Amazon—have customer experience officers and managers.

Companies that have mastered business are aware that customer experience drives business.

Local governments are hiring chief customer experience officers.

Do you have a staff dedicated to improving customer experience?
Are you walking the talk when it comes to customer experience?
If you’re not putting your money where your mouth is, are you truly working in the best interest of the business?

A team focused on customer experience will reduce complexity. Complexity costs money. Simplicity churns efficiency. Efficiency brings in the profits.

Despite technological advantages, business complexity has increased. Disrupters are always disrupting. Rapid changes in technology affect the nature and speed of business, as well as customer expectations.

Customer journeys have multiple channels, customer paths are fragmented and social media influence swirls around the globe.

The number of touchpoints a customer has is voluminous. Multiple departments must now be coordinated for the customer experience. Tsunamis of data are headed our way.

Those are just a few reasons why you need to hire people to focus on customer experience.

The journey map team

There are many stakeholders in customer journey mapping. Marketing, sales, IT, developers, call center employees and outsourced employees can all be involved in creating the customer journey.

Get a core group and take the journey together.

Have an Adventure on Your Customer Journey

A customer journey map clarifies the customer’s experience while doing business with you. You’ll discover barriers and unknown passages to new and exciting business opportunities.

Grab your team and your suitcase full of data, and travel to your ideal business destination with your customer journey map in hand.

Your customers are waiting for their outstanding new journey which only your business can provide.

Customer Journey Mapping... How to Deliver Outstanding Customer Experiences

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