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Craft the Perfect Customer Journey - They Shouldn’t always be Effortless or Predictable

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Designing the right kind of journey for your product and customers is crucial for driving business success and building customer loyalty. But how do you design the best journey?


HBR's "What You're Getting Wrong About Customer Journeys" (Aug 2022) offers a framework for developing compelling journeys that keep customers returning many times over.


“Companies often believe they should make their customers’ experiences as effortless and predictable as possible. But the authors’ research shows that this approach is overly simplistic—and can even backfire.

While in some instances (say, watching movies on Netflix) customers want their journeys to be easy and familiar, in others (working out on a Peloton bike or playing World of Warcraft) they want to be challenged or surprised.”


HBR provides a customer journey matrix with four distinct archetypes based on their level of effort and predictability:



Each type of journey requires its own design principles:

  • Routines are effortless and predictable and are suited to utilitarian products (e.g., electric toothbrushes, Amazon’s one-click ordering)

⇒ offer consistent touchpoints in familiar sequences

  • Joyrides are effortless and unpredictable and work with products that deliver an on-demand thrill (e.g., video games, fast fashion)

⇒ offer endlessly varied moments of delight

  • Treks are effortful and predictable and are associated with products that help people achieve challenging long-term goals (e.g., learning a language, “MyFitnessPal” app)

⇒ require goal-posting (breaking big objectives down into small ones),

  • Odysseys are effortful and unpredictable and are perfect for products that facilitate customers’ passion projects (e.g., cultivating a social media following, training for a fitness contest)

⇒ substantive variation and journey tracking”



They recommend these 5 steps to create a successful customer journey for your product:

  1. Identify the best archetype for your product based on effort and predictability.

  2. Use the design principles of the chosen archetype to focus on specific aspects of the customer journey.

  3. Cue purchase decisions at the appropriate time based on predictability of the journey.

  4. Balance predictability and surprise for the chosen archetype. I.e.,

    • routines: high predictability

    • joyrides: high surprise

    • treks: mix

    • odysseys: high predictability with occasional surprises

5. Continuously improve the customer journey by monitoring and tracking it.


Designing the perfect customer journey is essential for driving business success and building customer loyalty.


If you need help creating a compelling journey for your product and customers, leveraging consumer and shopper insights, please reach out for assistance.


Reference: HBR's "What You're Getting Wrong About Customer Journeys" (Aug 2022)

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