Journey Mapping the Road to Customer Bliss in Times of Change

3/1/2021 Cathy Zapata

Journey Mapping the Road to Customer Bliss in Times of Change

Corporate stakeholders have ever-increasing access to customers. And, more than ever before, customers have a stronger voice in their overall experience. 

So why does customer satisfaction remain low for the vast majority of organizations? 

The root of the problem can often be traced back to broken organizational structures that can be difficult to overcome — for example: 

  • Lack of inner-department collaboration
  • Disconnects between partner agencies
  • Corporate divisions operating in silos
  • A lack of unifying goals 

All of these issues create isolated experiences for customers who typically derive value and meaning from the total experience. So what can be done to help overcome these challenges?

Customer Journey Mapping 101 | INFOGRAPHIC

From my experience, the development of customer journey maps remains a foundation first step. A customer journey map is an archetype of a customer’s 360-degree experience with an organization. It visually illustrates a customer’s needs, the series of interactions that fulfill those needs, and the emotional states experienced.

Customer journey mapping in a crisis

Journey mapping shouldn’t be put on hold until recovery from the COVID crisis, says Joana Quintanilha, a principal analyst for Forrester. “It’s more important than ever to map the journeys with real insights to understand how those journeys are changing. How online activities are changing. How your customers are interacting with you differently,” she explains. 

As consumers endure difficult circumstances, they learn new behaviors, and journey mapping can help track them. It’s especially important to design customer journeys that are emotionally attuned, avoiding tone-deaf marketing.

Ecosystem maps versus customer journey maps

Many organizations think they have developed a customer journey map, but instead, have created an ecosystem map. Ecosystem maps are typically created through a collaborative exercise involving key internal stakeholders, not customers, and are in turn assumptive. They are more focused on points of contact. 

Ecosystem maps are less customer-centric in that they do not consider actual customer needs and emotional states.

While ecosystem maps certainly hold value and are a good starting point, in many cases, they just aren’t enough. Taking an ecosystem map to the next level requires validation through voice-of-the-customer research. That involves taking insights and assumptions gathered from key stakeholders and overlaying research learnings from exercises with target customers. 

Journeys are not linear, flat, or static, as customers may enter your platform at any point in the engagement funnel. Organizations, channels, and technologies are constantly evolving. Accordingly, the mapping process is a dynamic exercise. Journey maps can organically build on one another, especially during a time when consumer behaviors are changing so rapidly.

Journey mapping in a new world

With employees working and collaborating remotely, journey mapping often looks different these days. Virtual journey mapping, of course, does not involve in-person workshops with dozens of sticky notes and 20 participants. There is more preparation work to be done, compressed “face time” on screen and digital whiteboards instead.

In times of change or crisis, virtual journey mapping actually highlights its own importance and urgency. “Doing it virtually helps to remind people that this is a dynamic exercise. A journey map is a living document that we use as a problem-solving tool,” says Quintanilha. 

With adequate preparation and careful time management, virtual journey mapping can be a very valuable exercise. In a recent Forrester Wave™ report on customer journey mapping, research shows that vendors’ efforts to support their clients through journey visualization, cocreation in a virtual setting, and use of journey insights are on the rise.

Take a fresh look

A recent Ascend2 survey revealed only 20% of marketing professionals “do not have or plan to utilize journey maps in the future.” The current status of the remaining 80%?

  • 30% plan to create and utilize journey maps in the future
  • 26% currently have and utilize defined journey maps
  • 24% are currently building or testing journey maps

Take a look at your atlas of journey maps. Do some need to head back to the drawing board? Should you be accelerating others? Perhaps consider launching potential new, relevant journey maps for health and safety or diversity and inclusion.

To ensure the work you’re doing resonates now and in a post-pandemic world, prioritize the accuracy of your journey maps by revisiting and reassessing them regularly in light of these changing times.


Cathy Zapata is Chief Experience Officer at RRD Marketing Solutions.

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