Customer Journey Mapping: What You Need to Know

November 9, 2016 Michele Fitzpatrick

The buyer journey and customer journey mapping are the big buzz in marketing. But do you actually know what a journey map is versus an experience map? Lifecycle map? Process map? Ecosystem map? To make the matter more complex, Forrester outlines four different journey mapping methodologies, each to be used for different objectives. AND each type of agency has its own objectives and processes for mapping.

This is a lot of maps.

What IS Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping is the visual representation of the alignment (or lack thereof) of the organization to the customer needs. It is used to create relevant, engaging and rewarding experiences that connect the brand with the customer, and it illustrates the details of and opportunity surrounding all customer interactions, including:

  • Where the customer touches the brand
  • Where the brand touches the customer
  • Where they interact with each other
  • The multiple interaction points of a customers’ engagement with the brand
  • Why the customer is seeking contact with the brand
  • The customer expectations of their experience with the brand ­

Journey mapping critically examines the entirety of the customer experience—through the customer’s eyes—and provides suggested improvements. It is therefore essential to getting it right with the customer and delivering an impactful experience. It goes way beyond mapping the outbound marketing messages you send.  It also includes virtually every touchpoint, every moment of truth, every interaction between the customer and your brand across the buyer journey and the customer lifecycle. It also goes beyond mapping the buyer journey, which focuses only on the path to purchase.

customer journey map example 1

What Makes a Good Journey Map?

Journey mapping has changed over the years.  We used to call it touch point mapping, and would use bundles of post-it notes on a wall to capture and document each touch point.  But today, we recognize that the customer experience is a self-directed journey that utilizes a myriad of touch points.  It’s the interaction that matters.  The conversation that happens over time.  And if you did your journey mapping exercise a while ago, chances are that it’s now obsolete.  Consumers have changed.

A good customer journey map considers the following:

  • It provides a visualization of customer interactions through many filters (emotional/rational) organized by the customer’s perspective. This helps in communicating it throughout your organization.
  • It becomes a living document that evolves with the constantly changing organization it supports. And like every living document, it requires proper care and feeding to keep it healthy and accurate.
  • It provides a harmonized reflection of the Voice of the Customer, as well as the Company and the Employee. You need both perspectives to get it right with the customer.
  • It provides a level of detail that makes sense for the purpose. The customer journey map must be constructed with an end game in mind.

customer journey map example 2

What Do You Get Out of a Customer Journey Map?

The most important benefit of a customer journey map is that it allows for collaboration and sharing to get everyone in the organization on the same page and forms the basis of a longer term strategic plan to build customer value. Additional benefits of journey mapping are many, including:

  • Lets you see exactly where and when customers experience satisfaction or pain points, moments of truth and who is most impacted and how it affects your bottom line
  • Presents data/ metrics as well as the effectiveness and value of targeted member and prospect interactions
  • Supports prioritization to highlight what’s most important’ to your customers, and understand what creates or detracts from value & drives loyalty
  • Presents how actions, offers, redemption, accumulation affect members
  • Shows how operations and processes in one area impact the entire organization

Many maps fail in the execution phase, making it impossible to realize positive impact on the customer experience and the business. There are a few usual suspects for failure, such as: the map wasn’t informed by customer feedback, or the initiative didn’t have enough or the right level of sponsorship, or the map only looked at outbound channels. In other cases, the journey mapping effort was really only a marketing communication plan and doesn’t have enough “teeth” when thinking about the key moments of truth in the customer’s journey.

Seeing Bang for Your Buck?

With all of this in mind, you have several questions to ask yourself: Have you mapped your customer journeys recently (within 12 months)? Have you used the right methodology for your business goals? Were they done correctly? Are you seeing the value you expected from your mapping exercises? If you are unsure, or haven’t answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, it may be time to take another stab at it—you might be surprised at what you uncover about your customers.

Stay tuned for our next post on how to map your journeys and the tools you may use along the way.

About the Author

Michele Fitzpatrick

Michele Fitzpatrick, Vice President, Consulting, is an experienced relationship marketing strategist and customer experience consultant. Her focus is helping major brands to better understand and connect with consumers throughout the buyer journey and across the customer lifecycle. Michele has 20+ years of experience improving customer relevance and engagement to deliver brand impact for retail, consumer brands, automotive, financial services, insurance, pharmaceuticals and associations.

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