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Everything you need to know about Customer Journey Map (CJM)

What is Customer Journey Map (CJM)?

The Customer Journey Map (CJM) comprehensively visualizes the customer’s interaction with a brand, product or service from the moment the need for the product arises, interaction with it and creation of favorable conditions for further use. This tool provides a 360-degree view of a product or service in terms of specific steps when interacting with various channels and allows you to track the emotional response of customers when interacting with the product. Agree, looking at the product from a different angle, analyzing the user experience and understanding the motives, expectations, habits of users can be all useful for developing and scaling the product? The better you know your audience and the deeper your understanding of the user experience, the better your product’s prospects and chances of long-term success. Unlike traditional funnels and navigation maps, the Customer Journey Map takes time into account and tracks users’ thoughts and feelings along the journey from awareness, conversion and retention across various channels.

Kate Kaplan from Nielsen Norman Group in the article "When and How to Create Customer Journey Maps" offers a definition of what CJM is and what tasks it is designed to accomplish.

Journey maps combine two powerful instruments — storytelling and visualization — in order to help teams understand and address customer needs. While maps take a wide variety of forms depending on context and business goals, certain elements are generally included, and there are underlying guidelines to follow that help them be the most successful.

What is the value of Customer Journey Map (CJM)?

The Customer Journey Map (CJM) plays an important role in product development and helps answer classic marketing and product questions: Who are the customers of the product? What customer problems does the product solve? Why do users choose your product over your competitors? Should you continue to work on one product concept or another, or should you shift your focus to others? Getting answers to these questions has an invaluable contribution to product development, let’s determine exactly what the value of using Customer Journey Map is:

  1. Be on the “same page” with customers. Stakeholders gain access to the real needs, problems and motives of customers, and can analyze the data obtained and use it to create intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, which in turn attracts new users and allows them to retain existing ones.
  2. Definition of “pain points”. CJM helps to identify moments of user churn when interacting with a product due to disappointment at a certain stage. Sometimes the overall product works well, but a small detail that may not be visible on a classic funnel results in loss of users and it is important to identify these pain points and take action accordingly.
  3. Optimizing the customer journey. CJM helps identify obstacles in the customer journey and optimize it, making it smoother, more intuitive and accessible. Optimizing a specific problematic process or stage is always less resource-intensive than a complex optimization process, and in this case the CJM tool is designed to help the product.
  4. Strategic planning. CJM is based on a data-centric approach that allows you to use the collected data in the user experience and effectively plan improvements and innovations based on this data, which can form the basis for a product development roadmap, which in turn positively affects the user experience.
  5. Improving team communication. Identified problematic issues in the product open up opportunities for interaction between project participants; the same problem can be solved in different ways by a design, development or marketing team, which allows you to get a wide range of ways to solve problems with the least amount of resources.
  6. Increasing conversion and loyalty. Satisfied users are likely to continue using the product, recommending it to friends and acquaintances. Imagine a user who sees improvements in your product, feels feedback and the process of interacting with your product is easy and understandable. Loyalty and increasing conversion are the main goals of any product.

9 Steps of creating Customer Journey Map for an Exceptional Experience

Step 1: Determine the goal you want to achieve.

Before starting to create a CJM artifact, it is important to determine the goal that needs to be achieved in the research process, this helps to understand where to focus. It is necessary to find out why it is created at all and how it can be used to improve the user experience. Each company determines the goals that need to be achieved during the research process based on existing feedback, competitor analysis or product development priorities based on available resources. These goals can indeed vary greatly depending on the unique context of the business and the challenges it faces. An example could be analyzing user interaction with a product, identifying user needs and expectations, improving user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), personalizing content and offers, increasing conversion, increasing user retention and loyalty, and others.

Step 2: Audience segmentation and persona creation.

User segmentation helps you personalize steps for each target audience group, each of which may have different motivations, behaviors and preferences, which in turn will create a clearer profile of users on whom the team can focus its targeting strategy. In the case of segmenting users into different target audiences, it may be necessary to create separate maps, which will allow you to study each of them in more detail. When creating UX personas, it is important to take into account gender, age, place of residence, profession, preferences, habits, pain/problems, behavioral factors and other relevant information.

User Persona Example by Dmitry Sergushkin
User Persona Example

Step 3: Defining the stages of the Customer Journey.

Defining specific stages of the user’s journey from the first intention to the maximum level of loyalty to the product allows us to highlight the important milestones through which the user passes in order to clearly track changes in user behavior and analyze their needs. In the table structure these are Columns (Vertical Sections). Briefly they can be presented as follows:

Awareness. The client realizes his problem or need for the product.

Consideration. The client begins to look for a solution to his problem/need. At this stage, the client evaluates the extent to which the product or service can satisfy his needs and considers alternative offers.

Decision. The client finds a solution to his problem/need and begins to look for a suitable offer. At this stage, it is important to demonstrate to the user the availability of the necessary information and provide a simple and understandable interaction.

Retention. The client takes a target action and forms his first impression of the product; an example could be the purchase of the product or service he has chosen.

Advocacy. If the result of the interaction helped solve his problem or need, then the client becomes loyal to the product or brand and makes repeated requests.

Stages of the Customer Journey by Dmitry Sergushkin
Stages of the Customer Journey

In the article Customer Journey Maps on the Interaction Design Foundation website, the author describes the differences between Buyer Journey, User Journey and Customer Journey:

You must know the differences between buyer, user, and customer journeys to optimize customer experiences. A customer journey map is often synonymous with a user flow diagram or buyer journey map. However, each journey gives unique insights and needs different plans. There is no standard format for a customer journey map. The key is to create one that works best for your team and product or service.

