Customer Journey Mapping Best Practices

Customer journey mapping is just a buzz word. Let me point that out right off the bat, because all this really is, is another term for customer experience graphing or cycling. We all hate this nonsense where twenty different terms mean the same thing, it really destroys the efficiency of sciences and disciplines, and causes a lot of redundancy and confusion while it’s at it.

Normally, in the case of this sort of thing, we’d not bother addressing this, but in truth, we’ve not really covered the best practices for customer journey mapping, or whatever they’ve decided to call it for the next five minutes. So, something constructive has come of this buzzword’s existence as we’re actually going to address that now.

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The first thing to bear in mind is that when you graph, chart or map something, the point is to convert a complex concept that doesn’t work well in words or statistics into something tangible and “real” by the use of visualization and special sense. So, before you go to start mapping this, you must remember that simplicity and avoiding convolution is extremely important.

This goes further, when you look at the steps of a customer experience (or journey, if you must). Many existing maps of this concept, or templates for actual mapping through a more specific set of circumstances, have entirely too many elements that’re distinct. We discussed one of these recently, and pointed out that it would be better served to keep the initial creation of need as its own unit, have one base unit for research, comparison and other decision making that precedes the process of purchase, as well as having the deliver/installation and actual use be single units as well.

Lumping things together like this may seem like it’d cause vagaries, but it actually does not. It simplifies the process of actually exploring and coming to terms with the graphic, and keeps it from overcomplicating unnecessarily.

Along with this, reducing the excessive terminology assigned to specific elements of the graph, such as a line indicating return customers starting At a different point that a new customer, don’t need pretentious terms like “customer loyalty curve” etc., but simply a label of navigation saying “return customers” or something of the sort.

Simplification of a process is the point behind mapping things like this, so pretentious terminology like that serves only to make the entire exercise frustrating and it kind of defeats the point.

Finally, there seem to be two schools of thought for mapping this, those being linear and cyclical. Linear graphs tend to be hard to follow, and have a bunch of branching paths and sub graphs largely as a result of the human tendency to tinker, and again, they become convoluted.

Seeing as even though a customer journey or experience can in fact be a linear experience if the customer does not return, I recommend the cycle-based designs, and it seems that most others do as well.

Beyond these basic principles, customer journey mapping is pretty cut and dry, and selecting (and simplifying as I said) a template to implement these practices is easy to do. This doesn’t need to be a convoluted or overly complex process, despite the tendency of many to make it into one.

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Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe