How to create a customer journey map

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
 and 
  —  
January 6, 2023
A group of people meeting around a desk with a whiteboard in an office

Creating a customer journey map can help you gain a deeper understanding of the steps, interactions, and emotions that a customer experiences as they move through their journey.

In this blog post, we’ll cover what we mean by a journey map, the benefits and challenges, and provide a step-by-step guide to building your own, including free (and editable) templates you can share with your team.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the steps and experiences a customer has as they interact with a business, product, or service. It can be used to identify areas of friction, understand customer preferences, and create a personalized experience for each customer.

By creating a customer journey map, businesses can gain insight into how customers move from awareness to purchase, and build meaningful relationships with them.

Why is it important to map the customer journey?

  • Customer journey maps provide businesses with an in-depth understanding of the steps and experiences of their customers.
  • They can help identify pain points in the customer experience and identify areas for improvement.
  • Customer journey maps can be used to personalize the customer experience, creating a more meaningful relationship with customers.
  • They can help businesses identify new opportunities and growth areas.
  • Customer journey maps can help teams create and manage customer-centric strategies.

Benefits and challenges of customer journey mapping

Creating a customer journey map can provide businesses with invaluable insights into their customers' experiences, while also presenting some challenges in terms of gathering customer data and creating a strategy to address customer pain points.

Benefits of customer journey mapping

Creating a customer journey map can provide businesses with invaluable insights into their customers' experiences. It can help identify pain points in the customer experience, understand customer preferences, create a personalized experience for each customer across different touch points, and identify new opportunities and growth areas. It also helps teams create and manage customer-centric strategies, which can help businesses stay ahead of the competition.

Challenges of customer journey mapping

Creating an accurate customer journey map can be challenging, as it requires gathering customer data from multiple sources and understanding customer needs and preferences. It can also be difficult to create an actionable strategy to address customer pain points, as different customers may have different needs and preferences. Additionally, customer journey maps can quickly become outdated, making it important for businesses to stay up-to-date on customer trends and preferences.

How to create a customer journey map

To build your customer journey map, you’ll need to follow the seven steps below. Each of these steps has multiple components that require cross-functional teamwork, making having a shared, digital space key to your success.

Duration: 2 hours

Participants: 2-10 people

1. Gather customer data from multiple sources, such as surveys, interviews, online reviews, and analytics.

The first step in creating an actionable customer journey map is to ensure that you have a very solid understanding of your customers. Without a deep appreciation for their experience and a holistic view of your interactions, it’s impossible to capture accurate insights or make informed decisions.

2. Analyze the data to understand customer needs and preferences.

It is essential to thoroughly analyze customer needs and preferences in order to create an effective customer journey map that accurately reflects the customer experience. This is where you’ll be challenging any assumptions you may have had and beginning to look for patterns or insights that can be drawn from the data impact the overall experience.

3. Identify key customer touchpoints and create a timeline of the customer journey.

An image from the Mural experience diagramming template
The Mural experience diagramming template can be a great place to start

Once you’ve done your analysis, it’s time to start mapping your customer journey. To map the experience, you should:

  • Narrow your focus to a facet of your customer experience (for example, when building solutions for Agile teams, you may want to focus on a particular ritual, like a retrospective)
  • Decide on a single user, customer, or persona whose experience your diagram will represent
  • Using sticky notes, have your team collect all the places, people, and items your persona will interact with (be as comprehensive as possible)
  • Make sure you include instances where you have less control (e.g., the timing of a meeting vs. the structure)
  • Consider the aspects of the experience that may be connected, even — especially — where those connections may not be immediately obvious

For this, a visual, collaborative platform like Mural can be a huge help, allowing you to connect what may seem like disparate elements of an overall experience, painting an accurate picture of your customers’ experience as a whole.

4. Identify areas of friction and opportunities for improvement.

An image from the Rose, Thorn, Bud & affinity clusters Mural template
An example from the Mural Rose, Thorn, Bud template

After documenting the existing state of a person’s experience, it’s time to focus on key moments to deepen your understanding. Visualize the journey as pain points, bright spots, and opportunities to create a clear picture of how to improve the product or service experience, overall.

Things to do:

  • Bring together the team that created the Experience Diagram(s) or people who are familiar with the experience
  • Review your notes and any other artifacts collected during diagramming or early research (notes, photos, audio or video files, etc.)
  • Select three colors of sticky notes (physical or digital) to capture Roses, Thorns, and Buds — we recommend Pink (Roses), Blue (Thorns), and Green (Buds) — to capture what is going well, what needs improvement, and any opportunities to expand upon in the future

5. Create an actionable strategy to address customer pain points.

Now that you’ve conducted your analysis and brainstormed ways to improve, it’s time to turn all that good information into actionable next steps.

Once you’ve organized all the information into categories, you can assign teammates to specific tasks all within the same visual platform, so everyone knows who is working on what, and expectations are transparent for every team member.

6. Test and refine the customer journey map.

Once you have a prototype of your customer journey map, you can begin to test it. You might start by applying your changes to a segment of your audience’s experience, and seeing what the preliminary results tell you. If it works, do more of it. If it’s not working so well, gather your team again to analyze performance and see what might be negatively affecting the experience.

7. Monitor customer trends and preferences to ensure the customer journey map stays up-to-date.

Iterate, iterate, iterate. Just because you’ve successfully created a customer journey map doesn’t mean the work is finished. As you begin to implement your changes, you’ll also be collecting new feedback — use that data loop to continuously improve your customer experience by returning to check in and reflect on progress with your team at regular intervals.

Customer journey mapping templates

Mural offers free, customizable customer journey mapping templates that you can share with unlimited members, so your whole team can get engaged.

Customer journey map template

The Mural customer journey map template, built by the Product School, has five components: entice, enter, engage, exit, and extend. Each of these steps includes a breakdown of interactions, goals and motivations, positive and negative moments, and opportunities for improvement.

An image of the Mural customer journey map template
Mural's customer journey map template

Experience diagramming template

With the Mural experience diagramming template, you can pull back and come to grips with an individual experience for a customer, allowing you to consider each interaction in a more open, but also more granular way.

An image of the Mural experience diagramming template
The Mural experience diagramming template

Rose, thorn, bud and affinity clusters template

The Mural rose, thorn, bud & affinity clusters template, built by the experts at the LUMA Institute (part of Mural’s Collaboration Design Institute), is a great brainstorming tool that allows your team to identify as many positive and negative aspects of a customer journey, while also providing space to investigate opportunities and organize feedback.

Use this template after the experience diagramming template to effectively map the interactions and emotions in a customer’s journey.

An image of the Mural Rose, Thorn, Bud template
Gather actionable feedback with Mural's Rose, Thorn, Bud & affinity clusters template

Customer journey maps are a stepping-stone to a better experience

Creating an actionable customer journey map is essential for businesses to stay ahead of the competition and provide a meaningful customer experience. By turning the customer journey map into actionable next steps, businesses can identify areas of friction in the customer experience, understand customer needs and preferences, create a personalized experience for each customer, and identify new opportunities for growth.

Mural makes extraordinary teamwork simple. Get started building your customer journey map today with a Mural Free Forever plan, and invite unlimited team members, so that you can ensure broad engagement and valuable insights that can be easily lost in traditional meetings, or with traditional brainstorming methods.

Join Mural for free

About the author

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.