Seven reasons why customer journey mapping goes wrong

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What are the biggest issues that can undermine the success of your customer journey mapping programme?

Customer journey mapping is becoming an increasingly popular practice, so a growing number of organisations are discovering its benefits – and challenges.

Unless businesses can drive change based on the outputs of the customer journey map, the process can be a costly and time-consuming exercise. And there are no shortage of obstacles to success that organisations will experience along the way.

So what are the biggest pitfalls that companies should keep a watchful eye out for?

1. Thinking of CJM as only a strategic exercise

Unless employees are briefed properly about customer journey mapping, there is a danger that they can be viewed as more of a workshop exercise rather than a practical tool.

“CJMs are intended to be used throughout the year, not stored on the company servers or in the cloud until revision the next year,” warns Jane Linton, director of business development at Softvision. “Much like personas, a CJM should be part of the day-to-day focus on the customer needs, solving their problems and making the customer experience the best it could possibly be through your product or service, no matter where they are on their journey.”

To help set the correct expectations, educate employees about CJM and its purpose, and set pre-workshop exercises such as mystery shopping, to encourage staff to think like customers.

2. Mistaking a customer journey map for a touchpoint map

Whereas touchpoint maps detail all the interactions that a customer has with an organisation, a customer journey map outlines the entire pathway to purchase, including all the important steps that may not involve the business at all. This is an important distinction as it allows companies to discover pivotal points in the customer’s journey where they may presently have no presence but where they can add value in the future.

Linton says: “Touchpoint maps look at individual interactions or ‘touches’ with customers. The problem with this approach is that it often loses the broader context of how that touchpoint fits within the overall goal and objectives of the customer.”

3. Only speaking to like-minded colleagues

When employees are workshopping their views on the customer journey, there can be a tendency to gravitate towards views that reflect common wisdom or our own opinions. However, it has to be remembered that employees are often expressing personal views, rather than views back up with hard evidence. This can be particularly dangerous if these opinions are then accepted as hard fact. For this reason, it is important to seek out a range of opinions from a range of different groups of employees.

Linton advises: “To ensure there is a common view of the customer journey it is important to seek out opinion across each team within the business, such as creating stakeholder interviews to capture the whole business perspective rather than just your own definition or thoughts on what the customer journey is.”   

4. A lack of clear governance

With customer journeys often cutting across different organisational structures, it is useful to form a cross-functional group to accurately reflect the different departments and their experiences of the customer’s journey. However, for this to be a success, it is important to have the proper governance in place.

Bruce Temkin, managing partner at Temkin Group, explains: “If we haven’t created a good group to govern this process, then as soon as we start getting feedback and start looking at things outside the realm of the group, it can get messy and sloppy internally and people won’t want to buy-in and believe in it and be a part of it. So just making sure that it is set up in advance is an important thing as this is a place where people do sometimes make mistakes.”

Journey maps are intended to be used throughout the year, not stored on the company servers or in the cloud until revision the next year

5. Failing to involve all stakeholders in the creation of the map

Just as it is crucial to involve all parties who can contribute to understanding the customer journey during the research process, it is also vital to involve any part of the business that will need to participate in any way when the map is being created.

Andy Green, director of The Customer Framework, says: “The majority of issues organisations face when attempting to implement customer journey maps have their root in the way they are created. A core failing is an ‘Ivory Tower’ development, that presents a design as complete without involving the people responsible for delivery in its creation. How many times we have heard the phrase, ‘if only they had asked us, we would have told them what was needed’.”

And of most importance is ensuring that there is strong support from senior leadership for the project. Without executive sponsorship, an initiative as extensive as customer journey mapping will struggle.

6. Not speaking to customers

While taking on-board the opinions of your employees is a good starting point for customer journey mapping, you must validate these internal views by speaking with the customers themselves. As Temkin warns: “Sometimes we fall into the trap of believing we know more about our customers than we actually do and we don’t do enough external research.”

Strategic design consultant Dea Kacorri, adds: “Don’t create a customer journey map without conducting customer research. Creating a customer journey map without user insight can lead to business decisions based on assumptions that are not validated by your customer. When compared to real customer insight, these assumptions can be surprisingly different.”

7. Spending too much time in the research phase

While not doing enough research can undermine the entire customer journey mapping process, it may surprise you to know that problems can also be caused by doing too much research.

Temkin explains: “Sometimes organisations can create enormous research projects that continue on and on and one, and they get very complex and very expensive. What’s most important from the research is for us to not create the most detailed dense map that we can, but to uncover opportunities to improve. And it generally doesn’t take a ton of research for us to achieve that.”

About Neil Davey

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Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.

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