What do your customers go through as they interact with your company? From discovering your products or services online, to creating an account, making a payment or calling customer service. Your prospects are on a journey and it is critical that you understand the various stages and touchpoints your customers are experiencing, in order to optimize and improve that journey.

Customer journey mapping provides a visual representation of this experience and helps everyone in your company understand and address customer needs and pain points. Your journey map isn’t an infographic to hang on the wall and forget about; it’s a living, breathing document that serves as a reference for teams throughout the process of innovating.

In this post, you’ll learn how to create purposeful customer journey maps that support your innovation team’s efforts from ideation through to driving measurable business results.

Journey maps drive action through awareness and accountability.

Your journey map is the intersection of your brand strategy, products, back office processes, operations, and customer interactions data. This clear, visual, customer-centric model is used to validate your business and software requirements. A business requirements document was, at one point, used only by technical team members, however customer journey maps are now used to communicate customer needs across strategy and operations, as well.

Customer journey mapping is a critical exercise for breaking down silos to create conversation, developing customer empathy, and testing ideas. It aids your entire team in seeing the big picture, identifying new areas of opportunity, and creating continuity around experiences.

Your customer journey map gives the entire team a way to frame and share their successes. However, much of its value lies not in the final deliverable but in the progress and collaboration necessary to producing it.

When do we need to use journey mapping?

The short answer is: always. If you’re interacting with customers, there’s a journey taking place whether it’s one you’ve thoughtfully designed or not.

It’s critical that you identify your customer’s pain points and become aware of when frustrations are occurring through onboarding, customer service, sales and support, and beyond. Journey mapping then helps your team to reduce the translation error between business and technology, while prioritizing customer empathy throughout the process.

The process of journey mapping is a great opportunity to have honest conversations about why things are the way they are in the current state. This is key in getting the buy-in you need across departments to make meaningful change. It also helps to guide the allocation of resources (and the justification for that specific allocation).

jouney process

5 steps to successful journey mapping.

How can your team make the most of the journey mapping experience? Be sure to incorporate each of these five elements.

1. Establish the vision

It’s important that you understand your current state from different, relevant angles. Determine the right journey mapping method for your goals and needs (see the next section in this post). Identify a beginning and an end, and decide which stakeholders to involve in the journey mapping process. Selecting the right type of journey mapping architecture will help you determine “swimlanes” based on who will use the journey map.

2. Ensure alignment

Kick off the process with a workshop that makes clear to each stakeholder your objectives and ideal outcomes. This is the point at which you’ll request any documentation needed from various stakeholders to inform your journey map.

3. Take stock with a data inventory

Review your current documentation and begin building out your data story. Get to know your customers by talking directly with them or observing their interactions in their natural environment. Empathy mapping can be incredibly helpful at this stage. We want to understand:

  • What does the customer need?
  • How does the customer think?
  • What channels does the customer use?
  • How does the customer interact with the product?
  • What are the customer’s pain points?
  • How did the customer get here and what were they doing before?
  • What can the customer do next?
  • What are the key behaviors that drive business value?
  • How does the customer seek support?

Find themes and make recommendations, but also be sure to identify needs that are not being met. Have conversations with and take advantage of your subject matter experts.

4. Design your journey map

Now you’re ready to review and workshop your findings. This is the point at which you’ll develop an actual Journey Map and begin iterating and socializing your findings.

Begin this process by creating a low fidelity version of the map you can polish into a final version later. This can be done simply with Post-It notes on a wall, within PowerPoint, or in your design application of choice.

a. Start by agreeing on a persona and flesh out their goals.

b. Detail the step-by-step interactions that the customer has with your product or service.

c. Identify and complete additional swim lanes that will help communicate the customer's experience:

  • Empathy line that tracks how the customer feels throughout the experience

  • Pain points and opportunities within each step of the customer journey

  • Important Metrics and Key Performance Indicators

5. Deliver

Develop a summary that highlights the narrative and explains the “So what?” of your journey map and its actionable insights. This is key in getting buy-in from executive sponsors and key stakeholders and also provides a high-level overview of the journey, its purpose, and its primary drivers and outputs. Prioritize next steps to give team members a clear sense of direction, timeline, and a roadmap.

What type of customer journey map should you use?

At Skookum, we use three different types of journey maps to help guide clients through various decisions and processes. Each is defined by the questions it answers and the guidance it provides, as follows:

Current State Journeys

A current-state journey map is a visual representation of the customer’s current user experience with your products and services. Its primary function is to help identify the customers’ pain points throughout the journey in order to ideate on key areas of improvement.

  • Do we truly understand the experience our customers are already having?
  • How can we improve our key customer processes such as acquisition, onboarding, servicing, etc.?
  • How can make the experience as frictionless as possible across channels?
  • How do we prioritize improvements to the customer journey?

Future State Journeys

Future state journeys depict the experience a customer could have with your products or services at some defined point in the future. Since this map is aspirational in nature, it will include features and capabilities that haven’t been developed, but that could improve the customer's experience.

  • Where are the opportunities for innovation?
  • What do we need to do to develop a competitive edge in this journey?
  • How can the experience be more cohesive in the future as the customer moves between experiences?
  • Can we accelerate by aligning multiple journeys and leveraging shared capabilities?

Service Blueprints & Requirements Maps

Where Current and Future State Journeys represent the customer’s perspective, Service Blueprints and Requirements Maps are focused on the internal processes and systems that enable the customer experience. Creating these types of artifacts helps companies visualize the intricacies of their business and identify areas for improvement.

  • What do we need to develop the next version of this product?
  • How can we better understand how this all fits together?
  • Is this viable from an operational perspective and feasible as far as technology implementation?
  • How can we translate the requirements from business and technology so we all have a consistent model to reference?
  • How can we reduce the complexity of integrating people, technology, and processes?
  • Can we break down organizational silos to give team members a better idea of how they affect the customer experience?
  • What gaps exist between the current and target experience?
  • What are our capability requirements for both the front and back end and how does that map back to the customer experience?

What can your customer journey map do for your business? If you get hung up on the process and aren’t sure which type best fits your needs, we can help. We support organizations in need of an experienced, proven partner through strategy, rapid innovation and prototyping, and on through software development.

Reach out to us and let’s explore the possibilities together.