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“Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it, any way you want it.”  Journey

In 1980, American super group ‘Journey’ had a hit that could well be the anthem of marketing in the 21st Century. Ironically, it also shares the name of one of the best tools in marketing planning – Customer Journey Mapping. Customer Journey Mapping (or CJM) is not a new tool, but its significance and relevance in our complex, customer-driven world is unbeatable. The simple reason is this - the key to creating sustainable business value is focusing on customer value – end of story.

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

CJM is the process of ‘mapping’ the customer experience (by segment profile and, if the information is available, every individual customer) through their perspective across every touchpoint pre, during and post the target action(s). It focuses on the questions they have, the solutions sought, tensions, issues and opportunities at each step, and much, much more. And with the right systems you can also track every aspect of the journey from offline to online - live - so that the most value can be created for both the customer and business. It’s most often seen as a graphic visual showing the respective customer and their journey, and is a key section in any good integrated marketing plan. The magic (of course) lies in how you share the insight and learnings so that it is interpretable and actionable by everyone in the organisation. CJM gives you the insights and understanding you need to develop your service design, product design, brand, channels and routes to market, communications and loyalty programs.

Journey Mapping worked in the 16th Century but does it work now?

16th century map


Everybody loves a journey. Or do they? The word itself conjures up notions of adventure, experiences and enriching outcomes. In reality, without careful planning, monitoring, insight and affirmation your voyage of discovery, and your customer’s experience, may end up on the rocks.

Old notions of journeys have also been turned on their head. The dictionary defines the process of ‘travelling from one place to another usually taking a rather long time’. In the new world, time is of the essence and literally one second vs one hour may be the difference between a hot prospect or a failed touchpoint (or stress point, as many touchpoints actually are!).

Their say, their way.

Its relevance and acceptance has been speeded on by the realities of the current marketplace and space—margin pressure, increased competition, intense noise and distractions, and the customer having a very great say in the direction and future of your brand. Plus everybody wants the same thing... more customers and more margin growth!

CJM represents an evolution of the marketing ‘species’, particularly when it comes to new thinking and fresh actions. From our experience, there are a number of crystal clear benefits to having CJM as part of your marketing repertoire. 

  • It offers a ‘one stop’ point of reference, and view, across all brand development units and functions, of the experience customers have on the journey you’ve developed for them.
  • Clearly highlights what it takes—by way of skills, data, processes, measures and desired outcomes—to capture and keep customers.
  • Helps to prioritise and allocate resources in the right places in terms of what’s invaluable, or not so important, to customers.
  • Lets you develop a seamless experience with a minimum of disruptions and a maximum number of rewarding encounters.
  • Allows for instant innovation and serendipity. 

It is not necessarily a replacement for existing methodologies such as Integrated Marketing Communication, which still has a great deal of relevance, particularly if it is approached as the name implies rather than as a ‘silo’, or ‘piece meal’, approach.

CJM brings your listening ears to the marketing plan.

What does need to change is the ‘thinking’ part, especially in the quality and quantity of the information that is fed in. 

The best sources of information are from;

  • Qualitative focus groups
  • Survey tracking
  • Website data and analytics
  • Customer feedback and reviews
  • Customer diaries
  • Social media tracking and reporting
  • CRM and loyalty program analytics
  • EFTPOS / Bank data
  • And more….

Be on the lookout for experiential information, particularly any tension points that might be a distraction. You want to make sure that the intended outcomes come to the fore. Watch out for any gaps and remember that this is a unique opportunity to gather intelligence, fine tune the journey and ensure that relevant conversations are reaching the right audiences with carefully crafted experiences throughout. A design thinking workshop and plenty of prototype testing with customers will also help debunk many assumptions, and reveal useful insights. As with any successful journey, the better the sense of direction and understanding of the terrain, the more likely everyone will arrive safe, sound and satisfied!  

Just when you thought you had the customer all to yourself.

Ensuring your Customer Journey Map complements your Integrated Marketing Plan revolves around direction and guidance, as well as convenience and speed when required. You don’t want people free ranging or wandering aimlessly into someone else’s better defined territory. Think of the process as akin to gold mining, where there is a great deal of potentially useless material to be processed before the kernels of wisdom are visible.  You want to intimately know both the positive, and frustrating, components of your customer’s experiences. And you want these to be documented, accessible, visible and able to be modified in an instant.  

Telling tales. 

The ‘mapping’ part of Customer Journey Mapping should also be rich with stories that provide context and clarity. You desperately want to know what initially leads to engagement, what seals the deal, and what leads to long-term relationships. You don’t just want hard data - you also want to know people’s feelings, expectations, and motivations as they encounter key touchpoints. Again, each one can serve as a reality check regarding direction and information, and also confirmation that people are moving in the intended way.  

The journey should be amazing and not a maze.

It’s important to remember that we learn through stories, (rhymes, tales, poems) - CJM lets us understand each customer’s story in all of its richness and nuance. We frequently write marketing plans as a ‘customer's story’. It’s a really strong technique for making sure the marketing plan ‘reads’ in the same way as the customer will experience it, rather than a jumble of dead ends and roundabouts that might have looked good in the marketing plan but don’t translate into the real world. However, it’s important not to get bogged down in minutiae for the sake of it. Big data has pretty much failed as a theory, replaced by small data – the need for information that informs planning and drives immediate action. Anything else is indulgent and should be reserved for those with the time, training and ability to interpret these often nebulas mountains of data. All research, data and ‘information’ is valuable, but the right information, acted on in a timely manner, is critical to business responsiveness.

Value for the entire business.

There is a great deal of information and insight floating around an organisation. The more ‘siloed’ and less integrated, the greater the chance that highly useable material may become missing in action. Having the CJM as a focal, and highly graphic, point of unity and action is important. Plus, there are benefits for everyone with a stake in the game. If you are the owner or senior management, it gives you far better insight into what makes your customers tick; what products, services and channels to focus on and how you can maximise the value of every customer.

As the brand manager, it will give you a very clear perspective on the journey your customers are wanting you to give them; the gaps and opportunities for development as customers move from one device to another, one department to another or even one channel to another. If you’re the customer, it should please you immensely to hear that finally (some) businesses are listening to what you want and not telling you what they think you should be told. In the end it is all about building better brands and better, more sustainable business advantage.

So what does your customer’s journey look like - do you have a map or are you leaving it to chance?