Transforming customer experience with journey mapping

Cooper Professional Education journey map - photo by Danae Paparis

A customer journey map is a versatile tool that can serve many purposes: mapping how a current customer experience unfolds over time, planning the orchestration of a future experience across touchpoints, or uncovering business opportunities in the form of unmet customer needs. We’ve developed a new journey mapping canvas that can handle all three of the goals above, and we’d love to invite you (yes you!) to try it out.

A journey map at its core

Customer journey mapping is not new, but in the last few years it’s gained wider acceptance as a tool for customer-centered innovation and organizational transformation. There have been an explosion of how-tos and templates, many of them very good. How do you know if you have a good one?

Here is what all customer journey maps (should) have in common:

  • Phase. How does the experience unfold? What are the stages of the experience?
  • Customer actions. What is the customer actually doing throughout their experience?
  • Customer thoughts and feelings. What is the customer’s perception of their experience as they move through it, step by step?
  • Touchpoints. What are the customer’s points of contact with the business, brand, product, and/or service?
  • Context. Who are the other people involved? What types of environments is the customer engaging with or within?
  • Opportunities. What are the big wins that can be amplified? What are the pain points that can be mitigated or eliminated?

Capturing the customer experience is powerful. If you use the core components of a journey map to identify, prioritize, and then address opportunities, you are in great shape! What’s next?

All photos in this post by Cooper intern Danae Paparis.

A journey map with muscle

In our journey map canvas, downloadable here as an 11×17 PDF, we’ve added two additional elements to support the transformation of customer experiences: assumptions and value exchange.


A journey map is not an objective record of reality, but a synthesized output of research. By its nature, it contains assumptions about the customer, the organization, and what the customer’s experience includes. At the very top of our journey mapping canvas, we’ve included a section for the following:

  • Persona. Who is the customer? This section should reference another document with full details of the persona, including their goals and needs.
  • Organization. Who is the organization? Is it the product team? A particular department? A startup looking to achieve a particular goal? This section helps surface assumptions about what parts of the organization are invested in this journey.
  • Scope of the experience. Where does this journey begin and end? How detailed will this document be? Experience is a fuzzy concept without a clear beginning and end (just ask John Dewey), so the assumptions about detail and scope need to be clearly stated and agreed upon up front.

Value exchange

When you think about the relationship your business, brand, product, and/or service has with your customer, what is the metaphor that comes to mind? Casual friend? Stalker? Hero? Hired help? In healthy relationships, the interaction between parties creates shared value.

To grow value for the customer, and thus generate greater value for the business, you need to understand the complexities of that relationship from two different lenses:

  • Value to the organization. What is the value generated by the customer’s actions at each point of interaction, and across interactions? Not what the organization intended or hoped to gain, but what actually happened. This could include things like page views, customer data, revenue, or customer referrals.
  • Value to the customer. What is the value gained by the customer through their interactions with the organization? This could include things like convenience, positive emotional impact, financial gain, or social connections. If the customer doesn’t seem to be gaining as much as the organization, it might be time to rethink what kind of relationship you actually have with your customer.

Considering value exchange and assumptions will help insure that your journey map doesn’t fall victim to common customer experience orchestration issues like lack of focus, touchpoint myopia, or short term gain at the expense of longer term relationships. There’s just one more thing to consider.

Journey mapping is a verb

If a journey map falls in a forest and only designers are around to hear it, does it make a sound? Journey mapping is a collaborative activity, and the deliverable is not a map—it’s what the map enables.

Whatever template or canvas you use as a starting point, make sure it’s being used collaboratively across the organization (not just by the design or marketing team) as a tool to facilitate conversation and transformation. This, the doing of journey mapping, is the hard part. If you get stuck, call us.

Cooper offers public training around journey mapping and blueprinting through a course called Service Design Immersive. We hope to see you there!

Shahrzad Samadzadeh

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