Customer Journey Mapping: Unlocking the desire to change

Customer journey mapping is a relatively new industry practice that seeks to help organisations better understand the experiences that customers have as they interact over time – and highlights opportunities and challenges that organisations need to address as they seek to make changes to products, services and customer touchpoints. This report shares the findings of a recent MWD Advisors survey that shows how customer journey mapping is delivering value for organisations.

Top takeaways

A relatively new practice, but one that has potentially dramatic impact

Our survey sample is likely to be more mature than the population of businesses at large in industry: but even in the group we studied for this research project, only 18% had been involved in customer journey mapping for longer than three years.

However those involved in customer journey mapping are sharing with us that the work they do for organisations – although not without challenges – has the potential to unlock the desire to change to a more customer-centred way of thinking and operating. This is because the practice creates a reason for bringing disparate stakeholders together, and facilitates a structured conversation in which they can all participate.

Map quality is the key challenge faced by many

Among many other challenges cited by our survey respondents, the standout response from customer journey mapping practitioners related to map quality.

What we’ve learned from this survey is that the ability to deliver insightful customer journey maps that illustrate clear implications that stakeholders can easily understand is crucial. Given the relative immaturity of the practice in industry, and the lack of standardised methodologies in use, this is perhaps no surprise. However this does suggest that organisations would be well-served by targeted tools in this space that focus on supporting the process of customer journey mapping, and the ability to share and socialise the outputs of that process effectively.

About our survey

To dig a little deeper into the current state of customer journey mapping practice, we decided to carry out an industry survey. Our online survey was carried out over three weeks in April 2016, inviting customer journey mapping practitioners to share their views and experiences. 65 people participated on a self-selection basis. The demographics of the survey group are shown in the Appendix section at the end of this report.

Customer journey mapping: still an immature practice

The findings of our survey support our wider view (from conversations with practitioners and business managers) that customer journey mapping is still a relatively immature phenomenon.

Of our survey group, only 18% have been engaged in customer journey mapping for longer than three years; 34% have been engaged in customer journey mapping for between one and three years, and 12% have been pursuing customer journey mapping for less than a year. The remainder of our respondents are either not doing customer journey mapping at all (25%) or don’t know (11%). Given that our survey was web-based and survey participants volunteered to provide information, we expect that the general business population will be less mature in customer journey mapping than these survey results suggest.



Source: MWD Advisors

Key success factors: data, scope and more

Customer journey mapping is not only a relatively new practice in industry: it’s also complicated – something that’s not helped by a lack of specialised tools and established methods that organisations can use with confidence.

Our survey participants were split on the most important factors that contribute to a successful customer journey mapping exercise (see figure below): however, survey participants could provide up to three answers to this question, and over half of participants cited the availability of rich customer experience and behaviour data across multiple channels; and a mapping exercise scope that includes the whole customer journey (in other words, avoiding a scope that focuses purely on customer awareness or purchasing, or – worse still – purely on customers’ experiences with an e-commerce website or a mobile app).

Slightly less popular factors (though still highlighted by 40% of respondents each) were tools that enable customer journey mapps to be effectively shared, managed and changed over time; and the production of clear actions and recommendations from customer journey mapping exercises.


Source: MWD Advisors

Gaps in practice: the right tools, and the ability to produce clear actions and recommendations

We also asked survey participants a question to understand how close the alignment is between those factors that are seen as most important to success (see figure above); and those factors that are actually focused on in practice (see figure below).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a correlation between the two. When asked to name up to three factors that their organisations focus particularly on in customer journey mapping exercises, significantly more than half our survey respondents cited ensuring that the whole customer journey is in scope and the gathering of rich data as factors of focus. Interestingly, though, once we look beyond the two factors cited most commonly, there’s a gap between some of those key success factors and those factors pursued in practice. Specifically, when it comes to the availability of specialised tools to help share and manage customer journey maps: 40% of respondents cited this factor as important, but only 25% cited this as a factor of focus in practice. The same pattern holds for the “production of clear actions and recommendations”.


Source: MWD Advisors

Chief benefits revolve around creating a shared big picture

We asked survey participants to rank up to three chief benefits obtained from customer journey mapping exercise, in order of their importance. As you can see from figure 4, two benefits stood out – both in terms of the number of respondents citing them, and the weighting that respondents applied to them:

  • The ability of customer journey mapping to align the goals and focuses of multiple business functions around the needs of the customer.
  • The ability of customer journey mapping to help organisations prioritise practical system, process and organisation changes that can deliver better customer experiences.

What’s clear here is that it’s the ‘big picture’ strategic alignment questions that customer journey mapping really helps organisations resolve. This is crucial, because it’s these big-picture questions that, in our experience, are typically very challenging to address. Breaking through established organisational structures and modes of thinking is difficult. It appears that customer journey mapping – by creating a reason for bringing disparate stakeholders together, and facilitating a structured conversation in which they can all participate – represents a rare kind of key that can help unlock latent desire to change.


Source: MWD Advisors

Delivering quality maps is the key challenge faced

As part of our survey we also asked participants about the principal challenges they face in their customer journey practice (see figure below). As with our question about practice benefits (see above), in this question we invited participants to rank up to three challenges they faced in practicing customer journey mapping, in order of importance.

The challenge most commonly flagged was the challenge of what we might call ‘map quality’ – the ability to create insightful customer journey maps that illustrate clear implications that stakeholders can easily understand. Over 60% of respondents cited this as one of their top three challenges.

Other commonly-cited challenges: the ability to identify business process owners and convince them to prioritise changes; the ability to gather enough customer experience or behaviour data; the ability to keep customer journey maps current over time; and the ability to get sufficient engagement and buy-in from all relevant stakeholders.


Source: MWD Advisors

Customer journey mapping: not only for Marketing

It’s perhaps natural to expect that with the concept of ‘customer experience’ being most closely associated with the interests of Marketing functions, customer journey mapping exercises would be principally sponsored and championed by Marketing leaders.

However our survey results suggest a more nuanced picture. Only 30% of our respondents indicated that Marketing leads the charge; Customer Service was just as likely to be the key force driving mapping (35% of participants), and Other titles specified by respondents (CRM, Innovation department, Strategic Experience Designer) showed further diversity.

This result – combined with what we learned from our questions about critical success factors – is very positive as an indicator of maturity in customer journey mapping practice. It suggests that in the main, organisations pursuing customer journey mapping are taking the issue of journey scope very seriously – not just looking at how individual stages of a journey unfold, but considering customers’ entire journeys from awareness through to use (and beyond).


Source: MWD Advisors

Customer journey mapping is highly valued

After asking questions about the details of respondents’ experiences with customer journey mapping, we wanted to understand the extent to which the practice is valued – partly because this helps us understand the likely future growth path of customer journey mapping in industry.

With a self-selecting survey sample like the one we obtained for this study, of course there will be bias; and so it’s likely that in the broader population, there will be a significant proportion of organisations that have tried customer journey mapping and found the results underwhelming. However in our sample at least, there’s strong support for and belief in the value of the practice. 30% of respondents felt that customer journey mapping is “absolutely crucial; it helps to drive the whole company’s strategy”, and 55% of our participants agreed that “it’s the key tool that shapes how we deliver the best experiences for our customers”.

With the caveat that our sample size is small, there appears to be very little correlation between responses to this question and either the length of organisations’ involvement in customer journey mapping practice, or organisation size – in other words, respondents were equally likely to be positive about customer journey mapping, regardless of their organisation’s size of the length of time they’d been practicing.


Source: MWD Advisors

Appendix – Demographics of survey participants


Source: MWD Advisors

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