Customer Journey Maps on Harvard Business Blog

It’s great to see discussions of things like customer journey maps (CJMs) on business-related sites. Frog Design’s Adam Richardson introduces customer journey maps in recent Harvard Business Review blog post: Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience. He writes:

A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated — but necessary — such a map becomes. Sometimes customer journey maps are “cradle to grave,” looking at the entire arc of engagement.

And later, after showing an example, he concludes:

There is no single right way to create a customer journey, and your own organization will need to find what works best for your particular situation. But the frameworks provided here should give you a good head-start at better understanding the journey that your customers travel through as they engage with your company, brand, products, partners, and people.

For sure, if you survey examples and literature on customer journey mapping (which I did in a previous post), you’ll find various approaches. But the principles are the same: in a single diagram, visualize and align customer actions and business processes to expose touchpoints. This helps diagnose the customer’s experience and hopefully then improve it.

The example diagram in the article is quite high level, in my opinion–perhaps a little too much so. I generally shoot for more granularity–both in terms of the custom phases I use as well as the information included in the CJM.

But the types of information included in Richardson’s example are very good. In particular, I like use of “barriers.” I generally use something similar, like “customer problem” or “pain point.” But “barriers” is a little different.

It immediately reminded of advice found in The Innovator’s Guide to Growth by Scott Anthony et al. (See my review of that book here). The authors advise us to identify constraints to nonconsumption–or barriers in the use of a service. They write:

Nonconsumers with the highest growth potential are those who face a legitimate barrier that leaves them frustrated by their inability to meet an important need.

They trick is, they recommend, to identify and overcome these barriers. But be careful:

Market research reports tend not to pinpoint the amount of nonconsumption in a given market space. Indentifying conconsumers therefore requires some good structured thinking coupled with a bit of art. [emphasis mine]

This, in turn, reminded me of another quote from Scott Anthony on his blog at Harvard Business:

Qualitative techniques become even more important when a company is hoping to grow an existing market or create a new one. Quantitative research into non-existent markets is fraught with difficulties. How can you describe performance dimensions the customer can’t imagine? How can customers project usage of something they have never experienced? As the old saying goes, “Markets that don’t exist can’t be measured and analyzed.”

Companies too frequently default to quantitative research because they think there is safety in numbers. It’s a lot easier to justify a strategy by saying, “The data suggests” than by saying, “My intuition suggests.” But sometimes numbers provide false confidence and obscure real opportunity.

(See In Market Research, Use Numbers With Caution).

In the end, Richardson’s HBR post on CJMs is a nice kick off to discussions around diagnosing and improving customer experiences from a different perspective. It’s part of a series he started on customer experience. I hope to see more this line of thinking in the future, especially from business folks.


About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL


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  3. Pingback: Touchpoints Bring CX To Life – Adam Richardson on HBR « Experiencing Information

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