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Touchpoints are "points" of contact between customer and business, but not all customer's actions in an experience can be related to that business.

E.g.: the user wants to buy a smartphone. He goes to the mall and checks the prices of some devices. He likes one model, but doesn't buy it. Instead he leaves and at the end of the day he enters my ecommerce and buy that same model.

In that example, the part where the user explore devices in a physical place is external to my business. Considering this case, should I still be describing touchpoints for each of my customer's steps, even if those touchpoints are not related to me?

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I would say that this depends on the chances of the customer coming upon something relating to your ecommerce in the mall. If there is something that might point the customer to your business in their context, it might be relevant.

That said, it probably depends on precisely what you are trying to figure out with your journey. I've seen journey maps which include the part where someone is deciding where to go and how they decide that. It's not necessarily interacting directly with your business, but it might still be relevant.

I've also seen journey maps which look only at direct interactions; how they get there doesn't get included at all.

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I would recommend to track the whole user journey at least once because it brings you more insight of the user behavior and more insight you can get the better. If you create some kind of a presentation of the user journey, you can mark these "external" touch points for example in a different color (grey). I usually have colors or own "swim lines" for physical and digital paths and often these paths merge.

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The example scenario you have given highlights the customer's purchasing behaviour and decision making. If you think it is important to capture this stage in the customer's journey then include it. But if included, be specific about the customer motivation you want to highlight and not just the scenario.

Any 'external' touchpoint you include in your journey map can describe multiple customer motivations. Here are some customer motivations that may have driven the example scenario:

  1. The customer intends to purchase online but wants to have a physical experience with the device before purchasing.
  2. The customer doesn't become ready to purchase the device till after he leaves the mall.
  3. The customer was shopping around for the best price, and felt that the price at the mall was too expensive but yours was just right.

I would avoid including customer touchpoints that are unrelated to your product or service unless it illustrates something germane to the customer experience or the persona you are describing.

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