What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a tool designed to help visualise and communicate buyers’ processes, needs and perceptions as they engage with a business.

Sometimes, it feels like the customer journey should be a simple, straightforward process: buyers encounter a product and then they purchase it. But in reality, the typical customer journey from first contact to final sale is anything but straightforward. Buyers add items to online baskets only to abandon the purchase and never return. They hop from channel to channel, creating a convoluted path that can be difficult to track consistently. And through it all, evolving technologies create an increasingly complex web of interactions, building an environment in which influencing customer touchpoints can become extremely difficult.

To more effectively guide their customers and understand the route they take as they move through the funnel, successful businesses apply customer journey mapping.

A customer journey map (CJM) is a visual tool, generally in the form of a diagram, that communicates how users move through the various stages towards purchasing your product or service. By mapping out user journeys, you can identify opportunities to improve the experience and increase conversion, revenue and customer satisfaction.

At its most basic, a customer journey map creates a visualised representation of your customers’ interactions with your business.Why is this important? Because understanding your customer’s journey provides a wealth of insight into your customers themselves and what actions you can take to successfully help them continue on their path. It also creates a consistent single source of truth that your entire organisation can refer to as you conceptualise, deploy and revise customer-focused initiatives.

Properly applied, these points can mean several potentially game-changing advantages for your organisation, including:

Understanding Customer Pain Points

The key to success in business is providing a product or service that addresses a customer’s needs and solves specific problems. This may be easier said than done; it demands a detailed understanding of what kinds of questions and concerns your buyers bring with them as they investigate your business, and whether those issues are being properly addressed by your various touchpoints. Customer journey mapping can help you identify important stages along the journey where customer concerns are (or are not) being resolved.

Improving customer retention

There are many reasons why a customer may choose to abandon a purchase or take their business elsewhere. Sometimes these issues are beyond your control, but often, they relate directly to how the customer feels and what actions were taken. A CJM is a tool for better understanding customer needs and can be used to create a more personalised buyer experience. When the customer journey consistently provides a satisfying experience where customer needs are being met, buyers are much more likely to want to continue doing business with your organisation.

Optimising marketing and sales efforts

A clearer picture of the customer decision-making process has widespread ramifications throughout your business. Marketing and sales efforts may benefit from closer scrutiny of the customer journey, identifying the platforms and channels buyers are more likely to frequent and the actions that may be taken at specific points to guide the customer forward. Campaigns can then be tailored to match these insights and sales teams can gain a better understanding of where upselling and cross selling may be most effective.

Streamlining internal collaboration

Data silos are a major problem, creating inconsistent customer-experience data across different departments. One of the primary benefits of customer journey mapping is that it standardises the customer journey, providing a clear view of customer interactions that every relevant team can rely on in their evaluation and decision-making processes. Likewise, a detailed CJM provides a visual aid for stakeholders who may be instrumental in implementing solutions. With shared, accurate customer-experience information, everyone in the company can work together to achieve their common goals.

Identify service or communication gaps

When large numbers of customers vacate the customer journey at the same point, that suggests that there may be a gap in your service or ability to communicate. Customer Journey mapping uncovers these gaps, empowering your business with the opportunity to discover and eliminate many of the pitfalls that could be standing in the way of a successful sale.

Delivering a more customer-centric experience

Probably the single-most important benefit of customer journey mapping is that it allows you to place greater focus on the customer and their personal success. Improve the customer journey, address pain points and see the experience you provide through the eyes of the people who matter most to your business. And when you optimise the customer journey, the natural result is increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.

There are as many ways to map the customer journey as there are customers. Organisations may choose to adopt a unique approach to customer journey mapping that speaks to the unique customer journey they provide. That said, most customer journey maps can be categorised into four distinct types:

Current state

Current state journey maps are the most used kind of CJM, detailing the actions and emotions your customers experience as they move through your current funnel. Current state maps must be built on reliable data and offer a clear idea of how your customers are doing right now. These are most effective when used regularly for continual revision and improvement.

Day in the life

For a wider-angle view beyond just the interactions that directly involve your business, a day in the life customer journey map takes into account all the thoughts, actions and emotions a potential customer might experience throughout their day. This form of CJM is extremely proactive and can help your business explore new market strategies and meet customer needs based on pain points that would otherwise go unaccounted for in traditional mapping.

Future state

The future state customer journey map looks beyond where the customer is right now and instead focuses on the thoughts, actions and feelings your customers will experience in future interactions with your business. This is most effective for creating new customer experiences rather than revising existing ones and tends to be driven by innovation and creativity rather than existing data. Still, current-state journey maps can help provide clearer insight on which to build ideal future-state maps.

