Journey Maps: The most powerful business tool you aren't using.

In a complex world that moves too fast to comprehend, deep customer understanding can be the difference between growth and becoming a commodity. One powerful tool for understanding your customers experience and identifying opportunities for new products and services is the customer journey map.

What is a customer journey map?

A Customer Journey Map is the story of the actions, emotions and motivations of a customer as they interact with your organization. Journey maps can focus on one segment of an overall journey - like sales or product pick-up - or they can document every touchpoint in the customers end-to-end journey. 

Journey maps commonly include the following information:

  • Touchpoints - Interactions a person is having with your company
  • Channels - How the touchpoint is delivered (i.e. website, phone, face-to-face, etc.)
  • Emotions - How stakeholders (customers and employees or partners) feel at that touchpoint
  • Operations - Front and back stage people, information, materials and processes necessary to support the touchpoint
  • Questions - Questions customers ask at each touchpoint
  • Impact Points - These are touchpoints where decisions are made, impressions are formed and conversions occur.
  • Goals - what customers are trying to accomplish at each touchpoint

Creating a customer journey map

A customer journey map is only as good as the research used to build it. No matter how well you know your customer, you are not your customer. Get out of the office. Observe, ask and listen. 

1. Define your Objectives

Are you focusing on a specific area like resolving poor post-service surveys or developing new engineering services offerings or are you looking at a broader issue of poor NPS scores? You can map the end-to-end customer journey to better understand your customers experience but having a focus will help drive the research you need to conduct.

2. Identify the Actors

Start by identifying the journey segment you are mapping then identify the key stakeholders involved in the creation and consumption of services involved in that part of the journey. Create real, behavior based personas to communicate the behaviors, needs and attitudes for each group.

3. Conduct Research

Get an understanding for the key journeys customers undertake and how stakeholders approach those journeys. Conduct both quantitative and qualitative research. Send surveys, review support logs and application analytics. Observe stakeholders as they interact with your organization, conduct in-person interviews or have customers diary their experience. Capture your findings using a variety of methods including notes, pictures, videos and charts or graphs.

4. Map

Start by posting the results of your research in a place where journey mapping participants can interact with them. Using the research as a guide, write every touchpoint in the journey on a post-it note and put in on a wall in the order that the touchpoints occur. Below each touchpoint, on a different colored post-it note, put a smiling or frowning face depending on the stakeholder sentiment at that touch point. Beneath each sentiment on another color post-it note list the back office systems and processes required to support that touchpoint. Finally, on another post-it note, note the channel to deliver each touchpoint.

5. Analyze and Plan

Look for poor customer experiences and patterns in customer behavior. Look for gaps that create confusion or touchpoints that aren’t necessary. Identify one or two critical negative interactions and develop a plan to fix the touchpoints involved. Make sure to include a systematic way to measure the results.

It is important to involve the employee groups who are responsible for delivering and supporting customer interactions in the analysis stage. For example, if an interaction is negative because customer support staff do not have access to field service notes, IT support may be required to integrate data from field service applications with customer support tracking applications. Both groups should be involved in creating the solution.

6. Activate

The customer insights you uncover are incredibly valuable. You need a plan for communicating your findings to the organization and helping employees understand the role they play in delivering the customer journey. Have a graphic designer translate your map into a poster or create a way to showcase customer videos and quotes in employee communications. 

7. Revisit

Your customer journey map is a living document. Create a schedule for conducting new customer research and updating your map on a regular basis. 

Customers have more choices than ever and the barriers to switching are low. A customer journey map provides the foundation for designing an effective, enjoyable and differentiated product, service or experience.