19 minutesBy Canva Team

Creating a customer journey map: How-tos, templates, and tips

Learn how customer journey mapping can help you design better customer experiences. Start with creative tips, explore best practices, and customize free customer journey map templates from Canva.
Customer Journey Map
Customer Journey Map

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What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of experiences encountered by a customer, often depicted as a persona, in the buying process of a product or service. Brands and companies can leverage this to trace the potential thoughts and feelings of a customer at every point of interaction.

Handy tools like Canva(opens in a new tab or window) help teams and decision-makers put themselves in the shoes of a customer using customizable customer journey map templates, retrospectives(opens in a new tab or window), process maps(opens in a new tab or window), and collaborative online whiteboards.

Customer journey map example

Customer journey map example.

Customer journey maps bring your focus back to people. It’s the deep knowledge and understanding of their evolving motivations and pain points that help teams develop better solutions and strategies. When disruptions in every touchpoint are mitigated, customers are more likely to arrive at a decision to purchase, stay, and, ultimately, advocate for your product or service.

In 2030, potential customers worldwide are expected to grow from 3.5 billion in 2017 to 5.6 billion(opens in a new tab or window). That’s a lot for brands or companies can reach and cater to!

However, many issues pose a threat to a healthy and lively consumer outlook. Recent data shows that most consumers are pulling back(opens in a new tab or window) in the United States. Most global consumers are looking into tightening their purses to brave through challenges out of their control. And when they think of spending, 48% of them would rather pay for experiences(opens in a new tab or window).

Do you know much about your customers’ thoughts and feelings to turn their hesitations into favorable decisions that benefit everyone?

What is customer journey mapping?

Engaging your teams to perform customer journey mapping is an act of due diligence for your brand and customers. When you recognize that people are at the core of your products or services, you’d want to empathize and understand their priorities and aspirations.

Your goal is to map out experiences that you can optimize to retain them as loyal customers or, better yet, as advocates for your brand. Center your customer journey mapping with the following aspects:

  • Customer thoughts and feelings
  • Their interactions with your products or services in different touchpoints and channels.
  • Their pain points, needs, and wants.

Make customer journey mapping fun with a collaborative editor that your teams and multiple stakeholders can jump into anytime, anywhere. Canva Whiteboards lets you run workshops when you need to analyze your resources, build a customer persona, and map your customer journey. You can also use a template to start your journey mapping.

Customer journey stages

During customer journey mapping, knowing what buying stage your customer goes through gives you an opportunity to reflect on their current sentiments. That way, you can tailor-fit your solutions and responses for specific touchpoints and ultimately help customers move from one stage to another. You can follow a simplified framework like the marketing funnel.

Avoid buyer’s journey misuse
Buyer’s journey and customer journey are often interchanged. It only covers the path to purchase from awareness to decision stages, not customer experiences related to retention and loyalty.
The customer journey occurs in stages.

The customer journey occurs in stages.

  1. The first stage is awareness where a customer becomes problem-aware and researches about this unidentified need.
  2. When they realize the need for a product or service to solve a problem, they enter the consideration stage and begin to comb through an array of options.
  3. When it’s time to seal the deal, a decision is reached after engaging in direct marketing experiences and promotions like sign-up pages, free demos, or more.
  4. After purchase, brands need to focus on retention and create follow-up efforts to avoid making a switch. This can be through customer experiences such as excellent onboarding and customer service.
  5. Ultimately, you’d want to establish loyalty where they stay and positively advocate for you. Do it with a community of consistent buyers, perks, discounts, and referral programs.

What to include in a customer journey map?

Customer experiences are influenced by a lot of internal and external factors. You’d want to dig deep into all these factors to understand how they affect their inclination to spend or advocate for your products.

Having these key elements in a customer journey map enables you to trace every possible sentiment and response at a given stage in the buying process. Likewise, they’ll also help you craft impactful solutions to address their pain points in the overall experience.

Creating a customer profile helps you get to know your customers better

Creating a customer profile helps you get to know your customers better.

A customer persona represents your actual, real-life customers. You may or may not add it to your customer journey map, but it’s a must that you identify one before anything else to guide different teams while forming insights and solutions.

