Customer Journey Mapping: Your Path to an Optimized Customer Experience

Do you lead a small or medium-sized business, and can’t quite work out how customers come to you? Or are you struggling to keep them—once they do?

One Salesforce study showed that 80 percent of customers value their interactions with your company as much as your product. And according to PWC, 86 percent are willing to pay more for a good customer experience.

So, your product could be fantastic. But a poor customer experience will cost you dearly.

To avoid that? We have the answers, right here. 👇

What is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey is the sum of interactions that customers have with your company—and product—from pre-purchase through post-purchase. It covers all the touchpoints, channels, and engagements that make up the customer experience. 

But isn’t that the buyer’s journey? Nope! The buyer’s journey follows the entire decision-making process—from awareness to purchase. 

The customer journey focuses on the specific touchpoints customers have with your company, even after purchasing. It reflects where—and how—you interact with customers as they go through the buyer’s journey and beyond. Make sense? 

The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey

Your customers’ journey is as unique as your brand. However, there are generally five stages in the average customer journey, which are:

  1. Awareness: The customer becomes aware of their problem and begins searching for solutions. 
  2. Consideration: The customer knows they need a solution—and now, compares alternatives. 
  3. Decision: The customer decides to purchase your solution—or not. 
  4. Retention: The customer is your customer—for now—but requires continued support. 
  5. Advocacy: The customer is happy and willingly advocates for your brand via social media, friends, family, online customer reviews, etc. 

With all those stages, wouldn’t it be great to have some kind of visual image, so you can dissect the entire customer journey, touchpoint by touchpoint? 

Enter the customer journey map. 

What is a Customer Journey Map, and Why Do You Need One?

The customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s experience and interaction with your company, throughout his or her lifecycle. It covers customer touchpoints—and attitudes toward your brand—as they progress from awareness to advocacy.

And what are the benefits of customer journey mapping, you ask?

Proper mapping provides a unique view of the customer journey, as you analyze the user experience and elevate your sales approach—from the customer’s perspective.

It helps to increase customer engagement with channel optimization, identify ineffective touchpoints, eliminate process loopholes, enhance your customer targeting—and much more.

Journey mapping shifts the perspective from company-focused to customer-focused. And that’s pretty important.

There are many types of customer journey maps, here are a few common ones:

  • Current state: This map visualizes the actions, thoughts, and attitudes of your customers in their current interactions with your organization—as-is.
  • Future state: This map visualizes the actions, thoughts, and attitudes your customers will or could have via future interactions.
  • Day-in-the-life: This map follows the actions, thoughts, and attitudes of your customers in their everyday lives, even separate from your company. (It helps anticipate customer needs and pain points—opportunities you–and even they aren’t aware of.)
  • Renewal process: This map zeros in on the renewal process, specifically, and the actions, thoughts, and attitudes of your customers throughout. (For example, are customers using different channels to research—and renew? And why?)
  • Churn journey map: This map covers the lifecycle stages from onboarding to upselling—and customer actions, etc.—to catch customers at risk of churning.

The maps are different, but they have this in common: they force you to question your assumptions about the customer experience. And that’s an important exercise that can lead to growth and innovation. 

What to Include in a Customer Journey Map

Sure, there are different kinds of maps, and each will have its unique components. 

But these are the general must-haves, and you can adjust as you see fit:

  • Buying process: What is the buying process for your customers?
  • User actions: What do your customers do at each stage in your buying process? Do they contact your sales rep, or download resources? Scour social media? 
  • Emotions and attitudes: Pain points evoke pain, but quick payment options and a streamlined sales experience spark joy and excitement about your brand. So, what will customers feel throughout?
  • Customer pain points: Which pain points brought them to your doorstep? And which will manifest as they interact with your product and customer journey?
  • Solutions: Pain points demand solutions. Brainstorm with your team about how you’ll answer customer demand for certain features, improvements, pricing, and so on.

These are the basic elements of the customer journey map, but once you nail down the fundamentals, the rest of the map begins to take shape. 

Customer Journey Map Template

New to customer journey mapping and don’t know where to begin? 

A solid template will serve you well. And we’ve created this one, just for you!

How to Create a Customer Journey Map in 8 Steps

Customer journeys aren’t often linear, and involve a good deal of variation. But if you focus on one customer segment at a time—and follow these eight steps—you can create a map that works for you.

