What is a Customer Journey? A Complete 2024 Guide

Understanding your customer's journey is critical for business success. In this guide, we cover the stages of a customer journey, the benefits of mapping it out, and the best tools and practices for optimization.

20-minute read

Understanding your customer's journey is critical for business success in 2024. A customer journey maps out every interaction a customer has with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase engagement.

In this guide, we discuss the importance of the customer journey and how it can drive results. We'll cover the 5 stages of the customer journey, the benefits of mapping it out, and the best practices for optimisation.

Let's get stuck in.

What is a Customer Journey?

  • A customer journey encompasses all interactions a customer has with a brand
  • It starts from initial awareness and continues through post-purchase engagement
  • Understanding the customer journey is crucial for optimizing the customer experience

A customer journey is the complete experience a customer has with a brand, from their first encounter to their most recent interaction. It includes every touchpoint across various channels and devices, such as websites, social media, email, phone calls, and in-person interactions. The journey spans from initial awareness to post-purchase support and ongoing engagement.

Example of a Customer Journey

To illustrate a typical customer journey, let's consider the following scenario:

  1. A customer discovers a brand through a targeted social media advertisement
  2. Intrigued, they visit the company's website to learn more about its products or services
  3. They compare prices, features, and benefits with competitors' offerings
  4. After careful consideration, they make a purchase decision and complete the transaction
  5. Following the purchase, they receive post-purchase support and engage with the brand through various channels

This example demonstrates how a customer moves through different stages of the journey, from awareness to consideration, decision-making, and ultimately, loyalty and advocacy.

Types of Customer Journeys

Customer journeys can vary significantly depending on the nature of the business and its target audience. Two main types of customer journeys are Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B).

B2C Customer Journey

B2C customer journeys focus on individual consumers and typically involve a shorter sales cycle. The emphasis is on creating an emotional connection with the brand and fostering long-term loyalty. Key characteristics of B2C customer journeys include:

  • Personalized experiences tailored to individual preferences
  • Emphasis on brand storytelling and value proposition
  • Shorter decision-making process, often influenced by impulse or emotion
  • Importance of social proof and user-generated content

B2B Customer Journey

In contrast, B2B customer journeys focus on business clients and often involve a longer, more complex sales cycle with multiple decision-makers. The emphasis is on demonstrating return on investment (ROI) and building long-term relationships. Key characteristics of B2B customer journeys include:

  • Longer sales cycles with multiple touchpoints and decision-makers
  • Emphasis on product or service functionality, reliability, and support
  • Importance of thought leadership and educational content
  • Focus on building trust and demonstrating expertise

Understanding the differences between B2C and B2B customer journeys is crucial for developing effective strategies to engage and convert potential customers. By tailoring the approach to the specific needs and preferences of each audience, brands can create more meaningful and impactful experiences throughout the customer journey.

The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey

  • Understanding the customer journey is crucial for creating effective marketing strategies
  • The 5 stages of the customer journey are: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Retention, and Advocacy
  • By mapping out the customer journey, businesses can identify opportunities to improve the customer experience


In the awareness stage, the customer becomes aware of a need or problem they want to solve. They may not be actively searching for a solution yet, but they are open to learning more about potential options. This is where the customer first discovers your brand through various channels such as search engines, social media, advertisements, or word-of-mouth referrals.

To effectively reach customers in the awareness stage, businesses should focus on creating content that educates and informs. This can include blog posts, videos, infographics, or social media posts that address common pain points and provide valuable information related to the customer's needs.

Key Strategies for the Awareness Stage

  • Optimize your website for search engines to improve visibility
  • Create valuable content that addresses customer pain points
  • Leverage social media to reach a wider audience and engage with potential customers


Once a customer is aware of their problem and potential solutions, they enter the consideration stage. In this stage, the customer actively researches and compares different options to determine which one best meets their needs. They may visit your website, read reviews, or seek recommendations from friends and family.

To engage customers in the consideration stage, businesses should provide detailed information about their products or services. This can include product descriptions, case studies, testimonials, and comparison guides that help customers make an informed decision.

Key Strategies for the Consideration Stage

  • Provide detailed product or service information on your website
  • Offer case studies and testimonials to build trust and credibility
  • Create comparison guides to help customers evaluate their options


In the decision stage, the customer evaluates their options and makes a purchase decision. They have narrowed down their choices and are ready to select the brand that best meets their needs and preferences. This is a critical stage where businesses need to make it easy for customers to complete their purchase.

