What is Journey Mapping?

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Although we have published more than 130 articles on customer experience, we still have not dedicated an article to journey mapping. Journey mapping is the most widely recognized customer experience design and management concept. It is also the most poorly executed customer experience tool.

Myriad organizations spend countless hours and effort creating journey maps that remain nothing more than a record of the bad experience taking place in their organization or a map of what could happen to their employees and customers. However, there is rarely any real organizational commitment, or funding, behind it.

I genuinely dislike journey maps. To me, they create busy work that leaders use as justification to continue the practice of no funding and no real improvement of human experiences.  Last week, one of our clients asked me what is journey mapping, so I decided it is time to talk about what journey mapping is. And, more importantly, what it is not.

Journey Mapping is a Visual Tool

If you take one thing from this article, let it be this. A journey map is a tool for experience design. That is all. A journey map is a good internal communication tool. On its own, a journey map cannot change customer or employee experience.

It raises awareness about the difficulties your customers have using your products or services. And it can elevate the executive buy in for strategic, end-to-end customer experience investments.

Simply put, a journey map is a visual representation of the experience of an employee or a customer.

What are the Building Blocks of Journey Mapping?

The first step in the process of journey mapping is to identify the “persona” whose “journey” you will map. This step is critical, because different personas have vastly different needs and challenges. Moreover, one person can be two personas in your journey mapping process depending on context. A woman can be  a business traveler persona going through a physical space. The same woman can act as the mom persona when going through that same space with her spouse and child on vacation. So, take the time to define your persona and stick with it throughout the process.

The second step is to choose a journey. This is where you can get buried in details and produce lengthy, overwhelming journey maps that few individuals can absorb, let alone use. So, what do we mean by journey? Think about which customer interaction you want to analyze. For instance, identify whether it is to open a new bank account, to pay a medical bill, or to buy a train ticket.

It is also essential to document the “commitments” of the people making the journey map with you. Let’s assume you find out that your healthcare system only shares medical information in English. But your population is comprised of primarily Spanish speaking consumers. The impactful way to use the map is to identify, within the cross functional group working on the map, who can fix that problem. Find the right people to lead the charge.

The Right Way to Use a Journey Map

The award winning check-in experience at JFK Terminal 5  was the result of multiple, extensive, journey mapping exercises. When we were in the design phase at JetBlue, we had 40 – 50 people in a room discussing what the existing customer experience was, what would be nice to have, and what would be necessary to do for better customer and employee experience in the future.

Through the process of journey mapping, we brought the voice of the customer to parts of the organization that never had to think of the customer before.

Next, we assigned ownership to functional heads including marketing, IT, operations, process effectiveness, data analytics, training and development. We had concrete takeaways. These takeaways mapped what each team needed to change, or seek funding for, in order to design the experience we imagined through journey mapping.

Finally, we built a comprehensive business case to present to the CFO. We asked for meaningful funding. Without this step, the journey map would have been nothing more than a theoretical exercise with no real impact on the airline.

Journey Mapping is a Strategic Tool

The time to start journey mapping is after you have defined your brand and experience vision. The journey map helps businesses express brand and experience vision through their products and services.

Just as  every strategy has tactics that bring it to life, journey mapping is a tool that defines operational and business tactics that bring the experience to life. You cannot do journey mapping in isolation. Journey mapping is a cross functional tool that creates empathy among the individuals who create the journey.

For this reason, all relevant stakeholders need to be in the room, not only to build empathy, but to get buy in for the changes the journey map requires, as we laid out in our JetBlue example.

At the end of the day, journey mapping is good business (if it is done correctly). According to McKinsey, higher satisfaction with customer journeys has “the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20%, but also lift revenue up by 15% ,while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.”

Not a bad ROI. Just keep in mind, you only get those results if you use journey mapping as a tool, not an end in itself.

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