The sweet spot: Journey analytics plus research

13th Jul 2021
Share this content
The Sweet Spot: Journey Analytics Plus Journey Research
Dr. Graham Hill

This is part of a series on 'Rethinking the Service Experience'.

Journey analytics and journey research are two approaches to understand customer journeys. The sweet spot is when you combine them together.

At the start of the service experience revolution there was little opportunity to use quantitative customer data and journey analysis tools to understand customers and their journeys. So nascent service experience designers had to resort to using qualitative insights and journey research techniques instead.

The low barrier to entry provided by qualitative journey research resulted in an explosion in designers using customer journey maps; a seriously flawed tool that creates an unrepresentative, unrealistic and unimplementable understanding of customers and their behaviour. The widespread use of these maps has damaged the professionalisation of service experience design.

It is amazing how a few years can change things.

Today, service experience designers have access to corporate data lakes containing data about Customers, their Contracts, their Contacts and increasingly, real-time streams of Consumption data (the 4Cs). They also have journey analytics tools they can use to analyse the journeys customers really take to get their jobs done and the outcomes they desire. Yesterday's hypothetical customer journey map has been replaced by today's real-world Sankey diagrams.

This brave new world of journey analytics has produced a new and different problem. Although journey analytics will tell you everything you need to know about the journeys customers took, they won't tell you anything about why they took them, the journeys they had with other companies and particularly, the journeys they would have liked to have taken if only someone had enabled them (collectively, the missing 5th Contextual C).

Just as qualitative journey research was flawed because it didn't focus on what customers really do, so journey analytics is flawed because it doesn't focus on why they do it, what else they do and what they would have liked to do. To fill in this gap, you need good old journey research. Only when you combine the two do you get a complete picture of customers, their desires, their intentions and their actions.


  1. Use corporate data lakes containing the 4Cs and journey analytics tools to understand the journeys customers really take.
  2. Augment journey analytics using journey research to understand the missing 5th Contextual C.
  3. Use the combination of journeys analytics plus journey research as the foundation for comprehensive service experience design.


The integration of journey analytics and journey orchestration in tools like Thunderhead ( allows you to design, implement, operate and continuously improve customer journeys all at the same time.

What do you think? Is the sweet spot journey analytics plus journey research?

Original LinkedIn post:

Replies (4)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

Dr. Graham Hill
By Dr. Graham Hill
13th Jul 2021 15:03

Further Reading:
The data on the rating and usage by companies of qualitative journey research tools is taken from an article by Cooper & Dreher on...
'Voice‐of‐Customer Methods: What is the Best Source of New Product Ideas?'
The article lists a wide variety of research tools, their rating and usage. It is well worth looking at.

Thanks (0)
Dr. Graham Hill
By Dr. Graham Hill
13th Jul 2021 15:09

More Further Reading:
My challenge to the unrepresentative, unrealistic and unimplementable understanding of customers and their behaviour that customer journey maps create is laid out in more detail in an earlier blog post on LinkedIn...
What do you think?

Thanks (0)
By Marisa A. Hunter
13th Jul 2021 16:56

I really like this idea Graham. Could you recommend any good examples of Sankey diagrams?

Thanks (0)
Replying to Marisa A. Hunter:
Dr. Graham Hill
By Dr. Graham Hill
14th Jul 2021 10:18

Hi Marisa

There are a number of sources worth looking at to get started with Sankey diagrams.

One of the best ones is
This has lots of example uses of Sankey diagrams.

Another one is
Visualizing In-App User Journey Using Sankey Diagrams In Python
This article shows the disastrous losses of Napoleons' troops during his Russian campaign which first alerted me to Sankey diagrams.

The key to using Sankey diagrams is to recognise that they represent choices as customers proceed through their journeys, including the choice not to continue with the journey.

Sankey diagrams are often used alongside network diagrams to show the flow of customers during their journeys.

This provides a good starting point.
Pointillist - Definitive Guide to Customer Journey Analytics

Let me know if you need any more information.

Best regards Graham

Thanks (0)