It’s been two years since I originally wrote this post. See the update here.
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A customer journey map is an incredibly useful tool to understand and improve your customer experience. A great customer journey map documents your customer experience from your customer’s eyes, helping you to understand not only how customers interact with you today, but also identifies improvement opportunities.
Unfortunately, there is no standard for a customer journey map. You can build it following high-quality design principles, or use smiley faces. You can make it a work of art, or something that looks like it belongs on a napkin.
I have included an example on the right, as well as some useful links at the end of this post for those unfamiliar with a customer experience journey map. The customer journey map may go by a different name, such as customer experience map, journey map, touch point map, etc. The map provides a visual representation of how your customer uses your product or services, or how potential customers go through the shopping process.
In this post, I will detail the criteria I use to design and build a customer journey map.
The 10 Critical Components of a Great Customer Journey Map:
- Represent your Customer’s perspective. The customer journey map needs to represent the interactions as your customer experiences it. It often includes interactions that happen outside of your control, such as a social media interaction or a web search. When developing educational content with a large retailer, we discovered that most of the shopper education was complete before they ever visited that retailer’s website.
- Use research. Do not use internal staff to build these – that just makes a process flow. Depending on the scope, the customer journey map process can involve interviews or ethnographies, possibly combined with surveys. Some companies bring in customers and build them interactively with internal staff. Ethnographies can create a very powerful experience, although the small sample size can create bias. Better to do the research first, then bring in your customers to build your final map.
- Represent Customer segments. Your different segments typically have very different customer experiences. In a pre-sales project for a service company we found that one segment typically spent two hours researching the category, while another consistently spent more than six weeks doing the same, using very different tools. Imagine trying to represent these very different experiences as one.
- Include Customer goals. A great customer journey map shows your customer’s goals at each stage of the process. Goals can change as the process unfolds.
- Focus on emotions. Emotions are critical to any experience, whether B2B or B2C, and a great customer journey map communicates these emotions. But I’m not an advocate of the smiley and frowny faces prevalent in many journey maps.
- Represent touch points. The customer journey map is often built to communicate the order and type of touch points – including those not in your control.
- Highlight moments of truth. Some interactions have more impact than others. Great journey maps separate those critical moments of truth from the rest. For example, when visiting a hospital, a bad check-in taints the rest of the patient experience.
- Measure your brand promise. A critical outcome of a great customer journey map is measuring how your experience supports your brand promise. If your brand promise is to be either effortless, highly customized, or unique, then your journey map is an excellent way to document whether your customer feels you are meeting that goal.
- Include time. Experience length provides important context. Does the typical call last 30 seconds or 10 minutes? Did shoppers spend 20 minutes or 40 hours deciding on a product?
- Ditch the PowerPoint. Most customer journey maps are created by and for PowerPoint. But PowerPoint is built to communicate basic information on-screen, usually by bullet points. Why limit yourself to such a tool for something as important as your customer experience? Use a desktop publishing application to communicate the richness of the experience.
Some optional criteria to consider:
- Break the experience into phases. In a longer experience, customers are accomplishing different things at different times. For example, early shopping phases typically involve trying to figure out what questions to ask, whereas later phases are more transactional. By understanding the customer’s mindset at each phase, you can customize the experience around relevant needs.
- Bring in Customer Verbatims. While not strictly required, verbatims bring the customer experience to life.
- Include Customers and Non-Customers. A pre-sales customer journey map should always include non-customers, as they may follow a different path to make a decision. One of our research projects showed how non-customers were far more likely to use in-person meetings to make a purchase decision – which our client did not offer. This realization was critical to their improvement efforts.
- Use your other Voice of the Customer components. Rather than being a one-off project, the journey map should incorporate components of your Voice of the Customer program (NPS, Satisfaction, the Customer Effort Score) to link it to your other efforts.
These 10+4 criteria will ensure you have a rich document that can serve as the foundation for your customer experience efforts. In the next few posts I will be showing examples of how we apply these principles to some of our customer journey maps.
There are a ton of good posts out there about how a customer journey map supports your Voice of the Customer program. Here are a few of my favorites:
- I really like the customer journey map examples at this site. Chris walks through different examples, and provides his perspective on each. I particularly like how he calls out the need for both qualitative and quantitative research for making the map.
- This site has a great case study of a complex gamer’s map. They certainly follow #10 – ditch PowerPoint!
- Would you believe the government of the UK created a guide to creating a customer journey maps?
By the way, I have included two detailed templates in my follow-up post Customer Experience Journey Map: Applying the Top 10 Requirements. You can also download the white paper.