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Customer Journey Mapping to Better Understand Your Users

When you’re building a product, you’re building it for your users — not yourself. To understand their needs and design with their experience in mind, you need to grasp how your target audience approaches your product at a fundamental level. The best way to accomplish this is to empathize with customers by standing in their shoes and seeing the business from their perspective.

So how do you actually do that? Let’s talk about it.
What is Customer Journey Mapping?

There are plenty of exercises that can help you understand your customers, and each one is helpful in different ways. Right now, I want to share my experience with one design thinking tool that I find really useful: customer journey mapping.

Customer journey mapping is a visual representation of every experience customers have while using a service or product. It also provides insights into common customer pain points, which can guide how the company improves the customer experience. From there, you can define what customers (and prospective customers) need in order to achieve your development goals.

At the end of a well-managed workshop, you’ll have identified specific pain points and developed some ideas on how you can address them. There are many variations of customer journey mapping, but all of them have two things in common:

  • They break down seemingly long and complex processes into smaller chunks.
  • hey represent how the user feels at each step of the product journey.
Also, there are a few key components that should be included in each map.
  • Before customer journey mapping, create a persona — the profile of the user who experiences the journey. You can do this based on research or interviews with end-users.
  • Remember to include the user’s goals, motivations, and frustrations. It’s also worth adding a short background of this particular user.
  • The scenario describes the situation that the journey map addresses and that's experienced by the user.
  • Split scenario into a sequence of events.
  • Scenarios can be real (for existing products/services) or anticipated.
Actions, Mindsets, and Feelings
  • Actions are the behaviors and steps taken by users.
  • Mindsets are users’ thoughts, questions, and motivations.
  • Feelings — users’ happy moments and downs/pain points.
  • Opportunities for the product you want to build.
  • How the user experience can be optimized.

Let’s look at an example of customer journey mapping for online grocery shopping and order delivery, to illustrate how all of these components come together.

How Can You Run an Effective Customer Journey Mapping Workshop?
Asking Key Questions

First, you’ll need to ask yourself some key questions. The answers to these questions will help you set goals, refine your process, and make sure you get the best possible results out of your workshop.

  • Who can participate?
  • Product Owner (as a facilitator)
  • Stakeholders (business owners, etc.)
  • UX designer
  • Tech expert or development team
  • Scrum Master
  • How many people can participate?
  • There’s no limit. But if the group is bigger, e.g. 10 people, it may be better to split participants into 2 separate groups, each with their own facilitator. Each group can prepare their own customer journey for a different persona.
  • How long should it be?
  • 2 to 4 hours, depending on the process complexity.
Preparing for Different Kinds of Workshops

Next, make sure you have everything you need to effectively lead your workshop. This will depend on how you’re organizing it: either in-person or remote. Remote workshops require more flexibility and familiarity with the tools you intend to use, but, if there’s a will, there’s a way!

  • In-person workshops:
  • A big piece of paper/wall where you can add post-it notes
  • Post-it notes in different colors
  • Markers
  • Photos and description of personas
  • Tape
  • Remote workshops:
  • Online whiteboard (I usually use or another dedicated tool
  • Zoom application for remote meetings with breakout rooms option
Getting Your Participants Ready

After you’ve prepared yourself to lead your workshop, take the time to get all of your participants on the same page. That way, you can all hit the ground running with a shared objective and a mutual understanding of how the workshop will operate. You’ll want to make sure that everyone:

  • Knows the product vision
  • Knows the personas with their pain points identified
  • Understands the client’s business goals
  • Has access to the workshop agenda
  • Has access to your online tools
Conducting Your Workshop

Being an effective workshop leader means spending the group’s time wisely. When I lead workshops, I try to follow this progression of action items for a specific amount of time.

  • Start with your agenda. Make sure that everyone understands the vision, the business goals, and personas. Also, remember to keep personas in a visible place so participants can reference them at any time. 5 minutes.
  • Make the introduction and show an example of Customer Journey Mapping as a method. 5 minutes.
  • Explain how the workshop will run. 5 minutes.
  • Split attendees into teams (depending on the number of personas you have). Try to have cross-functional teams. 5 minutes.
  • Assign one persona per team. 5 minutes.
  • Teams work on journeys. 1 hour.
  • Brainstorm pain points and opportunities from the user’s perspective. 20 minutes (10 min each team).
  • Relaying journeys and opportunities. 20 minutes (10 min each team).
  • Make sure everything is clear for all participants.

By following this rough outline, you can hit your key points, guide your participants efficiently, and help everyone get the most out of your workshop. Best of luck with your customer journey mapping!

Note: This blog post has been adapted from an original Medium article written by VentureDevs Product Owner Magdalena Gołza.

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