Skip to content

Customer Experience Mapping &

16 June, 2010

See also: & Service Blueprinting

What follows is my approach to customer experience mapping. I’m not saying it’s perfect – or easy, and I am most certainly saying it doesn’t and can’t exist in isolation from other techniques – research gives you the evidence, frameworks help sort the interpreted and synthesised information and good old fashioned collaboration is required. And finally, for these to be meaningful in a business setting I advocate a companion service blueprint.

I pitch the map and blueprint as both technique and output. They provide a tangible means for businesses to assess the impact of change on customers and services. Businesses love organisational impact assessment and stakeholder management plans, but often forget the customer and users and the fact that services deliver to customers. This is where design can provide a means.

What’s a customer experience map?
It’s a graphical representation of the service journey of a customer. It shows their perspective from the beginning, middle and end as they engage a service to achieve their goal, showing the range of tangible and quantitative interactions, triggers and touchpoints, as well as the intangible and qualitative motivations, frustrations and meanings.

Why is understanding experience important?
Because with all the competing noise in the world, competing processes from other businesses, agencies, institutions, social networks, life etc it is through understanding and supporting experience that we make  services more effective for customers. With effectiveness comes trust. Consequently, when we change processes or introduce new ways of doing things, customers trust what we’re doing works because they’ve experienced it in a way that was meaningful to them to get what they need. Their confidence ultimately translates to effective and efficient engagement for the customer and for the business.

Why and when are they useful?

For designing

  • Makes visible the end-to-end experience from the customers’ point of view, showing the significant interactions, pathways or expectations we need to understand
  • Explicitly calls out experience factors that were implicitly known, or not known at all
  • Enables conversation based on evidence of what customers actually think, do and use (not assumption or gut feel)

For implementing

  • Provides the human context for the service blueprint and the connection to the business change that is proposed
  • Enables the team to really understand what it is to be in the customers’ shoes
  • Ensures the customers’ voice is easily represented and referenced during development and building

As communication tool

  • Provides a focus and reference for conversations and workshopping with many different people
  • Captures at a visual level complex information and saves time in getting people on the same page because it doesn’t require lengthy text to explain it

What’s in a customer experience map?

There are six dimensions and three components of experience the map should capture. These represent important reference points for features of the service design – e.g. how the service is found, who uses it, what they’re looking for, what information they use, who and what is of most help etc. By capturing these experiential aspects we ensure the customers’ voice is represented as the service is designed and implemented.

6 Dimensions: These dimensions help extract content for the map and generate conversation during the mapping. The responses help in considering what is to be recommended in the design.

  1. Time/duration
  2. Interactivity
  3. Intensity
  4. Breadth/consistency
  5. Sensoral/cognitive triggers
  6. Siginificance/meaning

3 components: These represent the key content of the map itself. Simply put, what people:

  1. Think
  2. Do
  3. Use

So how do you make one?

Ideally begin as a team, using the research outputs (frameworks, models, insights) and shared knowledge to plot the journey. The point of the initial mapping is generating team conversation.

  • Ask a simple question from the customers’ perspective in terms of their goal, for example: “what is the experience of going through a drive-through?” and plot a simple journey using the most typical customer type
  • Draw out the journey – on a whiteboard/with post-its/on a wall – whatever works for the team
  • Make sure you explore the whole experience, not just when it touches the service. You can use scenarios and storytelling to plot the details. If you have developed personas or customer typologies plot their journey through the service experience

After your initial plot refer to the six dimensions and three components in detail to ensure all aspects of experience are addressed. (This may have started this during the initial plot to generate conversation or identify and dig into details). You may go through multiple maps but you want to get to a single summarising map which includes:

  • A name, event trigger(s), customer types, a key to the symbols, the map itself of what customer think, do and use from beginning, middle and end of their experience, specific breakdown of all touchpoints/interactions, and breakdown of level of intensity/emotion, and conclusions about map in terms of opportunity to improve or leverage change.
  • Make sure to capture the design decisions or recommendations as you map – the map is just the vehicle for your evidence. The conclusions you make from the exercise are what informs the recommended changes to meet the intent.

The key aspects in terms of customer actions are now able to be plotted for the service blueprint. To further draw out design decisions, compare the service blueprint with the customer experience:

  • For points of pain/failpoints – what are the responses/options the service solution address?
  • For points of pleasure – what are the things the service must keep?
  • Are there areas that take more time for the customer than we expect – what does this mean for the design and implementation of the service?
  • Are all the touchpoints and interactions within our control? Are there interactions the customer relies on that we aren’t aware of or may be able to leverage?
  • Is the reason why a customer interacts with us reconciled with how we treat the service?

