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Noz Urbina
Noz Urbina’s mission is to help organisations have the kind of relationships with people that people have with each other. He is a globally recognized content strategist, content designer, and pioneer in customer journey mapping to support personalized, contextually relevant content for omnichannel experiences.

4 tips for breathing life into your customer journey maps


A customer journey map (CJM) is a visual overview of an end-to-end customer experience across all touchpoints with your brand. When used correctly, CJMs are a powerful tool that can boost engagement and drive competitive advantage.

Traditionally, CJMs have been created and, more importantly, treated like drawings, i.e. static graphic representation of a current state or desired user flow. Developed over a series of workshops, these CJMs were tied to that one-time input provided by stakeholders and subject matter experts.

The challenge with that concept is that today CJMs are much more dynamic, complex, and span multiple channels. They are about real customers in the real world, and therefore require a new design approach that would allow you to test assumptions and uncover new insights. Here’s our take on how to create living and breathing journey maps that would add tangible business value.

Find a balance

While getting granular with your journey mapping is essential for success, a common problem is to go overboard and develop hundreds of different personas or journey variations. CX professionals often try to capture every possibility, which results in too many CJMs.

But just like with any other type of research, the ground rule here is not to invest more than it returns to your business. Try to assess: 

  1. How much ROI are you going to get from creating that many variants of a journey or passing that many personas through it?
  2. What are your most important personas that generate the most revenue?
  3. What journeys do they go on most often?
  4. How emotionally or financially impactful are these journeys for your audience?

With the answers to all these, you can drill them down for multiple scenarios and variations. Other research tools like surveys can be useful to help find out more about situations and scenarios your personas realistically find themselves in.

Once you’ve surfaced the most important journeys, you need to stay strategic within each journey as not every part of it deserves the same amount of attention. While mapping, identify the emotional state of customers at each stage or step. Where are they really upset or happy with your services? Your focus needs to be on the parts and processes that carry the most emotional, and hence brand, value. Assessing these moments of intensity against your commercial goals helps you laser-focus on the right areas.

Do not oversimplify

Depending on the point of view, customer journeys may look very different. Consider a lost credit card, for example. From a bank’s perspective, the process spreads across multiple departments which take a transactional approach to their part of the entire experience like processing the application, carrying out security checks, printing out a new card, etc.

But how does this add up into a customer journey? For a client, losing a card on a bus commute is quite different from losing it on a vacation together with their other IDs. It may even require additional steps like transferring money via a third-party company (and worrying about their website's security), which will also contribute to the overall customer experience with your brand.

The point is that drawing CJMs based on the limited initial input of perspective from study participants can lead to oversimplification and missed opportunities. You need to look at the same journey from different angles and understand all variations that may have a significant brand impact to optimize your service and deliver an improved holistic experience.

Maintain journeys over time

The most important thing, perhaps, in turning your CJM into a living design asset is to follow an agile approach and regularly update your maps. Unlike a picture that you paint once and then enjoy a finished result, you do one pass with a journey map and then come back later to add some variations, enrich it with new data, and uncover insights. 

Regular doesn’t necessarily mean frequent. For the first time, use strategic thinking to assess the appropriate cycles updating the journeys. More important journeys deserve more updates and inputs.

By putting a journey map in a corporate shared environment, you encourage all teams and stakeholders to contribute and bring their unique perspectives to the table. A customer support team, for example, can flesh out a respective part of the journey in a separate linked map or just add a layer of value to the existing one. As a result, the map design is not limited to a handful of experts but everyone can participate and enrich the company’s knowledge about their customers.

Embrace the multi-dimensional approach

This new paradigm that relies on treating a CJM as a living design asset requires a mental shift in how we think about customer experience. Now that we live in the digital space, customer experience is not flat anymore, it works in many dimensions and its depth depends on who is engaging, and when, and where they are choosing to do so.

Customers may start their journey on social media and then move to your landing page, get a free trial; they may want to dig deep and subscribe to your newsletter, but then get distracted and disengage for days or even weeks. They might then return to Google or forums for peer opinions and then end up back on your website. You need to take a holistic approach and think about the full range of these multi-dimensional movements over time to do customer journey mapping properly.

Wrapping up

To deliver maximum value, customer journey maps must evolve beyond static documents into dynamic, insights-driven design assets. For that, you need to regularly update your maps with new details and engage experts across the entire enterprise to account for all perspectives.

This transformation will also require a paradigm shift from flat, linear customer experience to omnichannel environments where consumers move freely.

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