Creating a Customer Journey Map Step 1: The Basics

Nov 14, 2022

Looks like you’re ready to get to work in creating what’s going to become the most valuable tool in your company’s toolbox – yay you!

In case you’re still not convinced about why a Customer Journey Map is 100% essential, read my post on why your business needs a customer journey map.

Otherwise, let’s get right into the weeds. We’re going to cover all of the basics of customer journeys: what they are, what a map is, and why you should care about any of it.

What is a customer journey?

So… like what is a “customer journey” anyway? Glad you asked!

A customer journey is all the touchpoints (aka, the places your customer has an interaction with you) a customer experiences on their way to meeting a goal.

Usually there is one ultimate goal a business has with smaller goals the customer accomplishes on the way.

The ultimate goal for your business may be purchasing an item, but along the way to purchasing the item the customer may accomplish smaller goals like: visiting a specific section of your website, signing up for your email list, becoming your follower on social media, etc.

This means a customer journey can be quite complex, depending on the size of your company and what it is that you do.

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is, quite literally, a visual representation of the various things your customer does on their way to accomplishing the ultimate goal.

It is a map of the touchpoints referenced above, laid out visually and in a way that’s easily accessible by everyone in the company.

There are a few ways companies choose to create their maps. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Post-it notes. Some companies reserve a large wall in a common area and literally lay out the customer’s journey with post-it notes. This enables them to move the touchpoints around if something no longer makes sense, or customers change their behavior. It also is cool to look at (bonus points!).
  2. A digital flow chart. You can use a tool like LucidChart to create a digital flow chart that contains the touchpoints your customer moves through. LucidChart is an awesome free tool and best of all you can easily download and share the chart you create. This means you can house it in a shared drive where everyone in your organization can access it.
  3. A paper flow chart, or other hard copy. Other times it’s easier to chart out the map on paper. This is especially true if the journey is not a complex one and you want to keep physical copies around and easily accessible to everyone on the team.
macbook pro laptop on white chair in white room

Why create a map at all?

It may seem like going the extra step to create an actual map is a waste of time, particularly if you already have a written journey created by your branding or marketing team.

The reason you want a map, though, is so you can understand the flow of your business and how customers enter and exit that flow… but so you can also help the parts of your company that correspond to those entrance and exit points understand how they fit into the big picture.

When you have points like “blog posts,” “social videos,” and “Instagram stories” mapped out, your content creation team can see how what they create terminates to a specific goal… and all of the other teams that touch what they’ve created along the way.

When you have points like “customer service chatbox,” “FAQ page,” and “phone representatives” on the map, it becomes clear to the members of those teams how their actions roll into the success of the business at large.

It also makes it clear to upper leadership how decisions they make impact everyone involved – not just the customers.

Your map is basically a snapshot of the inner-workings of your company, and helps keep everyone aligned and accountable for their part in helping a customer reach the ultimate goal.

Your customer journey & customer journey map should be refreshed from time to time.

As a company, there should be specific times where everyone (or just the leaders of teams if your company is very large) gets together to revisit the journey and the map and ensure it all still makes sense and is working for you.

Doing something like this semi-annually should be enough, though if you work in a fast-paced niche (like technology) you may want to consider doing this quarterly.

To prevent this meeting from being a free-for-all and a time-suck, it’s helpful to have two things in place prior:

  1. A committee responsible for keeping track of employee feedback and customer feedback. This committee should be able to bring recommendations to this meeting.
  2. Keep the agenda focused on a high-level and save the nitty gritty detail work for smaller, steer-team-like meetings that take place later.

Using collaborative tools like those in GSuite or Microsoft Office can make this process way easier, as well.


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