To convert customers in the decision stage, businesses should focus on creating a seamless and user-friendly purchase process. This can include offering multiple payment options, providing clear pricing information, and ensuring a smooth checkout experience.

Key Strategies for the Decision Stage

  • Offer a user-friendly purchase process with multiple payment options
  • Provide clear pricing information and any applicable discounts or promotions
  • Ensure a smooth and secure checkout experience to reduce cart abandonment


After a customer makes a purchase, they enter the retention stage. In this stage, the customer uses the product or service and engages with the brand for support and additional purchases. The goal is to keep the customer satisfied and encourage them to make repeat purchases.

To retain customers, businesses should focus on providing excellent customer service and support. This can include offering helpful resources, responding promptly to customer inquiries, and regularly communicating with customers to ensure their satisfaction.

Key Strategies for the Retention Stage

  • Provide excellent customer service and support
  • Offer helpful resources and tutorials to ensure customer success
  • Regularly communicate with customers to gather feedback and address any concerns


In the advocacy stage, a satisfied customer becomes a loyal advocate for your brand. They are likely to recommend your products or services to others and leave positive reviews. This stage is crucial for driving growth and acquiring new customers through word-of-mouth referrals.

To encourage customer advocacy, businesses should focus on creating exceptional customer experiences that exceed expectations. This can include going above and beyond to solve customer problems, offering personalized recommendations, and rewarding loyal customers with exclusive perks or discounts.

Key Strategies for the Advocacy Stage

  • Create exceptional customer experiences that exceed expectations
  • Offer personalized recommendations and exclusive perks for loyal customers
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews and refer others to your brand

Benefits of Understanding the Customer Journey


  • Improve customer experience by identifying pain points and creating personalized experiences
  • Develop targeted marketing strategies for each stage of the journey to maximize ROI
  • Increase customer loyalty and retention by meeting customer needs and fostering long-term relationships

Improved Customer Experience

Understanding the customer journey allows businesses to identify and address pain points that customers may encounter along the way. By mapping out the entire journey, from initial awareness to post-purchase support, companies can pinpoint areas where customers may experience frustration, confusion, or dissatisfaction. This insight enables businesses to proactively address these issues and streamline the customer experience.

For example, if a company discovers that customers often struggle to find relevant product information on their website, they can take steps to improve the site's navigation and search functionality. By providing clear, easily accessible information, businesses can reduce customer friction and enhance the overall user experience.

Additionally, understanding the customer journey enables businesses to create a seamless and personalized experience across all touchpoints. By leveraging customer data and insights, companies can tailor their interactions to individual preferences and needs. This personalization can include targeted content, product recommendations, and customized support, all of which contribute to a more engaging and satisfying customer experience.

Enhanced Marketing Strategies

Mapping the customer journey provides valuable insights that can inform and optimize marketing strategies. By understanding the unique needs, challenges, and motivations of customers at each stage of the journey, businesses can develop targeted campaigns that resonate with their audience.

For instance, a company may discover that potential customers in the awareness stage respond well to educational content that addresses their pain points. Armed with this knowledge, the marketing team can create blog posts, whitepapers, or webinars that provide valuable information and establish the company as a thought leader in their industry.

Similarly, understanding the customer journey allows businesses to allocate their marketing resources more effectively. By identifying the most critical touchpoints and channels for each stage of the journey, companies can focus their efforts on the areas that have the greatest impact on customer decision-making. This targeted approach helps maximize return on investment (ROI) and ensures that marketing budgets are spent wisely.

Increased Customer Loyalty and Retention

A deep understanding of the customer journey is crucial for fostering long-term relationships and increasing customer loyalty and retention. By consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations at every stage of the journey, businesses can build trust and establish a strong emotional connection with their audience.

When companies demonstrate a genuine understanding of their customers' needs and preferences, they are better equipped to provide the right support and solutions at the right time. This proactive approach helps customers feel valued and appreciated, which in turn encourages repeat purchases and brand advocacy.

Moreover, by identifying potential churn points in the customer journey, businesses can take proactive measures to prevent customer attrition. For example, if a company notices that customers often cancel their subscriptions after a certain period, they can reach out with personalized offers, incentives, or support to address any concerns and retain their business.

