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What is a Customer Journey Map & Why Is it Important?

Successful business is about more than just a “rinse and repeat” of what you’ve always done. As a business leader, you need to make strategic decisions, diagnose and treat issues within your company, and implement needed changes. How can you make these kinds of decisions with confidence? A customer journey map is a powerful tool that can help.

This article will discuss:

  1. What is a customer journey map?
  2. Elements of a customer journey map
  3. Why customer journey maps matter
  4. The journey mapping process
  5. Customer journey map examples
  6. Learn how to deliver value to your customers through IMD

First, let’s look at a customer journey map and how it fits into a company’s overall strategy.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of every customer interaction with your brand. This maps out their journey from the first time they discover your company to becoming a returning customer. 

A customer journey map helps companies better understand the customer’s perspective and overall customer expectations.

This is a powerful tool because it gives companies valuable insight into how their customers interact with their brand, how they feel about it, and how likely they are to continue using it. A customer map with these kinds of details can help a company drastically improve the customer experience from beginning to end. When companies do this, stakeholders often notice increased customer acquisition and greater customer retention.

Elements of a customer journey map

Let’s take a closer look at each component of the customer journey map and how each functions.

Customer persona

A customer persona, or buyer persona, is a semi-fictional profile of your ideal customer, including their demographics, motivations, and behaviors. 

With this information, executives can make more informed decisions with their customer’s needs and wants in mind. It allows for better decision making that is more likely to delight their customers and grow the company. 


These phases are the stages of the buyer journey that a customer goes through on their way to making a purchase. Traditionally, these include awareness, consideration, and decision.

Separating a brand’s audience into these phases allows business executives to consider the needs of each phase as they make decisions. 


Touchpoints are instances and situations where your customer comes into contact with your company. 

As executives strive to create more positive touch points for their customers, it builds trust, credibility, and an attractive brand image. This can result in returning customers, thus increasing a customer’s lifetime value.

Pain points

Pain points are problems, inconveniences, and unmet needs that your customer experiences. When your company addresses or resolves a pain point, it increases customer satisfaction.

An executive who better understands the issues that their customers are facing can make decisions that speak directly to those pain points. This kind of brand empathy nurtures customer retention.  


Opportunities are ways that a brand can improve the customer experience at any phase of the customer’s journey.

When executives understand what opportunities exist, they can make smarter decisions that have potential to grow their business and pull ahead of their competitors.  

Why customer journey maps matter

A good customer journey map promotes a customer-centric approach and improves the future state of your brand. 

Essentially, this map helps you to:

  • Identify and remove roadblocks. A customer journey map highlights your weaknesses and problem areas — as well as how to fix them.
  • Understand your customers better. This map gives you a chance to walk in your customer’s shoes and experience your company from their perspective.
  • Improve customer retention and satisfaction. As you understand your customers’ wants and needs better, you can improve their overall experience and prevent customer churn.
  • Provide competitive differentiation. Leverage strategic customer insights to help you stand out from your competitors in a meaningful way that attracts more customers.
  • Make better decisions. With a reliable and well-researched customer journey map, you can make better decisions and set stronger business goals.
  • Enjoy better business outcomes. Businesses that use customer journey maps regularly see more customer acquisitions, stronger customer retention, improved overall ROI, and better strategy formulation.

The journey mapping process

Let’s look at how you can map your customer journey to take advantage of all its benefits.

1. Define the scope

While you can map your entire customer journey from beginning to end, it’s a lot of work. Instead, many companies find it easier to focus on a specific phase of the buyer’s journey where they’re experiencing problems, such as onboarding or post-purchase.

2. Gather data

Your “gut” will only get you so far. Data from customer feedback, surveys, interviews, market research, and your customer service team will give you a fuller picture of your customer journey and provide strategic customer insights.

3. Create customer personas

Customer personas give everyone, including your sales team and customer support, a clearer picture of your target audience.

A helpful customer persona includes:

  • Customer demographics: Their age, sex, location, job role, income range, etc.
  • Customer behavior: The emotions, attitudes, and preferences that impact their purchase decisions.
  • Customer needs: The psychological and physical motivations that play into someone’s purchase decisions.

Many organizations craft several types of customer personas to cover every segment of their audience.

