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Customer journey maps: How to create one (templates + examples)

A customer journey map helps companies understand the entire customer experience. Learn the best practices for creating one and download our free templates.

Par Teresa Anania, Staff writer

Dernière mise à jour February 27, 2024

Download free templates

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the various stages a consumer goes through during their relationship with a business. These maps differ from other visual tools—like sales funnel diagrams—because they’re highly customer-centric.

Every business wants to understand what makes buyers come and what makes them go. Customer journey mapping is a simple yet powerful way to gain those insights.

A customer journey map is a visual overview of the experiences consumers have when interacting with a company. With these maps, you can see where you’re succeeding in your acquisition efforts and where you’re losing customers.

In this guide, we cover customer journey maps in detail, explain how they can contribute to a positive customer experience (CX) strategy, and provide 10 templates you can use to better understand your customers.

More in this guide:

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey is the relationship a consumer has with a business, from initial awareness of a pain point to post-purchase interactions. It’s every touchpoint a customer has with a brand, including first discovering the product, researching, making a purchase, contacting customer support, and more. An organization needs to optimize its customer experience map and overall CX to ensure individuals keep moving through the journey and develop long-term relationships with the brand.

Customer journey vs. buyer journey

The customer journey and buyer journey are often used interchangeably, but there’s a slight difference between the two.

The buyer’s journey is an individual’s process to becoming a customer. This journey starts when they first discover a problem and ends when they make a purchase decision.

The customer’s journey is every consumer interaction with a company during their entire relationship. This means the customer journey includes the buyer journey and post-purchase interactions.

What are the customer journey stages?

Individuals don’t usually wake up and decide to purchase from your brand. Customers go through a purchase path typically expressed in five different stages.

Awareness

The awareness stage is when individuals first determine they have a problem.

They may be fed up with having sore heels after running and decide they need a new pair of running shoes. Or, maybe they can’t scale customer support effectively and need a platform to assist their customer experience.

Businesses should produce useful, educational content that helps consumers solve their problems. Ebooks, whitepapers, how-to guides, and other forms of content marketing are useful for keeping individuals moving through to the next stage.

Consideration

The consideration stage is when individuals compare products and evaluate brands.

This happens when customers are knowledgeable enough to know their ideal solution, so they start researching which provider or brand will best suit their needs.

Businesses should develop content that entices consumers to purchase from them. This can include product comparisons, listicles, case studies, and other similar materials that emphasize how they stand out.

Decision

The decision stage is when individuals are ready to buy.

They’ve selected their top options and are weighing the pros and cons of each. Most importantly, they are seeking last-minute reassurance that the product they buy is right for them.

Organizations should focus on content and support that makes purchasing easy. Product demos, consultations with product experts, and ongoing support are good ways to do this.

Retention

The retention stage is when businesses focus on ensuring new customers stay customers.

The consumer is happy with their purchase, but it’s up to you to keep it that way. Comprehensive customer onboarding materials and dedicated success managers can ensure new customers see the value of your business right away—and don’t regret their decision or turn to competitors instead.

Advocacy

The advocacy stage is when happy customers promote the business to their family and friends.

By now, organizations have developed long-term customer loyalty through an outstanding customer experience. In the advocacy stage, businesses should continue to provide proactive support and ensure that their product is easy to use and their buying experience is approachable. Additionally, loyalty programs can help customer advocates refer their friends and family easily.

What are the benefits of customer journey mapping?

Improving your operations is challenging when you don’t know what your customer base is thinking—specifically, what bothered them or made them happy. Customer journey mapping can help clarify this as well as offer a slew of other benefits.

1. Understand your customers better

A customer journey map helps you see your brand from the consumer’s perspective, empowering you and your support team to identify areas of improvement. The mapping process lets you experience everything the customer does, including any roadblocks. Altogether, mapping gives you the insights needed to adjust your CX strategy, provide personalized service, and develop an effective customer experience design.

Example: Consumers shopping for products and services in the financial services industry tend to conduct a lot of research because financial decisions are particularly personal and consequential. Understanding this customer need, a financial sales team might take a more hands-on approach to educate potential customers on their products and how they can help the consumer.

2. Improve the customer experience

Customer journey maps are a great way to organize customer feedback and use positive or negative insights to improve your customer experience.

If you receive negative feedback regarding a process or product feature, you can take note, adjust your approach, and get back to smooth sailing. Or, if you get a wave of new customers on the back of an Instagram campaign, this indicates you’ve found a channel worth pursuing.

Example: You notice many online shoppers are abandoning their carts at the payment screen instead of checking out. You send out a customer survey and discover that your website’s payment software is inadequate. Now that you’re aware, you can improve the payment system and increase sales.

