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So You Want to Make a Journey Map

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 01/20/2016

HP2P95KQGX - 1In just the last year we have seen a dramatic increase in journey mapping’s popularity, as more and more organizations realize what an effective tool it can be. But as more and more journey maps are getting made by more and more people, two critical questions arise—who and what to map. These are the first two questions we ask when we work with prospective clients.

First, which journeys to map? This may sound like an easy question, but it seldom is. Quite often organizations wish to map every journey. Which sounds like a great idea at first. Unfortunately, you can’t map every journey. Not only does this become prohibitively expensive, there is also the question of the organization’s ability to act against the results of multiple journey maps at once. We typically recommend starting with one journey, creating action, then moving to another.

You may ask yourself: Why focus on such a small subset of customer journeys? Won’t that limit the usefulness of your results? As it turns out—no. Bruce Temkin has created a great visual for helping determine what approach to use for each of their maps. Your most important journeys require research, to understand exactly what your customers need, and their true pain points and moments of truth. But the next tier down are best served with a workshop, and some do not even warrant a full-day workshop – journey thinking is the right approach for that.

Use this graphic to help you prioritize – those most critical items warrant research. Then, within this set, prioritize those which your organization most needs to focus on. How do you do this?

Work With What You’ve Got

This is where your existing strategy and operational data come into play. My typical advice is, go find your organization’s biggest business problem – that’s where you want to focus. I tell clients that you need to generate $10 in new revenue or $1 in annual cost savings for every dollar we charge you. If we’re doing a sales-related journey mapping project for $150,000, we’ll need to find $1.5 million in new revenue. That quickly helps them determine which are the most critical journeys.

A related question to ask is whether you are mapping a specific journey, or the overall experience of a customer. The second option is also valuable—but it’s an experience map, rather than a journey map. While experience maps are by nature broader, journey maps are contained enough to get specific direction to your organization—key to the Temkin pyramid model. (Look here for other key distinctions between journey maps and experience maps.)

Question Two

The second question is: which customers (or customer personas) are useful to track as they experience this journey? The specific journey will often help us determine where we should focus. If there are existing personas or segments, we’ll use those. But regardless, we generally recommend a cross-section of your most loyal and most at-risk customers, as well as a broad swath of sizes within the population of interest. For example, when we worked with a B2B client on a pre-sales journey, we narrowed it down to one tier of customers. But within that we interviewed half who were recent customers and half who selected a competitor. Similarly, when we worked with a financial services institution, we talked to customers who used them for many products, customers with only one product (but who used competitors for others), and those who had recently left them.

We find that including both loyal and non-loyal customers gives us a full spectrum of the issues. Talking with only disloyal customers can raise false positives. If all of the disloyal customers complain about your website, but so do loyal customers, we can remove that as a prime consideration, and dig for something deeper.

Journey mapping is a crucial tool to really understand how your customers view working with you, and shine a bright light on what it’s like to be your customer. But you need to deliberately select which journey to map, and who to map in it, in order to get your biggest return.

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