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Customer journey mapping: A tool to bring your innovation ideas closer to the customer

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer experience. At MTI², we extend the traditional customer journey mapping to ensure it is valuable both in the early stages of ideation and when generating solutions for the needs of a specific customer. But

what is customer journey mapping and why can it be such a powerful tool for innovators?

What is it?

A customer journey map is simple tool to let ideators get to know their customers better and explore potential improvements in the customer experience with an eye not only on how to create value for the customer but also how to extract value for the firm. To map the journey of a customer, you need to score customers’ experience with an offering across all its touchpoints (i.e. interactions).

At MTI², we extended standard customer journey maps to ensure it is a valuable tool to

understand at the same time how to create customer value and find new ways to extract value. Therefore, we help innovators use customer journey mapping in two different ways:

  • Customer journey maps as an empathy tool: Innovators can first use customer journey mapping to better understand the current experience of their target customers. At this stage, customer journey mapping serves an exploratory purpose, i.e., it helps innovators explore and understand the goals and experiences of the customer at each identified touchpoint.

  • Customer journey maps as an ideation tool: Next innovators can use customer journey mapping to discover ways to improve the customer’s experience, i.e., to generate solutions that create value for customers across different touchpoints. Importantly, at this stage we also use customer journey mapping to discover ways to extract value for the company.

How to make a Customer Journey Map?

You can start with using the customer journey map as an “empathy tool” to better understand the current experiences of the customer across the different touchpoints. Next, you use it as an "ideation tool" to generate ideas to improve the customer journey.

Customer journey mapping to better understand the customer experience

To better understand the current customer journey, you can map it in three simple steps:

  • Step 1 - Gather information on the customer journey: At this stage, the goal is to learn how the current journey of the customer looks like. The assumption is that you have pre-identified a clear customer. You then need to talk or observe customers and search other data sources to learn as much as you can about customers’ experience. It is important to start by identifying and agreeing on a set of touchpoints that you find most relevant for the customer. When we coach innovation teams, we often help them get started with easy tools and techniques such as “a day in the life” of the customer and “moments of truth” identification (i.e., identifying the most important touchpoints from a customer’s perspective).

  • Step 2 – Evaluate the customer experience at each touchpoint: At this stage, you score the customer’s experience at each touchpoint. You can score the customer experience using key metrics such as customer satisfaction (the classical metric used in customer journeys), or other customer experience outcomes (e.g., willingness to recommend, trust, etc). The figure below, for example, shows a standard 5-point measure of customer satisfaction/happiness.

  • Step 3 – Draw the current customer journey map: Armed with the scores for the customer experience at each touchpoint, you can then draw your customer journey map using a 2-dimensionsal graph where you include touchpoints in the x-axis and the customer experience score in the y-axis (see the Figures below, where we use the example of a traditional circus and capture the experience of their customer).

Customer journey mapping to generate ideas to improve the customer experience

Once you have the current customer journey mapped out, you are ready to use the customer journey map as an “ideation tool”. To do so, you need to revisit the different touchpoints and consider both ways to improve the customer experience (e.g., how to make the customer happier?) and ways to increase profitability. Please consider that it is typically unrealistic (or unprofitable) to attempt to delight all customers at every touchpoint.

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Using customer journey maps as an ideation tool requires three additional steps:

  • Step 1 - Improve customer experience or firm profitability within current touchpoints: At this stage, the goal is to revisit each of the touchpoints above and generate ideas on how to improve either customer value or firm profitability at each touchpoint. For instance, when Guy Laliberté founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984, he decided to eliminate performing animals from the circus, which helped define Cirque du Soleil as an animal-free circus, a key characteristic of the “nouveau cirque” (see the Figure below).

  • Step 2 – Consider ways to improve customer experience or firm profitability by adding new touchpoints: You can also consider introducing completely new touchpoints, which will alter the customer journey even more into the direction of a completely new journey. For example, Cirque du Soleil decided to replace the traditional circus tents with unique venues and add several artistic, theatrical, and character-driven choreographies that helped transform the experience of the customer and the concept of a “circus”. This resulted in a new set of touchpoints (see Figure below).

  • Step 3 – Bringing it all together: Once you have converged into your new customer journey map, it is time not only to draw it afresh, but also to gain some more depth on the reasoning behind each final touchpoint. We typically help teams reflect, for each touchpoint, on (i) what are the customer goals at that touchpoint, (ii) what improvement(s) over current experience does the touchpoint in the new journey brings and (iii) what will be the benefit for the company. The last point is critical to ensure the exercise focuses not only on customer value creation but, importantly, on value extraction for the company. We often use the template tool below for this purpose (see Figure).

Why do it?

There are four key benefits of using customer journey mapping during innovation, which we summarize in the Figure below:

To Conclude

By employing customer journey mapping when developing new solutions and ideas, innovation teams can develop a better understanding of the customer experience, rapidly identify opportunities to create value for customers and reflect on how they would monetize those value creation opportunities.

If you want to learn more about how we use customer journey maps, please don’t hesitate to get in touch (e.g., via

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