4. Identify touchpoints

Outline every time your customers come into contact with your brand, including before, during, and after making a purchase. 

This goes across all of your channels, both online and offline, including your 

  • Website
  • Social media
  • Physical store locations
  • Customer support or customer service phone calls.

5. Document customer emotions and pain points

At each of your various touchpoints, you’ll need to understand your customer’s emotions and pain points. As you do this, you’ll capture key insights that help you develop a more empathetic view of your customer experience. 

6. Map the customer journey

Create a visual map, including flowcharts and timelines, of the customer journey. 

This visual mapping technique will help you identify at a glance the sequence of customer touchpoints, emotions, and pain points throughout the customer journey.

If you’re new to mapping, then you can find a customer journey map template or use one of the customer journey mapping tools available online.

7. Analyze and prioritize

As you analyze your map, you’ll be better able to brainstorm ways to improve your user journey and customer experience. Then it’s time to prioritize — determine which areas you can address, as well as what will have the greatest impact on your user experience. 

8. Test and iterate

Now it’s time to test out new methods and strategies. Monitor the success of each new strategy by tracking important metrics. These could be key performance indicators (KPIs) like customer retention and conversion rates. 

Remember, customer mapping is not a “one-and-done” technique. It’s a practice that companies need to continually refine based on customer feedback and evolving needs.

9. Share and implement

Make sure that all of your team members, including sales reps and stakeholders, receive copies of your findings from your journey mapping. This helps everyone in the organization to be on the same page and contribute to customer satisfaction.

As you share and implement the results of your customer journey map, your organization will begin to shift to a more customer-focused culture — success!

Customer journey map examples

Now that you’ve seen customer mapping in theory, let’s look at a couple of real-world examples that underscore the value of this practice. 


Let’s start with an example that most of us probably have on our phones right now — Spotify. This music streaming service ran into a bit of a bump in the road when it came to its music-sharing feature. This was a feature that they were excited to launch, but the majority of their audience did not initially share that enthusiasm. 

What stood in the way of their audience sharing the music they loved with their friends? That’s what Spotify wanted to find out — so they hired an agency to map out their customer journey stages as they related to their new sharing feature.

As they began mapping out this part of the customer journey, they tapped into customer surveys, research data, and customer service feedback. This helped them uncover customer pain points, needs, and roadblocks. 

According to one case study on this process, the customer journey map, along with usability studies, enabled them to confidently make changes to their app and sharing functionalities. Because of these changes, the team noticed an increase in sharing among their audience, which contributed to increased users and revenue.

Emirates Airlines

This global airline, which already had a robust, omnichannel strategy, was looking for a way to create a more consistent, high-quality experience for all of its customers around the world. To do this, they decided to create a customer journey map.

Emirates began by defining the scope of its customer mapping. This was to include their reservation, check-in, and onboarding processes.

Then they outlined their customer touchpoints, including their interactive voice response (IVR) technology and human customer service agents. This, along with customer feedback, allowed them to create an accurate picture of the process.

With this knowledge, Emirates was able to improve employee training, create clearer signage for customers, and develop a consistent brand image across their global enterprise. 

According to a case study, these changes resulted in a 7.3% increase in customer growth, making Emirates the third largest airline carrier in the world. Shortly after, they also went on to increase their fleet size, placing the single largest order in Boeing’s history up to that point.

Learn how to deliver value to your customers through IMD

Customer journey maps are a valuable tool that every brand needs in their toolkit. From your initial map to every follow-up map, you’ll learn more valuable information that will help you improve your customer experience. 

Would you like to harness the power of customer journey maps in your business?

IMD’s programs empower business leaders just like you to craft and leverage customer journey maps effectively, along with other marketing tools.

Join us for our course on Marketing Strategy in the Digital Age — an eight-week deep-dive into everything digital marketing transformation. The course not only highlights the latest marketing innovations, but it also opens your eyes to see your brand and customers in a whole new light. 

There are eight intensive units devoted to helping you reshape your customer journey, leverage valuable customer insights, tap into the latest in AI and marketing metrics, and so much more.

There is no better time to reinvigorate your marketing strategy. Enroll today and experience how a digital marketing approach can deliver a powerful boost to your brand.

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