I’m oftentimes asked how I create a Customer Journey Map and its importance. From my perspective, creating a Customer Journey Map is a great (visual) tool which helps illustrate the steps customers go through while engaging with my company, be it a physical product, an online, retail and/or service experience, or a combination. How satisfactory that engagement is will directly influence the customer’s experience therefore impacting future sales potential. On top of that, and as discussed by marketers for decades, ‘acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one’*

You should start with an idea (or sets of ideas) and determine what is its value potential. The winning ideas (be they products or services) are the ones that offer a combination of high customer value and high business value (or sales). Not surprisingly, they’re ones that are aligned with the customers’ perception of your company. For example, if you’re company is known for reliable quality and low prices, a new product idea that delivers on both of these will likely have higher potential than others.

Next, you should create a Customer Journey Map which will be a good representation of the customer’s experience, therefore creating an ‘impression of the product or service in its context – developing an idea of what it does, what it means, and what its worth – what the customer thinks of the brand. Indeed, the impression (the sum of experiences) is the brand.’**

Personally, I like to create a large board on a wall and place post-it notes on each quadrant of what is oftentimes known as The Customer Journey Canvas***:

It’s divided into 3 phases: Pre-service (or Demand Generation), Service (or User Experience), and Post-service (or Satisfaction Level).

In the Pre-service / Demand Generation phase, it’s important to understand what customer expectations this product or service is delivering and create communication consistent with them. Like this ad for Beats Music: A new music service curated by people who believe music is emotion and life.

The ad is simple and clearly shows the positioning and what customers should expect.

Next is the Service / User Experience phase. This is the phase where the customer is actually using your product or service. What are the critical touch-points they’re experiencing? Are they good or bad (it’s important to rate each feature)? For example, let’s say the product is a music player: Is the on/off button easy to access? How often is it activated? Is the screen clear? Are the headphones comfortable? Are they easy to store? And so on.

Lastly is the Post-Service / Satisfaction phase. Customers, depending on their experiences, will likely share them. If negative, with the company’s customer service team or social media. Hopefully when they reach out to others, is to share positive experiences. In this phase, it’s important to evaluate all possible outcomes, especially if your product is software heavy or a website, where reliability can be impacted not only by the product’s malfunction, but also by the quality of the Wifi connection for example.

It’s important to map the customer journey through positive and negative outcomes, since it’ll help you and your team preempt and minimize any potential roadblocks that customers might face. As product managers, we strive to create amazing product experiences so that our customers are happy, repeat and retained, but it’s not uncommon, especially in the tech world, to launch a product which delivers a minimum value proposition (MVP) and then (we) improve upon it through its life-cycle, and that’s OK, especially because (after careful analysis), you understand that the cost of delaying a launch is oftentimes higher than maximizing sales today and gain market leadership. As long as the MVP, from the customer’s perspective, delivers on the expected experience and features, it will likely be successful. And that’s where mapping the experience is a way to ensure it’s (or more likely to be) the case!

Sources: *The Value of Keeping the Right Customer by Amy Gallo, October 29, 2014, Harvard Business Review (  **Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience, by Adam Richardson, November 15, 2010, Harvard Business Review.  ***Concept and design: Marc Stickdorn & Jakob Schneider – inspired by the Business Model Canvas –