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Learn how to create your own customer success journey map

Mapping the complete customer success journey provides invaluable insights into the entire customer experience, from awareness to advocacy and every touchpoint in between.

However, crafting a customer success journey map presents challenges that require ongoing efforts to overcome. These may include issues like grappling with incomplete data or struggling to comprehensively address every facet of the customer experience. According to Gartner, 30% of organizations that have established their customer journey maps struggle to use them effectively

Whether you’re looking to improve your existing mapping capabilities or are starting from complete scratch, this article will take you through all the stages of the customer success journey map. You’ll also learn how to create your own map, some of its key benefits, and the best practices to follow.

But first, let’s start by explaining exactly what a customer success journey map is. 

What is the customer success journey map?

A customer success journey map schematizes the steps your clients take to achieve their goals with your product. It outlines the customer’s experiences and progression, starting from initial awareness, moving to the moment of purchase, and finally arriving at their evolution into a loyal advocate of your brand.

What is the importance of a customer success journey map?

It helps businesses understand customers’ needs

The customer journey process allows you to see things from their perspective – how they think and feel at each step of that all-important journey, as well as any roadblocks they encounter along the way. 

It helps anticipate support needs

By carefully designing the customer success journey, you can anticipate and address customers’ support requests strategically – that is, before they even ask for help. Proactive support is about being one step ahead, ensuring assistance is readily available regardless of where customers may be in their journey.

It enables effective message tailoring

Understanding your customers' journey enables you to create and communicate messages that ideally match their specific stage. For instance, new customers are probably seeking a seamless onboarding experience focused on getting started rather than an in-depth exploration of advanced features. 

It lays the foundations for long-lasting relationships with customers

A well-crafted map is crucial for long-term success. It provides a complete view of the customer experience, helping you identify what drives conversions and the most effective strategies for facilitating long-term retention. 

What are the stages of the customer success journey?

First, it’s important to remember that the stages of the customer success journey aren’t set in stone. We'll outline some of the most common steps, but they can vary based on your industry, business model, and a variety of other factors.

Some companies include stages that take place before acquisition – including awareness and consideration – while others only consider what happens after the product is purchased. Mapping pre-acquisition stages helps businesses to better understand why customers are choosing their product and collaborate across marketing and sales to capitalize on that potentially lucrative information. 


The awareness stage is a precursor to the full customer success journey. Even though consumers are technically not yet your customers during this period, this marketing phase is the initial step where they may become aware of a problem or pain point that needs to be addressed in their business or personal lives. 

While they may not realize the need for a specific product or service yet, they begin conducting research to find a solution to the ongoing pain point they’re experiencing. 

During this stage, your company's role is to deliver helpful educational content that sheds light on the customer problem without explicitly advertising your product. The idea is to educate prospective customers and build enough awareness that they eventually consider your solution over the course of their research. 

💡 What you can do during the awareness stage:

  • Publish educational guides, industry reports, and relevant articles that explain common issues or pains customers may face without making overt product pitches.

  • Develop informative campaigns on social media to pique curiosity and drive traffic to your educational resources.

  • Test different topic areas and formats to see what resonates most with your target customers' challenges.


The consideration stage is the next part of the customer success journey map on the marketing side (prior to acquisition). By this point, customers have recognized the need for a solution and begun evaluating their options.

Brands have a limited window to effectively position themselves during this comparative research phase. In this critical period, customers are weighing features, benefits, and overall value across competing products and services.

The primary goal for competing businesses during the consideration stage is to stand out as the best solution on the market. From there, companies are well-positioned to move customers down the funnel toward purchase. When done right, this stage lays the groundwork for a quality lead ready to engage further with sales.

💡 What you can do during the consideration stage:

  • Create product comparison guides and charts, including side-by-side analyses visually contrasting your offering with your competitors’ solutions.

  • Share customer success stories or case studies, utilizing customers’ own words to bring to life how they benefited from your product/service.


The decision stage is where potential buyers transition into becoming your customers. Having completed their research and narrowed down their potential solutions, they’ve finally made their choice and are ready to make a purchase.

At the decision stage, you want to make sure you’re providing an easy, streamlined buying process. The reality is that customers want to get what they purchased without the hassle of additional steps or hoops to jump through. Here, calls to action can be more straightforward since the decision has been made and the only goal is order completion.

💡 What you can do during the decision stage:

  • Offer free trials or demos before purchase commitments.

