5 Helpful Hints… for Customer Journey Mapping

5 Helpful Hints… for Customer Journey Mapping

By Maz Amirahmadi · 21 June 2019 · 6 minute read

Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is a powerful means to align cross departmental teams towards a future vision of the customer relationship. This article builds on our recent post on creating Personas which is an important first step in any CJM initiative because it helps us understand the human context in which their experience happened.

So, here are 5 Helpful Hints for getting the most out of your CJM initiative.

#1 – Be in the Moment (or as close as you can get)

CJM development requires us to talk to customers, usually in a qualitative interview led by an experienced moderator. The discussion will largely centre around the customer’s experience during an interaction with a company. For example, the journey for booking a flight starts when the idea of taking a flight first enters the customer’s mind, and probably goes on until the customer completes the booking and receives their notification.

In the interview, the customer must try to recall their experience. Sounds easy enough, except for a few critical factors:

  • Memory – If the episode occurred a few months ago, let’s say, it becomes a bit of a memory test for the customer to recall the nitty gritty details
  • System 1 Latest advancements in neuroscience reveal we make most of our decisions on auto-pilot (a.k.a. system 1 thinking). In this state we are not making decisions based on carefully considered rational thinking (a.k.a. system 2 thinking), rather, we make decisions according to a whole host of psychological factors. For example, when you book a hotel room through Agoda, you’ll see their attempt to nudge you towards a decision by flashing up messages like “only 1 room left at this price”, or “514 other people are looking at this room right now”. Whilst these tactics have been proven to be effective through AB testing, customers themselves are often unaware of their influence because the impact happens at a more subconscious level.
  • Post Rationalization – After we decide to buy something, there’s a cognitive process whereby we post rationalize and justify why we bought something. It’s not something we are aware of as it represents our subconscious need to affirm we have made a good decision

We can minimise these factors by getting feedback from customers whilst they are in the process of making decisions. So, rather than recalling what they did a few months ago, we can ask the customer to tell us what you are doing now, take a screengrab of the website you are on and tell us how it’s influencing your decision etc. In this process, the skill of the analyst is to balance observation with what is being said.

Subtle plug… Customers that have joined an insight community can be more easily engaged ‘in the moment’ through rolling diaries, blogs and forums.

#2 – Drill Deep – The Zoom-In Lens

The devil is in the details. When interviewing a customer about their experience, it’s essential to dig down to get all the details that they may easily miss. A skilful moderator will have experience in asking probing questions (Why did you do that? How did you feel? What else happened?) in conjunction with observation.

These probing questions help get the details with which we can circle back to the customer’s persona profile to understand what lies beneath the things they are telling us.

But more than this, when we are doing a CJM project, we need to zoom into micro journeys. For example, when outlining a customer journey which involves using a banking app, we can zoom into very specific details on a given aspect of the journey, like the log in sequence. It’s something that is easily skipped but could be essential to understanding the customer’s experience.


#3 – Step Back – The Wide-Angle Lens

Having zoomed into the micro moment, it’s just as important to step back and look at the broader context of what is happening… Why is the customer doing what they are doing? Why are they feeling what they are feeling? What’s the bigger picture in this experience?

This is where it’s important to have a solid understanding of the customer’s motivations, needs, previous experience, tensions, pain points etc. (i.e. their full Persona profile). When you look at some of the major companies that have failed over the years, it’s easy to see where stepping back would have been helpful. Take Kodak for example. I’ve heard it said that Kodak failed because they thought they were in the business of making photographs, whereas the reality was they were in the business of making memories. If they had realised that, they may have found the transition to a digital company more acceptable.

#4 – Validate

Whilst a qualitative approach is great for understanding context, motivations and all the “whys”, it’s also important to validate the findings from a CJM initiative. A survey amongst a broader customer base can be done easily, and usually measures a couple of key things:

  • What proportion of our customers are experiencing the painpoints we’ve identified? (incidence)
  • What degree of pain is each ‘painpoint’ causing? (intensity)

Using a basic matrix analysis of Incidence and Intensity it’s easy to help prioritise the areas we should be finding solutions for.

#5 – Look Ahead – The Future State Lens

Once the pain-points have been identified, and opportunity areas established, then it’s time to take a more futuristic view. The customer journey can be re-imagined as a future journey or enhanced journey. This would be the premise for ideation that would usually be the starting point of the second divergent stage of a design thinking double diamond. It’s important to get the stakeholders involved here as buy-in to the ideas will be critical. Outside of internal stakeholders, consider involving customers, partners, experts or key opinion leaders in a co-creative process. More on this in our next edition of Helpful Hints which will focus on Cocreation.