Service blueprint

A service blueprint customer journey map is a simplified version of either a current-state, future-state or day in the life CJM. These blueprints may be used to help detail specific factors in the customer journey (such as people or processes) and can be invaluable for defining the actions that must be taken to guide the customer in the desired direction.

The process of creating a CJM can be broken down into six basic steps. As previously mentioned, no two customer journeys are the same. This means that the process and design you use in creating your customer journey map will likely differ from what is explored here. For best results, use these steps to help get started and then tweak your map to better address the needs of your buyers.

1. Identify buyer personas

To effectively guide your customers, you first need to know who they are. This means creating multiple buyer personas to account for customers entering the funnel at various stages. These personas should describe in detail who the key customers are, what they need and how they engage with your brand.

Graphic showing the process of creating a customer journey map

2. Understand customer goals

With personas firmly in hand, the next step is to take into account the various paths and channels your customer may take and what activities and touchpoints their journey may include. This will help you more clearly define your customers' goals. This stage may include detailed research, such as gathering and analysing customer feedback, studying emails and support transcripts and applying customer analytics tools. Once you understand the customers’ goals, you can then apply them to each stage of the journey on your CJM.

3. Identify and map out touchpoints

Ideally, the touchpoints that your customer encounters will help alleviate their concerns, answer their questions and guide them in the correct direction towards making the purchase. These touchpoints include any contact that the customer has with your brand over any channel and at any point in their journey (including after they finalise a purchase). Customer feedback may be an effective way to generate touchpoints. Alternatively, visualising the journey from the point of view of the customer may likewise provide added insight into what interactions are occurring and when.

4. Evaluate the journey

With your map complete and the customer journey fully visualised, it is now time to look at the complete picture. Where is your journey effective and optimal and where are there gaps or other issues that could be slowing or even deflecting customers from progressing? Answering these questions will mean reviewing customer goals, finding areas of increased friction and paying close attention to abandoned purchases and the factors that contribute to them.

5. Prioritise fixes

Not every issue with the customer journey is life or death; some areas of friction may be minor, while others might have the capacity to completely undermine your marketing and sales efforts. As such, you can make the biggest positive impact by prioritising those fixes with the greatest potential for change. Additionally, understanding that each touchpoint should be contributing towards the goal of guiding your customers through the funnel will help you determine what needs to be addressed at each stage to support this objective.

6. Constantly revise and improve

Neither customers and companies, nor the journeys they take together are set in stone. Nearly every element of your CJM represents a dynamic part of your business. With this in mind, it makes sense to continually improve your CJM through regular tests, revisions and reevaluations. Revisiting your customer journey map at least twice per year or at any times when you make changes to your product offering or business processes will help ensure that it is an accurate and useful depiction of how your customers are interacting with your brand.

There are several key elements that make up a customer journey map. These include:


Actors are the customers or personas who make the journey through the sales funnel.


Scenarios describe the situation the actors find themselves in and the expectations they have for these situations.

Journey Phases

Journey phases describe the stages an actor will pass through on their journey, from initial discovery to any post-sale interactions. These phases will be unique to specific types of business.

Interactions and emotions

Interactions and emotions are the feelings and actions the actor experiences as they progress through journey phases and interact with touchpoints. These take into account not only what the customer does and when, but also how they feel, what their motivation is and what information they may need at any given point.


Finally, opportunities are the possible optimisations and improvements that may be made to the customer journey. Opportunities are the fruit produced by an effective customer journey map and help teams better understand the customer experience and how to make it better.

Customer journey mapping is an important part of regular business operations, allowing marketing teams and strategists to develop a thorough understanding of how customers interact with your brand. By mapping out the stages of the customer journey, you can spot pain points, improve the customer experience and optimise your marketing strategy. However, true insight into the customer journey demands significant background research and powerful customer analytics and service tools.

ServiceNow Customer Service Management (CSM) provides the solution.

CSM offers a wide range of capabilities to simplify the customer journey mapping process. From creating visual journey maps and generating reports, to coordinating teams and departments through centralised data management, CSM brings together the most powerful customer and service operations tools currently available. Today’s customers walk a complex route to become fully fledged buyers. Simplify this route and build a more customer-centric relationship with the people who keep you in business, with effective customer journey mapping from ServiceNow.

Get CSM today and help your customers follow the path that leads to personal success.

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