Written by on 26 July 2016

Getting started with the Coolblue customer journey

The customer journey map has been a hot topic in the last few years. It is a tool to identify key interactions that the customer has with the organisation, and to visualize the user’s feeling, behavior and needs at each step in the journey. It helps to tell the story of the customer during different phases of the design process. Like with many other tools, you have to find out how to make it work in the context of your own organisation.

Our challenge.

When starting to think about mapping the journey of our customers, we faced a large challenge. We started very enthusiastic by mapping all the different channels, touchpoints and interaction along the customer journey. By doing this it quickly became clear how complex the customer journey was and that it was impossible to map all these touch points and interaction in one clear overview. So we had to set some priorities in order to bring focus and overview in the map.

We did not want to make a static infographic of the journey with all possible elements in it, which mainly looks cool on the wall. We wanted a customer journey map that is flexible, useful for different multidisciplinary teams and that motivates to interact with it. Therefore, we decided not to visualize everything we know about our users. Our customer journey includes only the basic information and the main paths. All other information depends on user stories or scenarios and on the persona’s.

The Coolblue customer journey map.

Our customer journey consists of 8 phases, from awareness to service. For each phase, we visualize the main actions and the related elements (for an example see image 1). The number of phases and the content were based on literature and qualitative interviews with customers from the target group.


Image 1: One part of the Coolblue customer journey.

By using the first version of the customer journey with different teams we observed two main learnings:

  • In general, customer journeys include a description of the customer’s goal and feelings for each phase. However, we observed that these elements depend highly on the persona and the story. For example, when our persona Kees is searching for a washing machine his feelings during a specific phase will be very different than when our persona Ralph is searching for a new smartphone. Based on this experience we decided that the customer journey would be more flexible and applicable to different teams if the goals and feelings are not prefilled.
  • We also observed that some team members asked for quantitative data in the customer journey. For them, it was important to know for example where the largest exit rates are, in order to take that into account when using the journey for a specific story. Therefore, we are now working on a second version which will include some data about main landing pages, exit and bounce rates and the relative use of some elements. Again, it is a challenge to show useful data but not to overload the users with information and not being forced to make a new map with new data every month.

Customer journey workshops.

In order to get team members familiar with the customer journey, we organised workshops. During these workshops the participants were asked to walk through the customer journey for a specific user story from the perspective of a persona. With post-its they mapped the feelings, needs and actions of the persona in different phases (for an example see image 2). Based on these insights, we could identify main pain points along the journey. The next step was to translate these pain points into opportunities and concrete actions.


Image 2: An example of how we use the customer journey and the persona in order to map the feelings, needs and actions for a specific story or scenario.

These workshops showed to the team members how to use the customer journey and how to make the output useful. The main benefits we experience were:

  • It helps a team to place a user story in context and to approach it from different perspectives.
  • It helps the team to create the same understanding of the situation, and to define the same goal before starting to work on a user story.
  • It helps to think out of the box and create new ideas before starting a new project. Also, the visualization of needs and pain points helps to think about opportunities and priorities.
  • It facilitates the sharing of ideas between teams.

Are you thinking about the customer journey? Based on our experience, as described above, my main advice to get the most out of your customer journey would be: Don’t try to make it attractive to look at, but make it attractive to use.


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