Customer Journey Mapping: What It Is, How To & Examples

By Myriam Diarra

If you’ve ever worked in a customer-facing role, then you’ve probably heard the line, “Put yourself in your customers’ shoes.”

Hold on, don’t click away just yet! While you’re here, take a second to think about it: Do you really know what your entire experience looks like from the customer’s side of things?

It can be easy to forget that your customers have no idea how your business is set up, how your teams are structured, or how often they talk to one another. But they do expect your marketing, sales, and customer teams to deliver one cohesive experience. Because, to them, it’s all one brand.

Just look at the numbers.

88% of customers say that the customer experience is as important as the product they’re purchasing… but 50% of businesses don’t even know the return on investment (ROI) of their customer experience.

Not enough companies are paying attention to their customer experience. But without investing in a customer experience that buyers want, it’s only a matter of time before you lose out on potential (and perhaps even current) customers. So, what can you do?

The answer? A customer journey map.

Here’s everything you need to know about building one yourself 👇

What Is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visual of the entire customer experience — every single touchpoint that a customer will have with a company, service, or product.

This means that a customer journey map goes beyond the sales cycle. It goes through every phase of the customer journey, from the first time a customer becomes aware of your brand all the way to expansion, retention, and advocacy.

Customer Journey Map Phases

With a customer journey map, you can truly see what your customer journey looks like for your customers. Since the customer journey can significantly vary based on who your buyer is, the key is to create a customer journey map for each individual persona. These visuals help your teams understand when and how your customers are hearing from you, which teams own which phases of the journey, as well as what gaps exist. Thus, a customer journey map allows you to optimize the customer journey and operationalize campaigns more effectively.

Why Is a Customer Journey Map Important?

A customer journey map is important because it contextualizes all of your customer-facing activities. No one team owns the entire buying process, so a customer journey map serves as a source of truth that allows every team to pinpoint where someone is in the customer journey.

Doing this exercise demonstrates how truly cross-functional your customer experience is. At Drift, when we brought together several cross-functional teams to rethink our experience, we found out that we were overcommunicating to one of our personas by sending two similar newsletters from different teams. Once we completed our customer journey map, we combined those newsletters.

Ultimately, the customer journey map enables you to put yourself in your customer’s shoes so you can design a more optimized and cohesive journey. After all, the less friction your experience has, the better.

Creating a Customer Journey Map: 5 Steps to Map the Customer Journey

When it comes to creating a customer journey map, the best approach is to bring together every customer-facing team and go through all your activities, one by one. While such deep, detailed work takes time, once your customer journey map is completed, it will accelerate all your day-to-day activities.

And one more thing to remember: A customer journey map isn’t one and done. You should plan on iterating and improving on your customer journey map on a recurring basis, and do a deeper dive on it every year.

Now, let’s get into the steps you need to follow to create your very own customer journey map.

1. Gather Your Stakeholders

Sometimes, this is the most challenging part of the entire project.

First, identify every team that interacts with the customer at any point in their journey. This could be people from marketing, sales, customer success, product, and more. In short, if they speak to a customer, they need to be a part of this project.

Once you know who should be involved, bring everyone together for a kickoff meeting. This is where you will decide who from each team will be responsible for their section of the map. During this meeting, you should also make sure to cover the following points:

  • The why: Provide an overview of the project and talk about the purpose of your customer journey map
  • The what: Go over goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • The who: Confirm which functions are involved as well as who will serve as directly responsible individuals
  • The how: Review any frameworks and templates to be used
  • Next steps and calls to action

2. Set Goals and KPIs

Before you start mapping, it’s important you know exactly what you are trying to improve.

There are multiple reasons why you might want to map a customer journey, and the map you create will look different depending on your goal (see the different types of maps below). Your goal may also require you to focus on a specific persona or stage of the customer journey.

Once you have that goal in mind, think about which KPIs you will measure at each stage of the customer journey. While CSAT and net promoter score (NPS) are important metrics to track for customer satisfaction, it’s your customers’ behavior that will actually tell you whether or not your efforts were successful. By pooling together your results for each buying stage, you will gain a holistic picture of your performance across the customer journey.

It’s also at this point that you should decide how frequently your teams will align on the customer journey map. Whether it’s once a month or once every quarter, how often you update your map will largely depend on the goals you’ve set out for yourself.