Customer Journey
Awareness → Consideration → Purchase-Retention → Advocacy

Buyer Journey
Awareness → Consideration → Decision → Post-Purchase Evaluation

User Journey
Discovery → Consideration → Interaction → Problem-solving → Retention → Referral

Step 4: Data collection.

The collected data is critical for qualitatively analyzing user behavior throughout their journey and further building a useful CJM. To collect and process data, you can use different methods, such as surveys, interviews, analytics, customer reviews, which will allow you to obtain a comprehensive information base.

Example of a user survey form by Dmitry Sergushkin
Example of a user survey form

Step 5: Review touchpoints and channels.

User interaction with a product can occur through various potential touchpoints and channels, and it is important to take these conditions into account in order to determine not only the problem, stage and motives, but also the method used in this case. A simple example, the application works fine on the desktop version, but in the mobile version users have problems at certain stages. Conventionally, they can be divided into Web App touchpoints, Mobile App touchpoints, Unifified Touchpoints and others channels.

User interaction Touchpoints and Channels by Dmitry Sergushkin
User interaction Touchpoints and Channels

Step 6: Analysis and identifying “Pain Points”.

Find the weak points that are preventing conversion. At critical points, where there are a lot of barriers, people feel negative emotions — which leads to a decrease in loyalty and the imminent loss of a potential client .To get more information and not miss important details, brainstorm with your team. This approach will allow you to consider the buyer’s journey from different angles.

Step 7: Make an Empathy Map.

The best way to understand your customers is to know what they are talking about, thinking about, feeling and doing. Understanding your customers is the key to the success of any product, just be attentive and capture the important points at every stage. This item is an optional extra, but if you have the resources — using this tool will have an invaluable effect.

Empathy Map Template by Dmitry Sergushkin
Empathy Map Template

Step 8: Visualizing the Customer Journey Map.

One of the most critical stages in research, where it is necessary to collect all available information in a compact and structured form, using clear and short formats that convey the main essence of the recorded points. In the table structure these are Rows (Horizontal Sections):

Goals. In this block we need to add specific goals for each stage that the user strives to achieve using the product. You can use a bulletin number sheet, which will add structure and convenience to visual scanning.

Steps. It is necessary to add specific steps that the user takes at each stage of interaction, this allows you to see the user’s step-by-step path to achieve target actions.

Touchpoints. It is necessary to indicate the points of contact between the user and the product, which will allow us to record how, at what moment and under what conditions the user interacted with the product. This could be multiple touchpoints such as website visits, customer service interactions, product usage, etc.

Painpoints. It is necessary to record the pain points, difficulties and obstacles that the user encounters, this will definitely cause frustration for users and can potentially affect conversion results. I would advise paying special attention to this point, since further improvement of the product depends on transparency and articulation of pain points. This is a point of growth and development for the product.

Emotions. Users are real people, and emotions are part of our lives, and it is important to remember that real people interact with the product and it is important to take into account how the product affects their mood. Emotions can range from joy and satisfaction to disappointment. But the good news is that this is extremely valuable information for the company, which will allow it to find weaknesses in the product and turn them into strengths.

Processes. It is necessary to describe the processes that are involved in interaction with users at each stage, this will allow you to get a complete picture of the use of the product. Each process affects users in one way or another, it is important to determine what effect each process has on users, it may be necessary to redistribute resources and focus only on the most promising ones.

Opportunities. Here you need to identify improvements to the user experience at each stage, which could be related to improving processes, eliminating pain points, deepening emotional connections, or optimizing interaction channels. It is the structure of constructing CJM that allows you to structurally look at the problem from different points of view, using the full amount of necessary information. It is important to brainstorm at this stage and generate ideas for improving the data management.

Structure of Customer Journey Map by Dmitry Sergushkin
Structure of Customer Journey Map

Step 9: Developing an improvement strategy.

Update the CJM as needed. A user journey map is not a strictly fixed instruction, it can and should be revised and modified. You need to edit or build a new CJM in many cases: when a new product, target audience, promotional channels, new market entry, new barriers, etc. Your map should instantly adapt to any changes in the customer journey.

Customer Journey Map (CJM) for Template by Dmitry Sergushkin
Customer Journey Map (CJM) for Template


What is Customer Journey Map?

A Customer Journey Map (CJM) is a visual representation of a customer’s journey when interacting with a company’s product or service. It reflects all stages of interaction, touchpoints, emotions, and customer expectations at each step of their journey.

Why create a Customer Journey Map?

Creating a CJM allows for a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs and problems, identifies “pain points” in their interaction with your product or service, and determines opportunities to improve the user experience.

What are the main stages in building a Customer Journey Map?

The main stages include defining the goals of the CJM, segmenting the audience and creating personas, defining the stages of the customer journey, collecting data, identifying touchpoints, visualizing the CJM, analyzing “pain points”, developing improvement strategies, and testing the implemented changes.

How to collect data for Customer Journey Map?

Use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to collect data, including surveys, user interviews, website analytics, customer feedback, and observations of user behavior.

What mistakes should be avoided when creating a Customer Journey Map?

Avoid insufficient understanding of the audience, ignoring the user’s emotional experience, neglecting data and research, lack of action for improvement based on the CJM, limited team involvement, and absence of CJM iterations and updates.

How to visualize a Customer Journey Map?

CJM can be visualized using tables, diagrams, infographics, or specialized software tools to clearly display the stages of the customer journey, touchpoints, actions, expectations, and emotions at each stage.

How to use CJM to improve User Experience?

Analyze the CJM to identify “pain points” and problematic areas, develop strategies to improve interaction at troublesome stages, implement these improvements, and conduct testing to assess their impact on the user experience.

How often should the CJM be updated?

The CJM should be regularly updated based on new data about user behavior and preferences, as well as after implementing changes to the product or service, to ensure it always reflects the current state of the user experience.

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