What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a diagram that visually represents the various steps a customer goes through in engagement with your company. This can be with a product, service, online and in-person interaction, or a combination.

The Benefits of a Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map has a wealth of benefits. It allows for the optimization of the customer onboarding process. It helps in comparative analysis in regard to the desired experience of the customer as opposed to the experience they are actually receiving. Customer journey maps also serve as a mechanism to help understand differences in buyer personas as they move from being a prospective customer to a buyer. Your business also benefits from customer journey maps by creating a logical order for the journey of your buyers. It also simply helps you understand your customers better.

How to create a Customer Journey Map

An important thing to note about customer journey maps is that they are often not linear. The reason for this is that buyers rarely take a linear point A to point B approach in their buyer journey. There is regular back-and-forth and cyclical activity. This being the case, customer journey mapping can be difficult to visualize, which has led business leaders to employ a variety of methods to illustrate it. Before creating a customer journey map, an extensive process of data collection should take place.

This data collection process begins with drafting the path a customer should take with your business to reach a goal. List each stage of the typical buying process horizontally. These stages are problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, purchase, and post-purchase evaluation.

You will also include user actions, mapping details about what the customer does during each stage of the buying process.

Emotions will also be included. If the journey is long or complicated, your customer will likely feel a range of emotions throughout. This could range from excitement about the purchase to remorse for missing out on a sale. Having emotions as part of the map can help you direct negative or positive emotions during the journey so that any negativity is not directed towards your brand. Including pain points as part of the map can help you track at which points any negative emotions occurred and determine their cause.

You will also want to include touchpoints on your map, so it is important to know what these are. These are the instances where your customer comes in direct contact with your business, thereby having the chance to form an opinion.

With all of that data collected, here are the steps involved in the actual creation of your customer journey map using that data.

  • Set clear objectives.
  • Make profiles of your personas and their goals.
  • Highlight your target customers.
  • List all touchpoints.
  • Identify elements you want your map to express.
  • Take stock of all resources, currently available and those that are needed.
  • Take the customer journey yourself.
  • Make the changes that are needed.

What is a Process Map?

A process map is a visual representation of all the steps involved in a particular process. It can be quite detailed and also contain timelines.

The Benefits of a Process Map

With a process map, you can illustrate the flow of information and materials, make clear all the tasks that are associated with a process, all the decisions that need to be made along the way, when exactly the steps need to be taken, and the relationships between them.

How to Create a Process Map

In creating a process map, you will first identify the problem, the process that needs visualization. This will be the title of the document and be put at the top. You will then brainstorm the activities that will be included, the level of detail to include, and who does what as well as when. Next, you will decide on boundaries, meaning when the process will start and stop. Then, you sequence the steps. After this, you will assign a corresponding shape to each element. Typically, ovals show the beginning/end of a process, rectangles show an activity, arrows represent the direction of flow, diamonds show a decision point, and parallelograms show inputs/outputs. Finally, you will review the process map with your team to ensure there is consensus.

Customer Journey Map vs Process Map: What’s the Difference?

Customer journey maps and process maps both illustrate flow. They are looking at an experience from two different perspectives. Process maps tend to take the view of the company, while customer journey maps look at experiences from the perspective of the customer. A process map typically uses terms and jargon that are internal to the company and would not likely make much sense to a customer, while a customer journey map uses the language of the customer to describe their own individual experience interacting with your business.

Customer Journey Map vs Process Map: Who would use A and/or B?

There are many instances when a process map is preferred, particularly when a business needs to address internal processes in order to enhance the customer experience. The key ingredient missing that puts a process map at a disadvantage, however, is that it lacks the major benefit of looking at your product/service through the actual eyes of the customer. A customer journey map can be used to figure out what steps in the manufacturing or marketing process need to be addressed in order to better the experience of the customer.

Choosing Between Customer Journey Map and Process Map: Real World Scenarios

A company that creates one-of-a-kind memorabilia creates a customer journey map to get a better view of the experience of its customers in the purchasing of their memorabilia. This includes all the steps from the customer seeing an online ad, clicking a link to be navigated to the company website, browsing through the custom options available, interacting with a customer service representative, waiting on the delivery of the order, and so on. It is determined that too many customers have the same experience of having to wait too long for the fulfillment of their orders. In response, the company opts to create a process map in order to see where adjustments can be made to steps in the workflow in order to cut down on the wait time until order fulfillment, thereby improving the overall customer experience.


For most companies, the best strategy is to utilize both process maps and customer journey maps in tandem. This way, you get the internal perspective of the company from the process map as well as be able to have an understanding of the experiences of the customer through a customer journey map.

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