Since your product or service encounters a multitude of personalities, you’d want to narrow it down to a single target persona. You can get creative in building a persona. However, it should still be rooted in tangible consumer data and qualitative research that you have from analytics, interviews, logs, or surveys.

Having a customer persona helps picture your customer’s behaviors and decisions as they embark on a specific buying journey stage or customer experience. That way, you’re also able to create targeted marketing solutions.

This represents the phases or stages of the customer journey, mapped horizontally in the diagram. You’d generally want to look into processes involved in customer retention and loyalty for your customer journey map.

Depending on the customer experience, each buying phase can be wrapped up with significant milestones and pain points. Analyzing these processes makes it easier for your team to spot and solve weaknesses in the customer journey.

Based on your target customer persona, you’d want to gain insights and visualize how they’ll likely respond to a stage in your buying process.

  • What is your customer doing at a given phase in the buying process?
  • How did they interact with your product or service?
  • How did they behave as they move from one point to another?

Apart from actions, you’d like to map out your customer’s thoughts. Get into the mind of your customer by developing possible inner monologues they’ll likely have with themselves or think of dialogues and conversations they’ll raise with your team on the ground.

  • What's your target customer persona thinking on a particular point of interaction?
  • Do they think that this is a pain point for them?
  • Are they starting to identify another need or want?

Curious customers will always try to find an answer to a budding pain point or an innocent question. Anticipate what they’ll likely search for on a given interaction and where they'll seek answers.

  • What particular topics or resources would they encounter in their search?
  • Is this something that you have in any of your touchpoints or channels?

A customer touchpoint is a point of interaction between a customer and a product or service in the buying process. For example, a customer getting a product demo. Meanwhile, a channel is a medium where certain touchpoints happen. A customer would likely get a free demo in a channel like your physical store.

Identifying touchpoints is crucial in a customer journey map. These instances where customer and product interact help your team determine weaknesses or inconsistencies, especially with journeys nowadays having multiple touchpoints and channels in a single phase. Ideally, you’d want all these touchpoints happening seamlessly throughout a journey.

Gauge your target customer persona’s feelings as they move through different touchpoints and channels in the buying process. Assess whether every interaction is a positive or negative moment for them. Mapping their emotional responses helps your team see how certain actions and solutions you make can be perceived by a customer in the future.

You can’t leave a customer journey map without solutions. The overall endeavor of customer journey mapping is to help your team design better experiences for your customers. When you've assessed each phase, touchpoint, and sentiment in a customer journey, spot areas of opportunities where you can address certain pain points, needs, or wants of your customers.

Types of customer journey maps

There are four types of customer journey maps that you can use depending on your focus and purpose. Find a particular variation useful in certain phases of your rollouts, promotions, or projects. You don’t need to create all types of customer journey maps. However, selecting a kind you’d like to use depends on how it can help you gain better perspectives and insights on your customer journey or meet your business objectives on time.

Choosing a journey map type
Have a clear scope and objectives to determine what type of customer journey map you’ll need.
Example of a current state journey map

Example of a current state journey map.

This commonly used customer journey map highlights what your customers do, think, and feel if they interact with your product or service today. You get to reflect and understand existing pain points in the overall customer experience.

It’s the perfect customer journey map to use when there are improvements in a business or buying process that you’d like to assess or implement.

If you’re aiming to discover needs or wants yet to be realized by customers and innovate, you can go for a holistic view of their day using a day-in-the-life map. With this type of customer journey mapping, trace your customer persona’s day-to-day activities. What do they encounter daily from the time they wake up until they go to bed at night?

From each activity, you can have a view of their life’s motivations, pain points, and undiscovered needs or wants. You can also find where your brand or company fits on their daily cycle. How integral is your product or service to their day?

A future state customer journey map looks into possible responses and sentiments from your customers about potential business changes at a later time. You assess their future actions, thoughts, and emotions through current experiences they have with your product or service.

This type of customer journey map is perfect if you want to weigh things about your future goals as a company or if you have a strategic vision for your products or services to communicate on the horizon.

A service blueprint acts as a perfect follow-up to your customer journey map. Both visualize customer actions and aim to provide relevant insight into customer experiences. Although identical in use cases, major elements differentiate one from the other.