Maps and Service Blueprints
While the Customer Experience Map represents the experience from the customers’ perspective, a Service Blueprint represents the service from the customer and business perspective. The blueprint maps out chronologically and in sequence all the various interactions and actions that occur in parallel when customer and company meet, it shows all the interactions by and with the customer. So it also illustrates the stages and complexity of the encounter and distinguishes between the customer experiences (and decisions) and the systems, invisible to the customer, that operate backstage to ensure that these are delivered.

Together the map and blueprint represent the two key components of service – how it’s experienced and how it works

No designer is a lone genius, shoulders of giants etc, and I must acknowledge in particular three key inputters to the development of this technique (whether they knew it or not: Leslie Tergas (my design mentor) and her old company DSR for the definition of experience, Amber Lindholm for the experience dimensions and great conversations about frameworks, maps and models, and Arne van Oosterom’s 10 steps to customer journey mapping which was the final kick in the proverbial pants to help get this technique finished. I also benefited from a paper by Conifer Research ‘How to find Buried Treasure using Experience Maps‘ which I first read in 2004. (With thanks to for re-finding the Conifer link).

Disclaimer: Design process is a misnomer. In order to do a map or blueprint one must start. Process is just a guide, doing is the best way to do.

Update to Post – 27 June 2010: Here is a link to a high res version of the Map

Update to Post – 4 July 2010: Here are some further musings on Maps

Update to Post – 8 November 2011: Here’s another version of a Map from an actual experience

Update to Post – 15 July 2011: Here a reviewed and updated high res version of the Map

64 Comments leave one →
  1. PunkyMunky permalink
    17 June, 2010 4:29 am

    Great post, this is really interesting. Would it be possible to get a high-res version for a closer look?

    • 17 June, 2010 3:17 pm

      Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, because it’s a real work example I can’t provide a high-res version becuase of operational confidentiality. However, I do plan on doing a version of it with non-work-specific information and publishing that in the next week or so.

      • 18 June, 2010 9:23 am

        Cool! I’d love a copy as well!

  2. 19 June, 2010 8:00 am

    Yes, me too. Please. Thanks. Luis.

  3. 20 June, 2010 3:41 am

    Really great post, best I’ve read on CX design/mapping in a quite a while. Love your 6 dimension, 3 component approach.

    I look forward to a high res example of your maps. Looks great.

    Here’s a direct PDF link to the Conifer Research paper:

    • 20 June, 2010 8:46 pm

      I really appreciate your generous comments. And thanks for the working link to the Conifer paper! I’ve added to the main post.

  4. samantha starmer permalink
    20 June, 2010 5:24 am

    Super helpful post, thank you so much. I am just starting some multi/cross-channel experience mapping for REI (US retailer). Is this the buried treasure article you were looking for?

    • 20 June, 2010 8:45 pm

      Thanks for your comments, and the link – but I get a 404 error when I try and link to it (same as the previous link I had : ( No matter because Tim Sanchez (comment below) sent through a working link : ) Good luck with the mapping – aren’t our jobs great!

  5. 21 June, 2010 5:12 pm

    Great post Mel! Thanks for sharing.

    I think you’ve given a great overview of both a technique and what you can produce when you apply that technique.


  6. 24 June, 2010 10:10 am

    Very nice and helpful…
    I like it Very Much 🙂

  7. 27 June, 2010 6:12 pm

    Thanks Mel Really useful post. Can you put me down for a copy of any generic map you are distributing. Thanks

  8. 1 July, 2010 3:52 am

    Обязательно зайду ещё раз на блог и наверное зарегистрируюсь

    • 1 July, 2010 6:39 pm

      My first Russian comment! If Google translate is close it says “Be sure to visit again on the blog and probably Enrolled” Thank you, you do be sure to visit again.

      • Alexey Ivanov permalink
        16 July, 2010 3:18 am

        Mel, it is more likely to be a spam robot featuring a link to some page and common cooment text for any other blog post on the web.

        Good job with the article, really enjoyed it.

        Your Russian reader

      • 16 July, 2010 7:12 pm

        Well, now I feel kind of web-naive-nerdy. That said, my reaction to any comment (be they from Russian robots or Russian Reader) is delighted surprise that anyone even finds my blog. Thanks for yours Human!