The Role of Customer Feedback in Retention

Actively seeking and incorporating customer feedback is another essential aspect of increasing loyalty and retention. By providing multiple channels for customers to share their experiences and opinions, such as surveys, reviews, or social media, businesses can gain valuable insights into areas for improvement.

According to a study by Microsoft, 77% of consumers view brands more favorably if they proactively invite and accept customer feedback. By demonstrating a willingness to listen and adapt based on customer input, companies can strengthen relationships and foster a sense of loyalty among their audience.

Improved Product Development and Innovation

Understanding the customer journey can also drive product development and innovation. By gaining deep insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors, businesses can identify opportunities for new products or features that address unmet demands in the market.

For example, if a company discovers that customers often struggle with a particular aspect of their product, they can use this feedback to guide improvements in future iterations. This customer-centric approach to product development ensures that businesses are creating solutions that genuinely resonate with their target audience.

Additionally, by monitoring customer interactions and analyzing data across the entire journey, companies can spot emerging trends and anticipate future needs. This proactive approach to innovation allows businesses to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge in their industry.

The Importance of Customer Journey Analytics

To fully leverage the benefits of understanding the customer journey, businesses must invest in robust analytics and data management systems. By collecting and analyzing data from various touchpoints, such as website interactions, social media engagement, and customer support interactions, companies can gain a holistic view of the customer experience.

Customer journey analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or Salesforce Marketing Cloud, can help businesses track and visualize customer behavior across multiple channels. These insights can then be used to identify areas for improvement, optimize marketing strategies, and inform product development decisions.

Enhanced Customer Service and Support

A deep understanding of the customer journey is essential for providing exceptional customer service and support. By mapping out the post-purchase experience, businesses can identify potential pain points and proactively address customer concerns.

For instance, if a company discovers that customers often have questions about product setup or installation, they can create detailed guides, video tutorials, or FAQs to provide the necessary support. By anticipating customer needs and offering timely, relevant assistance, businesses can reduce frustration and improve overall satisfaction.

Moreover, understanding the customer journey enables support teams to provide more personalized and empathetic service. By having access to a customer's history, preferences, and previous interactions, support representatives can tailor their approach and offer solutions that are specific to each individual's unique situation. This level of personalization can greatly enhance the customer experience and foster long-term loyalty.

The Power of Proactive Support

Proactive support is another key benefit of understanding the customer journey. By identifying potential issues before they arise, businesses can reach out to customers with helpful information, resources, or solutions. This proactive approach demonstrates a commitment to customer success and can help prevent minor concerns from escalating into major problems.

For example, if a company knows that a customer's subscription is about to expire, they can send a reminder email with renewal instructions or special offers. By proactively addressing this potential churn point, businesses can increase retention and show customers that they value their continued business.

By understanding the customer journey, businesses can create a seamless, personalized, and supportive experience that drives customer loyalty, retention, and ultimately, revenue growth.

Analyzing the Customer Journey for Optimization

  • Identify friction points and areas for improvement
  • Measure key metrics to track progress and inform decisions
  • Gain insights into customer behavior and preferences

Customer journey analysis is the process of evaluating how customers interact with your brand at each touchpoint, from initial awareness to post-purchase support. By analyzing the customer journey, businesses can identify areas for improvement, optimize the customer experience, and ultimately drive growth.

Identify Friction Points

To optimize the customer journey, it's essential to pinpoint areas where customers experience difficulties or frustrations. These friction points can occur at any stage of the journey, from a confusing website navigation to a lengthy checkout process.

Start by reviewing customer feedback, support tickets, and user behavior data to identify common pain points. Look for patterns in customer complaints, high bounce rates on specific pages, or low conversion rates at certain stages of the journey.

Conduct User Testing

User testing is a valuable tool for identifying friction points. Observe how users interact with your website, product, or service, and note any areas where they struggle or express frustration. This can be done through in-person testing, remote user testing, or even heat mapping tools that track user behavior on your site.

Prioritize Improvements

Once you've identified friction points, prioritize them based on their impact on the customer experience and your business goals. Focus on addressing the most critical issues first, such as simplifying a complex checkout process or improving the mobile user experience.

Measure Key Metrics

To track the success of your optimization efforts, it's crucial to measure key metrics throughout the customer journey. These metrics can help you understand how customers are interacting with your brand and identify areas for further improvement.

