Customer Journey Mapping and Market Research

Behavioural science

Journey mapping involves capturing the processes, interactions, and touchpoints customers experience when engaging with the purchase of a product or service. Whether it is B2C or B2B, providing a positive customer experience is integral to the success and longevity of any organisation. To ensure our customers have this positive experience, we must first develop an understanding of all the touchpoints and channels they interact with, and how these interactions are experienced. The process of journey mapping allows us to accomplish this understanding. The organisation and illustration of all these interactions results in the journey map.

Compass laying sideways on a map with pinned locations

Designing the journey mapping process involves identifying each touchpoint the customer interacts with to communicate with the brand. Once all touchpoints and channels are mapped out, we can then begin to design and develop the best techniques to build this map – effectively, generating a story and rich understanding of our customer’s journey. The final output is then used to help a larger marketing team focus on the areas in need of most attention.

Questions our Journey Map should answer

Before setting out to design and illustrate a journey map, there are a number of key questions we need to consider – each of which can be directly informed by the journey mapping process.

Who are our customers?

First, who is the customer? Does this customer meet the criteria of a persona we recognise? Each customer-facing brand/organisation will have a considerable understanding of their customers. The journey map should provide the details of the one or many personas of our customer. We never want to assume all of our customers have a shared experience, and it is always possible that the experience varies depending on the type of customers we have. When we position each persona to a journey, the map will have significant value in providing rich insights into the various experiences of our customers. A clear description of each persona can be enough to streamline each journey that you illustrate.

How does context shape our customers’ journey?

The journey map should also provide a clear illustration of the context of the journey. Context is usually defined during the design phase of our research. However, it is equally important that the context of the journey being recorded and captured is highlighted in the map. The benefits of this provide deeper insights into the specifics of how a customer experiences our product/ service. For example, a retailer may have multiple channels their customers can use to purchase a product. They may wish to conduct qualitative and experience research to develop an understanding of just one of the channels where customers use only one payment method. Identifying the context in the mapping process can help us focus on a narrow and specific sequence of events.

What touchpoints do our customers interact with?

The phases and touchpoints of a customer journey can be quite different relative to the objective of the project. For instance, a restaurant may be looking to offer a new online takeaway service. In this scenario, decision-makers will need to develop an understanding of the generic phases that customers go through when ordering food online. Therefore, the phases of this generic process of ordering food online should be mapped. Alternatively, we may require more specific touchpoints. An organisation might need to review their current customer experience of a particular product or service. In this case, all touchpoints and channels the customer has with the brand, such as path-to-purchase through one channel, should be documented and captured.

How do our customers experience each touch point and channel with our brand?

The effectiveness of a journey map is directly related to how we empower our customers to describe their journey with emotion embedded in this description. Customers should be encouraged to describe how they feel and think throughout their journey. When customers invite us into their lives across this journey, the aim is that we build a level of empathy through their emotions. In many ways then, we are also building an empathy map. Illustrating the emotions of the customer across their journey can play an integral role in effective decision making. The adoption of mobile technologies for customer journey mapping can also integrate quantitative features, such as emotion ratings illustrated by emojis. Emojis can provide a quick high-level understanding of the emotions customers experience across their journey.

When we dive into the data and media content that is built out across the journey map, we must highlight the pain points identified by our customers. To simply put it, any negative experience encountered by our customers on their within-context journey is referred to as a pain point. Paint points play a significant role in the design of new products or future iterations of current products and services that are already out there in the market. As previously stated, one of the goals of developing a journey map is to gain a rich understanding of the experiences of our customers. This includes empathising with all the positive and negative interactions our customers have experienced. 

Journey Mapping in a growing digital landscape – The power of online tools

Online ethnography (also known as virtual/ digital or mobile ethnography) refers to the use of Smartphones to capture insights from respondents. It is usually a task-based approach where respondents have to complete several tasks (often over a period of time). Using their own smartphones they can upload notes, phones and videos as well as screen recordings providing rich context alongside their responses.  

Key Features of Digital Ethnography

The following represent some of the key characteristics of digital ethnography solutions:

  • Great for MultiMarket Research
  • Mobile Screen Recording
  • Automated Video Transcription (AVT)
  • Versatile Platform
  • UI/ UI Optimized for Ease of Use
  • ISO Accredited
  • HIPAA Compliant

How to Leverage  Online Ethnography to create your customer journey map?

The use of online and digital technologies that enable the design of ethnographic techniques can provide substantial benefits to market researchers and organisations. A diary study conducted through the use of video recordings by customers allows researchers to gain unanticipated insights. The unobtrusive nature of online ethnography empowers customers to describe their true feelings at every touchpoint and pain point of their journey with a brand. In addition, diaries are obtained instantly, and researchers can be informed on the developments in the journey in real-time. This significantly reduces the time spent in completing a journey mapping study in a traditional in-person observational manner. Online ethnography can complement the development of journey maps where a multitude of media content can be leveraged to design the final customer journey map


In summary, customer journey mapping is integral to the decision making process of many organisations and brands. Capturing the experiences of customers as they describe each step of their journey with a brand to the final point of the interaction can enable market researchers to develop a rich understanding of this key stakeholder – but most importantly, empathy can be built through the often unanticipated insights that can be uncovered.

Ian Twohig is a Senior Research Strategist at Indeemo, the leading diary study application.