Source: Unsplash/Jonny Caspari.

Harvard Business Review

Explained: The four archetypes of customer journeys, and the best one for you

Harvard Business Review
Business Advice
11 minute Read

Most marketing experts agree that it’s not enough to give customers a satisfying initial experience with a product. Instead, product managers must offer them a compelling series of experiences — a customer journey — to keep them coming back for more. The design of customer journeys is the new marketing battleground.

However, marketing experts have yet to develop a framework that can help managers with that design challenge. Too often they tell companies to routinize customer journeys — to make them as effortless and predictable as possible. Our research shows that this advice is overly simplistic. In fact, following it can sometimes backfire on a company.

Though some journeys might require little effort (for example, watching movies on Netflix or reordering meals on Seamless), others demand considerable mental or physical exertion (learning a new language on Duolingo or working out on a Peloton bike). Customers value both kinds of experiences.

Likewise, some journeys tend to be comfortingly familiar (like using Old Spice aftershave or grabbing lunch at Panera Bread), while others are unpredictable, surprising, and exciting (like meeting and chatting with other users of the dating app Bumble or playing World of Warcraft with friends). In many circumstances, customers actually relish the unexpected.

Keep reading for free

Join as a new subscriber and get your first month on us.
Learn more
Already a Plus member?


SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.