What is the difference between a customer journey and a user journey?

I am planning a requirements workshop for a new CRM implementation. We have identified all the customer journeys but we need to decide how to articulate the detail of these user stories so that CRM vendors can estimate.

Any ideas? I was thinking of going with User Stories underneath each customer journey but I am a bit confused by the different terms, user journeys, customer journeys, epics, user stories etc.

  • 3
    User Stories are a separate, specific term ('as a X I want to do Y so that I can Z'). However, personally I would treat Customer and User Journeys as the same thing. Although everyone is a User but not everyone is a Customer, so it might depend on the situation.
    – JonW
    Aug 15, 2014 at 11:03

4 Answers 4


Epics are just stories that last longer than one sprint. Customers and users can actually be synonymous. Your CRM customers are using the CRM? Then they are the same. However, there can be a difference like when users and buyers are not the same. So your customer is the one who buys and pays for the CRM on a yearly basis. But other people of your customer are actually using the CRM.

Example: Employee says to boss: "I need a CRM to work effectively". Boss says: "Ok, I'll buy you one." A year later, boss wants to know if the new CRM actually made employee more effective. But he never uses the CRM, don't even know how it looks like. Still, he has a valid need just as the employee, who is the user.


The customer journey gives you the overall picture (its like a business process). During a journey you may have many interactions with the software from employees/customers.

I prefer Use Cases to describe these interactions, which can be used as software requirements. You can write a Use Case were the actor is the employee or the customer.

A Use Case describes the steps the user (customer or employee), has to make to complete a specific goal, using the software. It is usually 5-10 steps, and takes about 1-15 minutes.

  • In order to have a Use Case you need to have your user journeys completed though. You can't create a use-case on its own without having something to base it on.
    – JonW
    Aug 15, 2014 at 14:08
  • I agree with your comment. Aug 15, 2014 at 14:10
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    Welcome to the site, @DesignerAnalyst! If you agree with a comment, you can click the triangle that appears to the left when hovering over it. Typing out agreement gets cluttered. Aug 15, 2014 at 14:25

On the basis of the question, the difference would be whatever your definition of customer and user is. I would imagine that for an application that provides a product/service, the user journey would include all aspects of interaction. However, the customer journey would include just the interactions/touch points associated with the purchase of a product/service or returning customers.


I would agree that I don't think there is not an actual defined difference.

Users and customers are often the same people, and sometimes they are only one of those two things:

1: User journey- people aren't necessarily using an e-commerce site, it would be a bit odd to call users on the health service's website a 'customer' for example.

2: Customer journey- the focus isn't necessarily on the systems. They could be looked at in a very abstract way if they exist at all and the focus is more on the customer's general experience in a real world shop.

Circumstances also come to mind where there would be a separate customer and user journey, such as is in a system that is designed for e.g. customer service reps, staff working in a shop, etc... For this kind of system it could be rather important to have a separate customer journey and user (staff) journey.

Overall - user journey is the more usual word when you are looking at a particular system. There is absolutely no harm in replacing user with a more 'friendly' word like customer, employee, Bob's, etc....A different name doesn't alter what it is.

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