Journey maps have been around for the better part of a decade—some would argue longer—but it’s really only in the last three or four years that they’ve come into more common use, and more strategists are advocating their use as a framework for improving the customer experience. Without getting into the specifics of what a journey map is or isn’t in this column—there’s no shortage of material on the subject—suffice it to say that many in our field, including me, strongly believe in the potential of journey mapping for helping companies to achieve human-centric business transformations.
Mapping the Experience: A Step in the Right Direction
As an activity and artifact for understanding and providing actionable recommendations for the end-to-end experience through a customer’s lens, journey mapping can provide businesses with a strategic tool for framing their brand experience through the eyes of customers. While there are common features across all journey maps, there are also significant differences among the journey maps for specific projects. That’s both good and understandable. With so many different types of people, industries, interactions, products, services, and so on, brand experiences tend to be both complex and unique. So, while journey maps have been around for awhile, if you’re relatively new to them, you’re not too late to the party. There is no shortage of opportunities to learn about the ins and outs of producing journey maps either online and in training workshops.
As yet another piece of Heuristica Jargonistica in our field, I’ve seen many different terms for journey mapping, including experience mapping, ecosystem mapping, and customer/employee journeys. Suffice it to say that all of these terms refer to the same thing. Strategists of all stripes—whether they’re focusing on user experience, customer experience, experience design, interaction design, information architecture, or service design—are employing these tools. These are useful tools regardless of how we choose to define who we are and what we do.
That said, regardless of how many of us are advocating and delivering on journey-mapping initiatives, we continue to see cases where—beyond the final project presentation—the journey-map artifact itself loses value quite quickly. So, while journey mapping remains a powerful way to discover, prioritize, and road-map opportunities, there are definitely opportunities to improve on and increase the long-term value of the map itself.