What is a Customer Journey Map – 3 Key Takeaways:
- There’s no “end all, be all” way to visually map the customer journey, so long as the ultimate outcome is a deep understanding of your customer’s feelings and experience.
- Customer journey maps are often mistaken for other diagram-like deliverables, but the common differentiator is the uncovering of empathetic and emotional insights.
- The real value extends beyond the poster deliverable to identifying and sharing deep customer insights that can be used to inform high-level strategies as well as detailed campaigns and tactics.
About this Blog Series:
Over the past several years, “journey mapping” became an industry buzzword. Consumer, retail and healthcare leaders often embark on journey mapping projects to better understand (and ultimately improve) their customer experience. This 3-part blog series is intended to help organizations maximize their research investment. We’ll provide an introduction to journey maps and their value (part 1); discuss technical factors to consider when embarking on a new project (part 2); and teach you how to incorporate new trends and metrics planning for the most actionable outcomes (part 3.)
Let’s start with an understanding of journey maps.
What is a customer journey map?
Quite simply, a journey map is a framework to capture a customer’s experience with your organization (from their perspective) across a series of touch points. The goal is to identify their unmet needs and pain points, the emotional factors that influence decision-making, and opportunities to improve the customer experience.
The complete customer experience isn’t comprised of a single touch point; rather, it’s a culmination of engagements and experiences throughout their journey. Let’s use a healthcare example. If you ask a doctor, nurse, or case manager about the patient’s experience they can likely give an accurate depiction of their unique interaction. However, in isolation that misses pivotal moments – a patient researching a condition and finding a provider; booking an appointment; the front desk interaction; or even what we call “the space between” – those times between provider interactions where a lot of unmet needs are happening (such as late night anxiety over a pending procedure). Similar examples exist within financial services, manufacturing, and other industries we serve. Simply put, customer journeys just aren’t all that linear. It’s critical that your journey maps can account for even these “not-so-obvious” points in the experience. There are many ways to visually map the customer journey, and there’s no “right way” – so long as the end result is a deep understanding of your customer experience shortcomings and opportunities. As an example, here are the research dimensions we like to include at Paragon when developing journey maps:
- What They’re Doing: What are the customer’s key processes and actions/interactions along their journey that shape their experience? Examples include researching a product or service, requesting information or comparison shopping, and “converting” – whether that’s making a purchase or in healthcare, visiting the doctor.
- People: Their Real Social Network: Whom does the customer interact with at each phase of their journey and how does that impact their emotion? This can be as obvious as the customer-salesperson, advisor-client, or doctor-patient interaction or as private as consulting with a friend, neighbor or social group before key decisions.
- What They’re Thinking: What is the customer’s thought process throughout each phase of the journey?
- How They’re Feeling: How does the patient feel across the various touch points? By uncovering their feelings, we can find opportunities to ease fears and concerns or magnify satisfactions.
- They’re Pain Points: Are there unresolved problems, real or perceived, across the journey?
- Unmet Opportunities: What solutions may help to resolve pain points and increase customer satisfaction at critical touch points? This is the culmination of insights and gets us to our goal – how can we improve the overall experience. Ultimately, how do we preserve what you are doing well while improving the journey in both simple and innovative ways.
We know what is a customer journey map. So, what is it not?
As journey mapping becomes mainstream, it often gets mistaken for other “diagram-like” outputs such as process diagrams and channel inventories. But they’re not. That’s not to say that these other deliverables aren’t valuable because they all serve a business purpose. Where journey maps generally differ is in the added emotional component that really helps us get to how people “feel” by peeling back the layers of customer experience.
Below are some deliverables that generally get confused for journey maps and why they’re different:
|What it is
|Why it’s not a Journey Map
|A flowchart or picture of the separate steps of a healthcare process in sequential order – including but not limited to defining the entity, steps in the service process, and responsible parties.
|They don’t take into account critical emotional and human factors like how someone is “feeling” or what they’re “thinking” at each process point.
|A visual map of the brand’s points of customer contact – including every encounter a customer has (or could have) with an organization.
|It doesn’t account for emotions or “the space between”, where a customer isn’t directly interacting with the organization but their thoughts, feelings or concerns affect their satisfaction (e.g.: in between purchases or appointments).
|A visual way for your business analysts to show how work gets accomplished – depicting the flow of tasks or actions from one person or group to another.
|It’s a possible outcome of journey maps but not the basis of them. Journey maps are more about capturing the customer experience. In a work setting, that would be the employee’s “experience” of task flow.
|An outline of marketing and communications channels.
|Although channels can be dimensions of journey maps, it’s more about how the customer interacts, thinks and feels across those channels.
What makes a journey map so valuable?
Journey maps can help determine customer pain points and opportunities for customer experience improvement. By uncovering the customer’s emotions, feelings and decision-making processes along the way, healthcare organizations can derive the following value:
- Increased customer acquisition
- Better match customers to the products or services they desire
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Increased loyalty and better net promoter scores
- Process improvements – such as improved service design to better alleviate customer pain points
- More targeted and efficient market segmentation & messaging – with the ability to personalize content to each customer segment along critical points in the buying journey.
At Paragon we like to say: “It’s about the process, not the poster.” The poster output is at best an executive summary of what we learned from journey mapping, but it truly is about more than the pretty pictures and flow diagrams. It’s about the deep, rich, wide-range of information uncovered while learning about the patient’s journey. The real value is in sharing that with organizational stakeholders. That makes journey mapping a powerful investment. The poster is just a cool rallying point for marketing teams.
>> Read Part 2: How to Approach Your Project –In this blog, we discuss considerations to keep in mind as you embark on a new journey mapping project.
Taking Journey Maps to the Next Level – Blog Series: