Real Vs. Fake Journey Maps

Customer journeys aren’t created; they’re discovered.

By  Joe Dyer  Director of Experience Strategy & Insight projekt202

By Joe Dyer
Director of Experience Strategy
& Insight

It would appear that these are the golden days of Customer Journey Maps. The mapping of customer as well as employee journeys (in the case of B2B experiences) has been around for about a decade now, but the demand and creation of them are taking off in a big way.

This is a good thing, right?

Possibly, but like many trends, there is also a contingent of me-too offerings that pose as journey maps trying to capitalize on the success of the real deal. By this, I am referring to all of the packaged or subscription software offerings that purport to create journey maps.

But as Jake Sorofman of Gartner said, “… customer journeys aren’t created; they’re discovered.” He is absolutely correct. It is also worth noting here that after current journey states are discovered, it is the job of UX professionals to create future journey maps that document the ideal experience. In other words, now that we have a map of the truth -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- UX professionals can craft the ideal state that solves for friction and pain points in a future journey map. If it helps, think of it as a before and after photo of customers’ experience.

In case you are unfamiliar with the nuts and bolts of discovering journey maps, it might be illustrative to compare and contrast how we at projekt202 produce customer journey maps to the actual language used to market the software-based solutions alluded to above.

Their Descriptions (Cons)

  • Emphasis on “professional looking” maps and diagrams. Let me ask the reader, does the aesthetic of the journey map add any insights to what the customer is experiencing? Clarity is good but pretty should not be the goal.

  • Emphasis on “quick.” Like most things in life, you get value out of an endeavor based on what effort you put into such a pursuit. The tried and true, “garbage in, garbage out” rule is in effect here.

  • “No need for a visual designer.” This just reeks of shallow thinking and is another way of saying “professional looking.” They might as well just say, “Look, Ma! No designer!”

  • The ad copy for some of the offerings shows a heavy reliance on survey or reported data. This is OK, I suppose, if your efforts are to focus on the transactional and functional as quantitative data tends to support. Good products strive for the aspirational.

  • The cookie cutter me-too offerings claim to, “bridge the gap between biz and dev.” Oh, really? How is this any different of an approach to having development teams from just slapping a use case or UI around some ideas hatched from the mind of a product team or owner? It appears you also need that designer at some point after all.

Our way of journey map creation brings to light the key moments in the experience, draws scrutiny to pain points and gaps, and provides key levers an organization can pull to improve the customer experience.

Our Process (Pros)

  • Our highly-trained ethnographic researchers are skilled at observing people. It is real, observed data (not reported survey data) that is the source for all customer journey maps we produce.

  • Our researchers understand the art and practice of elicitation. There is a proper way to ask questions that reveal the ground truth and see past what study participants say and what they really think.

  • Our process emphasizes the synthesis and analysis of all observed data points and does not rely on a user interface to expertly make decisions. No set of packaged algorithms will ever best professional practitioners in making sound decisions.

  • I suppose if I must mention it, then yes: our journey maps are really professional looking as well. More importantly, they are customized for every discrete generative study, making them far more powerful in conveying the right insights to product teams and owners.

  • Our journey maps are tightly integrated with personas, design principles, and themes that come from the same analysis and synthesis of data used to produce our journey maps. This provides a sound framework for product strategy and decision-making that no software or subscription service could ever hope to achieve.

projekt202’s proven methodology is driven by deep understanding of people that creates a focused path for innovation and true differentiation. Our way of journey map creation brings to light the key moments in the experience, draws scrutiny to pain points and gaps, and provides key levers an organization can pull to improve the customer experience. Journey maps that don't do that are really missing the key ingredients for making lasting positive change.

These methods allow our research teams to gain deep understanding of your customers and bring your vision to reality. If this sounds like what you are looking for, please contact us today. We would love to show you the real power of journey maps.

projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software strategy, design and development. We have a unique and established methodology for understanding people in context — we reveal unmet needs — which drives everything we do. This leads to a crisp, clear understanding of the customer, which shapes the design and development of new solutions and experiences. We have the expertise, teams, skills and scale to deliver sophisticated software solutions that improve any and all touchpoints across the user journey.

projekt202 has spent over 15 years bringing to life and to market compelling experiences through our Experience Strategy & InsightUser ExperienceSoftware DevelopmentMarketing & Analytics, and Program Management practices. Our talented team has delivered emotionally-rich and intuitive solutions for global brands and clients such as 7-Eleven, Capital One, Dell, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Samsung Electronics, Neiman Marcus, and The Container Store, among many others.