Track Conversion Rates

Conversion rates are a critical metric to track at each stage of the customer journey. This can include the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action, such as filling out a form, making a purchase, or subscribing to a newsletter. By monitoring conversion rates, you can identify potential roadblocks and optimize the journey to improve results.

Monitor Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a key indicator of the overall success of your customer journey. Use surveys, feedback forms, and net promoter scores (NPS) to gauge customer sentiment at various touchpoints. This can help you identify areas where customers are particularly happy or dissatisfied, allowing you to make targeted improvements.

Analyze Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the total amount of money a customer is expected to spend with your business over the course of their relationship. By analyzing CLV, you can identify customer segments that are most valuable to your business and focus on optimizing their journey to maximize retention and revenue.

By continuously analyzing and optimizing the customer journey, businesses can improve the overall customer experience, increase loyalty, and drive long-term growth. This iterative process requires a data-driven approach, a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences, and a commitment to continuous improvement.


Leveraging Customer Journey Touchpoints for Success

  • Identify and optimize high-impact touchpoints to influence customer decisions
  • Ensure consistency across all channels for a cohesive brand experience
  • Personalize interactions using customer data to improve engagement and loyalty

Customer touchpoints are the various points of interaction between a customer and a business throughout the customer journey. These interactions can occur through various channels, such as websites, social media, email, phone calls, or in-person encounters. By leveraging these touchpoints effectively, businesses can drive customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.

Prioritize High-Impact Touchpoints

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, "companies that excel in delivering journeys tend to win in the market. They achieve higher revenue growth and customer satisfaction, and lower costs to serve, all while creating a more engaged and loyal customer base".

To prioritize high-impact touchpoints, businesses should:

  1. Identify the touchpoints that have the greatest influence on customer decisions and emotions. These may include initial product discovery, the purchase process, and post-purchase support.

  2. Allocate resources to optimize these critical interactions, ensuring that customers have a positive experience at each stage.

As Annette Franz, founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc., states, "Touchpoints are important, but they are not the journey. The journey is the entire experience, from the customer's perspective, and touchpoints are just one part of that journey".

Ensure Consistency Across Touchpoints

Delivering a cohesive brand experience across all channels is crucial for building trust and loyalty with customers. Inconsistent messaging, visuals, or tone can lead to confusion and erode customer confidence in a brand.

To ensure consistency:

  1. Develop a clear brand voice and visual guidelines that are applied consistently across all touchpoints.

  2. Train employees to understand and embody the brand's values and communication style when interacting with customers.

"Consistency is the key to building a strong brand identity and fostering customer trust," says Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert. "When customers know what to expect from your brand at every interaction, they feel more confident in their relationship with you."

Personalize Interactions

Personalizing customer interactions based on their preferences, behaviors, and history can significantly improve engagement and loyalty. By using customer data to tailor experiences, businesses can demonstrate that they value and understand their customers' needs.

To personalize interactions:

  1. Collect and analyze customer data from various sources, such as website analytics, CRM systems, and social media.

  2. Use this data to segment customers and deliver targeted content, recommendations, and support.

"Personalization is not about first/last name. It's about relevant content and interaction that let customers know you value them and understand their needs," notes Kristin Smaby, customer experience expert and author of "Being Human is Good Business".

By prioritizing high-impact touchpoints, ensuring consistency across channels, and personalizing interactions, businesses can effectively leverage customer journey touchpoints to drive success. These strategies help build stronger customer relationships, increase loyalty, and ultimately contribute to business growth.

References: McKinsey & Company. (n.d.). The Three Cs of Customer Satisfaction: Consistency, Consistency, Consistency. CX Journey Inc. (n.d.). About Annette Franz. Hyken, S. (n.d.). Customer Service and Experience Expert. Smaby, K. (n.d.). Being Human is Good Business.

Customer Journey Mapping Tools and Software

Customer journey mapping tools help teams visualize the customer experience. They provide a shared view of the customer's interactions with your brand.

In our testing, we found two leading tools: Smaply and UXPressia. Both offer drag-and-drop interfaces to map journeys across touchpoints.


Smaply is a web-based tool for collaboratively mapping customer experiences. Key features include:

  • Persona templates to define target customers
  • Journey map editor with customizable touchpoints
  • Ability to add notes, images, and files to maps
  • Team collaboration and commenting


UXPressia is another leading journey mapping platform. Its main features are:

  • Premade journey map templates
  • Drag-and-drop touchpoint editor
  • Impact score to prioritize touchpoints
  • Integrations with analytics tools

| Feature | Smaply | UXPressia | |---------|--------|-----------| | Persona templates | _ | _ |
| Touchpoint editor | _ | _ | | Collaboration | _ | _ | | Analytics integration | | _ | | Impact scores | | _ |

Comparison of Features and Pricing

Both Smaply and UXPressia offer tiered pricing based on features and team size.

