Why Customer Journey Mapping is not colour by numbers.

Sometimes marketers come along to our Customer Journey Mapping courses hoping to be provided with the “perfect” template for a customer journey map, and some instructions on how to fill it in.  A quick Google search reveals countless offers of templates that are available to help you do just this. However, for a variety of reasons, this seldom works.

Different products have different journeys

There is no one-size fits all journey. Apart from the key difference between acquisition journeys and retention / relationship journeys, acquisition journeys themselves will differ depending on the problem the consumer is looking to solve. The linear trigger, research, consideration, purchase doesn’t work for every purchase journey or type of business. Some require a lot more steps, whereas others are more simplistic.

Consider the journey of building a house compared to choosing a chocolate bar. This is not just about levels of involvement in the decision-making process, although that is part of it. Some journeys are just more complicated. They have more stages, barriers and pain points to them. A customer journey map needs to be adjustable to the stages and steps of the specific problem the customer is trying to solve.

Different journeys have different business objectives

Customer journey maps can be used for a variety of organisational purposes. How the journey is going to be used will significantly alter the focus and visual representation of the journey.  The requisite level of detail and structure will differ depending on the task to which they’ll be applied.

Sometimes customer journey maps are used to develop detailed marketing strategy, campaigns and briefs, so need substantial detail. A journey like this might need to include lists of specific keywords used at search stage so that Paid Ads can be developed.

Other journeys might be used to align activity across stakeholders at a much higher level. These journeys might need to visually display complex interactions at an over-arching level, without over detailing any single interaction. Mapping on data, systems and platforms can be useful for understanding how to improve processes and internal efficiencies, whereas including current assets or competitor activity can outline where the key battlegrounds may be.

As an example, we’ve recently developed a patient journey map for people with asthma. It provides a high-level overview of a complex system of interacting behaviours and engagement with health care services, from the perspective of the person with asthma. This map creates a common understanding of the patient perspective of living with and managing asthma which can be used by a variety of health care professionals and interacting services, and policy makers, to better align and develop programs to address this significant health concern. A service journey like this may provide a wide range of differing insights from those derived from a purchase journey.

Each business is unique

Customer Journey Maps are a marketing and business strategy tool that can be used to help solve specific business issues. They provide deep insight into why customers are not doing what the business would like them to. But, the desired behaviour needs to be clearly articulated and understood by the business, within the framework of the business’ objectives, limitations and opportunities, in order for the journey to provide value.

Objectives of “increase sales” or “make our customers more satisfied” are amorphous to the point of useless. When the desired behaviour lacks nuance and specificity to the business, the journey’s themselves become imprecise and generic, and quickly degenerate into brand touch point maps. Whilst they can look great, these “colour-by-number” maps generally provide very limited insight that is actionable to improve your specific business outcomes.

A customer journey map is developed through deep engagement with the business, and the customer, and should be ownable and specific to that business, its objectives and how the map will be used.

We can help you create bespoke customer journeys that positively impact business outcomes. To find out more contact us at [email protected].