How to Conduct Customer Journey Research and Mapping

Table of Contents

From initial brand awareness through to the point of making a purchase, your customers take different journeys  on their way to making the decisions that matter. These customer journeys differ depending on their experiences when interacting with your brand and their particular buying needs.

You can optimize your customer experience (CX) by understanding every aspect of their journey and pinpointing any frictions and high points along the way.

We’ll unpack the benefits of conducting end-to-end customer journey research and show you the steps involved in the process.

Key Takeaways

  • Customer journey research can identify bottlenecks in the customer journey, identify vital touchpoints, and help you optimize the customer experience overall, improving retention.
  • It requires research, surveys, website analytics, and expert analysis of all the data to get the most from customer journey research.
  • Customer journey research should follow ethical guidelines, templates, and a mix of research methods to give you a full view of the customer journey.

How can conducting customer journey research benefit your business?

Customer journey research allows you to explore the experiences, interactions and emotions that your customers go through when engaging with your brand. Crucially, as DevBev&Co Digital Founder Devin Beverage notes:

“Journeys aren’t just about actions; they’re about feelings. Highlight how a customer might feel at each stage.”

Your research will help you to understand the entire customer journey—from awareness to post-purchase advocacy in the different stages of your funnel.

Here’s how it can benefit your business.

It improves the customer experience

About 73% of customers admit that the quality of the CX is the deciding factor when deciding to purchase from a brand. The more you know about how customers interact with your brand, the better you will be able to serve them.

It identifies bottlenecks in the customer journey

By extracting data from different touchpoints and customer journey stages, you can discover what’s stopping your customers from converting.

It identifies high-performing touchpoints

When selling a product, it’s difficult to know which channels and customer touchpoints are performing well, especially when taking a holistic view. However, when you dig into each touchpoint and gather detailed data, you can identify the channels that perform better and optimize them for increased ROI.

It enhances customer retention

While conducting customer journey research, you can identify the areas of churn and the reasons behind it. Addressing these issues at an initial stage will help retain more customers and attract new ones.

Get the guide to customer journey tracking

We outline the actionable strategies to track & optimize the customer journey at every stage of the funnel

How to conduct customer journey research

1. Plan the research

Before diving into the research, you need to create a plan outlining your strategy. You need to know why you’re conducting the research and what you want to achieve in the end.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Determine the aspects of your CX you want to explore and improve.
  • Identify the specific customer segments you want to focus on, based on demographics, interests, price-point or a specific pain point.
  • Choose appropriate research methods—surveys, interviews, observations, data analysis, and so forth.
  • Specify the customer touchpoints you’ll investigate—a specific landing page, an ad campaign, or a product page.
  • List the stages of your customer journey map—awareness, purchase, retention, consideration, and onboarding.
  • Determine how you’ll recruit participants for the research—from your existing network, online communities, your existing customers, or other tools for finding participants.
Having all this information available beforehand will help you to structure your approach and dig for valuable insights about your customer journeys.

2. Gather existing research

Your company’s existing database is a goldmine for past customer data and can be used for initiating your customer journey research. While this data might be scattered across different projects, it could provide a great starting point for your research.

For example, you might:

  • Dig up findings from an old focus group
  • Scan old logs of customer support phone calls
  • Delve into your website’s analytics data and identify issues with various customer touchpoints, such as a drop-off in the checkout process
  • Look at recent customer satisfaction scores
This existing data can give you a head-start in your customer journey research, by understanding your customers’ pain points and experiences.

3. Conduct qualitative research

While numbers and statistics are the basis for many business decisions, understanding your customers’ emotions, motivations, attitudes and opinions always goes a long way.

This is where qualitative customer journey research comes into play.

Qualitative research delves deep into the nuances that numbers sometimes fail to capture. You uncover the “how” and “why” behind specific customers actions and get a more holistic view of their journey.

Customer interviews

Having one-on-one conversations with your customer often yields valuable research results since it removes ambiguity and assumptions from the process.

Customer interviews are your direct source of insights into customers’ thoughts, emotions, behaviors and pain points. You can validate many assumptions and hypotheses by directly asking your customers.

Here’s a step-by-step process for conducting customer interviews:

    1. Decide the goal for the interview (what you want to learn).
    2. Use a screen-sharing platform such as Zoom or Google Meet to observe the participants navigating the platform and interacting with its features in real-time.
    3. Take detailed notes and record sessions from participants using your platform and note any challenges they face.
Through this observational research, try to answer the following questions:

  • Do the participants prioritize tasks based on “urgency” or “importance?” This will help you understand what impacts their decision-making.
  • What feature do they use the most to discuss task details? This provides an opportunity to enhance that feature and make it easier to navigate.
  • What kind of view—timeline, kanban, or flowchart—are they using the most? Focus on usability improvements for that view and consider making it the default view in your platform.


While one-on-one user interviews work well for a smaller group of research participants, surveys are ideal for dealing with a larger group (read: hundreds and thousands of participants).

The purpose remains the same: asking open-ended questions to participants and seeking a detailed response from them.

