A Journey Map Must Have a Destination

Journey mapping is a popular and useful tool to understand the customer experience. It allows us to identify actionable insights into how key touch points affect the customer experience by looking at all media (written, spoken, online, environmental) against the timeframe in which the touch points are experienced (researching, shopping, applying, using, etc.).

A journey map’s value lies not in what it depicts but in the “aha” moments that it reveals. It is easy to lose the spirit of a journey map by letting it mutate into an exhaustive diagram resembling the circuit board of a spaceship. It should not be developed as authoritative process documentation. Rather, an effective journey map captures the most common circumstance in reasonable detail with an overlay of a few frequently-occurring, additional scenarios. 

It is also important to depict a timeframe that will reveal significant opportunities. For example, mapping the experience of a hospital inpatient need not cover weeks or months. Instead, focusing on five days of in-patient experience will quickly reveal that the first 72 hours reveal the “make or break” moments of truth. Similarly, evaluating a nurse’s typical 10-hour shift can identify dozens of opportunities to improve the employee experience.

Documenting additional time and less common interactions merely adds to the volume and complexity of the map and its increased complexity actually obscures potential revelations. Don’t fruitlessly “boil the ocean” and evaluate all interactions; instead, use journey mapping to document three to five scenarios of customer experience reflecting a cross-section of programs, services, accounts or other relevant measures.

Limiting the number of criteria used to evaluate customer touch points is also important. Journey mapping is not the final destination—it is a means to identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement. Three key criteria: empathy, distillation and clarity, typically reveal significant insights. By empathy, we mean how well does the touch point reflect the needs of its audience and the circumstances of use? To distill, look at whether essential meaning is conveyed succinctly and for opportunities to eliminate redundancy and streamline content. To determine clarity, consider the use of plain language, intuitive content structure and approachable information design.

Survival experts note that when lost, people often wander in circles. Don’t let that happen during customer journey mapping.

Irene Etzkorn is Chief Clarity Officer at Siegelvision and believes complexity is a thief who must be apprehended. Siegelvision helps organizations achieve clarity of purpose, clarity of expression and clarity of experience.


Shkumbin Mustafa