Customer journey maps are a strong tool for marketers seeking to improve their brands’ customer experience. Unfortunately, many marketers report that their customer journey mapping initiatives fail to drive the value expected and desired. Because producing a customer journey map requires a considerable investment of time and money, and because each failed journey mapping exercise represents an enormous lost opportunity, we recently published the report “How to Manage Effective Customer Journey Mapping Processes” for subscribers to Gartner for Marketing Leaders’ research. 

We found there are six primary reasons customer journey mapping exercises fail to live up to expectations, and you can solve each with careful preparation and an orderly process:

  1. The journey mapping team is too narrow:  Developing a cohesive customer journey that addresses the issues caused by organizational silos, disconnected systems, and uncollaborative processes cannot be achieved by a siloed, disconnected, and uncollaborative team. Solution: Select your team carefully to include representatives of all parts of the organization that affect the customer’s entire journey.
  2. The customer journey map fails to focus on key segments and personas:  You cannot create a journey map that is all things to all people. Different segments with different attributes and goals will have different needs, expectations, journeys, and sentiment. Solution: Start by defining the who and developing a thorough persona (free blog post).
  3. The scope of the customer journey map is insufficient:  Journey maps routinely fail to start early enough–when the prospect has a need–and rarely extend far enough–not just to the stage when the customer uses the product or service but into the vital portions of the journey where the brand cultivates loyalty and word of mouth. Solution: Utilize a process that identifies the complete journey from  Buy to Own to Advocate (free blog post).
  4. The customer journey map is based on assumption and imagination: Far too many journey mapping exercises involve a group of executives “imagining” the customer and his or her journey rather than building the journey based on data and analysis. Solution: Do the hard work of gathering and analyzing data about the customer such as that available from Voice-of-Customer platforms (free blog post), CRM and customer care systems, web and mobile analytics, ethnographic studies and other first- and third-party sources of customer information.
  5. The customer journey map was completed with an inside-out view:  It’s tough for employees with demanding bosses and stretch goals created to deliver quarterly financial outcomes to be truly “outside in,” but journey maps that start with your company’s processes, organizational structure or systems cannot lead you to a customer-centric outcome. Solution: Follow an organized approach of Who?, When?, What? and How? to produce an outside-in journey map (free streaming webinar).
  6. The customer journey mapping initiative has the wrong goal: The aim of a journey mapping project is not a lovely diagram that gets pinned to cubicle walls; it is to find customer experience opportunities and problems and to drive action that improves customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. Solution: A positive result starts with the right goals from the beginning. Set a goal of identifying problems and driving action, not producing a visual asset.

Gartner clients who wish to learn more are invited to read our new report,  “How to Manage Effective Customer Journey Mapping Processes” (subscription required). It dives deeper into how to prepare for a successful customer journey mapping exercise, best practices for managing an effective initiative, and the deliverables that help to ensure your next customer journey map does what you want and need it to do. 

3 Comments
  1. February 22, 2017 at 5:04 pm
    Tal Lior says:

    or just simply conduct a customer qualitative survey :) also an option

    • February 22, 2017 at 5:10 pm
      Augie Ray says:

      Tal, in what way do you see that as differrent than #4: “gathering and analyzing data about the customer such as that available from Voice-of-Customer platforms, CRM and customer care systems, web and mobile analytics, ethnographic studies and other first- and third-party sources of customer information.”

  2. April 27, 2017 at 9:22 pm
    David says:

    Augie, great post on what to avoid when making customer journey maps! In my experience, you’re exactly right with the #6 that it isn’t supposed to be just a “lovely diagram pinned in some cubicle” – I’ve seen that exact scenario play out multiple times

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