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Defining Scope: Should You Map an End-to-End Journey or a Specific Sub-Journey?

Nicole Newton Nicole Newton 03/28/2019

Editor’s Note: As we get ready for our book launch in May, we’re previewing the major topics. This post was written by co-author Nicole Newton, HoC’s B2B Practice Lead. You can read more about our book at

Mapping the Right Journey

At Heart of the Customer, we recommend starting a journey mapping project by answering these five questions:

  1. What is the business problem or opportunity behind mapping?
  2. What is the right journey to map?
  3. Who is the right customer to map?
  4. What is the right approach to gathering the voice of your customer?
  5. Who are the right people to be on your journey mapping team?

Last week’s blog post addressed identifying the business problem you want to address with journey mapping. In this post, I’ll walk through the second question: what is the right journey to map? Co-author Jim Tincher will discuss choosing the right customer to map next week.

So you’ve decided that you want to embark on journey mapping. Good. You may even have a business problem that you want to inform. Better. Your success will now hinge on selecting the right journey to map. Best. Experienced journey mappers agreed that ‘selecting the right journey’ was in the top three most important requirements for a successful journey mapping project. (See full survey results here.)

The customer journey frames what you and your journey mapping team will learn about the customer experience, as well as where the resulting customer improvement actions will be focused. Making this decision requires trade-offs.  Defining the journey too broadly may not uncover enough depth or detail to identify corrective actions, but defining the journey too narrowly may allow for specific changes but may miss important adjacent opportunities.

Selecting the right journey depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Think about selecting the right journey using an analogy of a physical map. If you’re looking to understand the entirety of Europe – where the Danube is compared to the Rhine, locations of major landmarks and where individual countries are – you will want a broad map that shows all of Europe. If instead you want to get to the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, the map of Europe isn’t helpful. You will need a detailed map of Paris to find the museum. The best map for you is determined by your need.

Journey maps documenting broad ‘end-to-end’ journeys or more narrowly focused ‘specific sub-journeys’ are both of value if they will enable your team to solve customer problems. Think of your mapping options on a continuum between an end-to-end journey and a more narrowly defined sub-journey. In between, there’s a breadth of options.

End-to-End Journey Maps

Mapping an end-to-end customer journey is a great way to jumpstart a new CX capability. The resulting map will show how your customers move through Awareness, Consideration, Purchasing, and Post-Purchase activities, helping you discover where your customers experience delight (hopefully) and friction (points of frustration or pain) along the way. It also serves as an overall diagnostic, identifying where action is most needed.

These maps are very good at identifying the highs and lows of the overall experience, engaging teams, and building personas, but their higher-level focus makes it more difficult to drive short-term ROI.

Specific Sub-Journey Maps

A specific sub-journey is more granular than an end-to-end map. Mapping a more specific journey will allow your team to dive deeply into the customer experience, defining activities, emotions and moments of truth experienced by your customer. While an end-to-end journey may take place over years, the sub-journey may take place over a few days or weeks, allowing you to capture information about the experience as it occurs.  Examples include:

  • The YMCA mapped the first month of membership, knowing this was a critical time period for predicting long-term loyalty.
  • An insurance company mapped the underwriting process.
  • A diagnostic equipment manufacturer mapped the customer implementation process, which could take 6 – 9 months depending on the equipment purchased.

Using Both Types of Maps

In our work with Be The Match, we used both end-to-end and specific sub-journey maps to help them build their new CX approach. Be The Match started with an end-to-end journey map to understand the donor experience from recruitment through being selected as a possible donor or waiting for selection. This map helped employees better understand what it’s like to be a marrow registry member – and they used this map to help build company culture initiatives. The downside of the end-to-end map was the higher level of information about the member experience; the mapping team needed to follow up and develop specific sub-journey maps to gain more insight and improve the member experience. Be The Match conducted three sub-journey mapping efforts to dive deeper into particular aspects of the member experience.

The Journey Ends When the Customer Says It Ends

A final note: once you’ve defined the customer journey to map, and you begin speaking directly with customers, pay attention to how the customer describes the journey, especially how customers define when the journey actually begins and ends. While you may think that the customer journey begins or ends with the interactions they have with your organization, listen to how the customer defines the journey. For example, when mapping the equipment implementation journey, our client thought implementation ended when the equipment was in place and running. The customer told us implementation did not end until about 2 months later, after the customer was able to troubleshoot any run errors. Another example is a customer complaint call – while the company may define the journey start when their phone rings, the customer defines the journey start when they encounter a problem.


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