What is a customer journey map?

Last updated: March 2024

A customer journey map is a representation of all the ways customers interact with your company or product throughout the buyer journey. It visualizes touchpoints across stages — from first becoming aware of your offering through to purchase and (ideally) loyalty. Customer journey maps typically align each interaction to what the customer is doing, thinking, and feeling along the way. By viewing the journey from the customer's perspective, you can broaden your empathy of their overall experience and improve it.

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Customer journey map large

A whiteboard covering different considerations for customer journey mapping

Components of a customer journey map

The components of your journey map will depend on what your company or team need. Typically, the customer journey is mapped from left to right with stages mapped horizontally and key touchpoints, customer reactions, and opportunities mapped vertically.

Below is a typical list of what you will find on a customer journey map and what to consider for each element:

Customer journey stages

What to consider


How do customers learn about our product or service?


How do customers evaluate our product or service?


What do customers do when they are ready to purchase?


How do customers accomplish their goals with our product or service?


How do we achieve customer loyalty?

Discussion points

What to consider


What is the customer doing in this stage?


What parts of our product, service, or company do they interact with?


What is the customer feeling at this stage?


What is getting in the way of customers moving to the next stage?


How can we improve this step and remove roadblocks?

Related: Understanding the buyer's journey


Customer journey maps vs. user journey maps

As a product builder, you are probably familiar with user journey mapping — also called a user flow. Both customer journey maps and user journey maps are helpful for product development and center on the customer's perspective. But each has a distinct purpose — along with varying components and ownership.

At a basic level, a customer journey map covers touchpoints across the entire customer experience, while a user journey map narrows in on how a user moves through your product.

A venn diagram with icons that shows the differences between customer journey maps and user journey maps

Understanding these key differences will help you know when to rely on each one:

Customer journey map

User journey map


Provides a high-level view of the entire customer journey and touchpoints throughout — highlighting ways to improve the entire CPE

Provides a product-level view of a user's flow through a discrete area of your product, such as a checkout flow or onboarding flow


  • Stages: Awareness, consideration, decision, retention, advocacy

  • Discussion points: Actions, touchpoints, feelings, roadblocks, opportunities

  • Specific scenario and user goal

  • User actions


Broad cross-functional product development team including product management, marketing, sales, and support

Core product team including product management, UX, and engineering



Can be ongoing or during release planning

While customer journey maps and user journey maps have different use cases, the two can work together to drive alignment on the problems you want to solve. For example, your customer journey map may highlight that customers drop off during self-serve account creation. You could carry this observation over to user journey mapping — as a proof point for prioritizing functionality to simplify the signup process.

It is worth noting that your organization may use different terminology. Stick with what works for you — it is more important to align on purpose and process than semantics.



How to create a customer journey map

Let's jump in. You are ready to build a customer journey map and rally stakeholders across teams. With some upfront planning, you can make sure it is a valuable use of everyone's time — generating healthy debate and experimentation.

Follow these steps to get started:

1. Set your objectives

Goals matter — especially when bringing together cross-functional teammates who have their own OKRs. Consider what you want to collectively achieve and how you will measure outcomes. Think in terms of customer value and growth, rather than merely conversion.

2. Choose a customer persona

Focus on a particular customer persona or user type and tailor the exercise to them. If you build multiple maps, start with your most common persona.

3. Conduct initial customer research

You cannot guess what your customers are thinking or feeling. Do some research to gain insight on your customers' perspectives. Dig into what your team has heard in recent customer conversations or, even better, do some outreach of your own to learn about their goals, wants, and needs.

4. Set up a way to collaborate

Cross-functional input is the only way to get a fully nuanced view of customer interactions. When building your customer journey map, invite representatives to a working meeting or a shared whiteboard so they can offer their insights.

5. Start mapping

Mapping is a multi-day process. Take your time as you gather inputs.

  • Starting with Actions, discuss this point for each stage of the customer journey.

  • Working row-by-row, fill out Actions for all stages before moving onto Touchpoints.

  • Use sticky notes to capture ideas in each section.

  • When you get to Roadblocks, pause to discuss before moving onto Opportunities.

  • Vote on the best Opportunities to move forward with.

6. Make a plan

Your customer journey map is just the beginning. Consider how will you address the problems and opportunities you uncover. Compare the ideas you identified with existing items in your backlog. Discuss ways to augment or adjust your plans for upcoming program or product enhancements to incorporate findings from customer journey mapping.

7. Revisit and update

As your company and teams evolve, so will your customer journey. Revisit the customer journey map and create new ones to spark ideas for future innovation.

At first, customer journey mapping might feel largely like guesswork, especially if you have minimal customer data to learn from. But starting somewhere is better than nowhere. A customer journey map is not a static document — iterate and improve on it as you grow.