6 Ways to Use A Customer Journey Map

Your customer journey map can increase customer retention, support decision-making, and guide investment. With all of these benefits, it's crucial that your company doesn't let it get lost in the shuffle.

You have created a customer journey map – now what? Companies today struggle with realizing the power of customer journey mapping beyond the initial project and the insights they gain. Too often, journey maps become an expensive wall hanging instead of a business growth tool.

But journey maps can and should be used to support decision-making at every level of a business. They help employees understand their customers, develop alignment about the current state of the Customer Experience (Cx) and make empathetic connections for designing solutions. Leaders can use them to guide investment, changes in strategy, and increases in customer retention and wallet share growth.

Let’s look at ways to start operationalizing customer journey maps.

  1. Assign ownership to keep journeys up to date before the project ends
  2. Validate assumptions and optimize with customer data
  3. Socialize insights so teams can use them in their everyday efforts
  4. Make the moments that matter most to customers easier and less painful
  5. Diversify and expand your journey map by including other segments to understand the ecosystem
  6. Revisit, measure, and revise journeys to understand how customer behavior and financial value for the business is changing

1. Assign ownership to keep the map relevant

Customer journey maps are foundational to improving customer experience, so it’s important that maps stay fresh. Before the project ends, you should assign accountability to one person. Otherwise, customer journey maps may lose relevance and momentum, and starting over is expensive. Typically, the journey map owner also socializes the journey map through the whole organization and operationalizes the tool to ensure it’s actionable.

2. Validate and optimize with real customer data

Often, the easiest way to start building out a first draft of your journey map is by using customer-facing employees to augment customer data. As a next step, validating the customer journey with real customer insight is an important place to focus resources. Further analysis of existing data can reveal new insights like identifying a high number of invoice disputes, indicating pain in the billing process.

We’ve also seen a flood of insights for clients when they invite customers to validate the customer journey map in experience design sessions, sometimes invalidating long-held assumptions and other times collaborating on potential solutions to the journey’s most painful moments.

3. Widely share insights

Operationalizing the journey requires involving many people across your organization. It’s important to clarify the experience you’re trying to create to maintain consistency across functional silos. Do this by sharing insight-driven stories and explaining how those insights fit on the map with multiple departments. Ask them: “How would you improve the experience?”

High performing Cx organizations often hold weekly stand-ups to discuss and collaborate on opportunities to improve customer experience. We’ve also seen organizations assign journey mapping responsibilities to members of each department, focusing their role on making better decisions on behalf of customers.

4. Focus on moments that matter most to customers

Not every friction point drives customers away or negatively impacts the bottom line. But when they overlap with moments of truth, they are a priority. Most companies begin by finding small, but highly impactful ways to make it easier for customers to do business with them. Typically, they focus on the tasks where they can gain the most momentum through a series of quick wins.

For example, a company might focus on improving the customer support process if their customer feedback indicates challenges in reaching customer care and is corroborated by high call transfers and emails. Use the journey to illustrate how customer pain creates risk for your brand and prioritize accordingly.

5. Add diversity by including more segments

Companies typically focus on one group of customers when they begin optimizing Cx, usually because they’re having issues with retention or growth. After finalizing the journey map for that most important segment, high Cx performers expand their understanding of their brand ecosystem by addressing other segments. New insights and opportunities are almost always revealed when new personas and journeys are developed for other segments.

This could be a key influencer in a transaction overlooked in the original journey or could include incorporating insights from partners, distributors, and retailers critical in your customer’s journey with your brand. While the overall journey map is the same, each persona has a different set of touchpoints, behaviors, gaps and pain.

6. Revisit, measure and revise

Customer journey maps are a framework for leaders to understand customers and how they create financial value for a company. They inform long-term strategy and stress-test new policies, processes, products and services. How often to make updates depends upon the scope of the map.

For example, large, birds-eye-view strategy maps might be revisited every 6-12 months. But tactical journey maps need more frequent updates that align with the typical renewal process – if the customer journey is short, update more often. The person accountable for your journey maps should keep a close eye on external changes (customer behavior, market shifts) and internal changes (new strategies, updated company vision). These changes are transformational and may impact wide-scale changes or even make a portion of the map irrelevant.

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Cx experts, with a combined experience of over 25 years, Nick Sargent and Michael Chandler, host a podcast series called Getting Closer to the Customer.

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