  • Make simple, straightforward purchase options, like one-click buying, available on your site.

  • Provide multiple payment methods for flexibility and convenience.


The onboarding stage sets the tone for a successful customer success journey. This phase follows the purchase decision, as the new user begins interacting in a more personalized, hands-on way with your solution.

A well-designed onboarding process serves as the customer's jumping-off point, guiding them through the initial setup and their first experiences with your product. It's important to make these early interactions as seamless, helpful, and engaging as possible.

During onboarding, you have an opportunity to deliver prime customer service through proactive support. Leverage smart tools such as outbound messages, banners, product tours, and other support strategies to offer assistance to customers before they even have to reach out to your team.

💡 What you can do during the onboarding stage:

  • Guide your customers through a product tour or tutorial.

  • Map customer profiles to define tailored, successful onboarding journeys.

  • Anticipate where users may struggle and address pain points proactively.

  • Collect feedback to continuously improve the onboarding experience.

  • Outline what customers will learn or achieve during onboarding and how to assist them in reaching the “Aha” moment.

Great onboarding is a continual process of guiding people toward success: Download now The Onboarding Starter Kit.


The adoption stage takes place when customers remain active users and continue along the customer success journey map. Having moved beyond their initial trial or period of implementation, these established users recognize how your product fits into their workflow and supports their success.

During the adoption stage, the business’s goal should be to have customers integrate your solution into their regular activities and begin relying on your product for real, material value on an ongoing basis. 

Staying proactive remains crucial for the customer experience during this phase. In addition, companies should be offering self-service support options like chatbots and help center content. This approach enables convenience, flexibility, and round-the-clock support.

💡 What you can do during the adoption stage:

  • Highlight new features and updates through in-app messages.

  • Create self-service support resources like in-depth guides, step-by-step tutorials, and a comprehensive help center.

  • Send emails with tips, announcements, and community content to increase engagement.

Read more: How chatbots and artificial intelligence can improve customer experience

Value realization

As customers progress through the adoption stage, they also enter the value realization phase, an essential milestone in the customer success journey.

Value realization is about helping customers achieve the outcomes and benefits they sought when initially purchasing your product. Whether that's through streamlined processes, time savings, or reduced costs, the aim is clear – customers need to find tangible value.

This phase is where your customer's purchase really starts to pay off. By ensuring they understand how to maximize the product's capabilities, you’ll be empowering them to work smarter and see greater, more consistent results.

💡 What you can do during the value realization stage:

  • Identify any gaps between current usage vs. desired outcomes.

  • Check activity and usage data to personalize the experience customers have with your product.

  • Establish a clear connection between your customers' goals and your business objectives, enabling you to maximize value realization.


Once customers recognize the value of your product, they may desire additional features or services beyond their current plan. This presents companies with an excellent opportunity to introduce related offerings that can further enhance customers’ success and deliver increased value through upselling.

While it's important not to force upsell or cross-sell opportunities on every customer, you should carefully identify those who are well-suited for account expansion. 

Upselling plays a significant role in the customer success journey map, allowing you to cater to customers' evolving needs and contribute to their ongoing growth and satisfaction.

💡 What you can do during the upselling stage:

  • Understand any new goals, challenges, or preferences your customer may have communicated through feedback and use that information to identify relevant expansion opportunities.

  • Practice active listening to recognize signals that indicate customers are ready for an upsell.

  • Encourage collaboration between sales and customer success teams to spot opportunities for upselling.

Renewal and loyalty

Renewal becomes a breeze when you've successfully guided your clients through each step of the customer success journey. At this point, they are thriving with your product, and the aim is to ensure they genuinely want to keep using it for the long haul.

To help facilitate this longevity, you should make the renewal process an effortless next step for those satisfied with your product to become long-term, loyal customers. Your customer journey map should outline the optimal path for these customers to maximize their success and possess an ongoing motivation to renew. 

By the end of their contract, they should feel thrilled with the results and eager to continue the relationship.

💡 What you can do during the renewal and loyalty stage:

  • Highlight key successes achieved over the previous contract period to justify their investment.

  • Offer exclusive incentives and special perks for loyal customers who choose to renew their contracts.

  • Nurture customers’ pre-renewal by addressing any outstanding needs.


The ideal customer success journey concludes with advocacy. By this stage, customers who achieved great results, renewed their contracts, or expanded their usage are often eager to spread the word. 

