Customer Experience

Leverage Critical User Journey to Enhance Customer Journey and Address Pain Points

Manoj Rana
March 16, 2024
min read
Leverage Critical User Journey to Enhance Customer Journey and Address Pain Points
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User-centered designing and development are crucial as they account for the end-user’s preferences, leading to a product built for the users and by the users. Focusing on users’ needs, businesses can create products that resonate with their audience, ensuring higher user engagement and increased customer satisfaction. 

A critical user journey shines the path to getting a clear understanding of how users interact with a product or service. The journey is about tracking a user’s movement from the initial awareness stage to the final outcome. 

I always take this approach when building new products or planning changes to existing ones, as it helps map out pain points and design solutions that meet users' expectations. 

What is the Critical User Journey?

Critical user journey is a UX mapping tool that charts our key interactions between users and a product. It's a process that helps visualize and focus on the most important and decision part of the customer’s interaction journey with a product. 

Mapping out these interactions and building a product to ensure the best user experience during these stages directly impacts revenue and retention. 

A CUJ maps out two types of user interaction with the product or service;

High Traffic CUJ

These journeys are high-volume and have lots of interactions. For instance, users navigate to the free demo requests on a SaaS product’s landing page. In these, your target should be to optimize the journey for that “aha” moment, which personifies the feeling a user experiences when they realize the value of your product. 

High Dollar CUJ

These journeys are potent revenue generators. They either generate a lot of money or put the highest amount at risk. For instance, the checkout page of an eCommerce platform has this capability, which means correcting all the issues here and ensuring a smooth user experience is essential. 

The critical user journey has five stages or levels, which a business owner must strive to complete. 

Awareness Stage

Achieved through social media and search engine optimization using blogs and infographics. 

Consideration Stage

Work on email marketing and conduct webinars while sharing case studies to show actual results and comparison guides. 

Decision Stage

Give live product demos to let the users experience your product and provide free trials to gain user-generated feedback. You can also share testimonials and product videos. 

Retention Stage

Use onboarding emails and in-app messaging to keep delighting your users, and ask the product teams to build user guides, tutorials, and tips & tricks documents. 

Advocacy Stage

Run referral programs to convert your users into product promoters and allow them to bring more users down to the funnel. Use user-generated content and success stories to promote your product further. 

Reasons to Map Out a CUJ for the Product and Design Team

User journey mapping is meant to help businesses identify one metric, which is the most prominent indicator of success or failure. For instance, the Netflix analytics team will want to keep an eye on the Viewing Hours, and Coursera may want to look at course sign-ups or test completion rates. 

Mapping out a customer’s interest and interaction with the platform with reference to that one metric is crucial to improving the journey and optimizing the navigation flow. 

Giving priority to Product Development Work

During development, identify and focus on high-impact features and frameworks. Pick out the most crucial user journeys, and it will become easier to allocate resources to the features with the biggest impact. 

Around 70% of businesses fail because their product cannot deliver the customer experience and suffer from bad usability. Invest your time and resources in knowing these high-impact areas and ensure you build them for user acquisition and retention. 

To Improve & Optimize the User Experience

Customer journey maps reveal the areas where your users might be struggling. Believe me when I say you must map out the key interactions your users will have with your product. 

This is going to bring a treasure trove of information that you can leverage to correct confusing interfaces or missing functionalities. Addressing them will address the pain points, satisfy user needs, and reduce frustrations at all touchpoints. 

Roger S. Pressman, in his book Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Approach, shares that every $1 spent on user experience can bring between $2 to $200 in return. It’s a great book and a must-read for those looking to understand how users can impact product development. 

For Better Customer Satisfaction and Higher Revenue

A well-designed critical user journey ensures that every current user can achieve their goals efficiently and enjoyably. Customizing your products for all user segments fosters loyalty and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases. 

This converts to higher revenue from repeat customers, and these customers advocate your product to bring new leads at the top of the funnel. As you work to retain customers, the chances of increasing profits scale by 25% to 95%

Decrease Customer Churn

User journey mapping helps product managers, developers, and owners figure out why users might bounce off during their interactions. They will knoe exactly what actions hinder user engagement, whether the complex checkout process or something else. 

With Qwary, it was the time taken for a user to submit a query. Our ticket submission process was slow, and asked for too many details. This led users to abandon our product as they failed to get the answers they needed. 

So, we implemented targeted solutions to improve the UI, query submission, and related processes. These and several additional actions led to higher engagement and reduced customer churn. 

Ensure Company and Team Alignment

A user journey map creates a unified vision for the entire company. Everyone connected with the product, from analysts to designers, developers, and the sales teams, works to achieve the same goal. 

This way, everyone chips in with expertise to address the pain points and improve your user experience. 

How to Identify Critical User Journey?

