Customer Journey Mapping

In virtually every branding, service design or innovation strategy project Zilver does, customer journey mapping plays a central role. It’s a highly versatile framework that invites project teams to ask the right questions and find the right answers. It plays a role in several points in the project:

1. at the beginning, to assess what research needs to be done.
2. during, to map research insights and to generate business opportunities.
3. at the end, to map project results, design guidelines and innovation propositions.

What is it?

Customer journey mapping is a method for assessing, visualizing and improving customer experiences. It helps you view a product or service system from the customer’s perspective, thereby allowing you to identify opportunities for improvement.

The essence of customer journey mapping is that the relationship you build with your customer does not revolve solely around the purchase of your product. You can be of value to the customer both before and after the purchase. We call the string of events that a customer goes through in buying and using your product ‘the customer journey’. It is a journey that often begins before your product even comes into the picture, for example at home, on the couch, flipping through magazines for inspiration. And this journey does not end when the customer has purchased your product or service. To the contrary, this is where the usage, maintenance and maybe upgrading start. At the end of the journey, you always hope that the customer will find the way back to your brand. If you succeed at this, you will have built a sustainable relationship.

Customer journey mapping is not a tool exactly. It doesn’t provide a quick fix to a specific problem. It’s more a framework that allows you to get a grip on many different aspects of customer experience design. It is always about the customer’s experience, but it is up to you how you map that experience and what you map exactly:

You can use a very wide group of customers or a very specific type of customer. You could even choose to map the journey of a different stakeholder, like, say, a supplier. Likewise, you can analyze a highly specific situation, or you can choose to explore a more general journey. Then, for every stage of the journey, you can examine customer needs, your objectives, the customer’s objectives, the touch points that play a role, how these touch points are experienced, the emotions that are experienced, how your brand values are expressed, whether there are opportunities for innovation, what you wish to communicate, and so on.

This Slideshare presentation was made for TU Delft students of Strategic Product Design and Design for Interaction. It takes you through the why, how and what of CJM.

Why is customer journey mapping relevant?

1. To allow the customer to generate value
As Vargo and Lusch put it so aptly, we are moving from value in exchange to value in use. You don’t want to buy a car, you want to buy mobility. Rather than selling objects, organizations must develop eco-systems where customers can co-create value with them. This requires a holistic view of the eco-system that customer journey mapping can provide.

2. To create an integrated experience
Customers do not experience your product or service in an isolated fashion. When it concerns brand preference, they assess their total experience with that brand from beginning to end. If you can book a flight very easily and receive excellent assistance at the check-in counter, but, once on board, experience a horribly cramped seat and vile food, your total experience will be a negative one. So it is important for an organization to get a grip on the entire customer journey in order to ensure an unforgettable total experience.

3. To stand out in the market
In a saturated market with fierce competition, it is difficult to compete on product alone. The relationship you build with your customers before, during and after the purchase offers tremendous opportunities to differentiate yourself in the market.

4. To express your brand
Unique brands offer a unique product or service. But to truly express your brand and to take advantage of all opportunities to fulfil your brand promise, you need to look beyond your product alone. By identifying opportunities to do things in your unique way throughout the entire customer journey, you will create a stronger and more relevant brand.

When is customer journey mapping relevant?

Customer journey mapping can be useful for in a wide range of applications:

1. CJM as an analysis method
Sometimes, mapping is done solely to better project yourself in the life of your customer. This will often show you the areas in which your knowledge is insufficient, which can then be researched further. You can also use customer journey mapping to assess the current status of your brand, i.e. to create a snapshot of the status quo.

2. CJM as a visualization method
Modern organizations are full of complexity. And modern challenges are ill-defined and multi-facetted. Customer journey maps are a great way to make sense of at least some of this complexity. They can boil a whole lot of information down to one clear visual map. This alone is worth the effort.

3. CJM as a creative method
But customer journey mapping is also an excellent way to scout for opportunities to improve your offering or to develop new products, services or experiences. And it can guide the design of these products, services and experiences by providing focussed insights, requirements and guidelines.

How do you build a customer journey map?

To create a customer journey map, you carry out the following steps:

1. Choose your target group. Who do you have in mind for the customer journey? A customer profile (persona) or a stakeholder map can be helpful here.
2. Choose your theme. This could be a specific occasion, a specific experience or a specific type of purchase. If your theme is too general, the customer journey map will also be rather generic. It is better to make several maps for more specific situations.
3. Determine the phases that the customer goes through. Don’t confuse the phases with touch points. These may need to be redesigned, so they come later. Put yourself into the customer’s shoes and describe the phases she experiences before, during and after the purchase or use of your product or service. It helps to think of them as tasks: orienting, gathering information, etc. These phases form the horizontal axis of the CJM.
4. Decide what you want to examine for every phase. There are no restrictions, but the following steps yield a good foundation:

  • What emotions does the customer experience during the different phases? You can map these in a graph, from very positive to very negative.
  • What are the customer’s goals in every phase? What does she aim to accomplish?
  • Which touch points does the customer encounter in every phase?
  • What would be the ideal situation in every phase from the customer’s perspective?
  • What is the difference between the current and the ideal situation?
  • What opportunities for improvement can you identify?

These elements form the vertical axis of the CJM.
5. Fill the cells of the CJM. Do this as a team and involve as many different people as possible. Discuss why you include certain things. Take your time and do not attempt to finish it in one day. It is better to return to it repeatedly to view it with fresh eyes. Maybe you need to do some, or a lot of extra research to fill a cell.
6. Translate the CJM into a plan of action. What do you need to examine in more detail? What project steps do you plan to take? What ideas do you plan to implement and when?
7. Hang the map up somewhere where your colleagues can see it an can keep contributing to it.
8. Repeat step 1-6 for different stakeholders, different experiences etc.

4 Responses Subscribe to comments


  1. Customer Relationship Design

    [...] zij een harmonieus geheel, en helpen zij de klant om steeds de volgende stap te zetten in de ‘customer journey’. Daarbij is het van groot belang dat elk touchpoint de relatie tussen klant en organisatie [...]

    Jun 22, 2011 @ 8:34 pm


  2. Service differentiatie : haalbaar of utopia ?

    [...] zij een harmonieus geheel, en helpen zij de klant om steeds de volgende stap te zetten in de ‘customer journey’. Daarbij is het van groot belang dat elk touchpoint de relatie tussen klant en organisatie [...]

    Aug 03, 2011 @ 10:22 pm


  3. Service differentiatie : haalbaar of utopia ? | Coniche

    [...] zij een harmonieus geheel, en helpen zij de klant om steeds de volgende stap te zetten in de ‘customer journey’. Daarbij is het van groot belang dat elk touchpoint de relatie tussen klant en organisatie [...]

    Nov 27, 2011 @ 10:53 pm


  4. Service differentiatie : haalbaar of utopia ? | Coniche

    […] zij een harmonieus geheel, en helpen zij de klant om steeds de volgende stap te zetten in de ‘customer journey’. Daarbij is het van groot belang dat elk touchpoint de relatie tussen klant en organisatie […]

    Nov 28, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

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about this blog
this is Erik Roscam Abbing's blog on topics relating to the synergy between branding, innovation and design. Erik is a consultant (www.zilverinnovation.com), teacher (www.io.tudelft.nl), and frequent speaker on the topic of Brand Driven Innovation. He is also the author of the book by the same title, to appear in autumn 2010 at www.avabooks.ch. For inquiries, contact erik at erik at zilverinnovation.com
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