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Strategies for Better Customer Journey Maps

Tell me about the last time you bought a new mattress. Tell me everything that went into that purchase—the time spent researching, mattress stores visited, even the nights spent tossing and turning while deciding you really did need a new mattress.

Before you start emailing me about your mattress-buying experiences, know that I’m only trying to make a point. It’s a pretty daunting task to try to describe this experience, yet we’re increasingly asking customers to articulate it as we strive to create Customer Journey Maps.

Customer journey maps can be a powerful tool to help understand how customers interact with your company and identify areas where you can improve the customer experience. Simply put, “A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customers go through in engaging with your company.”1

Of course, the best people to tell you about the customer experience are your customers. But if not careful, it’s easy to overwhelm them and leave the interaction with only a superficial understanding of the process.

Over time, we’ve discovered several strategies that can help make those engagements more productive and lead to enhanced, more insightful customer journey maps.

  1. Don’t start with a blank slate. Use internal knowledge to generate a customer journey map framework before you validate it with customers. Most people are highly sensory and need something to react to, especially when it comes to a process that may involve multiple touchpoints. We get the most detailed and in-depth feedback when we present our best guess of the process already and let customers fill in the blanks. This also prompts customers to consider other aspects of the process that they may not consider, such as waiting for the product to arrive or contacting customer support after the fact.


  1. Give customers a head start. Once you’ve developed the map, give customers a chance to digest what you’ve created. Most people aren’t good at thinking on their feet, so don’t expect them to. A simple pre-work activity can be very effective for breaking the ice, focusing the interview, and priming participants to think critically about what you’ve presented. It’s especially important in instances where the last purchase may not have been recent. When put on the spot, customers may be more likely to agree with what you’ve presented or gloss over perceptual differences – defeating the purpose of the engagement.


  1. Don’t put words in their mouth. While this may ring true for all customer research, it’s especially important when you’re mapping out how a customer interacts with your company. Ask participants how they refer to products or services and note any differences. If customers most often visit your website looking for “indoor lighting” and all you have listed are “interior designs”, you may have uncovered a source of customer frustration and confusion. Using different language from your customers can negatively affect the customer experience, so use this opportunity to get on the same page.

Keeping these simple strategies top of mind will significantly improve the development of insightful customer journey maps for your company.

Source:  1) Adam Richardson,

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