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Why Customer Journey Mapping is Critical for Business Success

by Allan Ung

Why Customer Journey Mapping is Critical for Business Success

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience

and work back toward the technology –

not the other way around.”

Steve Jobs

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on businesses worldwide. Those that were unable to adapt to the pandemic's challenges have gone bankrupt, while others have gone digital to survive.

Although it is relatively easy to digitize a business to set up an online presence, it is important to focus on the customer journey, or the customer's end-to-end experience.

According to Nigel Greenwood, author of the book "Walking In Your Customers' Shoes," Customer Experience is "Everything your customer sees, touches and feels about your company."

In other words, customers are less influenced by the core offering than by the layers of experience around it (Fig. 1). This is because people don't think in isolated experiences; people actually derive value and meaning from the total experience.

The many layers of customer experience

Fig. 1 - Customers are less influenced by the core offering than by the layers of experience around it.

(Source: Adapted from Stickdorn et al., 2018)

Customer journey maps serve as a visual means to identify the steps your customer goes through as they experience your product or service and the impact of each.

A journey map is helpful for the problem solving team to “see” what the customer goes through in achieving what they want.

Although a journey map is made up of a series of touchpoints, satisfactory touchpoints may not add up to a satisfactory customer journey.

To improve the quality of customer experience, organizations must have a better understanding of customers, gaining greater customer insight and cater to their customer's end-to-end journey.

Industry practitioners of journey mapping include Apple, IDEO, Starbucks, AirBnB, Singapore Airlines, Nike, Procter & Gamble and DBS Bank.

It is easy to create a customer journey map. An illustration of a journey map for an online purchasing experience is shown in Fig. 2 below.

Customer journey map for an online purchasing experience.

Fig. 2 - Customer journey map for an online purchasing experience.

To create a current state journey map, simply follow the steps outlined below.

Step 1: Persona - Define a persona. A persona is the customer embarking on the journey. The journey map should be for one persona or customer segment. Aim to tell his story, in his own words, in ways that show what does and doesn’t work.

Step 2: Stages - Organize the journey into stages. The stages the customer go through in their journey outline the major activities in the journey map. The stages should encompass the customer’s end-to-end journey (the lifecycle) or a specific part of the journey (e.g. in-store experience). The stages should fall within the scope of the customer journey targeted for improvement or innovation. It is recommended to keep within 3 to 8 stages.

Step 3: Goals - Include the customer's goals and expectations. A great customer journey map shows what your customer is trying to accomplish at each stage of the process. When you are clear of the customer goals at each stage of the process, you can then look for the disconnects and obstacles in the interactions that stand in the way of excellent customer experience.

Step 4: Actions - Define what the customer is doing, including the interaction points. Focus on the touchpoints and channels:

a) Touchpoints: Customer actions and interactions with the organization. This is WHAT the customer is doing.

b) Channels: Where interaction takes place and the context of use (e.g. website, native app, call center, in-store). This is the WHERE they are interacting.

Show the emotional impact of each touchpoint.

Step 5: Thoughts & Feelings - Include the customer’s thoughts and feelings in the different stages of the journey to empathize with them. Emotions are critical to any experience, and the best customer journey maps clearly communicate these emotions and how they change as the experience unfolds. You can use emojis to communicate the customer's emotional state. Alternatively, you can use satisfaction scores and colors to show the relative state of your customer’s emotional responses.

Step 6: Metrics - Map quantitative data onto the journey to show the relationship to the qualitative information. If your brand promise is to have an experience that is effortless, highly customized, or unique, then your journey map needs to show whether your customers feel you are meeting that goal.

Metrics may include customer satisfaction ratings for each stage of the process. Metrics may also include data that reflects business value or internal process performances.

Step 7: Opportunities - Identify opportunities for improvement and innovation, or that require more research to create a future state journey. Brainstorm as many opportunities for improvement and/or innovation as possible and include low hanging fruits. Opportunities should be evaluated and prioritized, and those that have a significant impact on the customer experience or the objectives of the customer journey mapping should be accorded the highest priorities for resource allocation and implementation

After the current state journey map is completed, it should be used by the problem solving team to understand and diagnose the experience issues.

Next, the future state journey map can be developed to reframe and reimagine new experiences. The experiences should be redesigned to influence attitudes in line with the brand promise.

A great journey map should not be in PowerPoint. Your map should be an oversized creation, possibly in a large meeting room or common area that can become the focal point for conversations – not something projected in a dark room.

If the journey map is perceived to be too long, it is recommended to break the experience into smaller steps for better focus.

If you are planning to acquire non-customers to increase your market share, it is suggested that an entirely new journey map be created just for non-customers. This is because in a pre-sales journey, non-customers may be following a different path to make a decision.

Finally, it is a good practice to incorporate other Voice Of Customer components into your journey map. NPS, Satisfaction Score or any other common metrics should be used to link to existing customer research used by your company.

Allan Ung

Article by Allan Ung, Managing Consultant at Operational Excellence Consulting, a Singapore-based management consultancy firm that assists organizations in maximizing customer value and minimizing wastes through adoption of Design Thinking and Lean management practices. For more information, please visit


Related presentations that you might be interested:


1. "Walking In Your Customers' Shoes" by Nigel Greenwood, 2016.

2. "This Is Service Design Doing" by Marc Stickdorn, Markus Hormess, Adam Lawrence, Jakob Schneider, 2018.

3. "Effective Customer Journey Maps" by Tandemseven, 2015.

4. "Creating a Customer-focused Customer Experience Journey Map" by Jim Tincher, 2013.