Customer Journey In A Nutshell

The customer journey – sometimes called the buyer or user journey – tells the customer experience with a business, brand, product, or service. A customer journey is an alternative approach to other linear models like the sales funnel, which hypothesizes that most customers follow the same path.

Understanding the customer journey

Describing a customer journey may seem simple if we only consider the transaction between the buyer and the seller.

In truth, the customer journey is much more complex and multifaceted.

It begins when a consumer first becomes aware of a brand and extends well beyond the final purchase into loyalty programs and brand advocacy.

Whatever the industry, customer journeys must reflect a deep understanding of the end-user.

How does the user behave and feel as they travel through the sales process? Are there impediments to user or business success?

The customer journey is measured by touch-points, or consumer interactions with a brand.

How a business manages marketing, point-of-sale, and customer support touch-points will dictate whether it can attract and then retain buyers.

It’s important to note that touchpoints should be tailored to a specific buyer persona.

They must also be treated as single, independent entities while still making logical sense as part of a journey from start to finish. 

Mapping a customer journey

Creating a compelling customer journey means adopting the perspective of the customer.

How is this accomplished? 

Conduct analytical research

Use website and other analytics data to identify where the ideal customer hangs out and how much time they spend interacting with a brand.

Conduct anecdotal research

It is not possible to get inside someone else’s head, but social media can yield vital clues regarding how an individual feels or thinks when interacting with a brand.

Pay particular attention to reviews, as many only feel compelled to leave feedback when they have strong negative or positive feelings.

If this information is unavailable, consider asking the target audience directly by conducting surveys.

Identify customer touch-points

How does the customer interact with the brand via newsletters, advertising, websites, or after-sales support?

Identify the obstacles and then associate each touch-point with a goal that overcomes them to facilitate a seamless customer experience.

Create a graphic

Include both analytical and anecdotal research data to display the customer journey in a spreadsheet or similar.

Highlight areas where customer frustration or dissatisfaction causes them to end their journey and purchase elsewhere, but also make a note of areas where the customer is happy.

To help visualize the customer’s state of mind, some find it helpful to use emojis.

Benefits of customer journey mapping

Some businesses may have a superficial understanding of the obstacles their customers face and how to overcome them.

However, the biggest rewards are had by going deeper to break down the customer journey into smaller parts and then restructure each touch-point.

Here are some of the benefits of doing so:

Refocus the company with an inbound perspective

Instead of the business trying to attract buyers through outbound channels, it attracts customers by creating valuable and tailored content and experiences.

Inbound marketing is more efficient and cost-effective than the alternative which is more of a scattergun approach.

Proactive customer service

Knowing where the customer is both delighted and frustrated allows a customer service strategy to be planned in advance.

As a result, the business becomes more nimble and can selectively market to maximize brand value and equity.

Improved customer retention

It stands to reason that a satisfied buyer with fewer pain points is more likely to become a loyal and devoted fan.

Customer satisfaction is crucial, as a single bad experience from customers might lead them to switch.

Customer journey mapping also allows the business to identify the common behavioral patterns associated with customer churn, and plan accordingly.

Customer journey examples

To solidify the concept of customer journeys, we have included a few real-world examples in the following paragraphs.

Rail Europe

Rail Europe is a B2C travel company that enables customers to easily book rail tickets online.

While Rail Europe had a robust on-site user interface, management noted that the company needed to better understand the customer journey across various touchpoints.

Teams within the company created an extensive customer journey map to illustrate a traveler’s experience before, during, and after booking a ticket.

In the process, they learned that customers do not move linearly between stages or channels.

Some customers whilst in the research phase, for instance, tended to move back and forth between website planning features, timetables, and comparison sites.

Rail Europe also used customer journey maps to increase customer empathy by determining the concerns and frustrations travelers experience on their trips.

This included concerns and frustrations that were unrelated to train travel such as someone feeling vulnerable after arriving at an unknown location in the middle of the night.

These points were included on the map because Rail Europe understood that customers connected its brand to their whole travel experience and not just the parts related to taking the train.


