How to Get the Most out of Customer Journey Maps

Elizabeth Mertz  |  Director of Client Services

June 5, 2017

Companies are beginning to realize that, to stay relevant (or in some cases, alive), they need to become more customer-focused. Many are developing customer journey maps to capture what customers are thinking, feeling and doing as they engage with you at every stage of the life cycle.

If done right, a customer journey map will highlight the gaps in your customers’ experiences and identify opportunities to develop more profitable relationships.

As a director of client services, I’ve worked with several companies to develop journey maps that ultimately delivered millions in annualized sales. Unfortunately, I’ve also spoken to people who have invested precious time and money in journey mapping and have never gotten a return.

Before you hire an agency to develop a map on your behalf — or perhaps you’d like to attempt to create your own maps internally — here are some things to keep in mind before you take the leap.

1. Develop a Plan for Your Data

This is where many companies struggle most. They think that a customer journey map is like the Field of Dreams: If I build it, they will come.

Many of the most valuable opportunities identified by journey maps are highly data-dependent. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it takes time to build the data infrastructure that is necessary to deliver a superior experience across all channels.

From the beginning, be sure to involve the team that is responsible for your data to ensure that your plan prioritizes their needs. I guarantee you, every opportunity gleaned from your map will involve data. If the agency that develops a map on your behalf can’t help you create a Data POV to accompany the map, look elsewhere. Without a clear understanding of your current data and a plan for its future state, you’ll design a customer experience that you won’t be able to execute.

2. Build a Roadmap

The good thing about customer journey maps is that they uncover a lot of insight-driven opportunities to improve your customers’ experiences.

The bad thing about customer journey maps is that they uncover a lot of insight-driven opportunities to improve your customers’ experiences.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Prioritize each opportunity based on its benefit to the customer and its opportunity for revenue growth vs. associated cost. Your roadmap should detail each initiative with a description, timing, benefit, priority, and success metrics.

3. Develop Pilots

Identify select markets to test each proposed change to the customer experience. Pilot improvements on a limited basis before you roll out nationwide.

The value of pilots is twofold:

They offer a quick way to share small victories with your broader organization to see the business impact of experience improvements

They show you what works and is worth rolling out before you make significant investments that don’t have an impact

4. Involve Your Senior Leadership Team and Key Stakeholders

This seems obvious, but it’s often overlooked. And it’s critical, especially when you’re asking your organization to make significant changes in the way they’ve always done things.

You’re going to encounter people who are uncomfortable with the changes because they think it will threaten either their role or their team’s role in the organization. Without the Senior Team behind you, you’ll never “Pass Go.” Involve them in the research with your customers. Let them hear what your customers think of you, especially if it isn’t positive. When they hear it firsthand, they are more likely to support you, respond to and resolve experience problems.

5. Treat Your Journey Map Like a Living, Breathing Plan

When we develop journey maps, we produce them as giant posters so that they’re easily visible within and throughout the company.

This doesn’t mean that we believe they should become another piece of artwork to hang in your hallways and collect dust. We encourage our customers to actively and continually evaluate each change they make to the customer experience. Your map will require periodic updates to:

a. Highlight additional/new opportunities

b. Reflect new customer segments

c. Investigate parts of the customer journey that require deeper understanding and, perhaps, even a separate map

If your team can’t take this on, I recommend having your agency do a quarterly refresh of the customer journey map. It’s not just about having an updated map, it’s about instilling a discipline across the organization that embraces change and measuring the value of those changes on your business.

Your refreshed map doesn’t have to be as involved as the first map, but it will ensure that you’re focusing your efforts in the right places … especially given that the customer marketplace is evolving so quickly. Treat your map as a living, breathing object and, just like in the Field of Dreams, it will go the distance.

Elizabeth Mertz |  Director of Client Services
Liz’s areas of expertise include strategic planning, account development, campaign analysis, campaign management, and franchise marketing. In addition to leading high-volume accounts at Catalyst, she’s held management positions at Vertis and Draft Worldwide.

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