While customer journey maps focus on perspectives, sentiments, touchpoints, and scenarios, a service blueprint traces actions, actors, and processes engaged by your company to deliver a customer experience.

Customer journey mapping stops at the end-to-end experience of a customer, whereas service blueprints go beyond the customer experience and help you figure out what actions and processes need changes, optimization, or a complete overhaul.

Customer journey map vs. user journey map

A user journey map represents the actions or processes a user takes to accomplish a goal within a digital channel. For example, users trying to navigate your website to look for answers to a certain product query.

Both are often mistaken as one and the same. Though both try to trace customer experiences, the scope and specific channels that they cover are the things that differentiate them:

  • User journey maps are only limited to user processes of your digital channels: Customer journey mapping focuses on a broader view of customer experiences, including multiple interactions, touchpoints, and both physical and digital channels.
  • Not all users are customers: Hence, the need for a user journey mapping. Someone who goes through your website isn’t always there to purchase, so you’d want to map their experiences also and improve the design of your user experience.

Customer journey map vs. customer experience map

A customer experience map takes a broader view of a customer’s journey. Both look into a customer’s actions, thoughts, and emotions in different stages of the buying process.

However, customer experience maps aren’t limited to a single persona or type of customer unlike the other. It also accounts for what competitors do and also traces multiple channels of interaction.

You can say that a customer experience map has more flexibility in mapping out possible pain points and areas of opportunities with its bigger-picture outlook.

When to use a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is an evolving diagram. So there’s technically no general rule on what part of the business or product life should it take place. You simply have to watch out for multiple factors in and out of your business and customer experiences to gauge when it’s likely that a customer journey map will become handy for your team.

However, you might want to consider these instances to help you decide if you should finally create or update your customer journey map.

  • When there are major changes and developments in your product or service
  • When there are major shifts in the industry or customer demographics
  • When you need different lenses or perspectives in addressing customer pain points and needs
  • When you need to seek out new opportunities and solutions to retain customers
  • When you need to align with other teams in the company on a single customer vision

Who uses a customer journey map?

It takes a village to create a customer journey map. In your company or organization alone, you can tap multiple stakeholders, experts, and knowledge holders to build a customer journey map. Include a diverse set of people who interact with your customers or have a hand in the overall customer experience such as:

  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Design
  • Product
  • Sales
  • Technology

Customer journey mapping keeps your team in the loop of new perspectives and shifting customer behaviors. Collaborating with multiple teams involved in the buying process allows you to have synchronous efforts to solve inconsistencies in the customer experience.

Work with teams in your Canva Whiteboard in real-time

Work with teams in your Canva Whiteboard in real-time.

Why is customer journey mapping important?

There are so many things at stake when you don’t prioritize knowing your customers and their journey. Not only will it take a hit on your sales figures, but it’ll also deprive you of reaching the right customers to build your business. How you design your customer experience will be highly impacted, too.

Customer journey mapping helps:

  • Bring proper contexts and insights to address your customers’ pain points, needs, and wants.
  • Build a seamless customer experience by putting you in the shoes of your target customers.
  • Improve touchpoints and channels in the buying process.
  • Develop more empathy for your customers and encourage sustainable people-centric experiences.
  • Increase the chances of boosting customer retention and loyalty.

How to create a customer journey map?

Creating a customer journey map may look daunting at first. You might be worried about not capturing your customer’s thoughts and feelings properly. But it can be a smooth sailing ride once you have the right information and resources to ground your insights, a dedicated team of knowledge holders, and reliable customer journey mapping tools like templates from Canva. Here are seven steps to run a successful customer journey mapping workshop with your team.

How to make a customer journey map

Determining a clear set of objectives and scope keep you from going off-course in the middle of customer journey mapping. Always try to keep your objectives close to your business goals. Review and incorporate those that are currently unmet or can be further optimized. You can also tie it to a financial goal that you think can be achieved through excellent customer experiences. Then, limit the purview of your customer journey map by assembling the right stakeholders for the exercise and focusing on emotionally charged interactions or value streams.

