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Five Critical Success Factors for Better Customer Journey Maps

By Kristyn Corrigan

As insights professionals, product developers and marketers, we all know that our key objective is to create and capture customer value.  But the idea of customer value is often hard to pin down. Journey mapping is a methodology and framework that lets us move from this fuzzy notion of value to a tangible, structured, actionable understanding of what customers really want, when they want it and how to give it to them. Customer journey maps are an excellent tool to accomplish this, however not all maps are created equal.  The best maps consist of stages, tasks/subtasks, touchpoints and customer needs. You can get an overview of the basic building blocks of a journey map here.  But beyond the basics, what does it take to build a successful journey map? 

1. Organizational buy-in 

It may sound obvious, but for journey mapping to work it’s important to have alignment across the organization, including product management, marketing, IT, engineering, supply chain and insights.  If there isn’t widespread buy-in on adopting a customer-centric lens, you run the risk of research results being called into question, and the map inevitably becoming less actionable. A great way to overcome this is through conducting stakeholder interviews. By speaking one-on-one with a cross functional mix of key stakeholders, you can be sure that all objectives are heard and that the team understands which questions the journey map will help answer and which it won’t. 

2. Agree on the scope of the research effort

The most critical question to answer up front is: who is the customer? In some markets it’s easier than others to identify this. In other markets, particularly B2B, there are many customers in the value chain to identify and map. In either case, it’s important to establish the types of customers you will speak with.  It’s smart to gain insights from customers who are currently experiencing or have recently experienced a particular phase of the journey. For example, a customer who’s close to purchasing a coffee maker that hasn’t yet, a customer that recently purchased and a customer who had a recent customer service interaction due to a product issue. 

3. Talk to your customers 

The best journey maps are built from great qualitative research. At AMS, we typically accomplish this through a combination of online diaries, one-on-one in-depth customer interviews and mining digital resources of customer forums and review sites. You want to make sure that you have trained interviewers conducting these interviews, as the questioning is important.  Don’t assume you know what your customers think. Their answers might surprise you. Let the details of these customer conversations guide the construction of the map. 

4. Consider Personas 

Not all customers are the same. Understanding the customer journey through different viewpoints can be critical for innovating or optimizing the customer experience. At AMS we frequently create personas to overlay on customer journey maps in order to understand the nuances and rich detail across customers. What this allows us to do is to create custom experiences for each persona.  Depending on your strategy, you may decide to focus on a segment you know is more profitable, one that you know is the largest or even one that you want to focus on retaining. It also allows us to tailor our product development and innovation to meet the needs of specific, target personas. 

5. Prioritize 

We can’t focus on everything. You can take the qualitative journey map a step further by overlaying quantitative measures to understand not only where you’re delighting customers, but also where they are the least satisfied, and where they’re dropping off. AMS has been working with researchers at MIT on developing more effective ways to quantify the customer journey – to understand where we’re at risk of losing customers, where we’re winning with customers and how to optimize for this.   

To receive first access to our latest journey mapping findings, click here to request a copy of our whitepaper.

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