I am just starting out with customer journeys and I am very concerned because our team has no intention to speak to customers during the requirements gathering workshops.

Now I understand designing customer journey's is different to designing systems, for which I have experience in but surely this is also critical just like it is to speak to users when designing a new system?

  • 3
    re: "our team has no intention to speak to customers during the requirements gathering" Why? Please see also: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/63145/…
    – Pdxd
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 15:47
  • "our team has no intention to speak to customers" <-- why is that? Aren't they familiar with UCD? Do they see no need because they think it's "obvious"? Are they afraid of spending time and money on this issue? Please let us first know what's the reason. Then we might be able to give you advices. Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 9:14
  • One alternative is testing w/coworkers or other employees who aren't so intimately familiar w/the existing product or processes. Not ideal, but may be better than nothing for at least uncovering issues or assumptions the project team members could be too close to recognize or consider themselves.
    – mc01
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 18:53
  • Common reasons I hear for not doing user research are (1) the budget is tight and (2) the client knows their customers. (Of course, (1) so what? and (2) no they don't.) Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 21:01

3 Answers 3


You can create anything without ever speaking to a customer but it will be based on assumptions, not facts. Secondary research will get you closer to the real customer journey. Try interviewing customer support, sales and other disciplines that talk to customers. You can create a customer journey with that information; however, you'd be wise to note that it's temporary. Present the assumptions and the unknowns to see what's truly unfounded. Putting this out in the open may warrant additional research (talking with customers).

If your team isn't willing to speak with customers, you can either undertake this yourself or slowly sell primary research throughout your company.

  • A way you could potentially show value is to conduct your own user flows. You could start with competitor sites and how the challenges and advantages of each system. I was in a similar situation and this is what it took to "sell" the customer journey.
    – Johnny UX
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 18:06
  • The first four words were incredibly inspiring. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 21:30
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    @lineplay "You can create anything..." Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 2:22

This fully depends on what you are creating. Having no knowledge of your project, I would it assume it falls under 2 buckets: Inventing the Wheel or Reinventing the Wheel.

Inventing the Wheel (The Only Scenario where you can do this)

If you are building something that no one has ever experienced before, you would have no background research to rely on and no one can give you a defined answer of whether you are doing it right. In this case, yes you can probably do the planning without direct interaction with users but you still need to conduct your research to get an empathetic understanding of them.

Reinventing the Wheel

If you are building something that is a manipulation of what already exists (90% of cases), you should definitely incorporate your users as early and as often as you can. You are, after all, designing for them.

You do no need to physically speak to customers but that is ideal so you can catch all the 'unspoken' feedback (reading between the lines). You can also gather the information from customers through surveys or even just an open call for feedback.

  • I agree 100% with the "Reinventing Wheel", but I have my doubts whether you can build a prototype without user research. Even if you are building something completely new you have to understand your users and their goals. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 17:22
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    @DesignerAnalyst Thanks for your comment - completely agree. I've refined my answer. I think the OP just wanted to avoid communicating directly with the customer.
    – Pdxd
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 18:48

As you said, interacting with your users during the research represents a critical activity without which is impossible to assure that the right journeys are designed and the product (or service) implemented will be fully adopted.

The question I have is "why is user research not happening"?

If time or budget constraints are partially playing a role on this, I would suggest looking at ways to gather second-hand user data:
- Log calls, emails or reports: learn if other areas of your business have already gathered data that could help you focus around key pain points encountered by the customers on their journey
- Competitive analysis: sometimes help could come by looking at what similar products or services are doing. Here you could look at analogies or similarities. If you are working on an app, for instance, you could look at reviews given by users on the apple store and see how certain products meet (or don't) the user needs
- Build proto-personae: in one day you could come up with a bunch of personae to whom associate needs, frustrations and most common journeys
- Analytics: if applicable to an existing product, you could learn a lot just by looking at what people currently do (customer journeys as funnel) - Online survey: easy way to gather user details remotely (crucial aspect here is represented by the questions you will ask). Here you could ask questions around specific steps or aspects of a journey

I could carry on with at least half a dozen of other things you could do to mitigate the risk of not having first-hand user data.

I hope it helps. A

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