Why Journey Map? 3 Problems They Can Solve

by Jeannie Walters

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Why Create Customer Journey Maps?

Journey maps can be extraordinarily impactful upon how an organization approaches their products, services, and interactions.

They are also often widely misunderstood.

Stop for a moment and imagine a customer journey map in your mind. What do you see?

If you see a poster on a wall, an outline in a company handbook, or any other sort of static document that gets created and then spends its time collecting dust… then you might think journey maps are a waste of time. 

And I wouldn’t blame you.

But journey maps done right aren’t static documents intended to be created and then ignored.

Customer journey maps are tools to solve your business challenges. But you have to approach them that way!

Imagine building a house. You need a hammer, saws, tools for measuring, and all kinds of other tools (clearly my expertise lies in customer experience, not construction).

Now imagine building a house without any tools. Pretty impossible, right?

Tools are only useful when they’re used. And tools are only used when everybody understands how to use them, and what problems they’re designed to solve.

Related: 4 Ways the Experts Master Journey Mapping

What Problems Can Customer Journey Maps Solve?

There are 3 common challenges journey maps can help you solve:

  1. Siloed experiences lead to unhappy customers. Disjointed, inconsistent customer experiences frustrate customers and create redundant work for them and for your team.
  2. Organizational inefficiencies. When engaging with your product or services requires extra effort from your customers,  they’re less satisfied. When organizations can’t connect customer data to business results, they can’t see the ROI of CX.
  3. Missed opportunities & customer abandonment.  When opportunities to create meaningful, memorable moments are missed, customers are significantly more likely to desert for competitors, who are doing everything they can to woo them away.  Predict where proactive support is needed.

Let’s review each of these problems — and how journey maps can help solve them — in more detail.

1. Siloed experiences lead to unhappy customers.

Many organizations believe they understand the journey their customers take with their brand. They believe they “get it” because they have process maps and an idea of what they want to happen.

Meanwhile, the customer is experiencing a journey that includes several points of frustration and effort. In these moments, the customer can’t accomplish something they expect to be able to, often having to turn to customer service for help.

That experience compounds their already frustrating one because the customer service agents don’t have access to the right data and must ask the customer to repeat their information.

Even if the issue is “resolved” for the customer, it’s an issue they feel shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“But Jeannie,” you may be saying to your computer, “We have process maps for everything. It’s not our fault if the customer can’t follow them.”

And therein lies one of the biggest misconceptions about customer journey maps: That they’re just a series of interconnected process maps.

A customer journey map is different in one key way: It’s all about the view from the customer. This leads to perspectives that highlight where the experience isn’t what the process map assumes.

Related: 5 Common Journey Mapping Mistakes to Watch Out For

Customers don’t care about your siloes. They’re not interested in which of your departments or systems they may be interacting with. They simply expect a streamlined process, and they won’t have the patience for disjointed journeys requiring lots of effort from them.

Customer journey maps can become a common view for the organization, leading to better journeys and better business outcomes — in the form of customers who stick around longer, spend more, and are more likely to recommend you to others.

The actions around putting together a journey map lead to this sort of internal enlightenment. Our organizations aren’t as cohesive and cooperative as we’d like them to be. There are departmental projects, siloed programs, and lots of other reasons why the experience gets a bit frayed around the edges.

Journey mapping can help you see the true experience, not the one you think — or hope — is happening.

2. Organizational inefficiencies.

I was conducting a journey mapping workshop with a client. Several people were in the room representing various departments. This was a financial services organization that had a lengthy sales cycle.

I asked what I thought was a simple question: What happens once the customer makes the purchase?

The marketing team proudly proclaimed, “We send a really nice welcome package! They get a folder with their personalized information, as well as a nice letter from the president.”

That’s when the president’s executive assistant spoke up. “Really? I send a welcome kit from our office, including a letter from the president.”

Uh-oh.

I asked each group to get what they sent and bring it back to the meeting. They were similar ideas, but executed very differently. The letters were each signed by the president and included several of the same bullet points, but the folder with the customer’s information was executed very differently, with marketing going heavy on the design and the president’s office going heavy on the information.

Meanwhile, the customer was left scratching their head, wondering why these two packets were arriving within days of each other.

I then turned to the head of the customer service department. He admitted they heard complaints about these packets, because it seemed like a waste of money. But the only process map he had was regarding the marketing department’s version, so had assumed an occasional glitch sent duplicates to customers.

Assumptions like these happen all the time. They’re happening right now in your organization. And by not checking in on the actual experience, the company is losing money and creating excessive work, for both employees and customers.

3. Missed opportunities & customer abandonment.

Customers are not as loyal as we like to think. When I ask any group of leaders, they love to tell me how much their customers love them. I hear things like “Our customers really appreciate us, they know we’re different.”

Customers are loyal, sure. Until they’re not.

Customers are willing to go where there is more convenience and value for them. They are willing to test things out with a competitor who offers better outcomes for less effort. Think of how loyal customers were to Blockbuster Video! They made it a weekly visit and it was part of their lives…until it wasn’t.

It’s easy to get complacent. It’s easy to think customers are loving what the brand delivers and would never even consider going elsewhere. And it’s easy to be wrong.

Customer journey mapping, when done well, takes into account considerations around the market and predicts customer wants and needs. Introducing small wins before the competition can creates more loyalty. Customer journey maps can help brands see where those needs are not being met in a meaningful, memorable way.

Journey mapping also leads to those “a ha” moments of ideas for creating better customer journeys. I have yet work with a client who doesn’t have several of these inspirations as we work together through the customer journey.

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer journey maps are widely misunderstood as documents designed to be created and ignored.
  • Journey maps are tools, and are only useful when they’re used by people who know how to use them.
  • Why journey map? Because they solve three key problems:
    • Siloed experiences lead to unhappy customers.
    • Organizational inefficiencies.
    • Missed opportunities & customer abandonment.

Customer journey maps are not just about one thing. They’re a way to understand our customers. They’re a tool to find opportunities.

What’s in your toolbox?

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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