Map it out. The journey to a better user experience


Customer journey maps are a powerful way to visualise any customer experience. By tracking touchpoints, you can uncover problems – along with insights to help address them and ways to better align with customer needs. Plus, the map itself can become a valuable resource that maintains focus on the user experience and creates a shared vision for improving it. So, how do you do it?


Starting your map


The objective of mapping a customer journey is to identify key moments of interaction, contextualising the customer experience and identifying any potential service gaps or opportunities to delight. Before you plot anything, we recommend doing some groundwork.

Define the scope – Consider the start and end points of the journey that you’re mapping. Define the relevant audiences and related customer profiles, along with the business goals of the project.

Gather insight – How much is already known about your audience? Are there gaps in knowledge about key customer segments? Gather insight from internal stakeholders, such as customer service staff – they’ll have a wealth of knowledge about the current experience. Use analytics data to build a picture of where your users come from and the tasks they’re trying to complete. Consider qualitative research techniques such as observation, interviews or surveys to gain a deeper understanding of customer motivations and context.

Get together – Journey mapping works most effectively as a collaborative process. Plan an initial workshop that brings together key stakeholders who can build elements of the map together using paper and sticky notes.


Plotting your map


Visualising the experience is when all the initial leg-work starts to pay off. We find that creating a digital document makes for easier sharing, collaboration and updating. It’s important that your map becomes a living document that can evolve over time to remain useful and relevant.

Customer journey maps can be created in a variety of styles to suit specific needs. However, there are a number of common elements that can be used to build your map, depending on the scope and context of a project.

Timeline or stages – Is there a standard timeline or series of stages the journey follows? These can be outlined along the top of the map to frame the rows below.

Actions – What tasks does the user complete along the journey? Make sure they’re plotted out too.

Touchpoints – Where and how does your customer come into contact with your brand? Charting these will help you identify gaps in the experience, or points where users may want to switch devices or channels.

The emotional arc – How customers are feeling and what they’re thinking is just as relevant as what they’re doing. Considering the emotional side of the journey and how this changes along the way helps build a human-centred picture of the experience.

Pain points – Are there any areas that could cause confusion or frustration? User testing and / or data analysis of a current experience can help uncover answers to this question if these points haven’t already been identified.

Opportunities – What actions can be taken to address pain points or to differentiate and enhance the digital experience?


Making the most of your map


Once you’ve made your map, what should you do with it?

First off, showcase your map prominently in-house to make sure insights are kept front of mind and projects remain user-centred. Then, using opportunities identified in the map, build a list of tangible actions into a roadmap for improvements – prioritising based on value to your customer, internal effort and business goals. Doing this will make sure the whole team is working together towards a shared destination, with a clear understanding of the context behind it.

The long-term benefit is that knowledge is shared across functions to build a collective vision of the future. Not only does this allow for more efficient and effective working across teams, it makes sure the customer is kept at the heart of business decisions.

Ready to get started?

If you’d like a little expert support with mapping the journeys of your customers, we can help. As well as our expertise in creating journey maps, we’re experienced in a range of other CX and UX methodologies that can reveal new insights, helping you exceed customer expectations. Get in touch to talk about your CX or UX challenges.

Note: This article is written by Gail Cruse, User Experience Consultant at Ethology, a sister company of Splash