Before we dive into customer journey mapping tools, we must keep in mind that, by itself, journey mapping is not a customer experience product or service. A journey map is a visual representation of your end-to-end customer experience. Think of a journey map as a diagnostic tool. In this light, customer journey mapping tools include a variety of communications methods that empower the “customer experience doctor” to present the diagnosis to stakeholders in an easy-to-understand way.
Preparing for Journey Mapping
Before launching your journey mapping project, there is a level of strategic planning work that must happen. At this phase, the two most important questions to answer (before you invest time and money in the journey mapping process) is what business problem are you solving and for whom?
To answer these questions, start looking at the specifics. First, do you have customer retention challenges? If yes, you need customer feedback research before you start journey mapping.
Are you designing the journey of your new product customer? Then, you need to include marketing, sales and customer success in your journey mapping process. Importantly, remember to map that journey BEFORE the product design is finished so you can make changes on behalf of customer convenience.
Choosing the persona to focus on is another strategic answer that comes from proper strategic planning. At this stage, it is also helpful to choose the metric by which you will measure the quality of your customer experience. For instance, will you go with NPS, CSAT, Effort Score? Or, are you going deeper and breaking your customer feedback on a more granular level?
If you plan to use customer journey mapping tools to address painpoints in your existing customer journey, you also will need to do some customer research before jumping in to journey mapping.
See, to have impact, you must have focus when you build the journey map. Keeping that focus in mind, three is the maximum number of personas you can map. After the 3rd persona, you will have diminishing returns on your efforts. Knowing which 2 or 3 to choose often requires customer feedback research. After all, good research helps narrow the journey mapping to the part of the journey that offers the most opportunities for improvement.
Experience Touchpoints Builders
Once you confirm why you need journey mapping, it is time to investigate the painpoints and overall touchpoints on your map. Some of the most powerful customer experience journey mapping tools for that are Survey Monkey (and similar survey collection tools); a Customer Experience Audit, and observation studies (often called “follow alongs”).
Basic customer feedback collection is often underappreciated. Creating a basic survey in Survey Monkey is free. You can start with customer feedback questions across the journey. See if there is a dip in the quality of experience. Or, find out if experience quality is the same across the journey. An open ended question like “what is your biggest painpoint” helps give you ideas about the customer challenges you may not have considered.
Observations and follow alongs are another great research tool. These help you build a customer journey map from the CUSTOMER perspective (vs. what employees think the journey is). It is essential to avoid bias and to take the time to listen to your customers. Learn their perspective of their experience journey. As an employee of JetBlue Airways, I never went through the ticket purchasing process. As a result, my perspective on that journey changed drastically after I left the organization and purchased my first ticket.
The Experience Audit is another technique that helps remove your rose colored glasses on the customer experience journey. At its best, the Customer Experience Audit reveals gaps in your customer experience journey. We have specific questions to uncover structural gaps. But we also include a detailed process that is extremely informative! It’s amazing what you can learn about your own journey when you look at it objectively.
A colleague of mine once went through the experience of visiting Universal in Orlando. Going through that journey exposed so many painpoints. We were able to build an executive presentation with suggestions for improvement without even creating a detailed journey map. All because we walked the walk with an objective eye.
Ecosystem as a Customer Experience Journey Mapping Tool
Starting with an ecosystem that puts the customer at the center is a great journey mapping first step. Especially if you want to become more customer-centric, you must embrace a customer-centric vantage point. At this stage, zoom out on the ecosystem to see its boundaries. This enables you to identify the players on the journey.
At this stage you can also divide those players into consistent and occasional. For example, if you are onboarding a patient for a virtual health visit, the consent form is a permanent, or consistent player. The digital navigator that offers tech support is an occasional.
Additionally, the ecosystem allows for conversations about overall structural changes that can have a permanent impact on the customer experience. For example, what happens to the gas station customer journey when electric vehicles become the norm?
A subset of the ecosystem is the Stakeholder Map. Personally, I love the Stakeholder Map as a journey mapping tool because it allows me to understand who in an organization is responsible for what and how each department impacts the customer journey.
The Customer Experience Journey Map Tool
Essentially, the journey map is a giant process flow. It includes many lanes that describe various aspect of your customer experience journey. How many lanes you have (and what they are) depends on the goal of the journey map you are building.
If you are improving an existing experience, you will need to have the front stage and back stage of your journey. In other words, there will be things that the customer is experiencing (actions and feelings). And there will be things that your teams are doing internally (processes and procedures).
If you want to proactively design an experience map for a new product, you will need the lane that includes the emotions and feeling that you aim to create. And the actions you want your customers to take in order to create those feelings.
Finally, if you are using the journey mapping tool to gather all customer painpoints and moments of truth, you will need to add those two lanes on your process map. As you can see, a journey map can get very complex, very quickly. This is why it is essential to do all the preparation and research work ahead of time. When you do that, when you get to the journey map, you do not get lost.
In terms of digital vs physical channel experiences, remember that, although organizationally we divide them, and the departments often work in silos (especially in retail!), customers have one journey that crosses channels. So, if you have touchpoints in different channels, make sure you create ONE MAP for the customer journey. Do not create two separate maps (one for digital and one for physical experience).