Customer journey maps are a key component of customer experience strategy and planning. But what are they? What information do they provide? And, how should they be used?
Depending on who you ask, a customer journey map is a process or a visual tool.
- The process of journey mapping is the identification and documentation from the customer’s point of view of all the experiences that customers have as they interact with your organization/service/product from initial contact, through purchasing, after-sales support, and hopefully onto renewal/ repurchase.
To clarify, journey mapping is not internal process mapping.
- A customer journey map is typically presented as a 2D linear display of the activities, interactions, and emotions a customer (or prospect) has when attempting to accomplish an interaction with your organization/service/ product.
Maps are often designed as sequential steps that plot every interaction a customer has with your business from awareness to repeat business. However, it is important to remember that, in reality, how customers interact with your brand is not linear.
But we think those definitions are too simple. A customer journey map is a powerful operational design tool that, when used correctly, leads to more intentional, strategic thinking about delivering better customer experiences.
Why are maps needed?
Maps are essential. Planning a journey without a map is like building a house without drawings. – Mark Jenkins
Creating customer journey maps is an important step toward becoming more customer-focused. The mapping process and the actual map can help organizations by:
- Providing a shared view of the customer experience
- Aligning on a common customer language
- Increasing cross-functional visibility into your customers’ experiences.
- Identifying customer pain points, experience, and operational gaps
- Breaking down cross-functional silos
Maps are a collection of knowledge and data points. But it is just the beginning. Too many organizations view mapping as a single exercise to fix what is broken. Journey mapping is not a one-and-done exercise; it needs to be actively managed and updated to remain meaningful. The real value is delivered through journey management.
Customer journeys should be managed like products by teams with specialized, journey-dedicated roles who continually research, measure, optimize, and orchestrate the experience.
Knowing what customers are thinking and expecting at each stage of their journey enables you to create more relevant and targeted communications, develop better products and services, and provide a more seamless and consistent customer experience.
What information should maps contain?
The information included in customer journey maps can vary greatly. Each organization needs to evaluate and include insights that will be most meaningful for them to take action. Be mindful not to overwhelm users with too much data – data paralysis is real! While maps are unique to each company, some information is foundational and required:
From the customer’s perspective (outside-in view)
- Customer persona/type
- Journey stages
- Touchpoints or customer interactions, including descriptions that bring to life what the customer is trying to do
- Primary and secondary customer expectations – A comprehensive list of the primary (main) and secondary attributes that describe what customers expect at a given touchpoint, regardless of whether the organization currently provides it
- Customer emotion – How the customer feels about the touchpoint interaction
- Channels used – The primary and secondary mediums used by the customer to communicate/ interact with the organization
- Customer paint points – Points in the journey where the customer has consistently negative emotions like anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, etc.
- Opportunity to Delight – Points in the journey where the company has the opportunity to delight the customer with a WOW experience to drive loyalty, regardless of whether the organization currently provides it
From the company’s perspective (inside-out view)
- Knowledge gaps – Points in the journey where the company has limited knowledge of the experience or the customer’s needs
- Tools/Process – The systems or tools that are used by employees to deliver the experience
- Touchpoint owner – The department or role that owns a touchpoint and, therefore, is ultimately responsible for the experience delivered
- Touchpoint supporters – The departments or roles that support the primary owner of a touchpoint
- Success measurements – How an organization currently measures the experience delivered at a touchpoint
A customer journey map is an important operational tool for building lasting relationships with customers. Customer journey mapping is not as simple as it seems. There are validated processes and guidelines to adhere to to get it right.
Remember that the customer journey is not linear, and it is not static; it evolves as customer preferences change, competitors and non-competitors evolve their experiences, and technology advances.
The greatest value of journey mapping comes from journey management. Journey management is a long-term commitment from the organization to truly understand and manage the customer experience. By developing maps and actively managing them, businesses can create consistently exceptional experiences that lead to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.