Satisfied customers make the best advocates by sharing case studies, recommending you to colleagues, and writing positive reviews. You've empowered them to find ongoing value through your solution. In return, their authentic endorsements will serve as powerful social proof for other individuals exploring your product.

💡 What you can do during the advocacy stage:

  • Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences and success stories with your product.

  • Offer your advocates exclusive content or early access to new features. 

  • Keep in touch with advocates to maintain a strong relationship and gather ongoing feedback.

How to create a customer success journey map

Now that we’ve introduced all the customer success journey stages, it's time to learn how to craft your own roadmap. Keep in mind, however, that each map should be specifically tailored to its brand's unique characteristics and objectives. 

1. Define customer segments

Segmentation is the first step in crafting your customer success journey map. It involves dividing your clients into distinct groups based on their actions and behaviors throughout the buying process.

To define customer segments, consider factors like demographics, purchase behaviors, and needs. Remember, all your potential customers are different, so it's important to create different maps for each segment. Failing to do so could alienate customers who follow a different path to purchase.

Start by building a map for your most common customer types (you can create maps for other, less common buyer segments later). To gain a clearer understanding of your segments, take a look at the data in your customer support software

Ask yourself questions that strengthen your understanding of your top segments: 

  • Who are my existing customers? 

  • What types of customers are on my email list? 

  • Why are they buying from us? 

  • What problem are they trying to solve?

2. Gather customer data

Customer success hinges on data to validate and fine-tune your strategies, so it's vital to gather and centralize all relevant customer information when building their success journey map.

By assembling qualitative and quantitative data, you open the door to driving improvements throughout the entire customer journey, from sales to success. This critical information gives you the power to make meaningful changes that enhance the overall experience for the people who utilize your products or services.

3. Map customer touchpoints

Mapping your customer success journey requires understanding all touchpoints – that is, every way in which your customers engage with your company. Start by listing potential interaction channels like search, paid ads, social media, website pages, product trials, and emails.

Consider the full range of touchpoints customers may use so you can link them to the different stages of the map. For example, during the product trial, they can interact with your knowledge base to learn more about the product, or with your activation email to trigger onboarding. 

4. Identify challenges and frustrations customers face

Take time to understand the roadblocks preventing customers from reaching their goals with your solution. One group may get excited after a demo, yet subsequently struggle to make headway without ample guided tutorials. Another could abandon a free trial due to a slow onboarding process.

Highlighting just such friction points in your journey allows proactive solutions. For example, offering a quick product tour could help those lacking direction maximize your product’s value right away.

4. Define success criteria

Defining customer success criteria is key to mapping an effective journey. How do you know what really constitutes success for your users? More often than not, it depends on your company, the product or service you’re offering, and your customers.

In B2B companies, for example, a safe starting point is helping improve your customers' bottom lines. But don't make unfounded assumptions, either – connecting directly with them will provide invaluable insight and perspective. Always make the effort to ask your customer how they define success and how your solution helps them achieve their goals.

Your customers' answers will clarify the outcomes that really matter. With a solid understanding of their objectives, you can then work backward to design the ideal steps to help them reach those goals.

5. Create a visual representation

At the end of the day, a customer success journey map should serve as a tangible blueprint for your ultimate treasure – that is, loyal customers. It's like having a visual representation of your entire customer journey, complete with fundamental details about each stage, criteria, opportunities, and goals.

By visualizing your customer journey map, you gain a clear and comprehensive overview of the paths they most often take. As a result, it becomes easier to identify touchpoints, pain points, and areas that are ripe for improvement.

This visual guide empowers you to make informed decisions and optimize your strategies to enhance customer success.

6. Follow up on the mapped journey with new customers

Following up with new customers is a valuable way to validate the accuracy of your customer journey mapping. By conducting brief check-ins, you can gather feedback on how closely your customer success journey map is aligning with customers' actual experiences.

These conversations provide real-world perspective into how effective your mapping has been at modeling customers' paths. The insights also uncover specific strategies for enhancement. 

Places along the journey where there are gaps or discrepancies between the map and reality can help you identify opportunities to refine details and touchpoints with the goal of continuous improvement..

7. Look for improvement opportunities

With your map complete, focus on enhancing the customer experience further along the journey. Two ways to uncover improvement opportunities are analytics and direct feedback.

Let's say you're in the adoption stage of the customer journey, and you notice a common issue: slow resolution times. Whether these slow resolution times are due to a high volume of queries or a lack of suitable tools, it’s an area that calls for improvement. 

