Journey Mapping: 9 Frequently Asked Questions

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Journey maps are a great tool to create organizational alignment on the holistic customer experience. This article answers nine such common questions.

1. How many customer-journey maps do I need? Do I need a customer-journey map for every persona or customer segment?

There is no hard and fast rule for how many journey maps you should create. Journey mapping, as a process, is beneficial because it creates a shared vision among team members. In general, the more focused your customer journey map is, the better. Journey maps that focus on one persona in one scenario tell a clear story.

Journey maps should always include a point of view — an actor. Actors usually align with personas, which results in mapped actions rooted in data. For this reason, you should create separate journey maps for different personas or customer segments. For example, for a health-management tool, you might choose to map provider or patient actions; each would result in very different journeys.

Journey maps are best for scenarios that describe a sequence of events. You might want to map multiple scenarios for one persona, depending on your project goals. For example, in our health-management tool example, you may want to create several different maps for a patient actor: one for registering for an account, one for receiving care, and another for reviewing followup instructions. You will need to prioritize personas, as well as scenarios, in order to focus on the right journeys for your project.

2. How can I convince stakeholders that journey mapping is a valuable use of resources?

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Journey mapping requires people from different specialties and departments to work together, and for that reason, it can be challenging to get commitment and buy-in from all necessary parties. To combat this hesitation, you must involve stakeholders from the start. Identify stakeholders whose knowledge will be instrumental along the way and whose help you might need once opportunities for improvement begin to surface.

When meeting with stakeholders, you’ll need to explain the value of journey mapping and what you hope to accomplish. Through journey mapping, organizations can:  

  • Shift to a customer-centered focus, designing for an integrated journey as opposed to simply creating standalone features
  • Align team members on customer actions and expectations
  • Create accountability by visualizing which departments own certain touchpoints
  • Prioritize problems that occur most often

After you’ve built your business case and received project approval, be sure to continuously involve stakeholders to maintain their support. Their knowledge is valuable, and you need their insight to focus your research.

3. Who should be involved in the process?

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The practice of journey mapping, not the visualization itself, is often the most valuable part of the process, so it should be collaborative. The practice forces conversations and results in the entire team sharing an aligned mental model. A shared vision is integral to reaching agreement on how to improve the customer experience.

You’ll need the help of marketing, customer services, sales, and related teams to gather your internal research. These teams hold important knowledge about the customer journey. Additionally, you need executives and senior management (i.e. the people with the authority to make changes) involved in the process. Management often has the least amount of exposure to the customer, so it’ll benefit from the new shared knowledge.

4. How much time should I spend on creating a customer-journey map?

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Journey maps are flexible, and they can fit almost any project budget or timeframe. The amount of time you spend creating a journey map depends on the method (e.g., research-first or hypothesis-first). These methods differ greatly in scope and time required.

Research-first approach: Deep customer insights are gathered before mapping the customer journey. The process may take anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks to gather the research, plus time for data analysis and stakeholder readouts.

Hypothesis-first approach: You conduct a 1–2-day workshop with internal stakeholders; this workshop results in a hypothesis journey map based on existing knowledge and assumptions. This approach should be followed up with research to validate the draft, and ideally also by a review workshop to modify the map based on the inevitable discrepancies between hypothesis and reality that you’ll discover in the research.

If you already have a deep knowledge of a particularly well-known and time-sensitive problem, there is a third option: a quick-fire approach. In this case, you could hold a 60–90-minute working session to create a rapid visualization of the problem.

It’s up to you to select which method (and thus, time frame) best fits your situation. Consider the business goals of journey mapping, your constraints and resources, company culture, and stakeholder personalities.

5. Where do I get research for a customer-journey map?

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Journey mapping requires qualitative research and your visualization should be based on real data. You need to observe customers’ real behavior and hear from them first hand. Usability methods like contextual inquiryinterviews, and diary studies are great for collecting the insights needed for mapping customer journeys.

