Customer Journey Mapping – the map isn’t the point…

In the past couple of decades Customer Journey Mapping has become one of the most commonly spoken-about of modern-day business practices. The phrase has been bandied around boardrooms across the globe; and for some organisations, it has even become a central theme around which their customer management operations have been built.

However for many, if not most, organisations, Customer Journey Mapping remains a largely misused or misunderstood concept. Many that have undertaken Customer Journey Mapping find themselves confused, disappointed or even ‘completely underwhelmed’ by the outcome of the exercise.

Even where Customer Journey Mapping has been carried out in the right way, recipients of it’s findings are not always inclined, motivated or empowered to do any do anything transformational with the results/ output, as is also often the case for other research exercises such as Voice of the Customer and Customer Satisfaction surveys. This usually, however, has more to do with the leadership and/ or company culture of an organisation than it does the validity of the exercises.

Customer Journey Mapping, when practiced correctly, can be the most powerful tool within the Customer Experience Transformation toolkit. It’s strength & importance comes from the fact that, unlike other research techniques, it plots the customer’s chronological journey with the company and brand, providing the business with a more complete end-to-end ‘story-like’ understanding of the customer’s experience.

However there are some people who have conducted it with a different or no purpose in mind at all. Two examples we have come across demonstrate this well.

The first example was an organisation who had undertaken Customer Journey Mapping with the overriding purpose of creating a communication platform to be shared with employees. Their aim was to help their people build empathy and also appreciate the experiences of customers. There is certainly no denying that this can be a very useful byproduct of Customer Journey Mapping, although we would suggest that there are more constructive commercial & transformational outcomes than can be achieved.

The second example comes from a company whose tender we were sent, who stated that they didn’t want us to include Customer Journey Mapping within our response. When we inquired as to why this was the case, they stated that they had done the exercise three times before, but that “nothing had changed”. We eventually saw the three previously-created journey maps, which were very visually appealing chronological representations of customers’ experiences.  But when we asked the company where the rest of the output from these three exercises was, we were told that “this was it”. They certainly lacked the depth and detail we expected to see.

A common mistake to make is to believe that the map itself is the point of the exercise. Although a map is a very useful byproduct that can be used for various different communication purposes, the true benefit of Customer Journey Mapping comes from the identification of pain points, moments of truth, commercial opportunities and wow opportunities.

  • Pain Points – service delivery low-points for the customer and organisation alike
  • Moment of Truth – this is a crucial interaction/ interface between the customer and organisation that the customer will use to judge the overall performance of the organisation
  • Commercial Opportunity – an interaction/ interface between the customer and organisation that provides a cross or upsell opportunity for the organisation
  • Wow Opportunity – an interaction/ interface between the customer and organisation that provides the organisation with an opportunity to wow the customer (if desired)

With exercises Jericho has undertaken in the past, dozens if not hundreds of these issues and opportunities have been thrown out of the activity, generating multiple-paged word documents and/ or enormous spreadsheets of detail. These elements provide the organisation with a ‘bank’ of ideas that potentially forms the basis of a transformation programme to change the experiences of customers.

These elements are the real point of Customer Journey Mapping. The map is not the point.