If you want to improve your customer experience (CX) and generate loyalty, you have to understand where your customers are coming from. The best place to begin understanding your CX successes and failures is by creating a customer journey map.

Back in May, I presented a webinar called “10 Ways To Use Customer Journey Maps” as a part of CX Week™, presented by Qualtrics. (You can download the slides or watch the webinar at CXWeek.com under the Wednesday agenda.)

In this three-part blog series, I’m answering all of the questions attendees submitted during the webinar. Part one of this series focused on common journey map components and how to use maps to prioritize customer experience initiatives. In this post, I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of creating journey maps.


What is the process for creating journey maps? Is there a common workshop format?

I find that it’s best to start with documenting the practical nature of customers’ steps and then move on to mapping their thoughts and emotions, much like standard interview (and therapy!) methodology. It’s much easier to get people to tell you what they had for breakfast than it is to elicit emotions about their childhood!

On a purely mechanical level, the process involves putting a bunch of sticky notes up on an 8- or 10-foot sheet of butcher paper, moving them around, removing some sticky notes, and adding others. In the workshops I facilitate, I like to split everyone into three to five small groups, each of which can focus on a different persona or journey. Groups with four to six participants are a perfect size to get multiple perspectives while ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard.


Who should be involved in customer journey mapping workshops?

Marketing and customer experience folks are the obvious choices for workshop participants, but I’d encourage you to include behind-the-scenes employees, as well. Think about employees in sales, finance, operations, legal, customer service, ecommerce, or any other part of the organization that has some influence on the particular journey(s) you’re focusing on. You can also include any partners who are key to delivering that journey.

And I hope this isn’t a surprise, but I highly recommend including your customers in these workshops, too. In my experience, customer participation is what leads to the most significant organizational improvements.


How long is the workshop for an average journey map?

I’ve found that any workshop lasting more than two days completely exhausts the attendees and sends them running back to their regular day jobs, but in two days, you accomplish a hell of a lot! There are many ways to design an effective two-day journey mapping workshop, but here’s one that works well for us:

  • Day 1: Bring together internal stakeholders from across the company and create journey map(s) based on your assumptions of your customers’ experiences. In an ideal world, you’ve done some ethnographic research prior to the workshop to provide background information for the mapping activity.
  • Day 2: Bring customers in to validate (or invalidate) your assumptions. The customers are typically with you for four to five hours of this day.

We also use several other one- and two-day configurations that align with various business objectives. We’re happy to help you figure out which one works best for you so feel free to reach out.


What are some great tools to create visually appealing journey maps?

As I mentioned in my webinar, no two customer journey maps are the same, and the type of journey map you should create is entirely dependent on what you’re actually trying to accomplish by creating it. Therefore, it’s difficult for any vendor to create a software tool that will take all of your customer inputs and programmatically pop out an effective journey map that will meet your business needs.

That said, I’m really impressed with two tools created by Marc Stickdorn, author of one of my favorite reference books, This is Service Design Thinking.

  • Smaply helps you map you develop aggregated customer journey maps.
  • Experience Fellow helps you map individual customer journeys as part of a qualitative research project. (Bonus: If you’d like a €100 discount on Experience Fellow, just enter the discount code “bodine”.)

If you have a tool that helped you create your journey map, I’d love to learn (and write!) about it. Please drop me a line.


In part three of this series, I’ll talk about the research that’s required to make your journey maps accurate and effective. What other questions do you have about journey mapping workshops? Better yet, what are some best (or worst) practices you’ve learned from doing your own journey mapping?

To learn more about customer journey mapping, read the first post in Kerry’s series, “Journey Mapping Q&A: Anatomy of a Customer Journey Map.”


Bio: Kerry Bodine is customer experience consultant and the co-author of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. She’d love to help with your customer journey mapping initiatives. Follow her on Twitter at @kerrybodine.