One solution to consider is implementing automated chatbots that can help you  streamline customer support and reduce response times. They provide instant assistance, addressing common queries and freeing up human representatives to handle more complex issues.

In addition to analytics, seek direct feedback from your customers through surveys. These surveys provide a qualitative perspective, allowing them to candidly share their thoughts on your company, product, or support services.

Best practices for a first-class customer journey

After mapping the customer journey, companies have an easier time pinpointing areas where they can enhance the overall experience. By doing so, businesses can then refine the journey map to include upgrades and make it even better.

Considered the father of customer journey mapping, Chip Bell shared some insightful advice about innovation through customer partnership during an interview with Intercom. We believe these insights also outline some best practices in the context of offering a successful journey. Here they are:

Foster an atmosphere of curiosity within your customer success team

Approaching inquiries with genuine curiosity sets a strong foundation that transforms the customer success journey. Instead of sticking to the basics, encourage your service team to ask questions that foster a collaborative relationship.

When customers reach out, try to understand their unique situation rather than just solve an issue. Ask thoughtful questions that reveal insights beyond the surface level, and invite them to share their own thoughts by posing questions that could reveal details you may not have considered.

Encourage customers to contribute innovative ideas and solutions

When you guide customers along the success journey map, providing support throughout their entire experience, they perceive the relationship differently. It becomes more than just a transaction; it becomes a genuine partnership.

By welcoming customers as partners in the relationship, you make them feel valued. As a result, they’re more likely to engage and participate in imaginative ways, bringing forth fresh perspectives, innovative solutions, and potentially useful or even transformative ideas. 

Align customers’ needs with your company’s core values

Delivering customer success starts from within. Clarifying your company's core values and mission provides an anchor to ensure solutions accurately reflect your organization’s true identity.

When your capabilities directly meet what matters most to customers, they experience seamless alignment between your promises and your product’s performance. By keeping values and customer needs in sync, both parties thrive as the journey map guides continuous improvement toward shared success.

Build trust through truth-telling

One of the foundations of any great customer success is trust. And building trust with your customers starts with a simple yet vital practice – telling the truth.

When customers trust that you will consistently deliver on what you say, it allows your relationship to grow into something more meaningful. They feel confident placing their needs in your hands, knowing you will handle their issues and requests with care and follow-through.

Embrace risk-taking as a learning venture

Providing a successful customer journey means continually seeking opportunities for improvement. That means you must look at an environment of risk-taking as a chance for learning, not failure. 

By shifting your perspective and seeing risks as calculated opportunities for improvement, refinement, or evolution, you empower both customers and employees to explore exciting new possibilities to achieve success.

Leverage technology while developing human skills

Technology facilitates the execution or optimization of specific stages in the customer journey. Automation and AI can handle many routine tasks like answering common queries, collecting customer context, and automatically summarizing the details of interactions. 

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of these vital advantages. In fact, according to our 2023 report, State of AI in Customer Service, 66% of support leaders are excited to use AI and automation to increase team efficiency.²

Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, shared his thoughts about automation and AI on Intercom’s podcast, “Solving the Customer Success Equation”:

While technology is essential, you still need human intelligence and touch to build lasting, resilient connections with your customers. Make time to listen closely to understand unique needs, build rapport, and be transparent in your focus on mutual success.

By strategically partnering people with the right technologies, you give customers the best of both worlds. Automation takes care of basic needs at scale, leaving employees free to devote extra care to complicated, multifaceted queries or more sensitive situations.

Read more: Customer success automation – a guide to a frictionless experience

How Intercom can help your customer success journey

Mapping your customer journey is just the start – executing it seamlessly is key. Intercom is a comprehensive customer service platform that helps you streamline this process from end to end.

With Intercom, you can unlock a range of capabilities, including:

  • Building personalized journeys for your customers.

  • Creating workflows that automate manual tasks.

  • Setting up a proactive onboarding process.

  • Highlighting features and updates through in-app messages.

  • Solving customer queries at scale with safe, accurate responses thanks to Fin, our AI-powered chatbot.

Get ready to leverage automation, AI, and proactive support for your customer success journey. Ask for a demo or start your free trial today.


1. Gartner for Marketers, Create Actionable, Insight-Driven Journey Maps.

2. Intercom, State of AI in Customer Service Report 2023. We commissioned an independent market research firm to survey a random sample of 1,013 global support leaders and practitioners. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence level.