Adidas's engagement with customers doesn't just last while they're in the store. Source: Shutterstock

Adidas’s engagement with customers doesn’t just last while they’re in the store. Source: Shutterstock

When was the last time you mapped your customer journey?

CUSTOMER journey maps are a critical component of many organizations’ customer experience (CX) framework because they provide insights about how a customer is brought to the brand, how they’re engaged, and what causes them to move away from the brand.

Obviously, understanding this helps to gain visibility into the events and moments that need to be created in the customer journey to wow them and keep them coming back.

According to a Gartner study, however, almost one-third of organizations still face difficulty incorporating journey maps into their CX efforts.

When businesses create a customer journey map, they’re able to plot a desirable customer journey and a map the existing customer journey.

Doing so allows them to identify gaps between their expectations and their perceptions of the experience delivered by a brand at steps along the journey.

Brands like Adidas and Vans do this well — by organizing sporting and music events to engage with customers after they’ve made the purchase.

According to Gartner, the main goal of journey mapping is to determine the challenges and opportunities a brand faces in improving its CX and improve satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

“While CX leaders have long understood the value of customer journey maps and the impact they have on an organization’s ability to exceed or meet customer expectations, many still struggle to utilize them effectively in their CX initiatives,” said the company’s Senior Research Director Jane-Anne Mennella.

According to Gartner, the main objectives of a customer journey map should be to identify specific CX problems and opportunities, and to gain alignment and consensus on how to address those problems and opportunities.

Here are three critical steps that businesses should follow if they want to meet the objectives of a customer journey, and establish the appropriate governance and oversight:

# 1 | Master the foundational elements first

The same attention paid to laying the groundwork for journey mapping initiatives should be given to the actual creation of the journey map itself.

Before building a journey map, CX leaders should consider the following:

Affirm leadership and key stakeholder support, build a cross-functional team composed of representatives from all departments who support the CX, assess data sources and needs, and know the audience for whom you are mapping the journey.

# 2 | Focus on the actionable and accurate

Determining and building successful customer journeys requires clear communication among the team and a strong understanding of the entire journey the customers take.

CX leaders should start by aligning team goals and expectations.

Next, the customer journey map should include the following criteria: It should be created from the customer’s perspective and reflect the customer’s entire journey — from evaluation, purchase, use through to loyalty, satisfaction and/or advocacy.

Lastly, CX teams should consider validating the data included in the journey to ensure it accurately reflects the experience, feelings, thoughts, and actions of the customers.

# 3 | Cultivate value from journey maps

When journey maps fail, research shows it typically happens following the design phase.

To get maximum value from customer journey maps, CX leaders must turn the insight derived from journey maps into action and experiences, ensure those journey maps are current, and develop a communications plan to reinforce progress toward realizing the customer’s desired journey.