  9. 8 February, 2011 7:15 pm

    Thanks for the article! I just hope there’s a highres copy of the illustration above – an uncensored map would be very helpful.


  10. Beth permalink
    15 June, 2011 2:45 am

    Wow–thanks for sharing this. It’s a great tool to use when crafting a story for the business side of the equation.

    Please add me to the list when you are ready to send out the generic .pdf.

  11. 4 February, 2012 11:13 pm

    Hi Mel,

    Great post!

    Two other dimensions I find useful to consider at each step of the journey mapping are

    1. Customer Goal
    2. Outcome

    It helps assess how well the current step design is serving the customers purpose and guides thought on how to go about modifying it to close the gap.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog!

    • 4 February, 2012 11:21 pm

      Thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right about considering the purpose/motivation of the customer for the start and resolution of the journey. Thanks for highlighting it 🙂

  12. 3 February, 2013 3:48 am

    I made a lot of researches about experience maps and your post was really helpful. The Acknowledgments section was very useful to understand how you came to this. Thank you !

  13. Leon permalink
    31 May, 2013 12:17 pm

    Hi Mel,

    what software did you use to draw/produce the version in the PDF?


    • 2 June, 2013 9:36 pm

      I did the map in InDesign. I’ve done them in Visio before but you really need to be able to sort and edit using layers.

      • 2 May, 2015 6:44 am

        Hello Mel!
        We’ve recently built a tool to create customer journey map online – If you have time to try it, I would love to hear your comments and feedback on it.

        And thank you for your article.
        As seasoned business analyst I like your idea of having both blueprint and customer journey map (CJM). UX specialists that I usually meet are usually stick to just CJM.

      • 27 May, 2015 10:19 pm

        Thanks for your comment! I love a seasoned business analyst and that’s how I learned, in service design anyway, you need both if you want actual change to be able to occur.

  14. 30 September, 2020 5:38 am

    Hello, in the trackbacks, the numbre 32 is about the website I´m writting. I have to say than it´s a broken link. the right is

  15. 29 September, 2011 5:13 pm

    Thanks for including my map in your mapping 101 post! I like your comments about including moments of truth in the highs and lows portion of the map.


  1. & Service Blueprinting «
  2. Vanya’s Blog » Blog Archive » Favourites June 16, 2010
  3. Finding Yourself on the Right Path « future pencil
  4. Digitalia – Links For Wednesday 16th June 2010
  5. links for 2010-06-17 « Onlinejournalismtest's Blog
  6. links for 2010-06-17 | Michael Ong | On9 Systems
  7. Customer Experience Mapping |
  8. Customer Journey Mapping Resources On The Web « Experiencing Information
  9. Links and Bits for June 21st — Alex Jones
  10. #FAV10 – My favorite reads & tweets of 2010 collected – « Wim Rampen's Blog
  11. What is a service? – an exercise «
  12. Customer Journey Sketchboards | the architecture of everything
  13. I heart frameworks «
  14. Cusotmer Journey Maps Resource Links « UX BIG User Xperience
  15. Customer Journey Maps Resource Links « UX BIG User Xperience
  16. Visualizing the customer experience using customer experience journey maps | Designing Change
  17. Customer Experience Mapping & | Serve4Impact
  18. 7 tips voor een optimale cross channel user experience - Frankwatching
  19. Custumor journesys « Mette og Deas forunderlige rejse i specialeland
  20. Conclusion et Bibliographie «
  21. Customer Experience Map – Redux «
  22. Recommending Redux’ Customer Experience Map « Serve4Impact
  23. Useful User Journey Design Links « David Hattingh
  24. Customer Experience Mapping & | vgmoreno / vicone
  25. Guide to Customer Experience Mapping | Ux Design Oslo
  26. Ontwerp je optimale cross channel user experience | Digital Boulevard
  27. Customer journey mapping: klantervaring basis voor strategie en ontwerp | Digital Boulevard
  28. Not a year in review, because it’s nearly February…so it’s more an annual post! (Still with the long titles though) |
  29. How to: Customer Experience Mapping | UX OSLO
  30. Designing for behaviour change – Media Specialist Practise
  31. Service & Customer Experience Maps from Mel Edwards | Reloade
  32. Customer Journey Map, 9 pasos para crear un mapa del viaje del cliente óptimo | El Viaje del Cliente
  33. #701: Experiential Design of Cause-Based Marketing with Empact Labs + OC5 Highlights | Voices of VR Podcast

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: