“... the journey serves as [an organization's] critical link with the activities of individual functions. In this way, the widely distributed operations of thousands of employees in very different areas can deliver a great customer experience.”

Duncan, Fanderl, Maechler, Neher - McKinsey

Journeys are a great tool to gather, cluster, and visualise customer insights across different departments. They offer a common language amongst different teams and colleagues. Also, they enable employees to think from a user point of view and improve the value of the complete experience offered by the company. But ‘journeys’ have become a multi-interpretable concept. We’ll dive into what we believe it means and can be used for.

What are journeys?

“Customer journeys are the framework that allows a company to organize itself and mobilize employees to deliver value to customers consistently, in line with its purpose. The journey construct can help align employees around customer needs, despite functional boundaries” - McKinsey

Journeys are not user flows, although often mistaken for these. The big difference is that user flows follow the intended user flow and assume that this is according to the needed experience. A journey shows the actual order of actions and emotions that come with it, and helps to evaluate user flow.

Then there is a difference between user and customer journeys: a user journey is set up around one touchpoint (often the direct product/website), while a customer journey takes a broader customer context and touchpoints into account.

So what are journeys then exactly? The simplest journey generally includes four layers: (1) general customer phase (often similar to: before, begin, during, and after), (2) specific actions and tasks that a customer performs, (3) emotions experienced, and (4) opportunities that could be taken from this information.

It is possible to add extra layers depending on the project type. Add ‘touchpoints’ or ‘channels’ to highlight that a customer experience also continues across other platforms, channels and mediums, like customer service (phone, chat), sales (phone, email), marketing (email, social media, blogs). The addition of pains and gains offers a perfect bridge to personas and uncovering unmet needs for opportunities.

The scope challenge

If you take a step back, you will start seeing journeys everywhere. Some examples are the app-onboarding journey that we are creating with Ricardo, the user journey to understand conversion drops at CFY, the messenger journey with Homegate, or even an employee onboarding journey for TX Markets. And, right now, we are iterating on the customer journey for JobCloud SMEs. The scope, however, is the biggest challenge. There is a journey possibility everywhere but when and where will it have the desired impact?

The trick is to clearly define (with all involved stakeholders) the current purpose and the future possible value. For JC, for instance, it is important for the whole company to understand the SME customer and explore when and how to best engage with them. Eventually, the journey should be a living artifact that gets constantly updated with new insights and opportunities.


Journeys often lead to uncovering direct business opportunities. Since customer journeys support alignment between departments, often new projects and collaborations follow. At JC for example, simply aligning cross-function on part of the experience (e.g. product and marketing on the notification messages) makes a great difference in experience.

How to set up a journey

  1. Define the goal: do you want to improve a specific product or touchpoint, or the whole experience?
  2. Define the stakeholders that require customer insights as well as those who can provide you with these
  3. Collect customer insights and assumptions to set up a first assumption-based journey
  4. Define with stakeholders the moments that matter: Which moments throughout the journey have the biggest impact on the overall experience? Is it currently positively or negatively experienced?
  5. Add or mark (the riskiest) assumptions: These define the success of the product or offering (e.g. users prefer mobile over desktop)
  6. Let the exploration begin: Research activities to iterate on the journey,with focus on the moments that matter and the (riskiest) assumptions
  7. Explore opportunities for improvement

Roos Durieux, Research Chapter Lead at PUX

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