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Annette Franz

Customer Care

The Problem With Journey Maps

Avoiding a disconnect between stages and steps

Published: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 11:02

There’s a problem with journey maps? Well, not with the maps themselves but with how people talk about them.

I love attending webinars and reading articles about journey mapping because I’m always curious about how others talk about them, what their approaches are, and what outcomes they’ve achieved.

As I read or listen, I’m hopeful that the author or presenter will share some great success stories and get the audience excited about what can be done when you map customer journeys and use those maps as the catalysts for change that they are.

I hate to say this, but more often than not, I’m hugely disappointed. Recently, I attended yet another webinar where the host touted great things about the content—but fell flat in delivery. When the presenter talked about stages of the customer life cycle and not the steps that customers take to complete some task or interaction, I knew there would be no success stories. I also knew that attendees would be more confused than ever about what journey mapping really is.

Same goes for an article I read just a few days ago on Business2Community, where the author used “journey maps” and “customer experience” in the article title; my expectations were high. Instead, the author proceeded to talk about the buyer journey and buyer behavior.

Listen. There’s a time and place for mapping the stages; it's appropriate for your marketing and sales teams because they work together to understand the buyer funnel and customer life cycle stages. This helps them understand and identify where prospects or customers are in the relationship with the company so that the teams can better target communications, marketing campaigns, or sales pitches based on wants and needs at each stage.

Mapping stages may also be appropriate as you think about the high-level customer relationship and where to begin journey mapping. But as a customer experience professional, mapping at that level is, well, useless. It’s too high level to be able to help the organization understand the customer experience, how employees affect it, or to bring about change that is meaningful to the customer experience.

Imagine if you had never changed the oil in your car and wanted instructions on how to do that. All you were able to find were the schematics for the entire car, not for the engine, and certainly not, more specifically, for where the oil filter is and where you need to drain the oil.

That's how it feels when you try to improve a specific journey for your customers but only look at the stage level, mapping some high-level steps within those stages. Not until you hone in on a realistic scope of the map—picking a specific point A to point B, a specific job to be done—and outline the steps for that scope, capturing details on both those steps within and not within your control, can you pinpoint where things are breaking down and where they need to be fixed.

Next time you attend a webinar, watch for this: If the presenter doesn’t outline a clear scope and objectives—a clear point A to point B to be mapped, a manageable scope that gets detailed to the step—ask if he’s going to be able to identify where things are truly breaking down.

It’s time to put an end to this nonsense. It’s why, for so long, people have questioned if mapping is all that it’s built up to be.

Yes. If done right, it is.

Think of the customer journey not as stages but as steps; by definition, when you are mapping, you are walking in your customer’s shoes... shoes take steps, not stages.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
—Henry Ford

First published Aug. 24, 2017, on the CX Journey blog.

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About The Author

Annette Franz’s picture

Annette Franz

Annette Franz is CEO of CX Journey Inc, a boutique customer experience strategy consulting firm specializing in helping clients ground and frame their customer experience strategies in/via employee and customer understanding. She has 25 years of experience in the CX space and has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and by several other organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience. She is an active CXPA member, as a CX Expert and a CX Mentor; she also serves as an executive officer on the association’s Board of Directors.