Here’s how to conduct surveys:

  1. Outline the objective of the survey.
  2. Select an appropriate survey tool (SurveyMonkey, Google Forms and TypeForm are some popular ones) to design and distribute your survey.
  3. Create a survey structure—a mix of multiple-choice questions, rating scales, checkbox questions and open-ended questions.
  4. Create user segments (if applicable) to decide which survey should go to customers at a certain stage in their journey.
  5. Send the survey to your target audience via email, social media, website pop-ups or through your platform.
  6. Analyze survey responses using your survey tool’s reporting feature and look for touchpoints with high and low customer satisfaction.
  7. Share the survey results with your customers and express gratitude for sharing feedback.
Ideal questions to include:

  • How did you come to know about our campaign?
  • What made you make your first purchase?
  • How much would you rate our customer service?
  • Did you find what you were looking for on our website?

4. Gather quantitative data

While qualitative research helps you to understand customer sentiments, quantitative research offers data-based insights that help to balance your findings and ground them in facts. This type of research is especially useful when measuring the frequency, prevalence and impact of specific interactions such as website clicks and conversion rates.

Website analytics

Your website is where most of your customer interactions happen, from discovering your brand through a Google Search to contemplating purchasing a product.

On average, users spend 54 seconds on a page, and these crucial seconds decide whether your target audience will engage or not.

What actions do they take in these 54 seconds?

And what factors impact their overall experience: website design, layout, content, navigation, or anything else?

This is where website analytics data help you track various metrics related to how users interact on your website, including page views, bounce rates, click through rates (CTR), conversion rates, and more.

Here are the key metrics to track on your website when conducting customer journey research:

  • Engagement: This includes page views, time spent on a particular page, CTR, session duration, and other metrics that determine how much your customer has interacted with your website.
  • Bounce/exit rate: If a large number of customers are navigating away from a specific page, it’s a sign that your landing page needs some work.
  • Conversion rate: This is the percentage of users who took an action, such as making a purchase or downloading an eBook on your website.
  • User flow: This is a visual representation of how users navigate through your website.
  • Referral sources: This is an indication of where your website users are coming from—like direct, organic, ads, and social media.

Net promoter score

Net promoter score (NPS) measures customer satisfaction, which tells you how likely your customers are to recommend your products or services. It helps you understand which touchpoints have the highest conversion rate and which you need to improve.

To determine NPS, you would ideally ask your customers the question: On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product to others?

Based on the responses, you can categorize your customers into three groups:

  • Promoters (score 9–10): These are your highly satisfied customers who are most likely to vouch for your services when given the opportunity.
  • Passives (score 7–8): These customers are satisfied by your offerings but aren’t as eager to spread the word as promoters.
  • Detractors (score 0–6): Detractors are your unhappy customers who can spread negative reviews about your products.
For more clarity on why a particular customer segment feels the way they do, you can send out follow-up surveys to each segment asking for feedback on their experience.

Quantitative surveys

Surveys don’t always need to be extensive and require detailed answers. Often, passives and detractors may not feel motivated to provide long-form answers to your questions.

This is where quantitative surveys make it easy for your customers to share quick responses. They usually contain closed questions that are quick to answer. Yes/no, one-word responses, and multiple choice are some examples of question formats these kinds of surveys use.

Examples of questions to include:  

  • How often do you use our product? Often/Occasionally/Never
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with the ease of using our website?
  • How frequently do you use feature X of our product? Often/Occasionally/Never
  • How relevant do you find our marketing content? Very relevant/somewhat relevant/irrelevant

5. Analyze and synthesize your findings

Now that you have raw data from your research, it’s time to synthesize it and turn it into actionable insights.

Here are a few steps you need to take to analyze the research data:

  • Make sure your data is free of errors and redundancies.
  • Calculate basic statistics (like mean, median and standard deviation) to summarize your data.
  • Visualize this data using charts, graphs and tables. And use an analytics tool like Funnelytics to map your customer journey data into stunning visuals.
  • Transcribe recorded interviews and identify recurring themes and patterns.
  • Compare findings from different research sources to validate and strengthen your conclusions.

9 Examples of customer journey analytics in action

Our guide outlines top examples & best practices to optimize your customer journey funnel

Best practices for planning and conducting customer journey research

Customer journey research isn’t a straight path. You need to use a range of approaches to gather the relevant data and make useful findings.

Here are some best practices you must follow for maximum ROI:

  • Follow ethical guidelines when collecting and using customer data. Obtain consent from customers, ensure anonymity, and handle their data securely.
  • Templatize everything, from survey questionnaires to form structures. This makes it easy to conduct research on the go without wasting time.
  • Use a mix of research methods. Make sure to collect both statistical insights and contextual data.
  • Involve cross-functional teams in the research process. This helps bring diverse perspectives and skills to the table.
  • Continuously seek feedback from stakeholders and customers about your research process; the key is to stay relevant all the time.

Create impactful maps with your customer journey research

Conducting customer journey research is more than a business strategy; it’s a commitment to elevate customer experiences and create lasting connections.

So, master the art of stepping into your customers’ shoes and dive deep into the needs and emotions, that influence them to take action.

To help you kickstart the research process, Funnelytics offers 100+ pre-built funnel and strategy templates, along with courses and training material to support your efforts.

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Mikael Dia

Founder & CEO @ Funnelytics Inc.

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