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Science shows why your customer journey maps need to be visual

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 05/04/2018

“The more visual the input becomes, the more likely it is to be recognized – and recalled. It’s called the pictorial superiority effect.” – Brain Rules by John Medina

Customer Journey Map Heart of the Customer

Or, said differently, if you want your teams to remember what really matters to your customers – their Moments of Truth, their delights, and what frustrates them – then communicating this pictorially is far more effective than doing it through text.

That’s why I laugh when I read a blogger who says, “You don’t need a pretty customer journey map.” If you’re communicating with robots, then this is probably true. Go ahead and just focus on the facts, and turn your robots loose.

But if your goal is to spur your teams (comprised of human beings) to act – as it should be – then a strong visual help teams understand and retain your message.

I was shocked when our research into the state of journey mapping showed that 71% of practitioners did not use a graphic designer to create their maps. Maybe that’s why only 35% reported their customer journey mapping projects were successful?

It’s true that a pretty map alone won’t accomplish anything. You still need to make sure you are attacking the right business problem, involving customers, and engaging the right team in the process. But if you do all this, then just create yet another PowerPoint presentation, you’re sabotaging your efforts.

Compare these two journey maps: The first came from a Google search, and the second was from our work with Meridian Health, published in the book Mapping Experiences by Jim Kalbach.

Customer Journey Map Heart of the Customer

Customer Journey Map Heart of the Customer

Which one will create greater impact? Which one will your teams spend time looking at and reading? They both have many of the same types of facts. But by showing the information in a graphical way, your teams will spend way more studying why Holly’s journey went badly than they will trying to understand the first map.

So the next time you want to engage your teams in an effort to drive customer-focused change, take the time to engage a graphic designer to ensure you’re effectively communicating your message. Your employees will thank you. And, once they act on the information, so will your customers.

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