Spotify is a two-sided marketplace where artists and music fans engage. Spotify has a free ad-supported service and a paid membership. Founded in 2008 with the belief that music should be universally accessible, it generated €9.66 billion in 2021. Of these revenues, 87.5% or €8.46 billion came from premium memberships, while over 12.5% or €1.2 billion came from ad-supported members. By 2022, Spotify had 195 million premium members and 273 million ad-supported users.

Spotify hired a marketing firm to create a customer journey map for a new feature it wanted to add to the platform.

The feature, which enabled users to share music inside the Spotify app and also using third-party applications, would increase social functionality and user engagement. 

The map itself was then constructed to identify where the feature would best slot into the overall customer experience.

In short, the map started from the moment a user opens the Spotify app on their phone until the point at which they like a song that a friend has shared. 

Based on this journey, Spotify identified various pain points to make the music-sharing process more seamless. Some of these pain points were listed as customer thoughts and include:

  • Why do I HAVE to open it on Spotify? That’s really annoying.
  • Why do I need to only use shuffle play? It’s weird that I just can’t hit play.
  • I would have liked to have a way to see what songs were popular at the moment.


The airline Emirates created a customer journey map to better reflect the multi-channel nature of its customer journey. 

The map illustrated three phases: reservations, check-in, and onboarding.

Space was also made for call center interactions and the context they provide for human service agents and interactive voice response (IRV) technology.

Furthermore, the four customer desires of comfort, confidence, safety, and freedom and control were placed in the corners of the map.

As a global brand, customers expect the same experience with Emirates regardless of the channel, touchpoint, or country.

To better understand customer expectations and coordinate touchpoints to deliver a consistent experience, the airline used the map to clarify several new measures.

One of these measures was a unified, virtual contact center platform to streamline interactions across all channels.

Other measures involved attaching experience goals to activities based on the impression of the end user.

These were relevant to the quality of the airport lounge, the perceived time spent waiting in a queue, and the clarity of airport signage.

The nature of the map itself also delivered a beneficial outcome.

Before a standardized and relatable map was created, Emirates’ multilingual workforce did not fully comprehend the customer journey and by extension, the company’s brand promise.

Today, the company notes that employees now commonly refer to passengers as “customers” instead.

Customer journey as an alternative to sales funnels

The sales funnel is a model used in marketing to represent an ideal, potential journey that potential customers go through before becoming actual customers. As a representation, it is also often an approximation, that helps marketing and sales teams structure their processes at scale, thus building repeatable sales and marketing tactics to convert customers.

A customer journey is a great addition to other more linear tools like the sales funnel, as it enables you to have a deeper understanding of how customers get to know your brand.

Therefore, removing assumptions about how customers interact with your brand. This is critical as it helps to act with fewer assumptions and drive more effective branding campaigns.

Key takeaways

  • The customer journey tells the story of a consumer’s experience from the first interaction with a brand to a point well beyond their last purchase.
  • For the business, crafting a compelling customer journey means taking the perspective of the customer. It must conduct analytical and anecdotal research to identify pain points, thoughts, and feelings that influence behavior. Then, it must visually represent the journey to identify obstacles and areas for improvement.
  • The customer journey helps an organization adopt an inbound marketing strategy with a focus on proactive customer service. This mindset creates satisfied customers who are more likely to be retained.

Connected Decision-Making Frameworks

Cynefin Framework

The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Personal SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Pareto Analysis

The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Blindspot Analysis

A Blindspot Analysis is a means of unearthing incorrect or outdated assumptions that can harm decision making in an organization. The term “blindspot analysis” was first coined by American economist Michael Porter. Porter argued that in business, outdated ideas or strategies had the potential to stifle modern ideas and prevent them from succeeding. Furthermore, decisions a business thought were made with care caused projects to fail because major factors had not been duly considered.

Comparable Company Analysis

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

SOAR Analysis

A SOAR analysis is a technique that helps businesses at a strategic planning level to: Focus on what they are doing right. Determine which skills could be enhanced. Understand the desires and motivations of their stakeholders.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Pestel Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

DESTEP Analysis

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Paired Comparison Analysis

A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced Scorecard

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