The four most common customer journey mapping mistakes

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Journey mapping isn’t easy. That’s why almost two-thirds of journey maps fail to drive change.  

A failed journey mapping project is a huge waste – not just because of the dollars and energy that went into it, but also because one failed journey mapping project makes it less likely that your company will try again. So here are four common reasons for failure, and what you can do about them. 

1. Doing it yourself

I’m not referring to doing it without a vendor; instead, I’m referring to keeping your journey mapping team too small. “Too many cooks in the kitchen” might be a bad way to make chili, but when it comes to journey mapping, nobody eats food that they didn’t help cook.

Okay, that metaphor didn’t work. Let’s try again. 

Translated, if you do the journey mapping work yourself, and don’t involve your peers in the various silos, they have no reason to pay attention to the results. To drive customer-focused action, involve a broad team. Set expectations from the start that this is their project, too, and that not only will they own the insights – they’ll own the resulting actions, too. 

2. Forgetting your customers

Too many “customer journey maps” are done internally. But you can’t have a customer journey map without involving customers! I like workshops as much as the next person. But a map created by employees is a Hypothesis Map, and nothing more. 

We find that Hypothesis Maps typically cover 70-80% of information about the journey. But that remaining 20-30% is typically the most crucial information, typically explaining why a company is failing to engage customers. 

The thinking that caused your retention problems won’t magically fix it just because you add Post-It Notes. You need to add the literal voice of your customer to create breakthrough results. 

3. "Boiling the ocean" 

As we are conducting interviews for our upcoming book, it’s amazing how many people use this phrase. A common journey mapping trap is to try to map every customer and every journey at once. The result is so high-level that nothing changes. 

Doing journey mapping right involves dozens of interviews and intense analysis. Trying to do this all at one time is often cost-prohibitive. Even if it isn’t, a single journey map fills the project pipeline for months to come – if you do it for all customer types, most of the opportunity will be lost due to a lack of ability to drive the changes. We once received an RFP for an insurance company that wanted to map agents’, customers’, and employees’ end-to-end journeys in three months. Even if they had the budget, there’s no way they could act against all of the insights. 

Any successful project starts with a serious discussion on scope. Take the time to determine what you’re trying to accomplish, and use this to determine which customer(s) and which journey(s) to map.  

An end-to-end experience map is a great tool to use for creating a CX capability and understanding where the points of friction are in your experience. But it’s typically not targeted enough to build a more-effective pre-sales experience, nor will it help you streamline onboarding, because it’s at too high a level of abstraction.  

Conversely, a user experience map of the website is a perfect way to drive an improved online experience, but won’t identify customer service issues. Take the time to identify your goals, and use this to select an appropriate customer and journey to map. 

4. Thinking you’re done when the map is complete

This is when the real work begins! Last week I interviewed a VP of CX who told me about his journey mapping experience. He estimated that about 70% of the work effort came after the map was complete.  

Change doesn’t happen on its own. It requires a change maker to use the map to engage the various parts of the organization and drive action. Don’t take your foot off the pedal once you have a map, because that’s when the real work begins. 

So, if you’re considering a journey mapping exercise, consider these typical traps. Or else be part of the 2/3 whose maps fail to drive customer-focused change. 

This article was originally published on Jim's blog

About Jim Tincher

Jim Tincher, Mapper-In-Chief, Heart of the Customer

Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers.

With a lifelong passion for customer experience, Jim founded Heart of the Customer to help companies of all sizes increase customer engagement. Before launching the company, Jim led customer engagement initiatives at Best Buy, Gallup and UnitedHealth Group. In the process, he became an expert in using Voice of the Customer research to identify unmet needs, develop new products and improve customer service. His Heart of the Customer Journey Maps™ are a powerful tool designed with one simple goal: customer loyalty. Customers ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies use his processes to improve customer-focused results.

His fascination with customer experience led him to test himself by becoming a Certified Customer Experience Professional, only the second in the world to earn such a designation. He also has served as an adjunct instructor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He is an active member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), serving as one of their CX Experts, providing advice to members worldwide.


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05th Jan 2018 06:39

Very useful and valuable article. Customer service is not a one-step game to serve your customers, but it is a complete process of understanding customer needs, retaining them and enhancing their experience. It is important to manage each step carefully if you don't want to lose your valuable customer.

Neha Gupta

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08th Jan 2018 14:23

The article would be much improved if it was written in plain english with less jargon, which the author assumes everyone understands.

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