How to use Customer Journey Map – different shades of a single tool

jak używać Customer Journey Map


We discover a new tool, we analyse the examples on the Internet, we introduce it into our own process… so that after the very first use, we could find out that the information we have learned from it is useless for us. Why does this sometimes happen? Is it because of the tool or maybe because of us and our lack of competence? Usually neither is the problem – we simply forget that a tool should work for us, not the other way around.


Customer or User?

While searching for information you have certainly come across both Customer Journey Map and User Journey Map. What is the difference between them?

In terms of structure… practically none. As in many cases, we focus too much on terminology, instead of focusing on the most important aspect, i.e. adjusting the tool to us. After all, if we want to consider the path of e.g. recruitment, what stands in the way of calling it Recruiter Journey Map? Or Employee? Will this make the tool less effective? No – and that’s what this change in thinking is about. For the sake of clarity, I will describe Customer Journey Map in the article, but remember that the name does not matter.


The whole idea of how to use Customer Journey Map is based on one scheme:

A user who, through specific actions and situations (scenario), pursues a specific goal.


how to use Customer Journey Map


We can compare it to the well-known bear’s quest for honey. The bear, as our user, has to walk through a specific path, find a nest and fight the bees before he can reach his goal – getting some honey. His journey doesn’t end with eating sweet combs either – he may have to do extra work after the feast to clean his fur from sticky honey or get rid of painful blisters.

Naturally, in the real world the bears don’t like honey at all (their favourite snack is maggot), but this simple story perfectly illustrates the entire idea of the core of this map. Sticking to theoretical basis, as defined by the Nielsen Norman Group, we can describe this tool as:


jak używać Customer Journey Map

By creating such a path, we combine two very powerful design values: storytelling and visualization, creating a common vision and a holistic view on user experience.


When and how to use Customer Journey Map?

We now know, more or less, what this tool is – but why, when and how to use Customer Journey Map?

The main reason that should motivate us to use this tool is to recognize the problems and reasons behind the user’s behavior with the chosen “product”. Making Customer Journey Map helps us organize the gathered knowledge, as well as highlight areas where knowledge or actions are still missing.

Apart from the reason mentioned above, this tool offers us much more benefits than we usually notice:

  • together with our team (or teams), we build a common vision of what user actions look like,
  • the perspective focuses much more on the user than the product, making it easier for us to understand his behavior, problems, and the processes occurring, 
  • by arranging the acquired information, we can more easily create project assumptions and see the so-called “hidden truth”, which requires a more holistic view of the whole process,
  • discovering the main pains of the user and the high intensity of negative emotions, gives rise to changes in the process to improve the user experience.

how to use Customer Journey Map

Duration of the use of this tool in the research process also depends solely on us. Under classic circumstances, Customer Journey Map is mainly used to map information collected in research (especially qualitative information such as interviews, observations, etc.) in order to visualize the real path, problems and contact points in one place. In this case, the information we put on the map is validated. 

However, the potential of this tool cannot concentrate only on visualizing research data! Creating an initial path from the very beginning of the process, based on hypotheses (e.g. only on interviews with the client), allows to identify areas that require spending more time on validating, gathering information or simply increasing the awareness of the client or other people in the team. The only thing to remember is that at least proto-personas (i.e. hypothetical persona – user characteristics based on as yet unproven assumptions) is required for any action.

Customer Journey Map can also be considered as the first stage of organizational reconstruction – visualizing the path enables to notice gaps and problem areas. Once everything has been put together, we can take a holistic look at the whole process and notice the relationships between the different stages. Creating a map together also builds a better understanding within the organization. While individual teams usually work on specific actions in a specific stage (e.g. only when acquiring a client), a shared look at the whole process makes it easier to understand all the connections between individual stages and actions.


Customer Journey Map from scratch

In order to analyse the classic canvas Customer Journey Map thoroughly, we distinguish three main zones:  

  1. Story background – including the profile of the user (proto-persona, persona), scenario (general description of the story the map presents) and the goals and expectations of the user regarding the process (what they want to achieve, what is important for them).
  2. User experience – includes the timeline and actions that occur on it chronologically. It’s also where we map all of the user’s thoughts, emotions they encounter, points of contact and other elements that we consider to be key to the project.
  3. Insight – the chances and actions to be taken by the team. Here you can write down all the conclusions, ideas for solving problems and, finally, assign specific people to the tasks to be performed in order to improve the user’s experience.

how to use Customer Journey Map

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    Why shouldn’t you forget about the emotions on the map? Imagine the following scenario, where we have a product that is already on the market. Users are happy to use the product for the first time, but they don’t return. We have distinguished several problems in the whole process – prioritizing them functionally, we would usually focus on the problems during the use of the product, blaming them for the lack of comeback as they seem to be the biggest. Juxtaposing emotions according to the timeline can show us the largest clusters of positive and negative emotions. So it may turn out, for example, that too many small flaws at the end of the process cause so many negative emotions that they cause the user not to return. The problem selected at the beginning is important, of course, but it can be compensated for by other positive feelings and fixing it will not have as much impact on the user’s return as providing a better experience at the very end of the path.

    Customer Journey Map as a tool offers a very large room for customization. Personalization may be carried out not only visually, but also in terms of adding extra elements necessary for the project or even combining paths of two users – all depending on what is the main purpose of using the tool. 

    How to use Customer Journey Map in a real project and how to customize it? Where to start and how to gather information? You will learn this in the second part of this article.

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    Agnieszka Zygmunt
    Agnieszka performs analyzes, conducts research, and experiments. She specializes in Product Discovery research and helps create solutions focused on the real user needs.

    She takes a holistic view of the design process accounting for t all factors that may affect the final user experience. In her work, she combines her analytical skills with a high level of empathy and love of science.

    Co-creator of the Proste Rozmowy podcast. Privately involved in non-profit projects supporting those who need it most.

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