Top Do’s and Don’ts of Customer Journey Mapping — 10 CX Experts Spill the Beans!

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If you’re involved with a Customer Experience (“CX” for short) initiative, there’s a very good chance that you’re also doing customer journey mapping (CJM). If fact, CustomerThink’s recent study of 200+ CX initiatives found nearly 8 of 10 respondents reported developing a journey map.

But simply creating a map was not found to be a success driver. The existence of CJMs didn’t “explain” (in a statistical sense) why some CX initiatives were “winning” — able to quantify CX benefits or achieve a competitive edge.

What did matter was the quality of the journey-mapping process. To help explain what that means, I asked CX experts for their advice on:

  • One thing to be sure to DO on a journey mapping project. A practice or technique usually seen in successful efforts.
  • One thing to be sure NOT TO DO. Something that often leads to big problems or outright failure.

Without further ado, here’s what these experts shared with me (lightly edited for clarity), along with additional resources to help you dig deeper. Use these tips to improve the impact of journey mapping on your CX success.



Lior Arussy, President
Strativity Group

DO This

Make sure you fully qualify the emotional impact of the issue / touchpoint. Just because it is a pain point doesn’t mean customers are seeking exhilarating resolution. Sometimes it is just “fix it” issue. To figure this out, we divide pain points between hygiene factors and differentiating factors. And we qualify what is what with customers. Additionally, you measure what are they willing to live with in exchange for what improvement. A trade-off exercise. Lastly, we try to correlate with the financial impact which can be done through a study and regression analysis.

DON’T Do This

Prioritize without customers. Just because you think it is common sense or simple to fix, that does not mean customers would prioritize it the same way when compared with other issues. They lived with that pain point for a while, they might be willing to live with it longer if you will commit resources to issues that really matter to them. Don’t follow the easy trail.

Learn more:

Dave Fish, Ph.D., Founder and CEO
CuriosityCX

DO This

Treat as an organization change initiative; not a research or process mapping project. Journey mapping is a technique that is widespread but also widely reinterpreted. Some use variants of journey mapping to figure out when to send marketing materials or help ‘nudge’ the customers to purchase more, such as in path-to-purchase models. Technologists sometimes narrow the scope to clickstream paths, which I would argue is process mapping vs. journey mapping. Still others look at it as a research project with insights to help improve the experience as a whole.

Our approach is a bit different. We have always viewed Journey Mapping as an organizational change initiative more than anything else. Research sits on the shelf, process maps are consulted but rarely change anything. The point of journey mapping is to create a catalyst for sustained change.

The largest impact journey mapping has on an organization is not the outcome; but ironically the journey of doing journey mapping. People who never met each other now talk to one another. Once quasi-taboo topics are thrown out in the light. It engages the entire company and helps tear down those infamous silos. At the end, sure you may have a cool map. But if done right, you have an organization that is aligned, informed, and engaged to change things.

DON’T Do This

Get paralyzed by process and outcome. The benefit from journey mapping lays in the journey of doing it. Some folks get caught up in what forms to use or what visuals to use. Do I list touchpoints or leave it off the mapping. Do I do mapping exercises in separate groups and geographies or all at once? These are decisions that need to be made, but a year after all the dust settles the truth is no one will care. They will not remember if you use 3d graphics or stick figures. They will remember talking with Diane in procurement or being flummoxed at the complexity of your billing process and impact on the customer.

The irony should not be lost on anyone in the CX business. It’s not the outcome or even the process that makes the impact; it is the organizational experience that makes the entire enterprise wiser and more likely to change.

Learn more: Top 10 Journey Mapping Mistakes

Ian Golding, CCXP
Global Customer Experience Specialist

DO This

Understand why a journey should be mapped in the first place. Too many organisations are mapping journeys without a clear understanding as to why, or what they are supposed to do with them. As a result, journeys are often mapped once and never again. For journey mapping to be successful, it must be understood that it is ONE part of a continuous, never-ending cycle of activity that should be understood as customer journey MANAGEMENT!!!

This cycle includes knowing who your customers are — so their journey can be mapped; so the journey can be measured; so the priorities for improvement can be identified; so the priorities can then be fixed&rsquo. This cycle is then completed continuously, FOREVER!!

