At Heart of the Customer we focus almost exclusively on journey mapping. So when a new customer calls, it often surprises them when we ask them whether they really want a journey map. Because sometimes an experience map is a better fit.
It takes us a surprisingly long time to work through what we should map. Is it really a journey, or is it instead the end-to-end experience?
This is one of the most critical decisions of our projects. Get it wrong, and you may not solve your most critical problems. Let’s look at how an experience map is different from a journey map and the trade-offs of each to help decide which might make more sense for you.
When deciding on the two, it’s critical to understand the business problem. We shortcut that to: Do you know the sources of most of your customer friction?
A customer journey map is the right tool if you know where you want to focus. For example, we worked with an east coast hospital to better understand its radiology experience. By focusing on one specific journey (scheduling through receiving advanced imaging), we were able to give very specific feedback on where their patients were getting frustrated today, and where to target to build better patient outcomes and loyalty. But it was almost no help to other departments in the hospital.
An experience map is best if you don’t know exactly where the problem is. A non-profit client knew that friction occurred somewhere in their multi-year experience that led members to become less engaged, but didn’t know exactly where. Zeroing in on only one journey within that relationship would have caused us to miss members’ most critical needs. The trade off is that while we had very actionable results that led to them to rethink everything from how they’re structured to their membership approach, we now need to zero in to get more specific on the member experience within specific journeys.
So, which do you want? A journey map or an experience map?
If you’re early in your customer experience program, you likely need to get a better handle on where in your experience customers are experience friction. For example, one financial services client of ours wants to investigate the sources of customer attrition throughout their relationship. This is ideal for an experience map.
If instead you know that you need to focus on a certain part of the experience, a journey map may be a better fit. A B2B software firm needed to understand how customers actually purchase services from them and their competitors, so we developed a journey map of the sales process.
As always, I recommend you start with your business problem. The B2B software firm needed to learn how to allocate its marketing budget. The non-profit needed to learn why its members became less engaged over time. And the hospital needed to build loyalty in its radiology patients. Once you know your business problem, it’s easier to decide between the two maps.
And if you don’t know your business problem? That’s a post for another day.