in Experience Design

Successful Customer Journey Maps

Having a customer journey map is an eye-opening experience. Once you hold that baby in your arms, your life will be forever changed. Really? Really.

The customer journey map (CJM) is a visual timeline that shows the stages a customer passes through in their interactions with a company.  It shows the end-to-end digital customer experience and highlights the interconnectedness between digital touchpoints such social, mobile, email, and e-commerce.

This transformational business tool uses real data and insights to match business goals and brand values with customer’s needs. Having a holistic view frames the customer’s perspective and creates clear reference points for decision-making.

Here are the 10 steps needed for a successful customer journey map:

  1. Create Urgency

    In order to get the momentum going among stakeholders and parters, there should be executive sponsorship of this activity.  Select a CJM champion that can communicate the vision and tell the story by painting a picture with customer data to explain the philosophy and methodology.

  2. Find a Shared Purpose

    Assemble a core group of stakeholders with differing points of view that will be responsible for the success of the CJM project. Make sure everyone understands the importance of why they are being brought together and rally for a well-defined mission.

  3. Prepare & Plan

    Set the scope for how far you want this planning to go.
    – Which digital touch points need to be included?
    – Which customers do we need to plan for?
    – Which purchase path scenarios should be covered?

    Use personas or segmentation to link customer activity to specific journey paths. There are always edge cases that can throw a monkey wrench in the work, so I suggest starting small with one customer scenario.  Use prototype-thinking to quickly develop the first version then move on to the top 3-5 most common customer interaction paths.

  4. Map It

    Set expectations among the group. There are an infinite ways to do this work, so scale back and get real about what can be delivered within reasonable time constraints. It’s important not to be paralyzed by feeling that you have to get everything right.  Strive to get the pieces in place and ship it. The map will be refined and continue to grow in future versions.

  5. Design for Empathy

    There’s nothing like seeing things from your customer’s point of view to gain new insights.  User testing reveals common pain points and shows how customers think.  Having this customer-centric perspective allows for distinct designs across digital touchpoints.

  6. Validate

    Create and test your hypotheses about the path and customer profile. Validate your assumptions against testing data gathered from existing voice-of-customer insights and competitive benchmarks.

  7. Share & Socialize

    The maps will need to be distributed internally. For the greatest impact, it needs to be sold back into leadership.  Executives appreciate clear benefits so use the qualitative and quantitative research data you’ve gathered.  Show the problems that exist, the size of the opportunities and the cost-benefits analysis.

  8. Create short-term wins

    Having quick wins early in the process creates the momentum needed to continue the project. Prioritize the opportunities based on their value to the customer and business as well as their feasibility to implement.  Ensure the success of these early wins by linking to strategic metrics that are familiar to the language of the business.  Arrange initiatives into near-term, midterm and long-term objectives and create a master timeline for their implementation.

  9. Embed and aim higher

    Make the CJM a regular part of business decisions. Many companies use it as a dashboard and assign long-term custodians of the customer journey map.

  10. Optimize & Iterate

    They say the hardest part of anything is just getting started.  But once you have this document as a central point of discussion, opportunities will be revealed when multiple customer touch points are clearly articulated.  You’ll optimize fill in the current gaps and plan to enhance future state, keep updating this customer journey map.

This is an evergreen project that will live on beyond the initial session. The customer journey map will help the organizational mature as they begin using these digital touchpoints to design interactions. The journey map should be a living document to be systematically updated as the company learns more about their customer.

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