How to create a customer journey map

Arne Hutter

Service Designer

4 Aug 2022

8min read

Every company wants to give their customers the best possible experience. The first step in creating it, is to clearly map out what the customer experience actually looks like. A customer journey map is a commonly used tool to visually map this experience. Unfortunately, the words ‘ journey map ‘ and ‘ customer journey ‘ have become such buzzwords, that they seem to have lost their true value. That is why we feel the need to go back to the basics, and explain what a journey map actually is, why should you create one, and how could you use it in practice?

why to create a journey map?

Journey mapping is nothing more than mapping a customer experience. A journey map (or customer journey) is the outcome of this process: a visualization (map) of the customer experience. As the term suggests, it shows the journey a customer goes through when using your services. Making a journey map is therefore never a goal in itself, but a means to better empathize with your customer, and to gain clarity on where to improve the experience.

different types of journey maps

What a journey map looks like, depends on what you will use it for. Before we dive into the different parts of a journey map, it is important to understand what type of journey maps you could use and when to apply them. Broadly speaking, we distinguish two properties: (1) The level of detail (macro vs. micro) and (2) The situation (as-is vs. to-be). If you plot these on two axes, this creates four types of journey maps, each serving its own purpose.

macro vs micro
A journey map can visualize the customer experience of your entire service (macro) or zoom in on a smaller part of the service (micro). Is your goal to create an overview of the entire (end-to-end) customer experience, and to align your internal team to work on a shared ambition? Then you create a Macro journey map. On the other hand, do you already know which part of your service you want to focus on, and is your goal to implement targeted improvements? Then you create a Micro journey map.

as-is vs to-be
A journey map can visualize the current customer experience (as-is), or sketch a desired future situation (to-be). Is your goal to define opportunities for improvement based on the current customer experience? Then you should create an as-is journey map. Do you want to show what an improved customer experience should look like, or develop a new service? Then you should create a to-be journey map.

what does a journey map look like?

Journey maps come in many forms. That’s a good thing because a journey map is always tailor-made. Which parts you add to your journey map depends (just like the type) on the goal, but broadly speaking, a journey map contains four basic parts. To clarify this, we will use the customer experience of a fictional customer journey.

1.  Scenario
The scenario describes the phases and steps a customer goes through when using your services. Phases broadly describe the moments (stages) that a customer goes through during his journey and often consist of several steps. Steps are the individual scenes of the storyline that involve one or more actions. The steps serve as a stepping stone for the rest of the journey map and therefore also determine how detailed your journey will be.

2. Experience (emotion curve)
Below the scenario, you’ll find the experience of the customer, visualized in an emotion curve. The emotion curve (also known as mood curve) roughly shows the emotion the customer feels during the journey. You can choose to summarize the emotion for all customers, or to create multiple curves based on your need based profiles. You mainly use the mood curve as a guideline for your story and as a summary of your research; when does the customer have positive experiences and when negative ones? Keep in mind that this line is not created by taking the sum of all experiences. That would result in a very flat curve, while we want to highlight peaks and troughs.

We always support the curve with a (fictitious) quote that is representative of the customer experience at that moment. In the example you can see that the customer experience explains why the emotion curve is a trough or a peak. In this chapter we also mark the key moments; these are the steps in which the relevant experience most determines the total experience of the entire journey.

3. Insights
Under the experience are supporting insights from your research. These are findings that emerge from customer data and allow the reader to understand the customer’s needs and pain points. An insight is often supported by quotes from customer research. This allows the reader to empathise with the user even better. You can label insights to quickly distinguish them; for example, whether they are negative, positive, or neutral. Sometimes insights are specifically about one customer profile. It is therefore useful to give these a label.

4. Opportunities
Last but not least, there are the opportunities on the journey map. After all, we want the journey map to show us where we can improve! By looking closely at the insights and experience of the customer during the journey, you can spot opportunities to improve your service. Note: An opportunity provides direction for the generation of solutions, and is not the solution in itself. It may help to use a standardized sentence. An example of this is the user-story format:

As [customer profile] I want [to meet needs], so that I [experience this benefit].

This way it is clear what the customer needs, but you leave enough room for multiple solutions.

In addition to these four basic parts, you can add many other parts to a journey map. Examples of this are: touchpoints and channels, descriptions of customer profiles and other components that provide insight into the customer journey.

now that I created a journey map, what’s next?

As said before, we think it’s a shame if journey maps are applied incorrectly or become a goal in itself. We’ve discussed the different types of journey maps and when to use them. We also explained what a journey map looks like and how you can build this. Although journey maps come in many shapes and sizes, they have one thing in common: that they must be translated into concrete action points.

getting started

Do you want to master journey mapping yourself? Then we recommend that you try it out as soon as possible. To help you on your way, we offer training courses that are tailored to your organisation. Would you rather hand it over completely? Then you can of course also contact us.

Whatever you choose, always keep the do’s and don’ts below in mind when you get started with journey mapping.

Don’t

Never create a journey map just for the sake of having one. Creating a journey map without a clear goal is a tedious process, and will probably not be used.

Never base your journey map on gut-feeling and internal insights. Think you know what your customer is experiencing? Think again.

A nicely formatted static journey map can certainly be valuable, but make sure it never ‘disappears in a drawer’. Turn your journey map into action and invest in ownership.

Don’t view journey mapping as something that concerns only your department. To put the customer in the heart of your organization, everyone has to be involved.

Do

Always start by defining a clear goal. Only when you know why you want to create one, can you determine the best way of doing it.

Always base the journey map on real customer experiences. This is the only way to really innovate in a customer-centric way.

Make the journey map easily accessible for the entire organisation. A journey management tool like TheyDo can help you with this.

Include key stakeholders from the start of the process. They will not only provide you with valuable input, but are extremely important in creating support.

download our free journey mapping template

Want to create a journey map yourself? Then we recommend trying it out as soon as possible. To help you get started we’ve created a free template for you to use. This gives you a first impression of how a journey map works and what it takes to complete it. Use the form below to download the template.

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Please contact us at hello@essense.eu

Arne Hutter

Service Designer

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