DON’T Do This

Overcomplicate journey mapping. It is IMPERATIVE for customer journey mapping to be effective, that you must KEEP IT SIMPLE!!! One of the biggest mistakes being made by organisations all around the world is to map customer journeys to far too granular a level of detail. As a result of this granularity, too many are mapping journeys, but without a clear understanding as to exactly what they are supposed to do with them! A journey map must help you to determine where the priorities for improvement are – you should only delve deeper into the journey when you have PROVEN where those priorities exist.

Learn more: Customer Journey Management – it’s not just about the mapping!

Michael Hinshaw, President/CEO
McorpCX

DO This

‘Activate’ your journey maps to drive action. Many journey mapping efforts result in thoughtful, insightful, and well-designed artifacts. While informative, they don’t drive measurable change. There are many things you can do to help accelerate adoption, but we’ve seen three ‘gating factors’ as critical enablers:

  • Socialize your maps with stakeholders before and during the process (not just after the maps are done) to educate and drive buy-in
  • Move beyond problem identification to solution articulation. Maps are great at finding problems, but it’s hard to action a problem.
  • Prioritize your solutions, with initial efforts focused on “quick hits’ (pick your metaphor – every org has one) that can show immediate results against key business goals. Little succeeds like the ability to point to success.

DON’T Do This

Build your maps without defensible data. Journey maps can be created at multiple levels of fidelity – from back-of-napkin, small-group conference table exercises to immersive, data and research-rich artifacts. If you’re building journey maps to help shift organizational focus and drive meaningful change, the cost of those changes can be significant. So use data to support your conclusions and support investment, ideally bringing insights from three sources into play:

  • Voice-of-the-Business (VoB) captures what you know about your customers; this is often a workshop-driven exercise and can also include internal data sources for capturing staff/employee feedback about customers.
  • Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) tells you what your customers believe to be true, how they feel and what they want. Data can come from myriad listening posts including primary and secondary research, social listening, sentiment analysis and more.
  • Voice-of-Analytics (VoA) data tells you what you’re ‘doing to’ your customers across systems, channels, and journeys as well as what customers actually do (their behaviors). Systems, call center, and journey analytics are just a few of the sources you can tap into.

Learn more:

Lynn Hunsaker, CCXP, PCM, Chief Customer Officer
ClearAction Continuum

DO This

Create the journey map from customers’ verbatim comments. Include who cares about what, when, and why (consequences they experience when things go well or not well). You already have a treasure trove of insights on-hand; make use of them for outside-in perspective. You need to keep a pulse on the various players in a customer account who have a say in purchase decisions. The consequences will elevate your thinking to customers’ jobs-to-be-done, or customers’ outcomes-based buying. By focusing on what customers care about and their consequences you free-up creativity to find efficient and differentiated solutions.

DON’T Do This

Dedicate a workshop to creating the journey map. Instead, use this precious opportunity with an enthusiastic group of cross-organizational reps to focus on absorbing and actioning the insights from a pre-workshop journey map draft (who will do what by when and how will you maintain high visibility and closed-loop communication among yourselves and with customers). ROI requires actioning and making a lasting difference that’s rewarded by your whole customer base. Dedicating the time to absorbing and actioning cross-organizationally is a step toward making outside-in thinking and doing a way of life across your company.



Learn more:

Aimee Lucas, CCXP, Sr. Principal Analyst
Qualtrics XM Institute

DO This

Start your customer journey mapping by getting clear on WHO is going through the journey. An experience that works for one customer could be a complete failure for another. That’s why it’s important to be clear, from the onset of your CJM effort, which customer is the “main character” taking the journey.

Many companies develop and use design personas to inform their journey mapping and other experience design work. Design personas create a shared, vivid picture of target customers’ characteristics, needs, and behaviors. Companies should then craft a map to cover each of their important customer segments for that journey. If it turns out some of the segments actually do follow the same journey, then a company can combine those maps and use the resulting insights to improve or innovate. A journey map that isn’t crafted with a target customer in mind likely will result in a map that has a bunch of generalities and less useful insights to drive action.

DON’T Do This

Confuse a touchpoint map with a customer journey map. The value of journey maps, in part, comes from helping the organization understand how the customer views the organization by putting interactions with a company in the context of the customer’s broader activities and objectives. If a map only looks at the instances when the company and customer are interacting with each other in some channel, massive blind spots can remain. Those blind spots include the other things a customer does, steps the customer takes, people/systems/tools the customer interacts with to make it all the way through the journey.

