A 2021 Guide to Creating a Customer Journey Map

There are so many products on the market that offer the same value as yours.

In order to get ahead of them and appeal to users, you have to design a product that solves their problem in the least amount of time possible with minimal pain points.

But how do you know what their exact problem is? Amount of time they are willing to spend solving that problem? The pain points?

In order to get an answer to these questions, you have to know what your customers are going through when they get your product, use it, and achieve success.

Best way to do this: establishing and using Customer Journey Maps.

What is a Customer Journey Map?

Customer journey maps encapsulate the customers’ experience of a product, and how they progress through the various stages of using it.

It helps in the design of the product where your priority is providing users with a smooth and satisfying experience. It also helps show stakeholders and possible investors what the product or the service will provide for users and how it will achieve it.

The Customer Journey is particularly helpful to the UI and UX teams and is absolutely key for building the final deliverables. Knowing what Point A and Point B are is crucial for understanding how to get the user from one to the other.

Customer Journey Map 1

Why are Customer Journey Maps important?

A Customer Journey map has different benefits for the different groups involved in the product’s development.

For the product team, mapping Customer Journey is ideal for figuring out user behavior and how they’ll interact with the product.

Having this data helps to create a positive and more seamless experience. The layout and design of your product should help your users to satisfy their needs as quickly as possible, and a map helps you work out how best to achieve that.

A product that hasn’t yet been built can feel like an abstract concept and can be difficult to explain. Stakeholders greatly benefit from having a narrative that breaks down exactly what a product does and how it benefits the user, as it helps to inform their decisions.

The marketing teams will also need to have an understanding of how the product actually works. The narrative that the Customer Journey map creates will help greatly with the storytelling aspect of marketing.

To summarise, without a Customer Journey Map, you risk some people involved in the product lifecycle not fully understanding, or misunderstanding, vital information about what users will get out of the product. You also risk losing important data on how customers will interact and what their experience of the product will be.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map?

There is no doubt that creating an accurate Customer Journey Map is never an easy task.

You will have to understand what you want to gain from a journey map before the challenging research period, but there is nothing to be afraid of because the resources spent on the Customer Journey Map will be worth the benefits you get from it.

It will serve as a guiding star for every internal team of your business.

When it comes to creating a Customer Journey Map, there are 3 main phases a business has to go through:

  • 1 – Preparation: discuss the reasons for creating this map, define the points you are going to research
  • 2 – Research: conduct thorough research with real customers, gather data
  • 3 – Creation: organize the data you have gathered, create a customer journey map using it
Customer Journey Map 2

Let’s dig into how each of these works and what to pay attention to during these phases.

1 – Preparation

Preparation is the most crucial part of creating a Customer Journey Map.

It is the phase where you understand what aspects of your customer’s experience with your product should be included in the map according to your company’s needs and what questions to ask during your research.

What you should establish during this phase are as follows:

  • Define the reasons for creating a Customer Journey Map
  • Discuss which insights of customers’ journey are needed on the map with your development, sales, marketing, and customer service teams
  • Define your target audience
  • Develop a method to conduct your research
  • Ready your research questions

The key points to pay attention during the preparation phase are making sure your discussions with your teams are thorough and your research methods along with your research questions are well-thought so that they provide you with a reliable outcome.

2 – Research

Research is an easier phase compared to the Preparation Phase, but it might last longer.

You want to have as much data gathered during the User Research as possible so that you don’t come to incorrect conclusions. Gathering this much data from users can take a long time, but again, the product you are going to receive is worth it.

What you need to have done before moving on to creating a Customer Journey Map are:

  • Making sure the information you get from your users are reliable
  • Gathering more than enough data to make the correct conclusions
  • Categorizing and arranging the data to make concluding easier

After you have all the information you need to answer your questions in a way that will satisfy your internal teams, you are ready to create the first draft of your Customer Journey Map.

3 – Creation

Now that you have all the data you needed, it is time to get started with your first draft of a journey map.

You don’t have to create a Customer Journey Map from scratch, there are tons of tools and templates on the internet that does it for you.

Tools such as Smartlook, Hotjar, UXPressia are the most common tools used for Customer Journey Mapping according to this Capterra list.

UXPressia also provides you with free Customer Journey Map templates, click here to browse.

After you have selected the right template for your business, all you have to do is to put the right information in the right section, check one more time and you are ready to go.

What you should have done before you present your first Customer Journey map to your teams, stakeholders, and investors are:

  • Ensuring that you have used the right template
  • Making sure that the map is easy to read
  • Double-checking the sections so that every piece of information is located at where it should be
  • Sending it to someone that has a decent amount of experience with Customer Journey Maps for a check

After you have done all these, your first Customer Journey Map should be presentable.

A good Customer Journey map takes each step the user takes along this path into consideration, making sure that there are no pitfalls.

However, the original Customer Journey map may look very different from what users actually experience after launch. Once you start receiving feedback, or new technologies become more mainstream, the Customer Journey will need to be adapted accordingly.

Updating the Customer Journey Map based on feedback and data is the best way to keep long-term users happy.

For further reading, here are our related articles on the subject:


Frequently Asked Questions


👤 Whose job is it in a business to create a Customer Journey Map?

Customer Journey Map acts as a guiding-star to all the teams in a company, however, product managers are mainly responsible for creating them.


❓Why should I create a Customer Journey Map?

Customer Journey Maps should be created to understand the needs, motivations, and thoughts of your customers when they use your products or services.


⌛️ When is the right time to create a Customer Journey Map?

Although a Customer Journey Map could be created at any time, the best time to do it is before developing your product to ensure that your products serve the customers as well as possible.

Customer Journey Map

Selman Gokce

Selman Gokce is the Senior Inbound Marketer of UserGuiding. He is highly invested in user onboarding and digital adoption, especially for SaaS, and he writes on these topics for the UserGuiding blog. When he's not writing, you can find him either listening to LOTR soundtracks while cooking or getting angry because he lost in a video game.

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