We still have challenges navigating trade-offs when deciding what to map.


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Most journey mapping projects fail to Most journey mapping projects fail to drive change. That’s what we discovered when we surveyed practitioners who have conducted such projects (learn more about this survey in our white paper, “Driving Change Through Journey Maps”).

One leading success factor is selecting the right journey to map, and it’s the first place that problems occur because it requires trade-offs. Do you want an end-to-end map or one of a specific sub-journey?

An end-to-end map is interesting. Seeing the customers’ journey from beginning to end helps us to understand where the points of friction are and helps prioritize places where issues need to be fixed. Unfortunately, that end-to-end view isn’t always the best way to improve the customer experience.

Mapping the end-to-end journey does help in a new CX program. By discovering the customer journey from awareness to repurchase (or the decision not to), you can align the company on important focus areas. It’s a terrific tool for building a customer-focused culture, and it can help identify your customer personas.

Unfortunately, talking with people at so many stages of the journey creates high-level results. It’s simple math. Let’s say you want to create an end-to-end map for a cable company, so you want to understand those who are:

  • Researching cable options
  • Purchasing
  • Installing the product
  • Experiencing their first month of service
  • Long-term customers adding additional service
  • Long-term customers staying with just one product
  • Those who defect or cancel

This is a great approach to understand the overall journey and can create a terrific map of customer moments of truth, which helps create customer empathy in your employees. It’s important to note that successful mapping requires talking with customers while they’re going through that specific phase. Asking long-term customers about their purchase experience (which may have happened months or years ago) creates recall bias, which pollutes your findings. To avoid this bias, talk to your customers as they’re in each stage.

YMCA Maps_Final - HarrisonThat all sounds great, until you apply the math. Let’s say you invest $100k and four months to create this end-to-end map and find that that first month’s experience is most critical, such as we found when we studied the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities’ experience. If you interviewed 40 customers to create your map, that means you probably only spoke with six in their first month.

So what do you do? The end-to-end map helped you isolate the greatest need. Should you now go tell your organization that, based on what you learned from these six customers, you need to dramatically change your experience? That’s a tough sell.

No, in that case you need to conduct a second journey map that dives into this specific phase of the journey, investing another $100k and four months to find out exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re starting fresh and don’t know where your biggest problems are, an end-to-end map is a wonderful tool. However, most organizations have some inkling of where problems exist, either through survey scores, cancellation studies, or other methods. So use this to select a specific sub-journey to map where you can drive change with the results.

That’s why our first two journey mapping questions are, “What is the business problem or opportunity?” and “What’s the right journey to map?” Answering these is critical to ensuring your map is more focused on driving change than looking good on the wall.


This is the second of five posts of reflections after five years of journey mapping. All five will be:

  1. Journey mapping has become a must-have approach to customer experience.
  2. We still have challenges navigating the trade-offs in what we map.
  3. Too many see journey mapping as a workshop.
  4. Journey mapping tools still don’t address the most critical challenges.
  5. Journey mapping is still happening in silos.

These all reflect, to varying degrees, the five journey mapping questions that you should consider before embarking on a project:

  1. What is the business problem or opportunity?
  2. What is the right journey to map?
  3. Who is the right customer to map?
  4. What is the right approach to bring the voice of your customer to life?
  5. Who should be on your journey mapping team?

Please, join in the discussion by leaving your comments on our blog, or on LinkedIn.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Tincher
Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers. This lifelong passion for CX, and a thirst for knowledge, led him to found his customer experience consulting firm, Heart of the Customer (HoC). HoC sets the bar for best practices and are emulated throughout the industry. He is the author of Do B2B Better and co-author of How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer?, and he also writes Heart of the Customer’s popular CX blog.


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