Being at the beginning of developing a new product, you can gather tons of feedback about what to improve out of user research activities. The tough question is then: what is the most important thing to work on first? Knowing the customer journey comes in handy now.

Right after you have a product vision established you should sketch a path that you expect your customers to follow along. This path starts when a person hears the first time about you and ends at the point when that person reached your main goal. The main goal could be a first purchase on your e-commerce platform, a first recommendation on a news website, or the first successfully sold thing on a platform like eBay. Ideally, the main goal can answer the question of whether your venture will become successful one day or not. The path between those two events can be arbitrary, however, you should have an ideal path in mind where you want most of the people to walk along. That is the customer journey you should focus on.

Whenever you get feedback during user research, you can ask the question: does this relate to my customer journey or would this be an improvement for a side track or something that happens after the main goal? If it relates to a side track, make sure that you do not actively prevent people from following that path, but at the same time do not yet invest in those parts. Once your main path is ready and proven you can start focussing on side tracks. In case the feedback is about anything that occurs after your main goal, don’t care at all. You first have to get enough people to reach your main goal. Typically, you only have very few if any at all to get there at the early stage.

Once you filtered the user’s feedback to have only what’s directly related to your customer journey, another criteria will help you: is the feedback about the beginning or rather the end of the customer journey? If it is more towards the end, leave things for now and improve the start of the journey first. When you loose too many people already on the first steps of your path, you won’t have enough users left to tell you whether your improvements of the end of the path are worth it or not. On the other hand, leaving the end of the customer journey in bad shape and first focus on the beginning allows you to work your way towards the end. This way, the complete path will get covered eventually and you should always have enough users to provide worthy feedback.

Knowing the customer journey will help you get focussed on the really important things first. You will be able to create products that solve a problem that your target audience has. Once you could prove the problem - solution - customer fit for your product it is time to worry about side tracks and what happens after your main goal. In the end, those two parts will become equally important to grow a successful business out of your product vision.