Build your dream team
Tap knowledge holders and directly responsible individuals from different teams who shape customer experiences. Keep it between six to eight members so insights are close to your objectives.

Crafting a target customer persona is a key element to your customer journey map. Instead of looking at a broad customer demographic throughout your journey mapping, you’re able to pin down a single customer type that interacts with your product and analyze their motivations and needs. There’s an element of creativity in building a persona. However, it's still grounded by your actual consumer data.

Take advantage of readily available data on your customers. Gain insights from quantitative and qualitative resources that could help you understand the perspectives of your customers and their experiences with your product or service.

Having sufficient relevant information avoids you from journey mapping based on your biases and preconceived notions about your customers. You can look at these possible resources:

  • Customer feedback forms, surveys, interviews
  • Support logs
  • Web analytics
  • Social media impressions and engagements
  • Industry trends and insights

List down all the touchpoints and channels involved in the customer journey you’d like to focus on. Touchpoints are points of interaction in physical or digital channels between customers and your company. Some touchpoints occur simultaneously across different channels. Look out for these instances, as they can be potential issues when not done seamlessly. While doing so, start thinking about possible actions, feelings, and thoughts your customer persona may encounter.

There are readily available customer journey map examples online that can help you arrange and organize your insights. This will help you save time and focus on the bigger task of journey mapping, analysis, and problem-solving. Find free customer journey map templates from Canva that can get you started in no time. Get creative with colors, fonts, and graphic elements that you can match with the vibe of your brand or target customer persona.

Start mapping the current or future states of your customer journey in a template you’ve chosen from Canva. Organize in the diagram all the insights and touchpoints you’ve gathered and listed as a team earlier. You can arrange them in the most visually appealing way you can think of. Just remember to keep the key elements of a customer journey map intact.

Highlight the pain points that need to be addressed. Use texts and dialogue boxes to house your user thoughts. Create a sentiment line for your customer’s feelings on various touchpoints and chart them using positive or negative lines or graphic elements like emojis, GIFs, or stickers.

After mapping out all the insights and touchpoints in a customer journey map, assess and reflect on milestones and disruptions in all touchpoints. Identify areas that bring confusion and frustration to customers and where expectations aren’t met. Treat them as areas of opportunity where you can offer possible solutions to address any pain point, need, or want.

Sort every suggestion by touchpoint or customer journey phase. Then, feel free to determine priorities and next steps, assign responsibilities, and decide on a timeline. You can also call out any resources needed to respond to a problem area.

Get inspired with customer journey map templates

Illustrate your customer journey like a walk in the park. When you’ve gathered all the resources and insights you’ll need, it’s easier to map them out in a customer journey map as you know it. Plus, you don’t have to worry about starting from scratch. Canva’s free customer journey map templates can be your guide to navigating your customer’s thoughts and feelings in the buying process.

Each template is customizable and complete with the essential components of your content. Personalize every visual element like colors, fonts, and graphics to match your brand or breathe life into a customer persona you’ve crafted earlier in the process. Choose from the customer journey map examples below to start your whiteboard design.

All you need in a customer journey map maker

Create a customer journey map that captures what your market feels and thinks about their every interaction with your product or service. Canva Whiteboards has all the tools you’ll need to push your incredible insights, brainstorm with your knowledge holders simultaneously, and share the results with multiple stakeholders for actionable decisions and solutions. From your customer journey map template, access an infinite canvas for your ideas, a wide-ranging visual elements library, and collaborative tools and features for different teams.

  • Unlimited space for unlimited ideas

    Unlimited space for unlimited ideas

    With a free infinite canvas and unlimited number of whiteboards, fully develop your ideas and still have room

  • Your ideas visualized

    Your ideas visualized

    Build stunning tables and graphs with automatic flowcharts, or sketch them to life with Draw.

  • All your work, in one place

    All your work, in one place

    From plan to execution, it’s all here. Take notes, brainstorm, collaborate, and more on the same whiteboard.

  • Workshop ideas to perfection

    Workshop ideas to perfection

    With your team, develop ideas through comments and stickies, and keep sync sessions on track with a timer.

  • Share your work effortlessly

    Share your work effortlessly

    Share a link to your doc and control your team's access. Present directly from the editor with Presenter view.

