What is the Right Level of Granularity for Your Customer Journey Map?

Two weeks ago I hosted a webinar with Intouch Insight (you can view the recording here), and I was blown away with all of the good questions we had. We left fifteen minutes for Q&A and weren’t even able to get through everything!

Samuel, in particular, asked two good questions we often hear from companies considering journey mapping, so I thought I’d share his questions – alongside my answers – for our broader audience.

How do you determine the level of granularity (scope) needed in a customer journey? In other words, how do you choose where to start and where to end a journey?

This is a very common question, one we receive in nearly every first conversation. In fact, with one prospective client, we had four one-hour sessions trying to answer this question, followed by an onsite two-hour discussion with leadership to get to the bottom of what was right for their needs. Another client spent six months working through potential different journeys to map.

My answer:

There is no single answer to this question. To find the right answer for your organization, start with the business problem that’s led to your journey mapping initiative. Something has led you to spend your scarce time looking into journey mapping – this should drive your decision. We typically see one of three business problems:

  1. Something is broken. Your survey scores may show frustration at a particular part of the journey, or you may have customers leaving over a specific issue. For example, when we worked with the YMCA, they observed a relationship between visits in the first month and overall retention, so they focused their mapping on that first month. While they could have gone more narrowly or broadly, this business problem made the decision quick and easy.
  2. You are launching a project and the map supports this effort. For example, building a new website or changing your service model. In this situation, the journey reflects the area you are changing. A new website is a common example.
  3. You have new leadership. This leads to the broadest type of journey which is typically an end-to-end map. The other two are typically narrower journeys.

The one drawback is that many will say, “wow, those all sound good.”

Customer journey mapping (and customer experience and even business overall) is about trade-offs. For a project (to be announced soon!) we interviewed dozens of CX pros who have led journey mapping initiatives, and one phrase kept coming up: Don’t try to boil the ocean. While it’s probably true that all of these are happening, successful journey mapping requires selecting one of these problems/opportunities and going after that.

The key is: Start with a business problem.

How do you handle cross-channel journeys? Are there best practices in regards to staying within a single channel for the duration of a journey?

The channels covered are selected from the business problem, but also based on what customers do. Rather than forcing your map to cover just one channel, let the customers lead you to what channels to focus on.

If your goal (for example) is to move more customers to self-service, then I’d create two maps – one focused on those who use self-service and one on those who don’t (you may want a third for those who switch channels). Look to see what separates the two. Is it the type of problem addressed, the type of customer (perhaps a different persona), or something different? Then use this to find ways to encourage the preferred behavior. Understand that there are reasons that customers use the channels they do, and trying to force the behavior you want is unlikely to be successful unless you focus on the Desire component of the ADKAR change model.

How do you reconcile starting with a business problem but trying to focus on “what we do well already” and creating differentiating experiences? Can a single journey map be used to accomplish both?

The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but keep in mind what journey mapping is all about. It’s not about you – it’s about your customer. Since your reason for mapping should be based on a business problem, it’s unlikely to be about what you do well. It’s possible that an organization would say, “We have a really good portal. Let’s map that portal experience.” It’s more likely, though, that a sponsor would say, “We’re redeveloping our portal. Go find out how people are using our existing portal, so we can target our upgrades appropriately.”

It’s less about mapping what you do well, and more about finding ways to redesign the process to better address customers’ emotional outcomes. Yes, you want to leverage what you do well. Use the business problem to address the scope of the map; then, the best CX programs use this information to recreate the experience for a desired emotional outcome.

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