1. Define the Scope and Goal of Your Journey Map

What’s your goal with this journey map, exactly?

Are you trying to create an effective, predictable sales process? Working to eliminate long-standing roadblocks? Aiming to improve the customer experience, or launch a new product? And are you targeting new or existing customers?

Know your goal before you start on the map. Be specific and state it clearly, along with the steps you’ll take to reach it. 

Say, for example: “Our goal is to reduce churn on [X] service by [Y] percent within the next six months. This customer journey map will articulate the actions, thoughts, and attitudes of existing customers with [X] service, between onboarding and renewal” … etc.

Goal setting helps to track progress—and gives direction to the map-building process.

Concerned how your new product launch will impact future customer interactions? Start with the ‘future state’ map. Worried about exorbitant churn numbers, as above? Choose the ‘churn’ map.

Ideally, the map scope covers the experience of one customer persona—one scenario—and one goal. 

If you have more than one customer persona, scenario, and goal? Draw up different maps. You need to keep the map focused—or else, you won’t reach your goal.

2. Choose a Customer Segment to Map

Customers' sales paths vary greatly. And what works for Customer A may not work for Customer B.

If you sell SaaS, for example, you’ll discover that enterprise buyers behave differently than SMEs. The challenges, expectations, and emotions? Those vary.

So, you can classify your customers and target audience into groups, based on:

  • Behavior: Each customer type has a unique goal, and behavior reflects it.
  • Demographic: Age, role, company size, industry, etc.
  • Attitude: What do they say, how do they feel, and how do they communicate?
  • Channels: How do they interact or use your site? What social media do they visit? 
  • Offscreen behavior: What’ll they do outside the sales talk? Chat with stakeholders in their company (for B2B), or consult with their families?

These segmented groups are known as the buyer persona, or ideal customer profile (B2B). And you may need to create separate customer journey maps for each. 

If you have more than a few personas? Just focus on two or three. Having too many may overwhelm your sales team. 

3. Gather Real-World Customer Data

Market research—and real customer data—provide valuable insights, and validate (or disprove) your assumptions about the customer journey.

Here’s where to collect the data:

  • Customer surveys: Solicit customer feedback during follow-ups or via social media. 
  • Sales and customer support teams: These folks know all about customer behavior, complaints, and objections at each different stage of the customer journey.
  • CRM software: CRMs (like Close) deliver metrics and advanced insights on customer data—from first to last touchpoint.
  • Review sites and social media: Review what customers are saying on G2 and Trustpilot, and the most popular social platforms.
  • Stakeholders: Speak with marketing, finance, and product—each team will offer unique points of view on the customer experience.

Figure out what questions you need answered by the data you gather for your customer journey map.

Your data should tell you:

  • How do people normally find our company?
  • Where are they getting stuck in the journey?
  • What pain points are they feeling at different stages?
  • Which triggers move them to purchase? 
  • Who else are they interacting with? 
  • Which touchpoints work well? Which don’t?
  • … and more

Customer surveys are especially good for this. You can dive deeper, too, and discover:

  • What attracted you to our website / what makes you hesitate?
  • If you’ve purchased from us before, what was the deciding factor?
  • How can we better support your experience?
  • Is there any information missing that would help you make your decision?
  • … and more

Now that you have the data, it can inform your customer journey map. 

4. Build a Backstory for Your Customer Persona

Let’s say you’ve identified and documented your customer persona. Great! But it’s time to flesh out the character—and build the backstory. 

Start by defining the entry point. Why is this person entering the customer journey?

What are their high-level goals or pain points? Are they seeking X feature or Y service? Those are the reasons why they are seeking your solution. 

Then, why turns into what.

What are they seeking from your solution? What requirements will the customer have? With those pain points or goals—specifically—will they be looking for better pricing? An improved user experience? Real-time customer support?

Then finally, outcomes—what goals do they want to achieve? Think both in terms of your solution and overarching goals for the buyer’s journey.

Pro Tip: To make this process easy (and super visual) for your team, write things out on sticky notes as you build the map.

This backstory should be based on interviews, surveys, and team insights—no guessing here. Apply this information as you chart out touchpoints and related customer sentiment.

