Using a Journey Map to Improve Customer Experience

The old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” still holds true today. However, the reality is that customers have multiple “first impressions” along their journey, from evaluation to purchase, to post-sales support.  And a bad experience at any point can wipe out any goodwill generated to that point. Gartner calls each of these points a “moment of truth” or critical decisions customers make at various points along their journey that can make or break a relationship— driving the customer to abandon their purchase, or perhaps the relationship entirely.

Companies use a variety of customer surveys and tools to try and gauge customer satisfaction and determine problem areas. While an essential part of a company’s toolkit, surveys are just one source of input to include in a comprehensive customer journey mapping that shows where, when, and how the company dropped the ball. To determine how a journey map might work for you, you need to understand the core elements in your typical map, why they are important, and how you might use them to pinpoint problems and identify opportunities for improvement. 

Primary Components of a Customer Journey Map

There is not one single type of customer journey (that would be too easy), but can be many permutations based what you provide (product or service) and the breadth of your focus (single customer persona or complete process). Regardless, there are some common core elements found in all good journey or experience maps.

The folks at Adaptive Path use “Experience Maps” to capture the complete customer experience and identify areas of customer pain and opportunities for improvement.  It starts with establishing guiding principles and includes the journey model, qualitative insights, quantitative metrics, and key takeaways. It’s an “artifact that serves to illuminate the complete experience a person may have with a product or service.”  


Guiding Principles – These principles define the context for the experience or journey map, and the scope of the analysis, be it specific personas or value propositions.  The objective is to gauge at multiple points across the customer journey, how well the customer experience agrees with these guiding principles.  

Journey Model – This is where you document the path the customer takes, the transitions they have to make from different phases (sales, delivery) and channels (web to phone support).  Here you want to capture not just the steps but illustrate something about the process: what is not working, the scope of the problem (how many customers), and the nature of the activity (linear steps or variable), what systems and tools are involved.

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Qualitative Insights – These insights include the “doing” (journey) but also the thinking and feeling—the frame of mind of the customer at any given point in the journey.  They may feel anxious, confused, angry, or disappointed. You also want to understand what they are thinking: “What is the easiest way to get from A to B,” “I want to get the best price but I’m willing to pay more for convenience,” “The answer I’m looking for is not on the website, what now?”

Quantitative Info – Here is where you can use the survey data, web traffic, or abandon rates to understand the source and magnitude of the problem. By including clear metrics on the journey map (survey data in the Rail Europe case), you can quickly pinpoint problem areas. 


Takeaways -- The takeaways should guide decisions related to solving the problems identified in the journey mapping exercise:  reducing pain points and taking advantage of opportunities to improve your customer experience.  These bullet points provide a clear summary for your team as to priorities going forward and areas for investment that will deliver measurable value.


Customer Journey Maps can be a valuable tool to help you isolate customer experience challenges. It can also be an unwieldy, tangled mess if you don’t apply some basic structure to the upfront research, construction of the map, and evaluation of key takeaways.  To help keep you grounded and focused, start with the key principles and use them as “guardrails” to keep you on track to better customer insights.


Photo via Visual hunt