Seven Steps for Developing Customer Journey Maps

In Temkin Group’s previous report on B2B CX best practices, we provide examples of companies using a customer journey map (CJM), which is a critical CX tool. We included this graphic which is valuable for any company, B2B or B2C, that is thinking about using CJMs.

1304_CJMLet’s circle back with the basics, what is a CJM? It’s a representation of the steps and emotional states that a customer goes through during a period of time that may include some interactions with your organization. CJMs are valuable because they help identify how a customer views an organization by putting the interactions with a company in the context of the customer’s broader activities, goals and objectives. The output often includes an easy to understand graphic such as this example I’ve used from Lego for many years:

Here’s an example of a CJM we created to showcase the power of CJMs. Note how the journey represents the customer’s point of view and not just the company touchpoints.

1304_ExampleOfCJM

Often times, companies mistake a CJM for a touchpoint map, which is looking 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. As a matter of fact, mapping internal touchpoints is one of my 10 CX Mistakes to Avoid.

Given the importance of CJMs, I put together answers to some FAQs:

  • Do we need to do customer research? No, but I highly recommend it and the results will be much better if you do. If you assemble the right front-line employees who have day-to-day interactions with customers, then your CJM may be somewhat accurate. But very likely it will be missing some steps and perceptions of customers, especially in areas of the journey where the customer doesn’t think about the company. And if you just pull together a bunch of people in headquarters, then your CJM will often represent an oversimplified, fantasy about what customers go through. The best CJMs start with internal information to frame the effort, but spend the time to validate and update the CJM through strong customer research.
  • What type of customer research do we need to do? This is all about qualitative research. You won’t find how customers feel about the journey in your quantitative datasets. You will need to go out and speak to customers within your different segments to understand how they view the overall journey. This can include ethnographic techniques like journaling and contextual inquiry. After you have the journey defined, you can use some quantitative methods to identify how often some activities occur.
  • Do we need to hire an outside firm to do a CJM? You don’t need to, but there are some good firms with a lot of experience in this area. If your internal research organization has strong ethnography skills, then you can probably follow our seven steps above and complete it on your own. As with any activity, the vendors that have done a lot of these are going to be more skilled at the process and in making sure that the output is actionable. If you can’t afford to hire an outside firn, then it’s still worthwhile to go ahead and do the project internally as best as you can.
  • Is there a CJM that we can copy? There are a lot of examples of the physical maps, but that’s not what’s important about the process. You are doing CJMs to uncover specific insights that you will use for fixing problems, wowing customers in the future, or establishing measurement tracking systems. If you focus too much on copying someone else’s CJM, then you will often miss the nuances that are key for your customers and your company. And, more importantly, you lose the institutional learnings that come from going through the process.
  • Do we need to do a CJM for every customer segment? Yes, at least every important one. It may be that some of your customer segments follow the same journey, in which case you can combine them but you don’t want to have CJMs that are an amalgamation of multiple segments. You’ll end up with a bunch of generalities and less useful insights. It’s okay to have the output show one journey with different variations after you’ve examined each segment individually.
  • Are CJMs for the entire lifecycle of a customer or for a specific stage? Yes and yes. CJMs can be used at different levels of the customers’ journey. They can examine how customers go through a multi-year journey like the car ownership experience to a more specific journey like going on a family vacation.
  • Are CJMs good for finding mistakes to fix or for designing future state experiences? Yes and yes. CJMs can be used to identify gaps in the current state of experiences as well as helping to identify the opportunities for better future state experiences. Depending on your goal, you will likely want to adjust your customer research approach.
  • How much detail do we need? It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. The maps shown above are at a level that would help point a company into specific areas for improvement. If you wanted to redesign an area such as rebooking a flight, then you would really want to get much more granular information about the customer journey in that area.

The bottom line: Good things happen when you focus on your customers’ journey

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

5 Responses to Seven Steps for Developing Customer Journey Maps

  1. Tim Carrigan says:

    Excellent Post, Bruce! Its funny but I just spoke last night to a group of professionals about this very topic. I discussed a few “guidelines” that closely mirror your steps (although worded/arranged differently). I was planning on turning my slides into a blog post of my own, but I think you beat me to it, although your excellent FAQs add a great extra layer of information.

    I really like this article and agree on all points. Objectives, Scope, Research, Customer Validation, and Engagement of Stakeholders across the organization are critical components of any CJM effort. The only item I would add is that besides the benefit of an outside firm bringing experience to the table, it is also good to have an outside perspective. Also, hesitant members of the organization might offer outsiders a bit more leeway to ask “dumb questions” about their business. Or, if not, the outside firm can take the heat, too.

    Thanks again, Bruce.

  2. Great Post Bruce! I have been investigating this for a while now for various ecommerce setups I oversee, where the customer journey through the site really makes a tremendous difference in terms of the overall profitability.

    None of them are perfect, but I have found that Magento is very good when it comes to customization options in this regard.

    There are quite a few really good plugins that are available (for a price) for that, that do somewhat simplify the process of streamlining the customer journey through the site.

    As with all these type of things though it does still need careful oversight and attention to detail if you are going to maximize outputs.

  3. Excellent info and links to the Maps… !!

  4. Chris Severn says:

    To spark a debate – I disagree! If customer input is only step 6 out of 7, and is optional at that, then following this method will result in disappointment. It’s the antithesis of customer-centric design. Creating JMs based mainly on exec stakeholder viewpoints is highly likely to reinforce internal misconceptions, fail to innovate and will lack customer perspectives.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Chris: Thanks for commenting. I don’t disagree with your disagreement. It’s never a bad thing to start with deep customer insight. I find that starting with the internal view of the customer allows for more buy-in when you find (from customer research) that there are misunderstood or totally forgotten steps and large disconnects between the internal and customer perceptions about what’s important and how the company is doing. Even if companies aren’t willing or able to do any customer research (which I totally would not recommend), they can get value from going through the process of sharing their individual views of the experience.

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