Insight – The difference between Customer Experience Maps and Customer Touchpoint Maps

In our experience we find that people mean and do different things when they talk about “customer journeys”. There are different types of customer journeys, and conflating a customer touchpoint map with a customer experience map can lead to disappointment if what you are after is insight.

A customer touch point map is an outline of where a customer interacts with your business  throughout their journey with you. It has a narrow focus, and emphasises interactions with your business. These maps zoom in on individual channels, processes, and any point where the customer comes into contact with your product, service, or employees. As such, they tend to be transactional rather than holistic. They are also company focused, rather than customer focused – ignoring the broader context, needs, expectations and other solutions to their problem the customer might have. These maps are technically useful, in terms of identifying friction points within your own processes, but they lack real insight into who the customer is, and what their broader behaviour is. Ironically, these maps are business orientated, not customer orientated, and are often the “ideal” journey a business would like their customers to have.

A true customer journey, on the other hand, which should be called a customer experience map, outlines ALL the interactions a customer has through the process of solving a problem that your product could be the solution to. It looks at the world through the customer’s eyes, offering a holistic view of the customer’s whole experience as they seek to solve the problem they have. It identifies all their touch-points along the way, even the ones you are not involved in or are competitors to you, to bring to life all the possible routes for how people solve the problem. These maps consider a customer’s thoughts, feelings and overall perceptions of all the different options / routes to solve their problem, at various stages along their journey, not just your own. They are customer focused, not business or brand focused. Because they deal with emotions (frustrations, pleasure, desires) and actions across all possible solutions, include the why behind choices, and put your brand in the context of a customer’s other choices they are far more insightful.

Ultimately, customer experience journeys are not “created” by marketing teams sitting around a boardroom table (although their input and inside knowledge is a vital component in their development), they are “discovered” from customers themselves. We start our process through building assumptive maps (what we think the customer thinks and does) with clients. But it is through talking to customers, hearing their stories, unpacking their experiences and beliefs, and exploring the reasons behind their choices that we discover what the journey they take is, and why. Through quantitative research we then size segments and understand priorities.

If you want insight, you need to understand your customer’s holistic experience to discover your customer’s journey, not just their touch points with you. When you have a journey – an experience map – that is customer focused, you can see where and how your brands can improve or win in the context of other choices customers have. You get insight into who our customers are, what their mental models are and how you can better meet their needs. And that unlocks opportunity for you, as a business.

If you want to find out more about the difference between customer touch point maps and customer experience maps, reach out for a chat at