Journey Mapping FAQs

Q. What is the primary function of a customer journey map?

The map itself is most useful in the hands of a changemaker. An effective journey map allows people to point out a problem or show where there’s the biggest potential. The journey map isn’t the most important thing; it’s the journey mapping that truly matters.

Done right, journey mapping aligns your organization around your customers’ most important needs and their Moments of Truth. That’s why the three most critical components of journey mapping are:

  • Involve broad cross-functional teams, so you engage them in the process, and thus the change at the conclusion.
  • Involve customers, because if you do it with just your employees, it’s not a customer journey map. It’s also guaranteed to be wrong.
  • Select the right journey, so you know which teams to involve, which customers to involve, and where to focus your change.

Q. Should I map an end-to-end journey or a specific sub-journey?

Start with the business problem that led to your journey mapping initiative – that should drive the granularity needed. We typically see one of three business problems, with the first two generally indicating narrower journeys:

  • Something is broken. Your survey scores may show frustration at a particular place in the journey, or you may have customers leaving over a specific area.
  • You are doing something. For example, building a new website or changing your service model. In this situation, the journey typically reflects the area you are changing.
  • You have new CX leadership. This leads to the broadest type of journey, typically an end-to-end journey map.

The key is to start with your business problem. We wrote more about this, including real-world examples, here.

Q. Who in my organization should I involve in journey mapping?

We recommend three distinct journey mapping teams:

  • Day-to-Day Team, which keeps the project on track.
  • Sponsor Team, whose support will be needed to drive change.
  • Action Team, comprised of people from across your organization.

Q. Why do I need to engage the rest of the organization? Can’t I just get started?

If your goal is to create a map, then by all means go quickly. But if you want to create change, you need to take the time to involve your teams in the process. Doing so helps your participants discover that their beliefs might not be shared with other silos in your organization. This creates the curiosity to wonder what the real journey is like. It also builds energy and excitement, which is needed when you get to the end of the mapping process and want to start driving change.

Q. How long does a typical journey mapping project take?

Most mapping projects last 12-16 weeks. (B2B journeys tend to take longer, as it can be difficult to schedule interviews with customers.) Surveys, a best practice to confirm results with a larger audience, can add 2-8 weeks.

Q. How does journey mapping vary between B2B and B2C companies?

There are many differences between the two, but one of the most important is exposure to customers. Many B2C firms regularly go out and meet customers, whereas in B2B firms, typically 90% of employees never meet customers in person. This makes the Customer Immersion phase even more impactful for them, because it exposes them to the voice of their customers firsthand.

In some cases, digital ethnographies work better with consumers than business audiences, e.g. a nurse, but not an executive. And recruiting differs. For B2B companies, your sales team can reach out to their customers and ensure they understand the mapping and why their involvement is needed. B2C companies don’t usually have those kinds of relationships, so recruiters and incentives are needed.

Q. How do you prove the ROI of journey mapping?

Let’s be clear – the journey map itself doesn’t directly create ROI. The ROI in journey mapping results from taking action after the mapping is completed, so you won’t see ROI if you don’t act against the results. Our industry research shows that 65% of the time, journey mapping doesn’t lead to action – primarily because those mappers didn’t follow best practices.

Q. Do I create the journey map internally and vet it with customers, or vice versa?

Start with your internal teams. This is what begins the change, as teams share their beliefs and discover that they’re actually operating under different assumptions.

Then – and this is really important – don’t share that information with the customers you interview. Let them share their experiences with you in their own words, individually.

You’re likely to find that while your assumptions about the facts of the journey were fairly accurate, the voice of the customer diverges on the Moments of Truth, those critical moments that have a disproportionate impact on customer perceptions.

Q. Why do you have to involve customers in journey mapping?

Involving customers in journey mapping shouldn’t even need to be discussed. But unfortunately, it does. It’s not a customer journey map if you don’t include your actual customer’s voice. Hypothesis mapping alone won’t reveal what customers truly think. That requires the actual voice of the customer. Learn more here.

Q. Do I really need to hold 1:1 in-depth interviews with my customers?

Yes. Journeys are individual, so you need to talk to people individually. Interviewing customers in focus groups negatively impacts your findings in three ways:

  • Research shows that within a group of five people, two will do 60% of the talking. You won’t get everyone’s voice.
  • Anchoring skews the results. The first person to speak up will influence the rest of the conversation.
  • Customers won’t share their personal problems and deep emotions when they are in front of their peers.

