5 Basic Journey Mapping Principles


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Today’s post is a modified version of a post I originally published on Touchpoint Dashboard’s blog on May 29, 2015.

There are five basic principles that journey maps must adhere to. What are they?

Once upon a time (and still today), journey maps were created on butcher paper with post-it notes. I’ve used this approach to create journey maps in the past, and while it’s a valid and viable methodology, it makes it difficult to share the maps, to administer updates, and to transfer knowledge. It’s also time-consuming and fosters that one-and-done attitude that becomes the death knell of journey mapping.

Then we started using tools like Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio, which prove to be expensive, and the output is static and two-dimensional. Plus, these tools are also time consuming; you end up spending hours drawing – time that could or should be spent on strategy and execution.

Mapping tools had to evolve. Why? Because nothing was being done with the maps. People failed to see the value in this very important exercise. We are asked often, “So what? I mapped. What do I do with it now?” Maps are supposed to be that catalyst for change both throughout the organization and for the customer experience; without adhering to some basic principles of mapping, maps become useless. (Side note: Touchpoint Dashboard was purpose built to help with those principles and to ensure maps are that catalyst for change.)

What are those basic principles of mapping? Other than the obvious, which I’ve written about recently, five important principles to adhere to include:

1. Maps must be collaborative/collaborated.
To break down those organizational silos and to get buy-in across the organization for the change that must happen, cross-functional collaboration is necessary. This collaboration is a great reminder to the various key stakeholders that the customer experience isn’t one dimensional, i.e., just because the customer calls support doesn’t mean support is the only department involved in that interaction. This collaboration also facilitates the assignment of owners to the steps in the journey so that we know who to call on when something is broken. And finally, customer collaboration is key; customers must validate the maps you’ve created.

2. Maps bring the journey to life.
Maps help bring the customer experience to life. To amplify this, you’ll want to add visuals – images, audio, or video – of what the customer is doing, thinking, or feeling. And bring customer feedback and data into the touchpoints. Attach any artifacts to the map or to a touchpoint to add greater understanding about the customer journey.

3. Maps should allow you to analyze and prioritize touchpoints and improvement opportunities.
Map your customers journey using a tool that’s data driven. The more data you bring into the map, into a touchpoint, the better your ability to analyze the journey and to prioritize improvement opportunities. And the better your ability to drive change. When you can analyze your touchpoints, it’s more likely that the map will not just sit on the shelf or just hang on the wall and fail to be the catalyst it’s supposed to be.

4. Maps must be shared.
Once a map is created, it can’t just sit on the desk of the person who created it. It must be shared throughout the organization in order to tell the customer’s story, to get buy-in for the experience and its improvements, and to educate employees about the customer’s journey.

5. Maps should be updated.
As improvements are made to the experience and as the experience evolves, you need to be able to update your maps in order to reflect the latest current state. From there, you’ll iterate, continue design efforts, and cycle back through these five principles. Continuously.

When you adhere to these basic principles of mapping, you can be certain that your maps become the catalyst for change that they were meant to be!

Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. -Kevin Stirtz

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


  1. A number of years ago my wife and I bought a new house. The kitchen floor was new and clean. But the previous owners had chosen a floor covering that was green, yellow and pink. In our eyes, it was colors that clashed. We vowed to change it.

    But, we got busy with other home improvement projects and never got back to replacing the floor covering. Soon, we no longer noticed the floor unless we were reminded by a visitor. We became blind to the details we only noticed in the beginning of our home ownership.

    Journey mapping is done by people who risk being “blind” to the details that customers notice. So, another key principle should be “verification by the customer.” Without the active participation of customers, we risk looking at the kitchen floor and not seeing the color clash.


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