Before conducting any new research, you should gather existing data. Get information from departments with direct interactions with customers. Use this information to create a hypothesis map and note gaps where there is no existing data; the hypothesis map can shape your research direction. When sharing the hypothesis map, be sure to call it what it is: a hypothesis that has yet to be validated by data (which you’ll collect next).

As you plan your external research, use a multipronged approach and combine the previously mentioned methods. Throughout your research, be sure to share your findings with the team to keep them informed and engaged.

Once qualitative data has been gathered, you can also supplement your findings with quantitative data from analytics or marketing research.

6. Should customer-journey maps be used for evaluating current-state experiences or designing ideal-state experiences?

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Journey mapping often reveals gaps and areas of friction in current-state experiences; however, it can also be a useful tool to design ideal-state experiences.

When mapping current-state journeys, you must gather qualitative research about how your customers currently perceive their interactions with your organization. This type of mapping relies on research methods that allow you to gather as much first-hand information as possible, (for example, customer interviews, contextual-inquiry studies, and diary studies).

Future-state journeys may require you to evaluate customer experiences of a competitor. This information will reveal areas where your organization can beat the competition or where your competitors already get things right. In this approach, you’ll need to conduct customer interviews to uncover user needs.

It’s commonly beneficial to map both the current- and future-state experiences in tandem. You could map the future-state experience of a new product, then create a current-state experience after the product is implemented, to evaluate your work. Alternatively, you could overlay the emotional journey from a current-state map onto a future-state map to emphasize the areas that need to be improved and optimized.

7. I work for a nonprofit. How does customer-journey mapping apply to my organization?

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At the heart of the customer lifecycle, there is typically a point of conversion where the customer makes a purchase decision. In the nonprofit world, the point of conversion is when your site visitor decides to support your organization. Instead of being customer-centric, you’re likely donor-centric.

Whether you’re working at a B2B, B2C, or nonprofit, journey mapping is the same. In either environment, you must prioritize your actors and scenarios. For a nonprofit, your first journey map may be a donor persona who decides to make her first contribution to your organization.

A similar answer applies if you’re a government agency. We may use the term “customer-journey mapping”, but you should take a broader view and consider your target audience as “customers” whether you sell them something or not.

8. What considerations are needed for remote teams?

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Journey mapping doesn’t exclude remote teams. However, common struggles of journey mapping (i.e. building buy-in and difficulty iterating) are often elevated in remote-work environments.

In order to start a journey-mapping project, you must get multiple departments communicating and working together. Though often best accomplished in in-person meetings, for remote teams a conference call is still better than an email chain.

The end of a journey-mapping project does not mean that the map is final (see above about future-state and current-state maps). Journey maps should be iterated so the map matches the current experience, even after system changes have been made. For remote teams, selecting a tool that allows easy editing and commenting is crucial. In a previous article on remote customer-journey mapping, we outlined 3 levels of digital journey-mapping tools as well as factors to consider when selecting the right tool for your team.

9. What should I use to create the visualization?

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Before even beginning to consider the aesthetics of your map, make sure you’ve synthesized your data. A visual-first mindset can lead to a beautiful yet flawed journey map.

No matter the tool, ensure that the platform allows for easy access to view and share. Don’t select a tool that only half your team can access. Give special consideration to tools that allow for collaborative work, so team members can comment and edit the document alongside one another.

The list of tools that professionals use to create journey maps is always growing. Classic tools like Microsoft PowerPoint or Visio ensure that most team members will have access to them; however, they lack live collaboration and risk that team members will not have the latest version of the document. On the other hand, online tools like Mural or Smaply allow for co-creation and easy-to-access digital artifacts, but nonUX professionals are likely less familiar with these tools and will need to gain proficiency with the new interface.

When considering which tool is best for your project, think about your team size and how dispersed it is, whether you’re integrating additional data, and of course, budget.

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Daniel

Daniel

Contributor @samcx.com. Passionate about everything Sales, Marketing and Account Management.

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