3. Encourage team-wide collaboration

When you map out the customer journey, each team understands what stage they’re in charge of and what actions they need to take to guide the consumer to the next step.

Every department plays a distinct role, and the map highlights how everyone is working toward the same goal of improving the customer experience. With a shared objective, employees across the organization will likely feel connected and motivated to work together.

Example: Marketers know they must target potential customers with advertising to increase awareness, while support agents know they must answer customer queries post-purchase.

4. Increase customer retention

Happy customers stick around. By looking closely at your customer journey map, you can determine what makes customers convert (and return) versus what makes them abandon their interaction. This allows you to improve the things that make customers unhappy and to continue doing the things that keep customers coming back.

Your customer journey map can also improve customer retention by ensuring buyers feel appreciated even after they’ve converted. Post-purchase, follow up with a thank-you note or feedback form to let them know they’re valued.

Example: After a customer buys your product, you send them a thank-you message that includes a discount code for their next purchase.

5. Provide proactive service

Humans haven’t yet developed the ability to read minds, but data helps. Leveraging data—like customer feedback, analytics, conversation rates, and churn rate—can help you craft a customer service map that’s proactive and reactive.

Proactive customer service is all about anticipating your buyers’ needs and problems. It’s a good idea to identify the areas where proactive service can help and implement reactive service as a backup.

Example: You notice that a lot of customers are reaching out after business hours, so you proactively help them by creating a knowledge base. This enables users to find the information they need anytime, anywhere.

Why and when should you use a customer journey map?

Businesses should use customer journey maps because it can help them understand their customers and meet consumer expectations.

Have you ever had a relationship or friendship abruptly end and wished you could get a better picture of what went wrong? A customer journey map can help businesses get this kind of information and provide guidance for future consumer interactions.

Organizations should develop these maps as soon as possible to help with acquisition efforts. Businesses of all sizes need to create them.

What to include in a customer journey map

There are a few key elements that appear on most customer journey maps.

A bulleted list highlights the most important things to include in customer journey maps.

1. Customer journey stages

Break the customer journey down into steps to better understand the buyer’s needs and state of mind at every touchpoint. Different companies have different stages for their customers to go through, but they typically include awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy.

2. Customer touchpoints

Touchpoints are interactions customers have with a company, whether that’s through a website, social media app, or employee. Touchpoints influence customer perception and also present opportunities to improve customer service.

Examples of other touchpoints may include:

  • Advertisements
  • Live chats
  • Phone calls
  • Emails

3. Relevant departments

Show who owns what stage of the customer journey and what they’ll need to do to move the customer forward. For example, marketing might own the interest stage of the journey, and the team’s role is to drive the customer to a service page using ads or social media posts.

Not all departments will have a role at all stages, but they should understand what the customer is experiencing at each phase.

4. Pain points and opportunities

Pain points describe the problems that drive customers to your company or the issues they experience when working with your company. While the former can help you shape your advertising to reel customers in, the latter can help you identify growth opportunities.

The gaps you discover while building your customer journey maps enable you to improve the customer experience. You can retain buyers or win new ones by removing difficulties. For example, simplifying a complex ordering process can result in more purchases.

5. Actions and emotions

Actions and emotions refer to what customers do and how they feel during their journey. They can be emotions that lead to churn, actions that lead to issue resolution, or a combination that leads to growth.

For example, your customer might be excited to buy new shoes from your online store, but they get frustrated when they can’t find their preferred payment option. They take action by reaching out to customer support or looking for an alternative.

Steps for creating a customer journey map

Customer journey mapping is a collaborative exercise. But before you start, it’s important to have a clear process in place. Follow these steps to create a great customer experience journey map.

A bulleted list highlights how to create a customer journey map.

1. Establish objectives

Every map should be tied to a business goal. Clearly define the end goals before building your map so you can secure leadership buy-in and enhance its effectiveness.

A few questions to ask yourself when creating your map include:

  • How and why do customers buy from the business?
  • How can we improve the overall customer experience?

2. Gather a cross-functional team

If you’re creating a map that addresses the entire customer journey, you’ll need representatives from multiple teams—such as marketing, sales, customer success, and engineering. These departments interact with buyers at certain stages. Their unique understanding of the customer journey will help you put together a comprehensive map.

3. Identify your key touchpoints

As we covered earlier, touchpoints are any consumer interaction with your business. Identifying key touchpoints is critical because organizations can use these recurring interactions in the customer’s journey to inform their CX strategy.

For example, a business might determine that most of its customers follow a similar pattern: seeing an ad on social media, visiting a landing page, setting up a meeting with a sales rep, and making a purchase. After identifying those touchpoints, the business can focus its customer journey map around those stages to optimize each interaction.

