What is a Customer Journey Map (CJM) and how to build it correctly

The Customer journey map (CJM), or user path map, is a tool that helps improve the customer experience. We tell you with examples how to build a map and with which tools it is more convenient to do it. 

Custom path maps are one of the most popular UX tools. They are presented in many ways, rolling out both on A4 sheets and covering the office corridors. The article is designed to help you navigate any CJM, regardless of format, context and goals.


What is a Customer Journey Map for?


Customer Journey Map (CJM) clearly displays the entire path of the client to achieve their goal, fully describing their interaction with the product or company at all points of contact.

The fact is that modern websites and programs, which can be called digital products, are usually part of a large service. And the further, the more digital products (websites, applications) will be involved in user interaction.

What is a service? A service is the result of at least one action, necessarily carried out during the interaction of the supplier and the consumer, and, as a rule, is immaterial.

CJM is a directed graph on which the path of the consumer of the provided service is displayed using contact points. CJM records the details of the interaction with the service.

That is, CJM displays exactly how the consumer interacts with the service — which points of interaction exist, through which channels the interaction is carried out (web, mobile application, offline point of presence, and so on), as well as what happens inside each point of contact.


You should use a custom path map (like most UX maps) for the following reasons: 


  • Firstly, the process of creating a map leads to an unambiguous dialogue and a unified mental model of all team members. It is a solid fact that a piecemeal understanding of the work of a product or process is a very common problem in companies, since each team has its own metrics for evaluating the results of work, and there is no one who would be responsible for the entire work process from the user's point of view. Therefore, a holistic understanding of the interaction between the user and the product is the main and most important goal of the CJM card, because without it, an agreement on how to improve the user experience will never be achieved. 
  • Secondly, the map as a common artifact obtained by mapping the user path can be used to share with everyone involved in the development of the product/service their understanding of the user or service.

Customer Journey Map is an effective mechanism for delivering information in a clear, memorable form and creating a common, unified vision of the situation. At the same time, path maps can also serve as an excellent basis for making decisions on the path of product development.


Instructions for compiling a Customer Journey Map (CJM)

In the simplest version, the map is constructed as follows:

  • Display all user actions on the timeline.
  • Then supplement the timeline with barriers, insights, thoughts and emotions of the user to create a story. This story should be as clear and clear as possible in order to eventually show us a complete picture of the user's interaction with the product.
  • The concepts of “user path map” and “client path map” are completely interchangeable. They both mean a visual picture of how the characters use your product or service. Of course, you can start arguing that the word “customer” is confusing, since for some products (especially in the b2b segment), not all end users are customers (and it is the customer who buys the product). But it's better to focus on what the map shows us, not what it's called.


What is important to consider when building CJM: CJM development scheme

The Customer Journey Map may look completely different, but regardless of this, each path map should have the following 5 key elements:


The doer

A doer is a person or user who performs a series of actions to achieve their goal. The user that the path map tells about is a certain point of view. Users are usually equivalent to personas and characters, but their actions should be displayed on the map based on analytical data.

Tip: To create the clearest and most visual picture possible, use only 1 person for each card. For example, to build path maps for a university, you can choose either a student or a teacher as a person. In this case, we will have 2 completely independent maps with different points of view. This will help us see a more complete picture.


Scenario and user expectations

The scenario describes the situation for which the Customer Journey Map is being built, as well as the user's goals in this situation, their needs and specific expectations. 

For example, the scenario may be a change of the mobile tariff plan in order to save more money, and in this situation the user will expect that he will easily be able to find all the necessary information to decide which tariff it is better for him to switch to. 

Scenarios can be real (if we are talking about an existing product or service), or assumed — for products that are still being developed. 

Customer Journey Maps is best suited for the following scenarios:

Scenarios that consist of a sequence of events (shopping or traveling)

Scenarios that describe a process (meaning a change of state over time)

Scenarios that include several channels of customer interaction with the product.


User Path Stages

The stages of the user path map are the various significant stages of the user's journey. They help organize the rest of the information on the map: actions, thoughts and emotions. These stages will vary from scenario to scenario, and usually each organization should have the necessary information that helps determine the stages for the selected scenario.

Let's look at some examples of CJM:

  • For the scenario of online stores (for example, the purchase of Bluetooth speakers), the stages may be as follows: model selection, testing, purchase, use, contacting support. 
  • For large (or luxury level) purchases (test drive or car purchase), the stages may be as follows: purchase agreement, research, study, quality assessment, purchase confirmation.
  • For a scenario from the b2b segment (deployment of a new tool within the company), the stages can be as follows: purchase, implementation, customer retention, expansion with new capabilities, support.


Actions, way of thinking and emotions of the user

For each stage of the path map, it is necessary to specify the actions, way of thinking and emotions of the user.

Actions are the actual behavior and steps performed by the user. Actions do not need to describe every minor step and record them in chronological order. This is rather just a story about the steps that the user is performing at the current stage. 

The way of thinking implies the user's thoughts, questions that arise, motivations and needs for specific information at different stages of their journey. Ideally, these are verbatim expressions from user studies.

Emotions are depicted as a separate line, crossing all the stages of the path and literally signal to us about the “ups” and “downs” of the user experience. Thus, this line tells us where the user is satisfied and where he is disappointed.


Opportunities for improvement

Capabilities (along with metrics and responsible persons) are a general understanding of the problem and conclusions obtained during the construction and analysis of the user path map. They tell us how the user experience can be optimized, and which team is responsible for what.


Conclusion and recommendation

Customer Journey Map is a system that will help your team clearly and holistically understand the entire user experience by identifying both pain points and moments when the user experienced joy and satisfaction. 

If you map the user path correctly, it will help eliminate the pain points of users, lead the team to a common vision, and eventually improve the interaction of the product with the user.