4 Strategic Approaches to Customer Journey Mapping

by | Aug 8, 2022 | Featured Blog, Personas & Journey Mapping | 1 comment

Customer satisfaction and NPS are useful measurements of business success, just as much as revenue and profitability. (And, now there’s NPS 3.0, as the creator Fred Reichert explains on my podcast). While there are many ways to gather customer insights, how does a company increase the chances that customers will rate their interactions highly and remain brand loyal? The answer is by creating customer experiences leveraging the power of journey mapping. If you are unfamiliar with this important CX practice, read my other article: WHAT Is A Journey Map and WHY Create One?

As a refresher, the purpose of creating a customer journey map is to help design better products and services and overall great experiences. It is a valuable method to identify problems and areas of success as customers become aware, learn, buy, get, use, etc. While Journey Maps typically look visually different from one organization to another, they consistently enable you to empathize with how customers feel when interacting with a brand.


CMS wire recently published an article by Jennifer Torres about strategic approaches to journey mapping. Below is a summary with contributors including CX expert Jeanne Bliss and me.

The original article can be found here.

What’s in your abandoned cart?

From a tube of mascara to a jade bracelet or water pump, retailers are paying the price for the items left behind. And the price tag? $260 billion in lost revenue over 10 years (in the US and EU) due to preventable cart abandonment, according to the Baymard Institute. 

The Importance of Customer Journey Mapping

As CEO of MaxxoMedia, a boutique digital customer experience consultancy, Levy previously served as Vice President of Digital Experience at Comcast and recently debuted a newsletter focused on the digital customer experience.

“Journey mapping can help provide insights into every part of a customer’s experience,” said Levy, “and to evaluate why a particular part of the journey isn’t working, the investigation needs to go deeper into the micro-steps.” When it comes to abandoned carts, Levy explained, journey maps, combined with web and journey analytics tools, can expose friction and assist in optimization.

Data from the Baymard Institute revealed that, on average, nearly 70% of online carts are abandoned. And while some customers are just browsing, research revealed more than 40% of shoppers discard their cart for “fixable” reasons, like:

  • Extra costs for shipping, tax, and other fees
  • Security concerns about sharing credit card information
  • A long or complicated check-out process
  • Website errors
  • Being required to create an account

Anytime you define new — or optimize existing — customer experiences, Levy says you should take the time to build a journey map. “A journey map is a tool that helps you understand the entire customer journey and identify areas for improvement.”

“This,” he continued, “becomes the blueprint for your experience and creates a common view and language for the business to identify opportunities and moments of friction. It’s a powerful way to define your strategy, align everyone around the same goals and create an actionable plan for improvement.”

6 Steps for Creating a Customer Journey Map

Levy’s strategy for journey map creation includes several steps.

1. Start With a General Map

One that accounts for the major journey moments or “moments of truth” (MOTs) — regardless of the type of customer. MOTs are the intersections where customers have an opportunity to evaluate their experiences and decide about their relationship with your brand.

2. Map Major Journey Moments

How does the customer learn about, then purchase, receive, activate/set up and enjoy the product or service?

3. Overlay Customer Expectations and Outcomes

Identify what the customer learns, does, and feels in each moment. For example, after making a purchase, they may feel excited about receiving an item in the mail or disappointed if there’s an issue with their order.

4. Create Sub-Journeys

Once you know what the major moments are, it’s time to break them down into smaller steps so that you can see how they work together as part of an overall experience. For example, after a purchase, send an email confirmation and direct the customer to download the app to get ready for activation.

5. Identify Channel-Specific Support Moments

Identify and overlay key moments by channel — web, app, social media, email, SMS, etc. For example, manage expectations about delivery by sending an SMS that links to a real-time tracking webpage.

6. Think About Personas

Personas are an overlay to the master journey map. Usually generated by the marketing department, personas paint a picture of audience segments through quantitative and qualitative research. Examine the map again based on details from these target market personas to determine if journey changes need to be made.

According to Levy, when it comes to supporting journey mapping, nothing is better than talking directly with customers to get firsthand insights. “To add further color and detail to the journey map,” Levy continued, “gather and synthesize data through surveys and ethnographic studies, third-party research as well as existing company journey analytics — escalations, text analytics from chats, calls, social media posts and forums.”

How to Keep Emotion in Customer Journey Mapping

Stacy Sherman, VP of Marketing, Agent & Customer Experience for Liveops, and founder and host of the DoingCXRight podcast and blog, said one of the main goals of a customer journey map is to better understand how customers feel when interacting with a brand.

“You want to put yourself in the ‘customer shoes’ and identify the emotions they feel along the journey,” Sherman said. You can do this, she said, in three steps:

1. Define Personas

The first step is to get an accurate understanding of who the target audience is. You’ll want to ask questions about age, income, and education. But equally important is discovering the needs and obstacles your audience faces and where they go to find information that informs their decisions.

2. Identify Touchpoints

Touchpoints are the moments a customer engages with a brand. They can include advertising, social media posts, a website, online search results, and much more. According to Sherman, it’s important to find out what emotions customers feel at various points along the journey.

For retailers with both online and brick-and-mortar stores, they must consider digital and “on-site” touchpoints, such as in-store signage that promotes social media pages, text opt-ins or newsletter signups.