As a business owner, it's your prerogative to build a product your users love. This includes creating a journey they want to repeat and interact with your brand or product. While mapping out user journeys is crucial, let’s first understand the ways you can identify the key areas of interactions and know exactly what actions to take for a smooth experience between users and a product. 

Researching the Users

Know all about your users by conducting user interviews and surveys. Without any delays, talk to your customers to understand their goals, challenges, and preferred interaction methods. 

You can use Qwary to run product surveys with old and new users to identify their biggest frustrations. Use the information from interviews and surveys to uncover the pain points to build a potentially high dollar critical user journey map. 

Using this method, you will;

  • Extract qualitative insights directly from the source. 
  • Identify the user's potential needs and motivations. 
  • Corroborate your user’s understanding with data analysis. 

Data Analysis of Different Metrics

Extract and interpret quantitative data metrics like website traffic, clickstream, conversion rates, bounce-off rate, etc. Identify the trends from these metrics to build better CUJs while considering the potential areas for optimization. 

Using this method, you will;

  • Uncover trends and user behavior patterns. 
  • Leverage data to identify user behavior. 
  • Extract typical use case hindering effective product experience.


Heatmaps let you visualize the areas where users are clicking and scrolling your application or website. Know the areas of low and high user engagement. Heatmap analysis has the potential to create a high-dollar CUJ checkout or signup process. 

With the identification of areas with low engagement, it's an opportunity to improve the design, UX elements, content, etc. 

Using this method, you will;

  • Gain a deeper understanding of user behavior. 
  • Analyze user engagement trends beyond the number of clicks.

Session Recordings

Using session recordings, you can observe actual user interactions and identify points of confusion or frustration. Here, too, you can use Qwary to record user sessions, review users’ interactions with your product, and figure out the areas of frustration or confusion. 

You can check out the navigation sequence and use this information to identify a high-traffic CUJ while facilitating simplification efforts. 

Using this method, you will;

  • Identify specific usability issues within an existing CUJ. 
  • Reveal emotional responses and reactions by your users. 

Let’s Map Out a Critical User Journey

Going from launching a product to getting the first buyer and then having repeat purchases is easier said than done. Where you need valuable user behavior insights, you also need to design the product to inspire the desired reaction from your users. 

Mapping critical journeys is one of the steps to ensure that you care to all user segments and ensure growth by adding the elements preferred by your target audience. 

Here’s how to build a CUJ:

Identify the Stage of Critical Journeys

CUJs focus on a specific stage in the customer lifecycle. Begin by identifying the stage among;

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Adoption
  • Retention
  • Expansion 

Once identified, ask the following questions from yourself and the team;

  • What are your current goals? 
  • Do you want to improve engagement, revenue, retention rate, or overall user experience?
  • Which stage of the product engagement cycle do you think has the highest impact on user traffic, revenue, or UX? 
  • Which stage impacts your business processes and growth the most?

Answering these questions will help you figure out the stage to focus on for CUJ creation.

Define the Particular User Journey and the Goal 

Narrow the user journey scope to gain more clarity. First, count the number of touchpoints within the journey and note that more than three touchpoints is not ideal. 

So, stick to three, and if there are more, narrow the scope further. Here’s an example;

Assuming you need to map the user journey for the Retention stage, the goal is to increase user engagement with the app’s new fitness-tracking feature. 

  • First Touchpoint: The users will receive an in-app notification after completing their first workout with the new feature and receive personalized messages congratulating them on their achievements. 
  • Second Touchpoint: A gamified leaderboard is accessible where users are automatically enrolled, and their weekly workout data is analyzed to give each user a score or rank. This is going to motivate the users to do better and top the charts while fostering a sense of healthy competition. 
  • Third Touchpoint: Send a personalized weekly report via email to the users highlighting their progress and activity with the new feature. 

Similarly, you can pinpoint touch points specific to goals and work on them to build better CUJs. 

Determine and Prioritize the User-Centric Flow

A user-centric flow is an error-free path describing each step the users must take to achieve the ideal outcome. Mapping out this path and optimizing it will reveal friction points and help you extract insights that you can work on to improve the journey. 

For this, you can use different UX analytics and metrics to comprehend how users engage with your product and identify where they are led astray due to distractions and frustrations. 

To create a happy path, use the following quantitative research methods;

  • Funnel Analysis: Check the series of events and steps users take to reach a defined goal. Study the funnel to identify signs of frustration. 
  • Path Analysis: Visualize the series of events and steps a user requires to engage with your product. While the steps here are not predefined, you have to sort of “go with the flow” to identify where users deviate from the set path. 


A critical user journey is valuable for structuring the user experience of your product into a smooth and cohesive story. It ensures that the user flow and navigation is smooth from start to finish while taking the users to their destination via the shortest path.

You can leverage Qwary and its solutions to conduct user research, run surveys, organize user interviews, and run feedback sessions to gather relevant data for critical user journey mapping. 

Get in touch with us to book a free demo and improve the process of creating well-nourished critical journey maps.