Who’s the Right Customer to Map? Your Third Journey Mapping Question

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Note: We’re celebrating the upcoming launch of our new book “How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer? Using Customer Journey Mapping to Drive Customer-Focused Change,” by Mapper-In-Chief Jim Tincher and B2B Practice Lead Nicole Newton. We’re using the launch as a cheesy excuse to walk through the Five Journey Mapping Questions.

Two weeks ago, Jim covered “What’s the Business Problem or Opportunity,” and, last week, Nicole introduced the topic of “What is the Right Journey?

We often get calls like the one we received from a health insurance organization a few months ago, that say something like “We’d like to map the end-to-end journeys of our members (the end customer), the broker, the employer, and our employees.”



It sounds great, right? After all, customer journey mapping can offer strong ROI and is a best practice for understanding your customer. Why wouldn’t you want to map every customer type at once?

I get it, and it sure sounds good. Unfortunately, mapping every audience is the best way to ensure you waste tons of money and make no progress at all.

The first problem is cost. Best-practices journey mapping costs $100,000 – $200,000 for one audience. Fully understanding the journey requires mapping 30-60 participants or even more, depending on the nuances of the customer and whether you have identified segments or personas. So, mapping four audiences can approach half a million dollars. While some companies have this budget, most don’t. The alternative is to map a handful of each type of customer, leaving you stuck with a very high-level analysis – hardly enough to drive a superior customer experience.

Secondly, even if you have the budget, what are the odds you could act against the insights gained from maps of all four audiences? Just the initiatives from mapping one audience typically fills our clients’ project portfolio. Only the most well-resourced of programs could act against all the insights found across all four customer types. Most would leave important changes on the cutting room floor. And the surest way to destroy customer (or employee) engagement is to ask for feedback and do nothing with it.

So, what’s to be done? Make hard decisions.

Best practices journey mapping requires trade-offs. Truly understanding the customer’s journey means learning about her emotions, and that takes time and effort. Start by going back to question 1 – what’s the business problem or opportunity? When somebody says they want to map all their audiences, that’s the clearest sign that there is no business problem – they’re creating maps just for the sake of creating maps. And mapping for mapping’s sake ain’t really customer journey mapping. It doesn’t lead to the changes required to truly improve the customer experience.

Successful journey mappers look for a business problem and use that to make trade-offs. And that often means focusing on just one customer type.

Does that mean you’ll only talk to one type of customer? No, it probably doesn’t. Even when focusing on one customer, you may interview others to get the full context.



In our book we use the example of Insurety (not their real name), an insurance company who wanted to map the underwriting journey. This fell under the second business problem or opportunity – you have an existing initiative. Insurety was planning to change their underwriting process, so, they wanted to map the existing experience. The business problem made the selection of journey easy: the time spent in underwriting. It also made the selection of customer easy: The agent. The map was created from the agent’s viewpoint, as the agent is the primary customer experiencing the underwriting journey. But while we primarily spoke to agents, we did still interview smaller sets of end customers and intermediaries to better understand the context surrounding the journey. Selecting the primary customer – agents – allowed us to focus Insurety’s scarce resources where they could most benefit.

Just like selecting the right journey, selecting the right customer can be challenging. But, only by focusing your approach can you efficiently learn what’s needed and help ensure you drive change with the results.

Isn’t that why you’re doing journey mapping in the first place?

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