4. Create customer personas

A customer persona (or customer profile) is a fictional representation of your average customer. Your customer persona forms the foundation of your map, basing each stage on their actions and behaviors during the buying process.

Everyone is different, so create different maps for each unique persona. Otherwise, you risk alienating customers with a different path to purchase. Begin by building a map for your most common customer types or consumers who buy your most valuable products. You can make maps for other buyers later.

Look at the segments in your customer service software to get a clearer picture, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are my existing customers?
  • Who is my target audience on social media?
  • What types of customers are on my email list?
  • Why is this consumer buying from us?
  • What problem are customers trying to solve?

Types of customer journey maps

Customer journey maps come in different formats. Tailor your map to visualize the present state of your customer journey, or create a map of the journey you’d like to provide.

Current state

A current state customer journey map shows what buyers think and feel while going through the existing journey. It highlights key touchpoints, emotions, and pain points from the initial awareness stage to the post-purchase relationship. This type of map is best used for finding gaps in the customer experience and brainstorming solutions.

Day in the life

A day-in-the-life map outlines what happens throughout your customer’s day. More specifically, it accounts for the various forces that impact consumers outside of their brand interactions.

For example, if your target demographic is working parents, you might place an ad for a kid-friendly podcast that families listen to on the ride to school. It’s best to use day-in-the-life maps to determine how your customers will encounter your brand in their day-to-day lives.

Future state

A future-state customer journey map illustrates what buyers could experience during the ideal consumer journey. It is a forward-thinking resource that organizations can use to imagine the possibilities of their operations.

Businesses use these maps as a North Star to improve processes, set future goals, and establish a more efficient customer journey. They are best for planning what you want your customer journey to look like and how to get there.

Service blueprint

Service-blueprint customer journey maps go beyond the customer to detail the internal teams and resources involved in customer acquisition. With these maps, organizations can visualize end-to-end marketing and service processes to determine how internal operations impact the CX. Use them to identify any bottlenecks in organizational processes.

Customer journey map examples

As we’ve learned, customer journey maps aren’t one-size-fits-all, and different businesses and industries can utilize different formats. Here are a few customer journey map examples you can draw inspiration from.

B2C subscription service customer journey map example

This business-to-consumer (B2C) subscription service map outlines all five customer journey stages and includes additional inputs for the touchpoints, departments, pain points, and opportunities associated with each stage. It includes an expanded customer profile and a customer sentiment chart at the bottom to better understand the thought process behind each stage in the journey.

A screenshot of a B2C subscription service customer journey map example, courtesy of Zendesk.

Financial customer journey map example

This financial customer journey map is a fictional graphic by Slide Team that details the process a consumer goes through when signing up for a financial institution. It starts at the onboarding phase and continues toward purchasing a mortgage.

Each touchpoint in the customer journey has a corresponding channel the business will communicate with customers on, the relevant business department, and more. Overall, this can serve as a jumping-off point for financial institutions that want to improve their customer journey.

A screenshot of a financial customer journey map example.

Image source

E-commerce customer journey map example

The e-commerce customer journey map shared on Shopify shows what organizations may experience when starting their outreach process. An abbreviated customer journey stage—awareness, conversion, and loyalty—highlights key acquisition areas businesses can hone in on and perfect.

Additionally, each stage details the buyer’s and brand’s goals and the preferred communication channels. This map can be a useful starting point for e-commerce brands.

A screenshot of an e-commerce customer journey map example.

Image source

B2B customer journey map example

Gartner’s business-to-business (B2B) customer journey map highlights how not all maps need to follow the same format. The flowchart-like design emphasizes the natural thought and transition process each individual will experience in the customer journey.

At first glance, this may seem like a convoluted way to optimize acquisition efforts. However, upon closer examination, each entry flows naturally into the next, providing organizations with a free-flowing perspective on the customer journey.

A screenshot of a B2B customer journey map example.

Image source

Travel customer journey map example

Finally, the travel customer journey map, as published on Visme, reverts to a more formulaic way of examining the customer journey. The top of the document includes a section for customer information so companies can include their ideal customers front and center.

Additionally, the map has entries for what the customer will be doing in each stage and the mediums the business should use for communication.

A screenshot of a travel customer journey map example.

Image source

Free customer journey map templates

Now that we’ve covered customer journey maps in detail, here are seven templates you can use in your operations.

1. Current state customer journey map template

This template emphasizes the current state customer journey, with inputs for the customer’s actions, feelings, touchpoints, and more at every stage. Use it to identify any gaps or areas of improvement in your CX.