  • Expand your Presentation to a Whiteboard

    Expand your Presentation to a Whiteboard

    With just a single click, expand your presentation slides into infinite, collaborative whiteboards.

Customer journey mapping best practices

There’s no one definitive way of creating a customer journey map. You can even format and design it your own way or follow customer journey map examples online. However, having the right approach, outlook, and resources will result in clearer and more useful content. Such content will help you and your team to get a better understanding of your customer journey, enough to design better experiences for them. Here are four customer journey mapping best practices that can serve as your guiding principles while making one.

Be guided by accurate data and information

It’s easy to assume that customer journey maps are heavily based on hunches, perceptions, or generalizations. Though there are elements of customer journey mapping that might give you a bit of license to be creative, it's a must that they're always grounded by real data.

Your customers and their experiences are real. Collect useful data to inform you about how they truly act, feel, or think. Conduct surveys and interviews, analyze your sales trends, or take an industry view of your customer demographics.

Having truthful data and information saves you and your team from endless meetings. Your customers’ final say is reflected in quantitative data and their real accounts. In the end, reliable data and resources can spare you from bad decisions. When you capture the right sentiments of your customers, then you understand them better.

Look out for moments of truth

Behind accurate data and research are certain truths about your customers. Analyze them intently and read beyond the numbers. Deduce what influences your numbers to rise or fall. Verify them with your customers to juxtapose data with real-life insights. Having conversations with your customers increases your chances of deriving truths about their daily activities, touchpoints, channels, thoughts, and emotions.

Graphs help visualize your data, making them easier to digest

Graphs help visualize your data, making them easier to digest.

Keep your customer journey map updated

Customers change behaviors and grow by the day. Customer journeys and experiences develop over time. So there’s no reason for your customer journey map to be stuck at one moment. Treat your journey maps as snapshots of a current situation or dilemma that you’re trying to uncover or solve. As customers and their experiences evolve, your customer journey map should reflect them, also. Monitor trends, new behavioral patterns, and major product changes and developments so you can readily keep up with your customers and their growing needs and pains.

Keep your whiteboard updated
Canva Whiteboards automatically saves changes in your customer journey map in the cloud so you can edit your design anytime, anywhere.

Collaborate with relevant stakeholders

Collaboration is key in customer journey mapping. Just like there are many possible points of interaction between customers and a company, so are the moving parts that make each happen. Every stage of the buying process has a dedicated team that looks after it to ensure it’s functioning and optimal.

What you want to achieve out of your customer journey map is to get different teams to share a common understanding of the actions, thoughts, and feelings of your customers as they experience your product or service.

It’s essential that you conduct a customer journey mapping workshop with a formed team of multiple stakeholders and knowledge holders across the company. Through this, you can link team-specific data, resources, and insights that could unlock a blocker or solve a missing piece in your overall customer experience.

Canva for Teams
It’s easy to keep your team in the loop. Create teams in Canva and share your customer journey map designs through team folders in Canva. See and organize your team designs in one space.
Invite stakeholders to comment and leave reactions on your customer journey map

Invite stakeholders to comment and leave reactions on your customer journey map.

Customer journey map FAQs

You can design a customer journey map from scratch or use one of our customizable templates. It’s easy to match it with your brand colors and fonts. Or you can reflect your target customer persona in the design elements in our library.

Customer journey mapping eyes the long game. A carefully crafted and thought-out customer journey map is an eye-opener to customer experience problems that you need to address. In doing so, you can develop and design better solutions for every pain point. Better touchpoints lead to customer retention and loyalty that can significantly impact your revenues and brand mileage.

Customer journey mapping brings teams together. It is necessary that you collaborate with other teams involved in the buying process since they might have first-hand accounts of what customers experience. Creating a customer journey map as a team helps bring new perspectives to the table. It's also easier to align with a shared vision of what customers go through and what needs to be improved on. When solutions are formed and planned, it’s then easier to assign responsibilities for each touchpoint and channel.

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Design better experiences with customer journey maps

Collaborate with your team in Canva Whiteboards to identify touchpoints, actions, sentiments, and solutions in your customer journey. Use customer journey map templates from our collection to get started.
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