5. List Out Your Main Touchpoints with Customers, and Map Those Touchpoints to Customer Needs and Sentiment

What are your main touchpoints, anyway? Attack this list in the context of stages.

For example, awareness-stage touchpoints might include:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media outreach
  • How-to guides
  • Free courses
  • Old-fashioned flyers

The consideration stage could involve:

  • Demo videos
  • Product reviews
  • Customer stories
  • Competitor comparisons
  • Webinars

Decision stage touchpoints may include:

  • Pricing pages
  • Sales & promotions
  • Free consultations

Retention stage may involve:

  • Dedicated customer success 
  • Help Center content
  • Access to subscription renewals

And the advocacy stage might include:

  • Referral programs
  • Shareable content
  • Customer feedback surveys

Those are some of the potential touchpoints. 

Now find each touchpoint across each channel, including your:

  • Website
  • Social media
  • Paid ads
  • Organic search
  • Marketing content
  • Third-party sites
  • And more

Now that you have your list of touchpoints, review the analytics. Are your ‘main’ touchpoints the touchpoints customers are using?

What are your customers’ actions, throughout the customer journey?

On your website, do they poke at a few links and then leave? Or do they hit so many links, that your website map is clearly overcomplicated?

What are the pain points of the customer experience? And what are the original pain points that drove them to take those actions? 

… and what are their feelings about those pain points? 

Then as they move through the customer journey, how do those feelings shift?

To illustrate, consider the free trial sign-up process. If you ask for their email address, work address, company title, social security number, credit card, and first born child, they are going to feel frustrated. And likely, they’ll drop from your sales process. 

So, map your touchpoints to pain points to customer sentiment.

Pro Tip: Once again, sticky notes are great prototypes to your "official" customer journey map.

By the end of this, you should have a clear understanding of customer pain points at each stage—and how that impacts the experience. 

You should also have specified which team owns each touchpoint. 

And overall, you should know what actions are being taken by customers—and your team.

6. Travel Your Own Customer Journey

Is your map … crap? No, seriously. 

Your strategy may be solid and your omnichannel engagement impressive. But how do you know your entire customer journey is airtight, unless you’ve walked the path yourself? 

Traveling your own customers’ journey reveals first-hand where roadblocks might impede potential customers—and where they might fall off the sales cliff entirely.

Evaluate the value of your guides and tools. Review the user experience on your website. Check for broken links—literally (404s) and figuratively (in your process). Examine your outreach approach and consistency.

Do you feel frustrated at any point? Relieved? Persuaded?

Pro Tip: Does your outreach need some work? Finding a powerful, time-effective outreach pattern doesn’t have to be complicated. Try the robust, user-friendly communication features in Close.

This step takes "customer-centric" to the next level. So, lace up your customer’s shoes and get to stepping. 

7. Make This Map Accessible to All Teams

It’d be a crying shame to build an accurate, powerful customer journey map—and then keep it locked in the sales department.

Eliminate information silos by making all relevant stakeholders aware of the map and involved in its upkeep. Give teams access—and encourage them to tap in regularly.

If you contacted marketing, product, customer success, and others for the data-gathering part, keep those lines open. Most—if not all—of the folks at your company have some impact on the customer journey.

So, learning the customer’s perspective is important to keep everyone aligned and heading in the same direction. 

8. Continue to Iterate and Improve

Once you have mapped out the customer journey, you’re done! It’s perfect, don’t look back.

Just kidding.

Keep tabs on the real-life customer journey. Evaluate the data and regularly survey customer attitudes toward your brand. Look for roadblocks early and often—monthly or quarterly.

Even the best maps require adjustments over time. In fact, iteration should be pretty constant. 

So, hone your calls-to-action. Improve your website and social media content. Identify the gaps and opportunities, as buyer personas shift and the market adjusts.

Keep stakeholders involved in the process, and stay relentless about meeting customer pain points—with effective customer touchpoints.

The results? A better map, a better plan, and waaaay better customer retention. 

6 Customer Journey Map Examples to Inspire You

Still need some inspiration on what your map should look like? Here are some examples to spark your creativity.

These five examples can be broken down based on business goals (for the map), and even industry. Take a peek!