3. Dig Up Data

Once you’ve completed steps one and two, it’s time to start digging into your customer data. You should incorporate quantitative and qualitative insights from both internal and external sources.

You’ll also want to stay on top of ongoing data trends — like web browsers doing away with third-party cookies — to better understand what type of data you should collect and what to do with it.

Applying Neuroscience to Journey Mapping

Ed Powers is principal consultant for Service Excellence Partners. Listed as one of the Top 25 Customer Success Influencers, he has an approach to journey mapping that combines neuroscience with data analytics and enterprise-wide improvement.

“The customer experience is a human experience, and if we understand this process, then we can influence it,” Powers said.

His “brain friendly” journey mapping approach incorporates the following steps:

  1. Explore how people make decisions and how emotions and experiences inform future choices.
  2. Examine reinforcement learning and the critical role expectations play right from the beginning.
  3. Discuss how memory works and how the brain makes long-term, action-outcome value associations.
  4. Observe how groups of people make decisions in B2B environments.

“Since value is subjective and relative, we clarify how each member of the customer’s decision-making unit (DMU) typically defines value,” Powers said. This decision-making unit, or people who influence someone’s purchasing process, can include friends, bosses, online influencers and more.

For example, according to Powers, a “user buyer” (person using the product/service) may see value in a software product’s ability to save time. An “economic buyer” (person with ultimate buying decision, such as a manager), however, may see cost savings and risk reduction benefits.

“We define effective (what people must do), and affective (how we want them to feel) needs at key phases in the journey,” he said. “We then map the internal tasks that must be done to best meet each persona’s needs.” Using neuroscience, said Powers, they then pinpoint five critical moments in the journey and ensure CX design maximizes impact at those points.

Finally, Powers said, the journey map will show the individual tasks, roles, and responsibilities, critical customer interfaces, controls, metrics, and triggers in the new CX design. However, it’s mostly a reference document for what comes next. The team then prioritizes gaps and executes a sequence of process improvement projects.

“Ultimately, what alters the daily habits of people on the front lines serving customers are the controls embedded in the process,” Powers said. “To deliver a better customer experience, employees must change their behaviors, and good change management coupled with the cue-routine-reward loop increases reinforcement and speeds habituation.”

As the founder and CEO of Customer Bliss and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, Jeanne Bliss said instead of journey mapping, she’s an advocate of “goal mapping.”

Bliss is the best-selling author of four books on customer experience and leadership and also created a 52-video master class on how to lead for customer-driven growth called “What I Know.”

She believes the problem with some journey mapping is that it often starts from the company’s point of view, focusing on what they want to “get” from the customer — and typically, this map reflects their sales pipeline: prospect, attract, acquire, convert, upsell, renew and advocate.

These “stages” continue to make the company’s agenda the foremost priority, and silos remain divided in a process that doesn’t change corporate culture and prevents the fundamental shift necessary to improve customers’ lives.

A goal map, on the other hand, begins with the customer’s goals and can include ideas that help customers become more knowledgeable through a better understanding of challenges. It then culminates with guidance toward the best solutions for that customer.

“Goal mapping starts by being very clear about what the customer wants and needs to achieve because they gave a company its money. The ‘goals’ become the roadmap for operations, leadership, leadership language,” Bliss said. “Because customer goals require multiple silos to ensure the customer achieves their goal, it unites the organization.”

For example, she cites her work with the business aircraft design manufacturer Bombardier.

“The ‘keep me flying’ experience united many silos in measuring and uniting their work to track what the customer cared about — days in the air, days on the ground and time to get back up in the air when grounded. This earns increased growth and admiration. Service, parts and more planes are sold because the focus is on the customer and what they need.”

The inverse of that, the journey mapping-based approach, focuses on the “service and parts” experience — which is silo-based and focuses actions on selling and upselling.

Customer Journey Mapping: Getting Started the Right Way

According to Powers, brands shouldn’t make the mistake of equating journey mapping to documentation — checklists, required fields in databases, etc. Instead, he said, it’s about helping a “cross-functional team develop a shared understanding, a shared vision and a shared commitment to making their new CX design a reality.”

Another big mistake, said Powers? Thinking inside-out instead of outside-in. “Teams usually define the customer journey from their own perspective, not from their customers’. As a result, improvement efforts miss the mark.”

He added that very few companies truly understand their customers’ realities, including the challenges each person faces. But if you can understand these realities, you can find solutions that truly benefit your audience.

Need Help with Journey Mapping?  

  • Contact me for mentorship.
  • Listen to my podcasts about journey mapping best practices.
  • Learn about formal training options offered at online at reputable universities. Read about my class experience and discount that you can take advantage of too

Master Your Customer Experience and Service Skills with Stacy Sherman

*All views expressed are Stacys and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

1 Comment

  1. Sarah F

    Great breakdown of diverse approaches to journey mapping! It’s so important to remember that there’s no single right way to do it. The key is finding the methodology that best aligns with your business goals, such as acquisition vs. retention.

    Agree with the emphasis on both emotional insights and neuroscience – customers aren’t just rational! Behavioral economics plays a massive role when we analyze why people abandon carts or stay loyal.

    Tools that can capture real-time sentiment along the journey, not just at touchpoints, add powerful context too. Think of tools like SogoCX that integrate qualitative feedback and surveys to build that complete picture. Excited to see how this space evolves!


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