Customer journey mapping is the process of tracking, observing and describing all the experiences that customers have as they encounter a product, service or set of services, taking into account not only what happens to them, but also their responses to their experiences. It is a customer-focused technique for the development of innovative service concepts. It visualizes a holistic end-to-end journey where improvements can be made in customer contacts in order to achieve optimal customer experience across all channels.
CJM recognizes moments of potential failure or bad customer experiences to help define where products or services need to be strengthened. If you can predict failures, then you can predict successfully.
Not all customer journey mapping is the same.
CJM as an Alignment Tool
The most common definition of mapping is a tool to visualize the process of how a customer considers, purchases or consumes a product or service. It uses visuals or text to describe the experiences of a customer during the proverbial journey that customers make when they are exposed to the product, and are moved to purchase and use it. This is a generally simple exercise and can be performed by most marketing planners. The most common outcomes trigger ‘moments of truth’ – how a consumer initiates, chooses, purchases etc. What are the key triggers that push them to decide on your product? The role of brand perception can also play a big part here.
CJM as a Gap Analysis Tool
The second definition of customer journey mapping is a tool to identify the functional and emotional needs of a user. It uses visuals and text to describe the experience and map them against the emotive state of the user. It enables product engineers and designers to view things from a user perspective and use this view to analyze and close the gap between product function and features; from usability to performance and human factors. Starting the exercise with some informal qualitative interviews helps to understand what you need to pay attention to. Usually one or two small groups between 4-6 people are needed and sometimes ‘contextual inquiry’ is needed to see how they actually use the products as an input to these mapping exercises.
CJM as a Sensemaking Tool
The third definition of customer journey mapping is a tool to illustrate insights gathered from anthropological studies. The use of customer journeys is a visual template to organize insights from the field which are often multidimensional considering the cultural and community aspect of the studies. Visualizing and organizing content around the journey is part of the sensemaking exercise.
CJM as a Solutioning Tool
The fourth definition of customer journey mapping is a tool to help ideate design solutions to customer problems. By mapping multiple views (user, co-user, buyer, product manager etc.) you can identify where the misalignments or disconnects are and come up with innovative solutions to the problems. In the process of solutioning it serves as a facilitating tool to understand the constraints of each domain and explain why sometimes what seems to be an obvious and doable solution is not in place. The stakeholders can then negotiate what the trade-offs are relative to customer experience gain to decide whether to relax those constraints and at what cost.
This article has been adapted from an article that appears in MISC Fall 2013, The Inspiration Issue.