Current State Customer Journey Map

"Current state" maps depict your customer journey as it is. They reveal underlying sources of churn and failed conversions, and opportunities and gaps in your approach.

This is the most common type of customer journey map.

This example by UXMatters visualizes a fictitious customer persona and company. But the insight is solid. Notice how each interaction impacts the customer’s emotional state—and how it’s illustrated. 

Also, check out the recommendations for improvement. Connecting those to each customer stage will help focus the teams’ efforts—and partition touchpoints, based on department.

This next example of a current state customer journey map comes from a (real) retirement home referral business, who partnered with SayYeah.

First thoughts? Wow, that’s … a lot!

Try pulling up the larger image here and look over the details.

According to SayYeah, the map was designed to gain a deeper understanding of the market—and identify opportunities and threats. 

During preliminary research, they found that adult children were making the majority of care home decisions, so that’s the customer persona. 

The map follows the decision-making process, to uncover the alternatives these customers consider. And then, covers how the business could expand to meet their needs. 

Customer Journey Map for Service Businesses

Are you a service business? So is Telus, a Canadian telecommunications company. And they partnered with Bridgeable to create a customer renewal journey map

Makes sense, right? Keeping renewals strong is central to the success (or failure) of service-based companies.

This map was designed to transform the renewal process—and reduce service costs. The process revealed two primary streams of customer behavior: the "passive optimist" who goes with the flow, and the "proactive warrior" who hunts down the best deal.

This end-to-end customer journey map tracks both customer types, along with their emotions and actions (such as, calling the customer service team). 

With these map-given insights, Telus employed an AI-driven omni-channel solution to personalize the renewal experience for customers, regardless of how they did research. And in an initial test phase, they saw a 20 percent boost in customer satisfaction!

So ask yourself: does it make sense for you to adopt aspects of the approach in their map? 

Customer Journey Map for SaaS Businesses

SaaS maps look different—but just a bit. 

SaaS journeys are often self-reliant, since customers might not connect with anyone before testing out your app (via your free trial, for example). So, they need early access to how-to content. They also really need seamless onboarding.

And speaking of free trials, that’s a unique touchpoint here. 

Ready for an example? Here’s a basic, generalized one for a SaaS customer, from a medium-sized business.

Getting the hang of this? Ready to try out your own? Grab the template … or keep reading for more inspo. 

Future State Customer Journey Map

"Future state" maps are used to plan the ‘ideal state’ of customer journeys with your brand. 

They are most useful in conjunction with ‘current state’ maps in order to track the improvements—and chart your trajectory. 

Consider this example from Argos. Traditionally a catalog retailer, they later expanded to an omnichannel shopping experience—following this map.

Notice that the old customer journey is included. Why? They are looking to improve—not necessarily eliminate—former customer pathways and touchpoints. 

This map is pretty bare bones. We’d like to see customer sentiments and more detailed touchpoints—but for an aerial view of the customer journey, it works!

Advocacy Journey Map

What happens when you exceed customer expectations, and eliminate pain points in the customer experience? You’ll get higher customer satisfaction. 

And higher customer satisfaction? That encourages customer loyalty—and often, brand advocacy.

Spotify created a customer journey map to detail (and we do mean detail) the journey for existing customers, in order to promote music sharing on their app.

At each stage and touchpoint, the brand articulates customer engagement—and what customers might be thinking, feeling, and doing as they traverse the customer journey. 

They identify that the average user journey begins on the phone, with neutral emotions, and progresses from there. Also, tagging the second stage as ‘listen’ reveals that they are targeting existing customers. Review it for yourself!

The result of Spotify’s efforts? Precise insight into customer actions and in-app pain points. 

That insight was used to streamline the music sharing experience, and convert customers into enthusiastic brand advocates. 🤘

Elevate the Customer Experience With the Right Journey Mapping Companion

So, do you know what you want from the customer journey map? Have you determined what it will look like, and what it will track? 


You’re on your way to a better customer experience—and more closed deals. Win!

Now you can look into streamlining your sales process and making those touchpoints count. And the best way to do that is with Close.

Our CRM was designed for startups and SMBs, as they navigate the complexities of cross-team work and shifting customer journeys. It helps to track the metrics you need, and hone your sales process—in the process. 

Close optimizes your outreach efforts—and elevates the customer experience to new heights. 

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