Smaply's plans start at $25/month for a single user. The Team plan at $75/month includes 3 users and additional collaboration features.

UXPressia offers a free plan with limited maps. Paid plans start at $24/month per user, with enterprise pricing available.

In our assessment, UXPressia comes out ahead for its additional analytics and prioritization features. The impact score helps teams focus on the most critical touchpoints.

However, Smaply may be sufficient for smaller teams just getting started with journey mapping. Its simple interface and affordable entry price make it accessible.

The right tool depends on your team's specific needs and maturity level. Consider your requirements for collaboration, integration, and analysis in making a selection.

Best Practices for Customer Journey Management


  • Regularly updating journey maps keeps them relevant
  • Cross-functional collaboration ensures a holistic view
  • Customer feedback drives continuous improvement

Regularly Review and Update the Customer Journey Map

Customer journeys are not static - they evolve as customer behaviors, preferences, and market conditions change. Forrester Research recommends revisiting journey maps at least quarterly to ensure they accurately reflect the current customer experience.

David Truog, VP & Research Director at Forrester, emphasizes the importance of keeping journey maps up to date: "Journey maps are not one-and-done exercises. They need to be living documents that are regularly reviewed and updated as the business and customer needs change".

Outdated journey maps can lead to misaligned priorities and wasted resources. By treating journey mapping as an ongoing process, companies can stay attuned to shifts in customer expectations and quickly adapt their strategies.

Best Practices for Maintaining Journey Maps

  • Schedule quarterly reviews with key stakeholders
  • Assign ownership for keeping maps updated
  • Establish a process for incorporating changes based on customer feedback and analytics insights

Involve Cross-Functional Teams in Journey Mapping and Optimization

Creating and optimizing customer journeys requires input and collaboration from across the organization. Marketing, sales, customer service, product, and operations teams all play a role in shaping the end-to-end customer experience.

According to McKinsey & Company, organizations with tightly aligned cross-functional teams achieve 17% faster revenue growth and 14% higher customer satisfaction scores. By involving diverse perspectives in journey mapping, companies can uncover opportunities and pain points that might be missed with a siloed approach.

Tips for Fostering Cross-Functional Collaboration

  • Assemble a core journey mapping team with representatives from each department
  • Hold regular workshops to align on customer needs and brainstorm improvements
  • Establish shared KPIs and incentives tied to customer experience outcomes

Continuously Gather and Act on Customer Feedback

The most successful companies put the customer at the center of every decision. They continuously gather feedback through surveys, interviews, social listening, and behavioral analytics to understand what's working and where there's room for improvement.

"You have to be listening to your customers constantly and taking their feedback to heart," says Shep Hyken, customer service expert and bestselling author. "The companies that win are the ones that are always asking, 'How can we make this better for our customers?'"

Acting on customer feedback demonstrates that you value their input and are committed to meeting their needs. It's not enough to simply collect feedback - there must be processes in place to analyze the data, prioritize improvements, and close the loop with customers.

Ways to Operationalize Customer Feedback

  • Set up automated surveys at key touchpoints like post-purchase and customer service interactions
  • Monitor social media and review sites for unsolicited feedback
  • Create a centralized system for aggregating and sharing feedback insights across teams
  • Close the loop with customers to let them know their feedback was heard and acted upon

By making customer journey management a continuous, collaborative process powered by customer insights, companies can deliver the seamless, personalized experiences that drive loyalty and growth.

Mastering the Customer Journey in 2024

The customer journey is the backbone of your business's success. By understanding and optimizing each stage, from awareness to advocacy, you can create a seamless experience that delights customers and drives growth.

Mapping the journey helps you identify pain points, personalize interactions, and allocate resources effectively. With the right tools and best practices, you can continuously improve the customer experience and foster long-term relationships.

So, where do you go from here? Start by gathering your team and mapping out your customer journey. Analyze the data, prioritize high-impact touchpoints, and develop targeted strategies for each stage. Most importantly, listen to your customers and act on their feedback.

Are you ready to take your customer experience to the next level in 2024?

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