The very first step when using the Accelerate in Experience framework is to define the customer journeys.

There are many approaches to map the customer journey. But which one is the best?

In this blog, I’ll share with you the best approach for journey mapping, when your goal is to find the real drivers of your customers’ experience.

It’s a proven method across different organisations, branches and countries.

Using those real, latent drivers, you will find what actually matters to them in each step of their journey, so you can improve satisfaction with measurable results in the short and long term.

A comprehensive, yet easy to follow guide, so you can apply this, with your team, in your own organization.

But first, the CX in 1 minute introduction on Customer Journey Mapping:

Contents of this Guide

1. The Issue with Qualitative Journey Mapping

2. Journey Mapping in the Accelerate in Experience Framework

2.1 Defining the Main Customer Journey

2.2 Choosing the right Detailed Journey(s)

2.3 Defining the Detailed Journey

2.3.1 Finding the Right Participants

2.3.2 Running the Journey Workshop

2.3.3 Mantras for Facilitators

1. The Issue with Qualitative Journey Mapping

You have probably seen and maybe even created customer journey maps like this one:

This emotional journey is often mapped in qualitative sessions with employees and/or customers who are in the target group.

And this journey is mostly combined with the use of personas.

This approach works well if you want to create more customer awareness in the organization.

To help employees think from the customer perspective.

It is also used to find what matters to customers, and to find quick wins or structural improvements along the journey.

And that’s where it can go wrong.

When you have this list of, let’s say 20 improvements to enhance the journey, you have no idea whether these are the improvements that are the most important.

Why not? Because people are not rational human beings.

When you ask in the workshop attended by the customers, what is most important to them in their journey, they may say (honestly and convinced!) speed of ordering.

While their real, latent needs are something completely different (see Finding Drivers to read more about latent drivers).

So you run the risk of focusing your energy on the wrong improvements.

And no, personas are not an answer to this issue.

I’m not a fan of personas.

It’s often a huge investment resulting in great (marketing) materials, but very little useful application in daily reality.

The only place where qualitative journey mapping and personas really make sense, is in true service design approaches to find new products and services.

And I stress the word ‘true’, because service design is becoming more and more hyped, making it hard to find people who really understand the essence and deliver quality

(if you’re looking for quality service design, I definitely recommend checking agencies such as Muzus, they are also connected to TU Delft).

2. Defining the Journeys to Find the Drivers

Having said that, it’s time to share the approach we use in the Accelerate In Experience framework.

Use this approach when you want to:

  • (a) create awareness for outside-in thinking;
  • (b) find the real drivers of your customers’ experience;
  • (c) see an increase in satisfaction in the short and long term.

Don’t use this approach when you want to:

  • (a) increase conversion (use real behavioral data);
  • (b) want to design completely new products or services (use a service design agency);
  • (c) want to improve online user experience (observe and interview users).

As a basis, you need these three steps to define the journey to find the drivers.

2.1 Define your Main Customer Journey

2.2 Choose the right Detailed Customer Journeys

2.3 Define the Detailed Journeys

2.1 Define your Main Customer Journey

 Example of the main journey of an Insurance company.

Your main customer journey displays the most common steps taken by the customer with the organization.

This main customer journey will probably consist of a maximum of 10 steps.

How to use the main customer journey

It serves the following purposes:

  • a common language and method for customer experience throughout the organization;
  • insights into which steps deserve more in-depth analysis in the detailed journey;
  • prioritization of where to start;

For any other purposes, this main journey is too abstract.

So organizing a workshop to discuss at this high level where to improve these steps in the journey, is not helpful.

How to define the main journey

The greatest strength of the main customer journey is at the same time the greatest pitfall for its users, namely its simplicity.

Looking at your organization from the customer’s perspective, the main journey is always very orderly.

When regarding it internally, you can become ensnared in the spaghetti of departments, processes, instructions, exceptions, et cetera.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Always stay well out of the internal discussion and complexity.

The internal complexity is not important in this phase after all.

To give you an indication of simplicity, establishing the main customer journey should take you no longer than an hour.

Plus a brief round with a number of people involved, to check that you have not omitted important journey steps.

2.2 Choose the Right Detailed Journeys

Ok, now that we have 6-10 journeys, we need 6-10 detailed journeys.

Where do you start if you don’t have the capacity to do them all at the same time?

In the end, you want to have all the 6 detailed journeys in this insurance example.

But it always helps to start with the ones that have the greatest impact.

To once again stay clear of the internal spaghetti, use objective data to prioritize the detailed journeys.

Prioritize using two sets of data:

  1. the number of customers undertaking these journeys on a yearly basis and
  2. the number of customer contacts concerning these journeys.

Start with the 3 detailed journeys that have the highest interactions and the highest number of customers on a yearly basis.

Because you will have the greatest impact when improving these first.

You will improve the experience of many customers, ánd you will reduce a lot of costs.

You are reducing costs because you are preventing contacts that are unnecessary for the customer.

(we realized -25% reduction in costs while increasing c-sat at an insurance company contact center in the Netherlands).

After choosing the ones to start with, it is time to define the details of these journeys.

2.3 Define the Detailed Journeys

When I say detailed journey, I really mean detailed.

If there is an online application involved, I want to know whether there is a confirmation email, and if so, what are its contents?

When there is a meeting with an advisor, I want to know the contents of that meeting.

A good way to draw up the basis of the detailed journey is to check your own organization website.

