How Journey Mapping Differs from Traditional Market Research

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We find a lot of confusion in the marketplace around journey mapping. Some think that journey mapping is just a workshop where you take all the people who created your broken, siloed experience, give them Post-It Notes, and Bam! You have a journey map. Others go the opposite direction, considering journey mapping to be traditional market research with a nice-looking report. It’s this latter group that we’re focusing on this week in a series of posts about what exactly is different between traditional market research and best-practice journey mapping.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with traditional market research. There’s value to having your research team organize focus groups to test out your product ideas or run a Max-Diff survey to see what customers most value. It’s just not journey mapping.



Best-practice journey mapping is instead focused from the beginning on building employee empathy for customers and using this to drive action. As a result, it requires a different approach. Not better or worse – just different.

We’ll be focusing on this all week long. Guest authors Corey Pawlak, Cathy McLane and Nicole Newton will share their expertise in recruiting and interviewing B2B customers, why 10-page reports are better than 50-page reports, and using video to bring the customer experience to life, but before we get to them, let’s talk about a different approach to Customer Immersion.

When we work with a client’s market research team, one area of difficulty is the need to visit customers in their natural environment and to bring employees out to see it. While great market research may do this too (I love The Game Changer, which documents how P&G learns about customers by sending their teams out to visit them), it’s less common. For example, we were talking with the market research team at a major financial services institution and mentioned that we bring employees out to visit customers. The concept confused them. “Why wouldn’t we use phone interviews? They’re less expensive” was their initial comment. We discussed change management and why it’s important to be there, face-to-face, and that’s where the mismatch became obvious. “Our people are way too busy to visit customers,” was one comment, accompanied by “our distribution team will never let us visit customers in person.” Of course, there was also the market research standby, “won’t having employees there bias the results?”

Let me specifically address this last topic. We have found that, so long as we have a professional interviewer lead the discussion, the vast majority of interview participants quickly forget that an employee is in the room, and will share their viewpoints – both positive and negative – without holding back. Even more important is the bias that is created – the bias towards action. When we look at which of our clients are the most effective at driving change, there’s a strong correlation to the number of individuals who attend customer site visits. Once employees hear, first-hand about customer issues, most want to drive change. This bias strongly helps create a better customer experience.



So, join us as we move into Mapping Month and discuss journey mapping best practices, and remember, there’s more to journey mapping than a making pretty map.

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