A screenshot of a current state customer journey map template

Download the current state customer journey map template

2. Day-in-the-life customer journey map template

The day-in-the-life template takes you through a day in your customer’s life. With this resource, you can identify what they think and feel throughout the day and how you can optimize your processes to best speak to them at each touchpoint.

A screenshot of a day-in-the-life customer journey map template

Download the day-in-the-life customer journey map template

3. Future-state customer journey map template

Use the future-state customer journey map template to illustrate what the ideal customer journey looks like for your business. At each stage, you can input what the customer is experiencing, what departments they interact with, and how you can optimize those touchpoints.

A screenshot of a future-state customer journey map template

Download the future-state customer journey map template

4. Service-blueprint customer journey map template

Service blueprints go in-depth on the departments and touchpoints that lead to a customer moving along—or stopping—their customer journey. Use this template to get a comprehensive view of how your departments shape your customer’s experience.

A screenshot of a service-blueprint customer journey map template

Download the service-blueprint customer journey map template

5. Circular customer journey map template

A circular map is a unique way of visualizing the customer journey. With this template, you can paint a different picture of how the customer moves through your touchpoints and identify the different approaches needed when dealing with buyers and customers.

A screenshot of a circular customer journey map template

Download the circular customer journey map template

6. Empathy customer journey map template

Empathy customer journey maps explicitly focus on the emotional state of the customer. In each quadrant, you have opportunities to input what they say, do, think, and feel to better understand what’s important to them.

A screenshot of a empathy customer journey map template

Download the empathy customer journey map template

7. Experience customer journey map template

Experience maps visualize the customer’s highs and lows during each stage of the customer journey. You can use this resource to better understand the customer’s positive, neutral, and negative emotions as they move from awareness to advocacy.

A screenshot of a experience customer journey map template

Download the experience map customer journey map template

Get all 10 customer journey map templates

Start building your customer journey map with free templates, including the seven shared above and three additional ones—a strategy customer journey map, a tactical customer journey map, and a persona-based customer journey map—that help you break down the entire customer experience.

Customer journey mapping best practices

Customer journey mapping is complex. With so many different customer segments and layers of information, your team can easily lose its way. But once you create a map from our templates, use these tips to stay on track.

1. Update your map regularly

A customer journey map is never finished. It requires regular updates to stay in tune with evolving customer needs and changes in your business.

Consider reviewing your map when:

  • A new trend causes a change in consumer behavior.
  • You roll out significant product updates.
  • You discover a new customer segment.

Delegate keeping your maps up to date to a specific team member or group of people.

2. Involve your customers

The customer journey isn’t about you—it’s about your audience. So, no one is more important to informing your map than your customers. Keep your mapping customer-centric by including your buyers in the process.

Speak directly with customers through phone calls or send surveys and feedback forms to get their input.

Ask them questions like:

  • How did you discover our product or service?
  • What problem were you trying to solve?
  • What roadblocks did you face in the buying process?
  • How would you rate the support you receive post-purchase?

3. Ask employees for their input

Your customer service representatives are the backbone of your customer experience. No one has more intimate knowledge of what you’re trying to do than the individuals who work directly with your buyers.

Ask reps for input on what will best attract and retain customers. You should also ask them what customers complain about most and which personas they encounter most often.

4. Make your map accessible

Your customer journey map is critical for the future of your company. Everyone who may be impacted by it should have it readily available. Ensure employees across the organization, including marketers, support agents, content writers, and sales reps, know how to find and read your map.

5. Consider omnichannel experiences

Consumers are now expecting omnichannel experiences—a communication approach that allows them to connect with businesses across websites, email, social media, and more. For example, a consumer may start a conversation with a support agent but then want to move to email. An omnichannel approach ensures this transition happens smoothly without losing context.

When creating customer journey maps, factor in omnichannel experiences. Consumers want flexible interactions—your outreach and customer experience initiatives should reflect that.

6. Keep it simple

It can be tempting to create an all-encompassing customer journey map that covers every minute detail. While this can be useful in some situations, doing so can add more confusion than clarity.

Keep your customer journey map straightforward and easy to comprehend so every stakeholder—from executives to employees—can understand it. Use clear visuals, concise language, and a logical flow to ensure the map effectively communicates the customer’s experience without overwhelming the reader.

Frequently asked questions

Improve the customer journey with Zendesk

Businesses need a solid grasp of the customer journey to develop long-term relationships with their consumers. From awareness to advocacy, organizations have plenty of opportunities to build consumer relationships. And to guarantee positive interactions, you need the right partner.

At Zendesk, we are experts in customer experience. We offer capabilities like AI and automation, help center software, and more to help you build positive, long-lasting customer relationships.

Try Zendesk for free today and improve your customer journey.

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