(I’m still regularly shocked how many employees have no idea about their own website and what customers go through).

On the website, check the steps that are explained for the customer.

For the online part of the journey, order or apply yourself, so you really see what is happening.

Use this information as a starting point for the detailed journey workshop.

This workshop is crucial to find the real drivers of your customers’ experience in the second stage of the framework.


2.3.1. Finding the Right Participants

To find the right participants, you need representatives of each department that plays a role across that entire journey.

Yes, each department.

I often get the response “ah yes, we also have multidisciplinary teams so they will be perfect.”

At that point, I always ask: “ok, is marketing part of that team, and online, customer services, finance, …?”.

And in most cases, they are not.

Really, each department that plays a role needs to be present.

The level of participants needs to be the employee level.

You need people who really know the day-to-day reality.

Not the blueprint theory processes, but the daily reality.

There are two reasons why you should be careful about adding management to these workshops:

  1. They are often not aware of the daily details (and that is what we really need)
  2. They may create an atmosphere in which the employees don’t feel free to say how it works in reality (with all the not so blue printed workarounds).

2.3.2 Running the Workshop

When you run the detailed journey workshops, the approach below has been proven to work the best.

We have applied it across several organizations, branches and countries.

A. Share importance (15 min)

Any customer experience program needs the support of leadership.

And this support needs to be shown throughout your internal CX transformation journey.

Therefore, make sure that at the start of the workshop, you or one of your fellow business leaders is present to share the importance of what you are doing in this workshop.

B. Share the why and how of the program (30 min)

Without sharing the WHY of anything you do, you miss a chance for real engagement.

So make sure that the participants understand how their role, and this workshop, fits in the bigger picture of creating a great experience for your customers.

Crucial for step A and B, is that the facilitator and the business leader share an authentic story.

When the participants feel an authentic drive to make a difference, it creates a huge positive impact on their engagement and enthusiasm.

C. Walk through the journey preparation

Based on the preparation you have done by reviewing the website, for example, you discuss all the details of the journey.

Hang/write the prepared journey steps on a wall, and ask the participants to share the customer experiences for the steps in that journey.

Not the emotional experience, but simply the AS IS process that the customer goes through.

You will see that the participants will have several discussions about what the actual journey looks like.

As they are always responsible for only part of the journey, they will always be excited to hear their colleagues talk about the other parts of the journey.

D. Define the Emotions (10 min)

After you have collected all the details of the journey, ask the participants what emotions they want their customer to experience during that journey.

So this is not the AS IS as it was in step C., this is the emotional ‘wishlist’.

This is where you connect your brand promise!

Each brand promise should lead to different emotions you want the customer to experience.

If your brand is focused on innovation, it should create other emotions than when your brand is focused on personal attention.

Just let them share all the emotions they can name, and write them down.

The brand promise is often not top of mind, so you need to help them associate with it.

E. Share next steps and feedback (20 min)

Let the participants know what will be the next steps and timelines of the program, and when they will be involved (in our framework, that is during the stage of reviewing the questionnaires).

Conclude the workshop by doing an individual round where you ask them: what did you think of today and our CX transformation journey in general.

Was it helpful, not helpful, was it…?

Don’t underestimate the importance of this feedback round.

If you’re short on time, find another way to finish the details of the journey, but don’t skip this round.

2.3.3 Mantras for the Facilitator

This workshop is your first intervention of what it means to really think from the customers’ perspective.

Treat the workshop as such.

There is always a lot of energy and fun during this workshop.

We often get feedback from other colleagues or managers, that the participants shared their enthusiasm about the workshop with them.

To help you be successful at running the workshops in your organization, here are the mantras for the facilitator.

Be sure to share these with the group, at the start of the workshop:

1. Embrace Paretos 80-20

You will receive many, many, many exceptions in the workshop. “Sometimes…”, “We also have a group…”, etc.

Focus on 80-20: ask consistently whether a situation is relevant in 80 or 20% of the cases.

If it’s 20%, it’s out of scope. If it’s 50-50, then take it into account.

2. Real not theory

Focus on the daily reality of the journey.

Not the journey as it has been written down in the guidelines, while no one is executing that guideline due to lack of time or other valid reasons.

3. AS IS rather than TO BE

This workshop is about the journey AS IS, not how the participants want the journey TO BE.

The TO BE situation can only be designed once you have found the drivers.

4. Right Atmosphere

Create a relaxed, fun atmosphere while swiftly though firmly managing the process as you go along.

Enjoy the ride!


“But Zanna, why are there no customers present at the workshops?”

This is one of many FAQs during the rollout of the framework approach in any organization.

It goes back to the issue, that we as human beings are not rational people, and that in this approach, we want to find the real, latent drivers.

On top of that, the statistics in Stage 2 will always objectively confirm whether you did a good job in the workshops or not.

If not, you can always talk to customers to see what you’ve missed.

So far, however, we have always achieved extremely high statistically relevant results, across several organizations, branches and countries.

Meaning we always find the drivers that are important in the eyes of the customers (and employees).

Without involving the customers in the workshops, but of course involving them when we send them the questionnaires based on the workshops.


# Test me | Want to navigate through the sense and non sense of CX? Discover your CX potential!
# Teach me | Want to help your organisation accelerate in experience? Unleash your CX potential!
# Inspire me | Want to be inspired to keep innovating your CX? Sign up for the Inspire me e-mails!