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Creating a customer journey map is key to growing and retaining customers. Here’s our guide to customer journey maps and why they matter.

If your business/organization has been selling products and services online for some time, you’ve probably seen potential customers spend a long time on your website and add products to their shopping cart only to leave at the last moment.

Why would something like this happen? Why are some sales not linear in nature?

To answer these questions, you need to understand your buyer persona and learn to map out your ideal customer’s journey in a way that reflects their real behavior.

In this article, we’ll explain what customer journey maps are, and how you can use a customer journey map template to visually sketch out the purchasing process for your product or service (e.g. an online course).

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What is a “Customer Journey Map”?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the way your potential customer interacts with your brand, from the moment of the first encounter to the actual time of purchase.

As every customer journey is a process, its mapping involves lots of steps, which might seem irrational at times. The key is to remember to describe your customer’s touchpoints based on real customer experiences rather than your own perspective.

Why customer journey maps matter

There’s a simplistic but prevalent view of online sales: someone gets referred to your website or clicks on the ad, gets interested in your content and eventually buys from you.

Most of the time, this is not the case. The experience that customers go through when they come across your business/organization makes a world of difference. Some of them might talk to your customer service team, others might reach out on social media and some more might stumble upon your website looking for something completely different (e.g. an answer to their problem on your blog).

An effective customer journey map takes note of every interaction with your brand and allows you to accurately predict the customer experience.

What to include in your customer journey map

You can scroll through multiple customer journey map examples online, but the best way to get comprehensive information on the subject is through books. Consider picking up The Journey Mapping Playbook by Jerry Angrave.

In the book, Mr. Angrave describes a customer journey map as “the narrative of what your customers do, think and feel when they do business with you in a way that helps you drive meaningful change.”

Most customer journey map templates are different but, in general, they try to touch upon similar concepts:

  • User actions
  • Brand touchpoints
  • Emotions
  • Pain points
  • Solutions

All these are then mapped on various stages of your customer conversion funnel:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision
  • Service / Loyalty

User actions

The key part of your customer journey map is trying to predict the most likely user (or visitor) actions at every stage of the buying process, from looking at online ads to sharing their positive experience with friends.

Tip: Try to consider all the ways customers might achieve certain goals outlined by your busines/organization.

Brand touchpoints

Outline where all the user actions are taking place. Are your potential customers looking at ad banners? Are they on your landing page? Are they reading your newsletter?

Having a complete list of brand touchpoints will help you steer your customers in the right direction.


Contrary to our expectations, not all brand touchpoints result in positive emotions (e.g. repeatedly ending up on the error page). That’s why aligning user emotions with actions and touchpoints is essential to maintaining brand reputation.

Pain points

Inspect all the causes of negative emotions for your users and customers, from having to go through too many steps to sign up to their form of payment not being accepted, or shipping to their address not being supported.


Pain points are issues that can be turned into to-dos and potential solutions, from building more effective user flows to improving customer support.

How to create a winning customer journey map

While it seems like gathering customer feedback and sketching out a customer journey map is easy — very few businesses and organizations do it right.

“Most customer journey maps are critically flawed,” say Mark S.Rosenbaum, Mauricio Losada Otalora and Germán Contreras Ramírez, the authors of the paper “How to create a realistic customer journey map” published in Business Horizons.

They assume all customers of a particular organization experience the same organizational touchpoints and view these touchpoints as equally important.

The key to creating a successful customer journey map is conducting thorough research on how a customer interacts with your brand and observing customer feelings every step of the way.

You should also make sure to profile all your brand personas and know their goals well. You can’t predict the future state of your customers, but having done the research, you can repeat their journey yourself and notice things that can be improved.

The best customer journey map templates

To create an effective customer journey map, you don’t need fancy software or even detailed templates.

Just create a table with the header column of user actions, brand touchpoints, emotions, pain points and solutions, and a header row of awareness, consideration, decision and service or loyalty. Fill out each resulting cell with as much detail as possible.

If you think you need customer journey map templates and brand persona examples, look no further than the book titled CX That Sings: An Introduction to Customer Journey Mapping by Jennifer Clinehens.

Ms. Clinehens’s book includes access to online resources, downloadable templates as well as a companion course for customer journey map creation.

How to use your customer journey map

Having a customer journey map is key to making sure you maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction at every stage of the buying process. What makes a customer journey map stand out is visualizing information and shining the light on every customer touchpoint.

Relying on customer journey maps becomes even more important if your business/organization is looking to create online courses that increase customer satisfaction and retention, and bring as much value to your customers as possible.

Looking to start improving the customer journey in your organization? 

Download our Ultimate Customer Success Guide to take the first step today.

The Ultimate Guide to Customer Success: presented by Thinkific Plus: Download Now

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