To avoid these biases, talk with each individual customer alone.

Q. What are the most frequent mistakes in 1:1 interviews with customers?

The biggest mistake we see is interviewers leading the conversation. Closed-ended survey-type questions are also a problem. Your questions should allow customers to go on at length with minimal prompting, with you talking less than 20% of the time. Failing to record video, or at least audio, is another missed opportunity. Video recording is very powerful for driving change, and enables you to do a thorough analysis across customers.

Q. How many individuals per journey map and persona are needed when interviewing customers?

Rarely do we know at the outset how many personas we’ll see. If you already have them, aim for 15-20 customers per persona. More commonly, we discover personas during the journey mapping process. In that case, we need a minimum of 30 customer interviews, but it’s a better practice to get 45-50.

Q. How many personas should I create?

There’s no consistent answer, but we’ve found it’s difficult for most people to internalize and understand more than 3-4 personas. So the more you have, the less likely they are to be used effectively.

Q. Can I rely on customers’ recall, or do I need to capture the journey as it happens?

As a journey unfolds, customers experience a variety of interactions and emotions. But they forget most of them when the journey ends. That’s human nature. So a customer’s memory of an experience is disproportionately impacted by the peak point of pain (or pleasure), and the ending of the experience. Talking with customers while the interactions are happening allows you to capture what causes of their feelings…and the best opportunities for improving their experience.

Q. How do you recruit customers to participate in 1:1 in-depth interviews?

This varies significantly between B2C and B2B customers. With consumers, you may have to acquire a list of customers from an outside organization, such as a panel, and you typically need to use a recruiter.

In B2B, you are more likely to have a customer list, but scheduling is challenging. If possible, have someone in your organization with an established relationship schedule the interviews, since your success rate will be lower using a recruiter that your customers don’t know.

Q. Is there a need to validate journey mapping results quantitatively?

While not strictly required, quantitative validation through surveys is a best practice. But we find budgets only support it in about 25-30% of our work.

Some cultures – notably financial services and health care – virtually require quantitative validation, as that’s how those firms are trained to process data. More commonly, the results are incorporated into existing tools – customer surveys or other research projects – and are validated through that process.

Q: How do you identify Moments of Truth?

Moments of Truth are the most critical interactions, because they have a disproportionate impact on the rest of the journey and determine whether you are building or destroying loyalty. We devote an entire chapter to identifying them in our book.

When you interview your customers, look for outcomes – the experiences that were unique to frustrated customers vs. those who were happy with the experience. What were the points that caused them to diverge? These are your Moments of Truth.

Q. How do I keep my teams engaged during the mapping project?

Keeping your teams engaged is critical to keeping their interest up. The most effective way we’ve found to do this is to release a short video each week that talks about the journey in question – that’s why it’s so important to use a Customer Immersion approach that is video-based. Other ways to engage your team members are by sharing summaries or showing word clouds based on transcripts. Use any artifacts that can keep what is happening fresh.

Q. When does it make sense to develop multiple maps for a journey?

The same rational journey can play out very differently, so we commonly create multiple maps when we identify personas whose experiences differ. That would be difficult to communicate on one map.

Read about the maps we created to show Meridian Health how differently three personas experienced their radiology journey in the book Mapping Experiences by Jim Kalbach, and in our own book.

Q. Does a journey map need to be graphical or will a grid do?

It needs to be graphical. The science behind this is quite clear: graphical and visual artifacts are understood better and more easily remembered. If your goal is to embed the voice of your customer into your organization, a graphical map will go much farther than a grid to help people remember the journey. Read more about the science here.

Q. What KPIs should I be using to measure the success of my CX initiatives?

The KPIs vary significantly based on what journey you are mapping, which varies based on your business problem or opportunity. Many organizations will include NPS or transactional surveys as metrics. While that’s useful, we recommend you go beyond that to include business metrics. On our blog, we list ten KPIs for B2B companies to consider including, because bringing in the metrics your business partners focus on will help engage them.

Q. After the map is created, how do I get different levels of employees on board?

If you’re trying to give ownership after the mapping is completed, you’ve missed your primary opportunity to drive change. The first journey mapping best practice is to involve a broad cross-functional team from the start, so that they understand their impact and responsibility as a natural part of the process.

Don’t see your question? Submit it below.