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Journey maps

5 tips for successful journey mapping

Understanding your customer's experience: how to build a journey map that works

Ronnie Battista | June 26, 2015

During an early scoping effort with a company who needed our help transforming its retail experience, we proposed a journey-mapping exercise. The client’s response: “Please! I do not want to see another journey map.”

Were we surprised? Meh. It was only a matter of time.

It was clear that the client had experienced a few journey-mapping efforts in the past and failed to see their value. And it confirmed what a lot of us had been expecting.

As a planning activity and artifact for understanding and providing actionable recommendations for the end-to-end experience through a customer’s lens, journey mapping can provide businesses with a strategic tool for framing their brand experience through the eyes of customers. I won’t get into the specifics of what a journey map is or isn’t, since there’s no shortage of material on the subject. Suffice it to say that many in the UX/CX field, including me, strongly believe in the potential of journey mapping to help companies achieve human-centric, experience-driven business transformations.

But regardless of how many of us are advocating for journey maps, we continue to see cases where—beyond the final project presentation—they lose their value quite quickly. So while journey mapping remains a powerful way to discover, prioritize, and road-map initiatives, there are definitely opportunities to improve and increase the long-term value of the map itself.

Here are five tips to make your next journey mapping exercise a success. Bon voyage!

5 critical success factors

  1. Establish goals and outcomes.

    Establishing clear goals and outcomes for a journey-mapping initiative lets you accurately design a research plan, focus the effort, and gain support. This should be the first part of any conversation about a journey map. If you don’t know what the business goals and KPIs are, and what the outcomes should be, it’s best to assume that either, a) there isn’t agreement in the organization about what the goals are, or, b) that nobody else on the project knows what they are either.

  2. Represent the customer perspective.

    The journey map should represent interactions as your customer experiences them. This means looking beyond customers’ observable actions to what they’re thinking during their journey and what emotions they’re feeling, which are as important as their actions. This often includes some interactions that happen outside your control—for example, using social media, web search criteria, and product/service review sites. Although there may be some people in the business who think they have a solid grasp of the totality of what’s going on, it’s best not to rely on internal staff speaking on behalf of customers.

  3. Base journey maps on quantitative and qualitative research.

    Research drives the most valuable journey maps, which are based on evidence from customer research. To gain insights beyond the customer journey itself, include key customer experience metrics that enable easier benchmarking (e.g., Net Promoter Score, Customer Experience Index, and American Customer Satisfaction Index), as well as critical business outcome metrics (e.g., initial conversions and churn rates). While you might whiteboard an initial sketch of the journey with stakeholders to get a good framework from which to start, make sure everyone knows that research will inform and support the journey map. The more professional and planned the research, the better the results, and the better chance you have of engaging and aligning stakeholders that prefer (and often require) hard metrics to make them comfortable enough to make significant business decisions.

  4. Build to communicate.

    A customer journey-mapping initiative enables customer-experience transformation. At minimum it should be shared to all in the organization that have accountability to any facet of the experience, ideally to everyone in the organization. The broader and the higher up the communication emanates from, the better. Make sure that anyone in the company who sees your journey map can understand both what it is and what its purpose is. You can easily test whether people can intuit this by putting the journey map in front of someone in the company who is unfamiliar with the effort. Tell them no more than something like, “this is meant to capture the customer experience,” and see whether they get it.

  5. Ensure post-mapping executive ownership and governance.

    From the get-go, a journey map is only as valuable as a company’s willingness to operationalize it. Like any journey that a large group takes in the real world, achieving success requires upfront planning, appropriate resources, a trusted guide, and a destination that all agree upon. It’s vital to ask the question, “Who are we handing this off to in the company, and what are we doing to ensure it will be used?” Someone in the company must ultimately be accountable for the ownership, maintenance, and—most important—the business decisions and course corrections that will invariably emerge as the business and technology, evolve over time.

Experience-driven business transformation is about a deeper understanding of the impact your brand has on customers and prospects. Journey mapping has become a key tool to help frame business in ways that recognize and respect the awesome power that comes from knowing who your customers are, what they want to do, and how your company can best engage with them to serve their needs.

This is an excerpt of an article originally posted on UXmatters. Read the article in its entirety here.

Ronnie Battista of Slalom Consulting

Ronnie Battista is a practice area lead on Slalom New York’s experience design team. A senior UX practitioner with more than 20 years of experience envisioning and delivering creative, cross-channel user experiences with positive bottom-line impact, Ronnie has provided experience design leadership to over 120 clients, ranging from C-suite-level strategic solutions to team-level tactical solutions.


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