Understanding Customer Experience Throughout the Customer Journey

Katherine N. Lemon & Peter C. Verhoef
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Key Takeaways

​Customer experience is described as a multi-dimensional construct focusing on a customer’s cognitive, emotional, behavioral, sensorial, and social responses to a firm’s offerings during the customer’s entire purchase journey

The customer journey is described as the process the customer goes through, across all stages and touchpoints, which makes up the customer experience.

Four types of touchpoints are identified: brand owned, partner-owned, customer-owned, and social/external.

Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the AMA/MSI Special Issue of Journal of Marketing​​​​​

​In this article, the authors aim to develop a stronger understanding of customer experience (CX) and the customer journey in this era of increasingly complex customer behavior.


Customers now interact with firms through myriad touchpoints in multiple channels and media, resulting in complex customer journeys.  It has become increasingly difficult for firms to create, manage, and attempt to control the experience and journey of each customer. Our goal is to bring together existing research on CX, to understand its origins and roots, to place it in context, and to identify critical gaps in our understanding. Through this process, we aim to develop a stronger understanding of CX in an era of increasingly complex customer behavior. 


We examine existing definitions and conceptualizations of CX as a construct, and provide a historical perspective of the roots of CX within marketing.  Next, we attempt to bring together what is currently known about CX, customer journeys, and CX management.  Finally, we identify critical areas for future research on this important topic.

Figure 1. Process Model for Customer Journey and Experience

Table 1. Historical Perspective: Contributions to Customer Experience

Table 2​. What We Know About Customer Experience​ 


We show that CX has emerged as an important topic, arising from its historical roots in customer buying behavior process models, customer satisfaction and loyalty, service quality, relationship marketing, CRM, customer centricity, and customer engagement research.  We identify key learnings and best practices in several areas: CX dynamics, customer journey mapping, the multichannel journey, CX measurement, effects of touchpoints, partner/network management, and internal CX management. Finally, we set forth a research agenda for CX.

“Understanding Customer Experience Throughout the Customer Journey," by Katherine N. Lemon & Peter C. Verhoef


Our research provides managers with specific insights in nine distinct areas of CX and customer journey practice.  Managers can use these insights to strengthen their current understanding and management of CX throughout the customer journey.  We have found that managers find the historical perspective very valuable because it enables them to place their existing approaches to customer management in the broader context of CX. For researchers, we outline an in-depth future research agenda for this critical area of marketing:. 

Questions for the Classroom

  • Describe a recent customer experience you have had, including all aspects of the customer journey.

  • How might a firm strengthen the customer experience through touchpoints it does not directly control (partner-owned, customer-owned, social/external)?

  • How is customer experience distinct from customer satisfaction and customer relationship management?

Article Citation

Katherine N. Lemon and Peter C. Verhoef (2016), “Understanding Customer Experience Throughout the Customer Journey,” Journal of Marketing, 80 (6), 69-96.
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jm.15.0420 

Katherine N. Lemon is Accenture Professor in Marketing, Carroll School of Management, Boston College (e-mail: kay.lemon@bc.edu).

Peter C. Verhoef is Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen (e-mail: p.c.verhoef@rug.nl).


The AMA / MSI Special Issue of Journal of Marketing

Volume 80, Issue 6, November 2016

V. Kumar, Kevin Lane Keller, & Katherine N. Lemon

Christine Moorman and George S. Day

V. Kumar and Werner Reinartz

Katherine N. Lemon and Peter C. Verhoef

Michel Wedel and P.K. Kannan

Rajeev Batra and Kevin Lane Keller

Cait Lamberton and Andrew T. Stephen

Dominique M. Hanssens and Koen H. Pauwels​

Author Bio:

Katherine N. Lemon & Peter C. Verhoef
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