It’s All About Your Customer’s Journey

Stanley Marcus, who was president and chairman of the board of Neiman Marcus, was once quoted as saying:

Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.

Unfortunately, the normal day-to-day activities inside of companies make it very easy for all employees to forget this critical fact. So, over time, the decisions that companies make end up straying farther and farther away from addressing the actual needs of customers. I often describe this phenomenon by saying that companies are from Venus and customers are from Mars.

That’s why companies need to use tools and processes that reinforce an understanding of actual customer needs. One of the key tools in this area is something called a customer journey map (also known as a touchpoint map). Used appropriately, these maps can shift a company’s perspective from inside-out to outside-in.

I recently published (with a lot of help from Andrew McInnes, a researcher on our team) a report called Mapping The Customer Journey that examined best practices for building a customer journey map. The report defined these 5 steps for creating a customer journey map:

It turns out that one of my most-read posts over this past year contained this example of a customer journey map from Lego:


In addition to defining the process for creating these customer journey maps, the research also identified three areas that are critical for making them valuable:

  1. Widely sharing customer journey maps. To set the stage for companywide improvements, firms need to share insights from customer journey maps with stakeholders across the company.
  2. Taking action on the insight. Customer experience executives need to methodically identify and prioritize opportunities, while drawing on executive support and past successes to move their organizations forward.
  3. Sustaining the learnings over time. To keep journey maps alive, firms need to identify journey map owners and monitor customer feedback and organizational progress over time.

The bottom line: Your job is to enable your customers’ journey.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

10 thoughts on “It’s All About Your Customer’s Journey”

  1. Hi Bruce, The Journey Map is a great way to plot the journey and visuals ae generlly a better way to diseminate information to the organization. I typically work with smaller companies and Entrepreneurs, as well as teach Entrepreneurship. I wonder if you would suggest how to repurpose this to a smaller enterprise level? It would appear more hands on vs. formal research would be the key change?

    I am constantly ringing the bell in class that it is not Customer Service but Customer Experience that Entrepreneurs need to “get” to succeed in todays consumer market.

    All the best….

  2. As an information architect working on client websites as well as our own proprietary content management system (CMS), I take your comments to heart and appreciate them. The possibilities for incorporating these into our CMS interface are very timely. Also, our department has a shaky reputation among some clients. Perhaps this is something we could address with the map as well.

    Thanks very much!

  3. Hi Bruce,

    I love your post. Many organizations and legions of management consultants fail to implement sustainable change: they design the process around the tool or model they want to apply. We must turn that principle around and encourage leaders to design their specific model according to the needs that emerge in the change process.

    Obviously we got the same idea. This week we just launched our product The Change Journey Map ( Well your’s is more on understanding clients’ needs and our’s is about developing a client specific change model. I think it is the similar approach just a litle bit differently crafted.

    I will feature your article on our blog tomorrow – do you want to do the same and talk about smoe way of collaboration? And feel free to contribute to our community which we have created the Change Journey Map.

  4. This resonates very strongly with a lot of the work we have been doing to help our clients map their potential prospect’s buying decision journey. It’s an interesting challenge, since most of them are technology companies involved in complex, high-value B2B sales environments and are offering emerging, rather than established, solution categories.

    Nevertheless, it’s been possible to identify some consistent patterns. Our discovery process pretty much followed the model you set out. But when analyzing the results we found it was helpful to think of the buying journey as evolving through a sequence of phases separated by checkpoints. The checkpoints proved really important, since they offered observable evidence of how far the prospect had really traveled in their buying journey.

    There’s more detail on our website here:

    Thanks for elevating the awareness of the importance of the customer journey!


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