What is the point of a journey map?

We held an offsite today. As our team expands, it’s important to connect and learn from each other, and this was one of those rare opportunities.

Engagement Lead Kathleen Hoski led us in an exercise to review our past journey maps, discussing and aligning on best practices. As she led the discussion, something interesting happened.


Breaking it Down

Even though we were in a room with sixteen people whose job it is to create customer journey maps, we had slightly different ideas as to the exact role of the customer journey maps:

  • Is a journey map meant to summarize every finding from the mapping process, summarizing the overall report into one document? Or does it highlight just the most important findings?
  • Should it be designed to stand alone, being read by anybody without context or access to the full report? Or does that either dumb it down too much, or require too much text?
  • Should graphics be used throughout, or sparingly? How much text should there be?

This led then to another question. Most companies have templates for their journey maps – even peers we admire – whereas we create each of ours from scratch. Should we continue this, or start using templates?

The conversation was fascinating, and I really enjoyed hearing the discussion, while deliberately avoiding sharing my thoughts. The team is a mix of people who have been here for 3-4 years and newer members, and I wanted to let them explore the topic.

We didn’t come to an agreement and are still exploring the topic. But while I didn’t share my opinions at the offsite, I do, of course, have an opinion, which I’ll share here.


Keep the Goal in Mind

A customer journey map is a representation of your customer’s voice, which means it has to come from strong qualitative voice of the customer (sometimes paired with quantitative). Everyone on our team agrees with this definition, as far as it goes.

My opinion is that a journey map is designed to be used by a change maker to drive customer-focused action. This has multiple implications:

  • In my opinion, the journey map doesn’t need to summarize everything you learn in the mapping process, but does need to show the most important findings, especially the Moments of Truth. This enables your change maker to focus on what matters most.
  • Graphics need to be designed to illustrate these Moments of Truth – and to be minimized in other areas to ensure the eye goes to these critical areas.
  • The customer journey map needs to show the customer’s story and be clear enough that somebody with cursory knowledge of the journey can understand the most critical moments, and how customers feel at those times.
  • The map needs to include enough text to provide a full context for the reader to picture the customer and the business’s challenges in serving the customer, but be sparse enough that it doesn’t compete with the graphics calling out the Moments of Truth.

This is just my perspective, and I’m comfortable our team will push back on some of my interpretations. I’m interested in your thoughts – do you agree? Where do you make the tradeoffs between graphics and text, full or targeted content? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Interested in workshops? Read more here.

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1 reply
  1. Marlanges Simar
    Marlanges Simar says:

    I enjoyed reading this article quite a bit because I feel there is always competition between the overall customer story and what you find to be most important to address to improve or to differentiate. I tend to lean towards using graphics more than text, but inevitably end up using quite a bit of text. For this reason, the graphics I use tend to highlight primarily the journey stages and any text that needs to stand out, without competing with the stages.

    It’s also been effective to illustrate the Moments of Truth separately and even at times independent of journey map. Whichever way one chooses, I believe it simply needs to be accurate and easy enough to understand.

    Thanks for posting, Jim!


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