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Customer experience vs. customer journey map

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Customer Experience Map vs. Customer Journey Map: A quick guide

In today's ultra-competitive business landscape, understanding your customer's perspective is more critical than ever. This insight can lead to tailored marketing strategies, refined products and services, and ultimately, increased brand loyalty and revenue. But how do we get there? Enter the world of Customer Experience Maps and Customer Journey Maps. Though they may seem synonymous, these tools offer different perspectives on the customer's interaction with your brand. In this quick guide, we'll dive deep into their definitions, benefits, differences, and when best to use each.

Understanding Customer Experience Maps

A Customer Experience Map (CEM) is a visual representation of every experience your customers have with your company. It transcends individual interactions and touchpoints, aiming to grasp the complete customer experience across multiple channels and over time.

Key components of a CEM

  1. Touchpoints: These are the specific instances where customers interact with your brand. These could range from browsing your website, engaging with customer support, or receiving an invoice.

  2. Emotions: CEMs explore not just what the customers are doing but how they feel during these interactions.

  3. Opportunities: CEMs highlight moments with potential for improvement or additional engagement.

The key benefit of creating a Customer Experience Map Template is that it provides a holistic view of the customer's entire experience with your brand. This allows you to identify and correct negative experiences and reinforce positive ones. For instance, Apple's ecosystem, which integrates its products for a seamless user experience, is an excellent example of effective CEM in action.

Understanding Customer Journey Maps

On the other hand, a Customer Journey Map (CJM) is a detailed visualization of a customer's path from the initial contact to a long-term relationship. It captures the customer's process, expectations, and experience across various touchpoints.

Key Components of a CJM

  1. Buyer Personas: A CJM starts with defining the customer or the user persona, the semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer.

  2. Stages of the Customer Journey: The map then charts the stages the customer goes through, from awareness, consideration, purchase, to retention.

  3. Channels and touchpoints: CJMs capture specific interactions on specific channels, like social media, email, or in-person.

Customer Journey Map Templates help identify gaps between the intended and actual user experience, informing areas that need attention. For instance, Amazon's one-click buying feature was designed from insights from their CJM, reducing friction for repeat purchases.

Differences between Customer Experience Maps and Customer Journey Maps

While both Customer Experience Maps (CEMs) and Customer Journey Maps (CJMs) serve as strategic tools to better understand your customers, they offer distinct perspectives and advantages. Below, we'll delve into these differences more extensively.

1. Focus and perspective

CEMs provide an overview of the customer's entire experience with a brand, capturing all the touchpoints, emotions, and opportunities for engagement. They focus on the broader customer lifecycle, painting a picture of what happens before, during, and after interactions. This macro view gives businesses an overview of how customers perceive and interact with their brand.

CJMs, conversely, are more specific and focus on the customer's path to a particular outcome, like making a purchase. They dissect the journey stage-by-stage, providing a granular view of customer behavior, actions, motivations, and pain points during their path to purchase.

2. Role of emotions

CEMs emphasize the customer's emotional journey, charting their feelings, frustrations, and satisfactions across all touchpoints. This emotional journey can highlight moments of delight or frustration that can be pivotal to the overall customer experience.

While CJMs also note customer emotions, their primary focus is on the customer's actions and decisions at each stage of their journey toward a goal. The emotional journey is more used to enhance the understanding of the customer's actions rather than being the primary focus.

3. Level of detail

CEMs generally provide a high-level view of the customer's overall interaction with a brand. This birds-eye view can span multiple channels, touchpoints, and stages of the customer journey.

In contrast, CJMs are detailed roadmaps that dissect specific paths customers take to achieve a goal, such as purchasing a product or signing up for a service. They offer a deep dive into the micro-interactions and decision-making processes involved in these paths.

4. Use cases

CEMs are especially beneficial when businesses aim to enhance their overall customer experience, innovate their product or service offerings, or understand the general sentiment toward their brand.

CJMs, on the other hand, are ideal when businesses need to optimize a specific process, like the checkout process on an e-commerce site, or when they wish to address specific pain points in the customer journey.

5. Representation of time

CEMs often capture the ongoing, cyclical relationship between customers and a brand over an extended period. This timeline may include pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase phases.

Conversely, CJMs typically represent a linear journey from the customer's initial interaction with the brand through to the attainment of their specific goal. They track customer behavior across distinct stages, usually structured as awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy.

In summary, while CEMs and CJMs share the common goal of better understanding and enhancing the customer experience, they differ in focus, emotional emphasis, detail, use case, and representation of time. By distinguishing these differences, businesses can strategically choose or combine these tools to meet their specific customer-centric goals.

Choosing between a CEM and a CJM

Deciding between a CEM and a CJM depends on your needs and objectives. A CEM is your go-to tool if you want to understand the customer's emotional landscape across their lifecycle. If you're more interested in the steps the customer takes toward a purchase, opt for a CJM. The scope of your investigation and the level of detail you seek will guide your decision.

Integrating both maps for a comprehensive understanding

To fully understand your customer, you might need both a CEM and a CJM. The CEM provides a broad perspective of the customer's experience with your brand, and the CJM offers a close-up view of the customer's path to purchase. Both maps are two sides of the same coin, offering complementary insights. Companies like Airbnb successfully integrate both maps, ensuring they meet their customers' needs at every step.


In summary, understanding the difference between a Customer Experience Map and a Customer Journey Map is essential in today's customer-centric business world. By distinguishing their unique components, benefits, and best use cases, you can leverage these tools to gain a deeper understanding of your customers, ultimately improving their interaction with your brand. Remember, the better you understand your customer, the better you can meet their needs – and that's the ultimate goal of any business.

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