a scaffold as an analogy to a framework

The Customer Journey Framework: A Guide

August 22, 2023

A customer journey framework acts as a compass, breaking down the intricate tapestry of the customer experience into manageable segments. It allows organizations to decipher the nuances that shape customer interactions. In this article, define the concept, differentiate it from related ones, and provide an overview on main components and tools.


What is a customer journey framework?

Let's kick off with a short definition:

A customer journey framework is set of tools and guiding pricinples that helps organizations to analyze, optimize and manage the entire customer journey as an ongoing process. It provides a high-level understanding of the customer journey and helps to zoom in and breaks it down to actual tasks. Thus a journey framework helps organizations to identify the touchpoints, pain points, and opportunities for improvement.

a hierarchy of customer journey maps, connected in a customer journey framework

Think of a customer journey framework as setting up a school for the day. In the morning, the classrooms are prepared, teachers are ready with their lesson plans, and all the necessary resources are in place. This is similar to the foundational components of a customer journey framework, where you have your strategy, processes, and tools in order.
However, until the students arrive, the school is just a well-organized but empty space.

Let's differentiate the term from related concepts:

Whilst journey governance, management and operations describe the work processes on different levels, a framework rather describes the basic setup and tools that are used. This is also why we talk about a framework for customer journey management.

It's when the students enter that the interactive and dynamic part begins. The interactions between the students and teachers, the way classes are conducted, and the overall learning experience represent the journey management, governance, and operations within a customer journey framework.

Just as teachers guide and support students through their lessons, a customer journey framework guides and supports organizational teams as they move through various CX challenges with a company. It ensures that each step of their working journey is optimized and aligned with the overall strategy. Without CX teams or people working on CX, the customer journey framework remains an empty structure. It's the interactions and experiences that bring both the school and the CX framework to life.

The benefits and value of a journey framework

A customer journey framework is useful because it helps you with three big challenges:

  • Standardize: teams with a clear journey framework have a shared understanding of the way of working
  • Centralize: customer journey maps, tools and methods used, and language are only a few things that are important to be centralized through a journey framework
  • Project management: a journey framework helps to keep an eye on ongoing initiatives.

Thus, the great value of a journey framework is that it allows you to efficiently work together

a hierarchy of customer journey maps, high-level and zoom-in maps

Components of a customer journey framework

The main elements of a customer journey framework are:

  • Journey maps: current-state and future state maps, high-level and zoom-in maps, templates – journey maps are the heart and should have each framework. An essential activity when developing a journey framework is gathering all existing journey map in a repository and connecting them in a hierarchy that is easy to overview and manage.
  • Roles: everybody involved in the innovation process needs to clearly know their tasks and responsibilities. Others should have an overview on who's involved and who to talk to about specific questions.
  • Knowledge and skills: a journey framework makes sure that everybody involved is equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills, or at least has access and can make use of it when needed.
  • Tools: a journey framework makes sure that CX insights are not all over the place, but centraliced in a real hub. Usually this is where digital CX tools enter the field. Tools are also useful to provide an overview on challenges and opportunities, for example an opportunity portfolio
  • Procedures: this implies a clear guideline on how collaboration happens – for details please refer to our article about journey management and operations.
Imagine you want to climb the Mount Everest together with someone else. To reach the peak, both of you will depend on each other, as well as on your knowledge and equipment. You'll need a reliable map, efficient communication, knowledge about the geographic and climatic conditions, equipment, and the skills to use it efficiently.

What are good tools for a customer journey framework?

First things first: There is nothing like the best customer journey management framework – the ideal solution for you will depend on different factors.

Here are a few tools for you to have a look at and that will help you build a customer journey management framework for your own team:

The Smaply framework

Smaply provides a customer journey framework that allows to create journey maps, link them in hierarchies or a journey network –thus allows for zoom-in and out. It also offers a dashboard to keep the overview on ongoing initiatives, clarify roles/responsibilites and much more.

The five-stage customer journey framework

The Five-Stage Customer Journey Framework: Breaks down the customer journey into five stages: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention, and Advocacy.

Jobs top be done

The Jobs to be Done Framework focuses on identifying the "jobs" that customers are trying to accomplish when they purchase a product or service.

Touchpoint Analysis

The Touchpoint Analysis Framework involves mapping out all the touchpoints that a customer has with an organization and identifying opportunities to improve the customer experience at each touchpoint.

Empathy Mapping Framework

The Customer Empathy Mapping Framework helps organizations understand their customers' emotions and behaviors by mapping out their experience from their perspective.

How to develop your own Customer Journey Framework?

With the following 5 steps you have a good starting point for your own professional customer journey framework:

1 Build a mindset

Enhance your team's skills and boost their motivation. Ensure they grasp the project's benefits, both personally and for the organization. This knowledge will empower them, fostering a sense of purpose and enthusiasm.

2 Clarify responsibilities

From your larger team, you might need or want to pick a core team that invests more time into this work. Decide: Who will be involved and how? Who will be in a leading role, who only contributes every now and then and who only needs to be informed?

3 Pick a tool

Agree on a tool that acts as your new hub of insights – a tool that helps you not only with the journey mapping part, but also with the selection of projects and their management throughout the innovation process.

Smaply is made for this purpose, however as mentioned above, there are also other tools that you might want to look at.

4 Create a journey map repository

Gather all the existing journey maps you have floating around in your office, on your desktop or in other tools. Now create a real repository, structured in a hierarchy, from high-level to zoom-in experiences.

5 Build processes and make them routines

Customer journey management is not a on-off-project, but rather an activity that deserves its time on your weekly calendar. You can for example schedule a weekly, or monthly meeting with your core team, to look at the status quo and decide what need to be the next steps.


A customer journey framework provides the basic setup for efficient customer journey management. It helps to align tools and activities and thus makes CX projects more effective and efficient.

And now, what's next?

Time to get your hands on! You can sign up for Smaply and make the tool your new customer journey framework.

Sign up for Smaply, it's free