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What Are Customer Journeys and Why Are They Important?

Jun 2, 2015 12:45:02 PM

The following is an overview of customer journeys, why they’re important, examples, and how to get started.

Why do you need customer journeys?

Customer Journey for Service Provider
Customer Journey for Service Provider

Customers are experiencing your brand whenever, wherever, and however they like. What was once a sales “funnel” is now a sales “web” as customers bounce from channel to channel during their brand interactions. How do we bridge channel insights and have departmental consensus to create seamless, positive, brand experiences? The answer: Customer journeys.

Paul Boag, a user experience consultant,  compared customer journeys to storytelling in All You Need To Know About Customer Journey Mapping. Storytelling is a powerful tool we use to entertain, teach, and share common experiences, and it can also teach brands about their customers. Data doesn’t communicate the frustrations and experiences of our customers, but customer journeys do. It's important to create customer journeys to illustrate and address these pain points. Reviewing the customer journeys and the opportunities they present also assists in marketing budget allocation, content mapping, and conversion optimization.1


What are customer journeys?

Customer journeys (also called “purchase journeys” or “experience maps”) uncover the complete end-to-end experience a person has with a product or service into order to illuminate pain points. Once pain points are identified, they serve as a foundation for creating meaningful tactics by addressing key motivators that create positive customer experiences.

Depending on your needs, customer journeys can be a part of or an snapshot  of the entire customer experience. As Chris Risdon points out in The Anatomy of an Experience Map, the customer journey is not simply an illustration of a journey, because that would be a journey map. The customer journey helps create a shared empathic understanding of the customers’ touchpoints over time and space and across all channels. Customer journeys are a means to something actionable.2


What are the goals of a customer journey?

According to iScoop, traditional goals of customer journey mapping are:3

  • End-to-end customer experience management/optimization
  • Mapping and ranking touchpoints in order to identify where to optimize or invest first

Non-traditional goals can include:

  • Building customer-oriented content marketing strategies
  • Conducting content gap analysis
  • Looking at potential leaking buckets in customer processes and interactions
  • Improving what you do right now and acting upon those leaking buckets
  • Developing new products and services
  • Reconsidering customer service, contact center, and other service-related processes and propositions


What does a customer journey look like?

A customer journey can take many forms, but typically they look like infographics. Anderson Direct & Digital created an example of a Customer Journey for a Generic Service Provider. A few more examples include:


How are customer journeys and personas different from segmentation?

While segmentation is who to target, based on demographic data, customer journeys are based on behaviors and motivations. They provide a sense of the customer’s greater motivation, what they wish to achieve, and what their expectations are.

Therefore, creating “lenses” by which the journey is experienced is important. This is where “personas” come into play. HubSpot describes personas as “fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers…The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.).”4

Personas act as criteria by which the journey is experienced. These personas (or lenses) will likely be a summary of a set of to view the journey against, such as value propositions or principles.

 Questions for developing personas:

  • What is their demographic information?
  • What is their job and level of seniority?
  • What does a day in their life look like?
  • What are their pain points? What do you help them solve?
  • What do they value most? What are their goals?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • What are their most common objections to your product/service?

What are the components of a customer journey?

The five dimensions of a customer journey are:2

  1. Lens (aka “persona”), by which the journey is being experienced
  2. Journey model, which illustrates the stages of the journey story
  3. Quantitative insights that can be derived from website analytics and other customer metrics
  4. Qualitative information such as surveys, interviews, and field research
  5. Takeaways that summarize the opportunities from the journey

See a good example of these dimensions in the article The Anatomy of an Experience Map.

Who benefits from a customer journey?

The following chart outlines how each team member can benefit from customer journeys.1


Customer Journey Map Benefits


Provides context for the customers and allows the designer to gain a clear picture of where the customer has come from and what they are trying to achieve.


Provides understanding of questions customers have and how they are feeling.


Provides overview of the customer’s experience. Allows manager to see how customers move through the sales funnel. Helps identify opportunities to enhance the experience and shows how enhanced customer service can differentiate the organization’s digital experience.


Identifies gaps and disjointed or painful user experiences, such as:

  • Gaps between devices, when a user moves from one device to another
  • Gaps between departments, where the user might get frustrated
  • Gaps between channels (i.e., experience from social media to website could be better)


Helpful Resources:

  1. All You Need To Know About Customer Journey Mapping, http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/01/15/all-about-customer-journey-mapping/
  2. The Anatomy of an Experience Map, http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/the-anatomy-of-an-experience-map/
  3. Customer Experience and Beyond: Customer Journey Mapping, http://www.i-scoop.eu/customer-experience/customer-experience-beyond-customer-journey-mapping/
  4. Content Mapping 101: The Template You Need to Personalize Your Marketing, http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/content-mapping-template-personalize-marketing
Leah Smith

Written by Leah Smith

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