3. Identify the Persona to Map

Here’s where a customer journey map can start to get really, really complicated.

A good customer experience map should be as specific as possible. That means drilling down to the persona level. At Drift, we go a step further by looking at the customer journey from the seniority level, since people within each persona have a different experience. For example, a potential user will have a completely different experience from someone who is a VP or C-suite executive.

Keep in mind: You don’t have to do this all at once. But if you want to better communicate to all the different personas you sell to, then they will need their own map.

4. List Out All Communication to That Persona

Buckle up. This is the longest step.

This is where every team has to dig through all of their campaigns to list out the touchpoints that exist with that persona. Here, your communication efforts should be categorized by:

  • Customer lifecycle stage
  • Communication channel
  • Whether it’s ongoing, automatic, or manual
  • Outbound vs. inbound

You don’t need fancy software to do this. We use a simple spreadsheet to map everything out 👇

Drift's Customer Communications Template Framework

When you take a step back and look at all these communications as a whole, you can see what steps the customer takes at each stage, who they hear from, and how many times they hear from you. This creates a clear current state picture of what your customers actually experience.

5. Determine Gaps and Action Items

Once every piece of the customer journey is mapped out, evaluate gaps and opportunities.

A common gap is the onboarding process. In our survey on the B2B customer experience, 57% of respondents said their onboarding was only “somewhat effective.” In other words, after spending tons of time working a customer down the funnel, many teams basically say, “Thanks for purchasing. Good luck!”

With a complete customer journey map, you can conduct the kind of gap analysis that helps you increase your overall ROI. In these instances, you’ll want to look for:

  • Duplicate efforts, especially in the same buying stage
  • Where the ideal customer scenario differs from existing activities
  • Opportunities for automation, especially through channels like email and chatbots
  • Time lags during team handoffs
  • The most effective communication channels
  • Which team is best suited for a specific touchpoint at a specific stage
  • How the customer feels at each phase, especially friction points

Though you may end up with a customer journey map that looks really complicated, take this as an opportunity to examine those touchpoints, simplify them, and better personalize the experience. When in doubt, simplify.

Customer Journey Map Types & Examples

The map we shared above isn’t the only kind of customer journey map you can create. There are four main types of customer journey maps: current state, future state, day in the life, and a service blueprint.

1. Current State

What do your customer-facing activities look like today? Think of this as a map of everything you’re currently doing, so you can start to identify gaps and make changes.

Here is an example of a customer journey map that charts out the steps a person has to go through to switch their mobile plan.

Current State Customer Journey Map


2. Future State

Unlike the current state map, this map reflects what you want your activities to look like in the future. Here, you want to map out everything you wish you could be doing which will be helpful for future planning.

This Starbucks experience map, created by students at the Savannah College of Art and Design, shows what a customer journey could look like with the addition of new technology in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SCAD Starbucks Future State Customer Journey Map


3. Day in the Life

Ever wondered what your customer does during a typical day? This is a map that helps you visualize how your products or services fit into your customer’s workday, as well as how they interact with other tasks, problems, or products.

This map from LEGO shows the experience a customer goes through flying to and from New York City.

Lego Day In The Life Customer Journey Map

4. Service Blueprint

What systems exist at your company to move the customer forward? The service blueprint is a map of your company’s internal mechanisms — all the behind-the-scenes actions you need to take (hiring, technology, policies, and so on) to make the magic happen.

This example from Bright Vessel does a great job of showing who is responsible for each piece of the customer journey.

Service Blueprint Customer Journey Map

While we’ve outlined a few customer journey maps to choose from, we recommend starting with the current state map before diving into any of the others. That way, you have a baseline that will help you understand what your current activities are, what’s working, and what to improve.

And, as a reminder, you’ll want to tweak your customer journey map over time, based on any new goals that emerge.

Use Drift to Level Up Your Customer Journeys

Once you have a customer journey map in hand and you’ve identified the friction points in your experience, all that’s left to do is to fill those gaps.

And is there a better way to do that than to give your customers what they want, exactly when they want it?

Drift Conversation Cloud empowers you to meet your customers where they are in the customer journey by using chatbots and live chat to hold real-time conversations on your website. Our platform drives conversations across the entire customer lifecycle, so you can break down the silos between your teams and provide a consistent, personalized experience to all customers.

Ready to turn your customer experience into every customer’s dream? Let’s chat.