How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map

June 10, 2019
Contributor: Kasey Panetta

Document the journey from the perspective of one customer to identify all the potential touchpoints.

Eighty-two percent of organizations have created a customer journey map, but only 47% are using those maps effectively. Despite putting hours or days into the plans, working with cross-functional partners, digging into the data and learning more about the customers, nearly half of those organizations are not seeing a return on their time investment.

The problem is that these organizations put together a detailed beautiful map of the customer journey, but it’s not useful. The goal is to create a usable, actionable customer journey map admired for its utility, not its beauty. A good journey map will guide companies to make the best decisions.

“Customer journey mapping is critical to being successful as an organization and understanding your customers better, “ says Cassandra Nordlund, Director, Advisory, Gartner.

Of the companies that are successfully using their maps, all of them had a larger process in play, broken down into three stages.
Discovery: Learn new things about the customer based on data and customer research
Ideation: Identify customer pain points and generate solutions
Activation: Include stakeholders in the project prioritization and selection

“Making an impact will require more than just a map,” says Nordlund. “It’s going to require a plan and it’s also going to require people.”

Marketers need context

When it comes to building compelling and insightful maps, where are organizations going wrong? Context.

It’s impossible to effectively analyze the customer’s journey without context.

When creating a map it’s easy for businesses to fall into the common trap of adopting a general approach to segments, where the final output of a map reflects more of the company’s perspective than the customer’s.

In this case, the nuances and details are lost and the journey map is rendered useless. These types of maps guide marketers in the wrong direction, measuring and optimizing touchpoints that customers may not value.

To avoid this, think like a customer, not about one. For example, an online furniture purchase experience might look like this:

But when the business applies a specific customer persona, the journey looks a lot different.

One thing marketers might learn when inhabiting a specific customer perspective is that their journey does not start where the company assumes it does. For example, Nancy, a customer due to have her first baby within 30 days, is anxiously looking to purchase a crib.

What a business might discover is her journey actually looks like the below:

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It turns out that one of the biggest pain points for customers buying cribs is assembly. From a company’s perspective, a possible solution might be to create better instructions, because that online furniture company is not in the business of assembling furniture.

There is an opportunity when looking at the map from Nancy’s perspective. IKEA, a home furnishing company, recognized that some of its customers’ most critical pain points around assembly could be turned into the most convenient part of their journey.

IKEA recently acquired TaskRabbit, a service company, and now offers assembly as an add-on option for its customers. As of today, there is a new touchpoint for IKEA customers that solves one of their greatest pain points. Good customer journey maps will lead to unique and actionable insights.

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