The company misses out understanding the full scope of effort and experiences a customer goes through, which drive customers’ perceptions of the journey and ultimately the customers’ success or failure in accomplishing the original goal that triggered the journey to begin with. By ensuring they see the full scope of a customer’s journey, organizations are better able to push aside their inward focus and design better experiences and measurements by taking a more customer-centric view.

Learn more:

Valerie Peck, CEO
East Bay Group and SuiteCX

DO This

Recognize your company’s ‘personality’ and adapt your efforts to it. Some companies are highly detail oriented. Clues to this might be that they have six sigma practices deeply embedded into their processes or that they are highly regulated and thus careful of every interaction that they have with their clients. Alternately, they are brand focused and heavy on storytelling and utilize more mass communications tools. Both are valid business models but what you have available in the way of artifacts, data and actual customer insights tend to be approached quite differently.

DON’T Do This

Map your backstage or the outbound communications stream. There is a tendency to want to map how YOU communicate with your customers/clients. We see this all the time. What you hear in the current state is ‘this is our CX’ and in the future state ‘this is what we want our customers to do’ or ‘we want to drive them to these channels’. You need this in a swim lane from a people/process/data/technology/culture viewpoint and in some cases, a process diagram, to understand the reasons why there are moments of truth/pain points happening on the front stage. You also likely have some of these that would benefit from streamlining and operations improvement BUT it’s not going to help you understand your customer and their value/needs/behavior.

Learn more:

Nancy Porte, Vice President, Global Customer Experience
Verint

DO This

Orient the map from the customer’s view. It’s very easy to start with a journey map in mind and, as you look at the process from the organizational view, end up with a sequence of interactions from the organizational view. The end result is a process map – that results in no appreciable customer understanding. You can avoid this by interviewing customers and listen to how they describe the journey. 

DON’T Do This

Forget to scope the map. Take time to scope to a definable combination of 1) customer personas, 2) lifecycle stages and 3) associated attributes. Within the map the priorities should be a focus on the touchpoints that are most important to your customers referencing the attributes of those interactions, identification of moments of truth, key themes and emotional impact. It is possible to produce a map for all personas, all customer lifecycles, and attributes but it will be so large and take so much time to develop that you may find that is isn’t of practical use to improve the customer experience.

Learn more:

Stacy Sherman, Director, Customer Experience & Employee Engagement
Schindler Elevator Corporation (U.S.)

DO This

It’s important to START with defining personas and then build journey maps, not the other way around. Journey mapping must not be a “cookie-cutter” approach, as people have different mindsets and needs. Furthermore, it’s important to validate the journey map with real users to identify areas of optimization.

DON’T Do This

Allow the Voice of Employee (VOE) to replace the Voice of Customer (VOC). Journey mapping is an effective method for understanding your business from a customer’s point of view. Problems occur when a journey map is designed from internal employee perspectives. Journey maps need to be validated to ensure that the ideal intended experience is a reality for customers.

Learn more:

Jim Tincher, CCXP, Journey Mapper in Chief
Heart of the Customer

DO This

The most effective journey mapping initiatives tie into an area of joint pain between customers and the business. For example, opportunities in the overall customer experience where a bad customer experience (customer pain) leads to them leaving (causing organizational pain). While survey scores can be helpful in identifying these areas, you want to identify business KPIs that you expect to improve coming out of the journey mapping initiative – that will engage the business. 



DON’T Do This

Forget to engage all the silos in the initiative. Some teams argue that “We want to keep the teams small and nimble, so we can move quickly.” That’s great if your goal is to make a map. But if your goal is to improve the outcomes for both your customers and company, you need to make sure the right people are at the table. If the website turns out to be a source of trouble, and your digital team isn’t part of the process, you’ll have a tough time driving action. 

Learn more: 

Final thoughts

I found it interesting how many of the key journey mapping practices were mentioned in this list of do’s and don’ts. Here are the top five differentiating practices — those that have the highest impact on winning at CX.

  1. Develop personas for each customer segment
  2. Develop end-to-end future state journey map
  3. Include both rational and emotional factors at touchpoints
  4. Involve customers in creating and validating  journey maps
  5. Clearly define the customers’ end goal or desired outcomes

My sincere thanks to the 10 CX experts for sharing their advice and resources. Take advantage of their combined many decades of CX experience to get the full value out of journey mapping. Good luck!

1 COMMENT

  1. This is an awesome compilation about Customer Journey Mapping. I enjoyed contributing and reading other CX Champion views. Let’s keep the conversations going! #ItTakesAVillage

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