Facilitation techniques

Customer Journey Mapping

Use this process to map and improve your customer's experience of your product, service or solution.

Video tutorial

Why do you use it?

Mapping the journeys of your customers/users/members/clients (whatever you call the people you're designing for!) is a crucial skillset that will help you to understand what's working and not working for your customers, and how you could improve their journeys to make them seamless, effective, and even enjoyable.

When to use it:

Apply this process to any customer experience challenge, and you'll gain a deeper understanding of what your user is going through and how you can improve their experience. You can use customer journey mapping as part of the discovery process to better understand a design challenge, or when you're developing a new solution to map out how your customers will interact with it.

How to use it:

Below is a step-by-step process to help you map a customer journey in depth, using a tool called a service blueprint.

Step one: Choose a journey to map

Start by choosing the particular journey you're going to map. A customer journey should have a narrow and specific focus; it's not about that customer's entire journey with your organisation, but rather their experience of signing up for a new service, buying a particular product, or making a complaint about an experience, for example.

Your decision should be based on the strategic importance of that customer and that particular journey for your organisation, and on how much room for improvement you think there is in that customer journey. Questions like 'where does our most negative feedback come from?' or 'where are we missing out on potential value?' should lead you in the right direction.

At this point, it's also helpful to decide on the first and last touchpoint of the journey you've chosen - this determines the scope of the journey you'll be mapping.

Step two: Create your service blueprint swim lanes

A service blueprint is kind of like a customer journey map plus: it includes the experience of your user, but also maps what goes on in your organisation to make that experience possible. As you can see below, a service blueprint has a number of 'swim lanes' (like rows in a grid) which track different actors or elements.

Service Blueprint template step 1 and 2 creating service blueprint swimlanes tutorial

Each swim lane will be explained in more detail below. For now, use a long sheet of butchers paper and a marker to replicate the template above (alternatively, you could create your journey map digitally using Cubb).

Step three: Start with customer actions

The best place to start mapping is with customer actions, as the customer's experience is usually the thing you're aiming to improve through the journey mapping process. Get really specific and start to list each individual action your customer takes throughout their experience, writing one action per post-it note and placing them in the relevant swim lane.

Service Blueprint template step 3 - starting with customer actions tutorial

If you're not sure where to start, think about the moment of discovery - how does the customer first find out about this product, service or solution? What happens next? What happens after that?

Step four: Fill in front-stage and backstage actions

Next, start to fill out the front-stage and backstage actions taken inside your organisation to create or support the customer journey. These should line up vertically with the related customer actions; for example, if a customer touchpoint is 'makes enquiry phone call', the related front-stage action beneath it might be 'answers customer enquiry', and the related backstage action might be 'uses reference system to find customer data'.

Front-stage actions are the ones your customer can see - as you can see, they're above the 'line of visibility'. Backstage actions happen out of sight for the customer, but are still directly relevant to their journey. Importantly, these can be actions taken by people (eg your staff) or by technology (eg your website or app); a front-stage action might read 'website displays product options' or 'app confirms order'.

Step five: Add supporting processes and evidence.

The final part of your service blueprint is to fill out the supporting processes and evidence swim lanes.

Service blueprint add supporting processes and evidence tutorial

Supporting processes are any tools or technology, policies, or partners that enable your organisation to deliver parts of this customer journey. For example, this might include data management systems, training processes, or contractors who deliver parts of a service.

Evidence is all the tangible things that gets produced along the way, whether that's physical items (eg the bag your food delivery arrives in) or digital ones (eg the email you receive confirming the delivery).

Step six: Identify next steps

Now that you've mapped the customer journey, it's time to read the map you've created and draw out the key insights it can offer you about your customer's experience. To do this, you can use a 'rose, bud and thorn' methodology.

This approach invites you and your team to identify particular parts of your journey map as roses, buds or thorns, either by placing colour-coded sticky dots or just writing the letters R, B and T directly onto post-it notes or other parts of your map. A rose is something that's working smoothly and keeping the customer and your organisation happy. A thorn is something that's not working well, and might be frustrating or confusing your customer. A bud is a missed opportunity - something that could be creating value, but isn't right now.

You can identify any part of your map as a rose, bud or thorn - it's often helpful to start with customer actions, but you should also look at sticky notes in other swim lanes, and even the gaps between post-its, which might represent wait times or indicate the relative complexity of your journey.

Step seven: Take action to improve the journey!

Now that you have a sense of what's working and what could be improved in your customer journey, there are any number of next steps you could take. Your options include:

  • Leveraging your strengths by expanding what's already working well
  • Generating ideas on how you might streamline or simplify complex journeys, and remove or mitigate the biggest pain points for your customers
  • Finding opportunities to surprise and delight your customers, inspired by the peak-end rule and 'The Power of Moments'
  • Designing experiments to improve to measurable improve the customer journey, using our Experiment Canvas
  • Select and map another customer journey, and keeping learning more about the experience of your customers!
Workshop Playshop

View over 40+  design and innovation tools and techniques at our Workshop Playshop library.

Workshop Playshop

View over 40+  design and innovation tools and techniques at our Workshop Playshop library.


Customer Journey Mapping

Workshop Playshop

View over 40+  design and innovation tools and techniques at our Workshop Playshop library.