6 Essential Parts of a Customer Journey Map

If you’re like me, you do a lot of searching for example customer journey maps (and user journey maps) to get inspired. And you’ve probably noticed there are a lot of different opinions on what should be included in a journey map template. It can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to learn how to create a map.

In my career, I’ve found that though the design “skin” of a journey map might change, the underlying structure should stay consistent —a successful journey map is made up of six essential parts. I’ve outlined those parts below, included a few example journey maps that apply these sections, and shared a free downloadable journey map template.

The 6 essential parts of a customer journey map

1. Customer and/or User Persona

A persona is a semi-fictional representation of a group of your customers. Based on user research and data from your existing customers, a persona brings your users to life.

Below, I’ve included an example of a full user persona. In your journey map, you don’t need to include all of this information. A summary of key points is all you need on the map itself.

Persona Example for a Customer Journey Map

Created by the author (click to view full size)

2. Phases of the Purchase Journey

This section details the process customers follow from awareness, to purchase and beyond. For the sake of illustration, we divide the journey into discrete, linear steps even though in real-life, these phases don’t happen in sequence.

The specific name of your steps might vary, but in general, they’ll include twists on the phases below (if you’re in a B2C business).

Example purchase journey

3. Customer Touchpoints

This section lays out any point of contact, interaction, or information-gathering that a customer interacts with. Touchpoints can be owned by the brand (think TV ads, websites, or social media channels), or they can reflect the brand experience in some way — social media comments and Amazon reviews are two good examples.

When you fill in this section, it will look something like this:

Customer Journey Map Touchpoints

4. Customer Thoughts and Actions

Customer thoughts in the form of first-person quotes (also called verbatim), can help us better understand and articulate what customers are experiencing. They also give us a steer on where we should start improving the customer journey.

Customer Actions describe what customers are doing, or attempting to do, at each touchpoint. For example, searching for reviews about your product or service, or clicking on an email link to track a package.

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5. Pain Points (What’s stopping our customers)

Pain Points are the most significant challenges that customers face during their experience. These are the moments of friction we aim to eliminate — with our first step being the creation of a journey map.

For example, a pain point for a bank could be retail hours that run from 10am to 4pm, with limited services available online. Most of their customers don’t want to take a day off of work to open a new savings account, so instead, they’re simply taking their business elsewhere. If the bank decided to open their retail branch earlier, or make opening an account a three-step process on their app, these pain point would be solved.

6. The Customer’s Emotional Journey

This is the secret sauce that makes Customer Journey Map so useful. The emotional journey tracks how customers feel during their experience.

By understanding the peaks and valleys in your customer’s emotional journey, you’ll quickly identify where you need to focus your energy and how. Below you can see an example of how an emotional journey might be tracked in a Customer Journey Map.

Putting these parts to work — two example Customer Journey Maps

Customer Journey Map #1

In this map, created by myself as an example, all of our must-haves are included. Because this is intended to be a basic framework, each section is laid out separately. This map is intended to be a very simple example of the information that every successful journey map must have. (Click here to view a high-res version of this image)

Target Journey

Customer Journey Map #2

In this map, created by Heart of the Customer, you can see that all six of our requirements are included. It is worth pointing out that they don’t pull pain points and verbatim from the journey into a separate section. Instead, Heart of the Customer has called out specific quotes in the persona section and has indicated moments where a touchpoint’s “importance [is] significantly higher than satisfaction” with a red “x” in their satisfaction measures.

This map is a great example of how to pull all of the required elements into a clear and easy-to-communicate visual that helps visualize customer and business goals.

Heart of Customer Journey Map

Source: Heart of the Customer

The bottom line — and a blank journey map template

Done well, journey maps empower people to solve most, if not all, of your customer experience issues. They serve as long-term assets that can guide your business for years to come. Done poorly, journey maps can do more damage than good — they can confuse, misalign, and will be cast aside.

To help you apply these “must-have” parts of successful journey maps, I’ve created a template that can act as a jumping-off point. You can also use it to experiment with what elements to include in your map.

To download your free journey map template, click here.

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