Create Customer Journey Maps That People Will Use

February 27, 2020
Contributor: Laura Starita 

Create customer journey maps that internal teams will use to make customer experience improvements across the business.

Organizations that have and use customer journey maps are twice as likely to outperform competitors than those that don’t, according to the 2019 Gartner Customer Experience Management Survey. That success likely comes from the way maps help identify key opportunities to improve the customer experience (CX). They also facilitate agreement across the organization about customer needs.

“Customer journey maps only bring value when they’re used to inform business priorities.”

Yet not all customer journey maps produce value. Reasons range from lack of use by critical business functions to inaccuracy or irrelevance in the map itself.

“Customer journey maps are only as good as an organization’s ability to access, use and share them,” says Jane-Anne Mennella, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “Delivering a consistent, competitive advantage depends on having a robust collection of inputs to inform journey maps, along with guidance on when and how to use them.”

To ensure that your customer journey maps are actionable and insightful, follow a three-step customer journey mapping process to prepare, develop and use them.

Prepare for customer journey mapping

CX leaders lay the groundwork to create useful customer journey maps with these actions:

  • Get senior support. Customer journeys touch many functions in the organization. A vocal senior leader can help generate support from other functions and motivate them to participate, which eases access to people and data.                                          

  • Form a cross-functional team. All functions that touch the customer journey should participate in customer journey mapping. Broad involvement breaks down silos, and different perspectives improve map accuracy. Different functions often have distinct priorities, so make sure to set expectations, align around common goals and define the role each participant will play.

  • Identify your high-value customers. You don’t need customer journey maps for every customer persona — just for high-value ones. Choose who you’ll prioritize.

  • Identify data needs and sources. Customer journey maps derive from real-world data and information about customers. Assess the data you have, identify data gaps and plan research to gather missing insights.

Create the customer journey map

Just as strong preparation sets an organization up for success, mapping best practices ensure quality in the resulting customer journey maps. They are:

  • Map from the customer’s perspective. Teams commonly make the mistake of creating customer journey maps that reflect how they’d like the customer to engage with them. Useful maps instead reflect the journeys customers want and need. Use customer data to create an accurate map that reveals both best-in-class and broken journey steps.

  • Map the end-to-end experience. Map the entire journey to understand the full life cycle from the customer’s perspective. Only when the team has established the big picture should it focus on smaller segments, or micro-journeys, with high improvement potential. Resist the temptation to go too granular too soon.

  • Validate maps with real customers. Confirm both the actions customers take and the thoughts and feelings they have at various points in the journey. Don’t shortchange this step — especially if your organization had data gaps or relied heavily on assumptions to map journey steps.

Plan changes based on the customer journey map

Customer journey maps only bring value when they’re used to inform business priorities. To ensure you get the most out of them, make sure to:

  • Create an action plan. Use insights from the customer journey map to prioritize customer experience improvements. Balance high- and low-effort initiatives and measure success based on how well an improvement serves the customer’s goals and needs.

  • Keep maps current. Develop a plan to monitor the market and update maps as needed. The updating process will uncover proactive opportunities to meet customer needs at the same time that it encourages internal stakeholders to use them because people have more confidence in maps they believe are up to date. 

  • Communicate how the maps produce value. Share customer experience success stories. Use small and big wins to make a proactive case to leaders about how a customer journey map can help them increase performance in their function.


    Gartner for Marketer clients can read more in the full research Create Actionable Insight Driven Customer Journey Maps by Jane-Anne Mennella.

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