The REAL Power of a Customer Journey Map

June 30, 2015

customer journey map

Journey mapping has become a bit of a shiny object lately. That’s because it’s a task that’s easy to execute. A smorgasbord of approaches are now available, as are multitudes of folks who can facilitate a lively mapping session with post-it-notes, conversation, and the promise of what will come as a result of the session.

The deliverable too has promise: a binder with processes and touchpoints mapped, ready to go. But wonderful as these may seem when delivered, these often stay on the shelf.

That is because the most important part of building the journey – which is to illuminate customers’ lives and re-frame how the business operates and its priorities – is not embedded with leaders and the organization. A journey framework, even in its simplest form and when used with consistency, provides rigor to understand where the priorities in customers’ lives are. By using the journey to look comprehensively across what the company delivers, it enables leadership to make choices. This moves the work from “boiling the ocean,” trying to map and drive improvement on all the touchpoints (Visio blindness, anyone?) to focusing on those that matter most in the lives of customers.

That is the real transformational power in building a customer (and employee) journey map. It is to embed a new starting point for the work of the organization. Instead of starting with the silos, the customer journey gives you a framework to begin with your customers’ lives.

For example, in my new book, Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine, Samir Bitar, Director of the Office of Visitor Services at the Smithsonian Institution, describes the power that just building the customer journey had on the culture and operation. “When we created our first draft of our visitor journey, it was the first time many of my colleagues had ever seen anything like it. It was mind opening. With the journey map, I now have a powerful tool that helps visualize the visitor experience. With the visitor perspective in hand, my next step was to understand the perspectives of internal stakeholders, including museum executives, department directors, and front-line staff, including volunteers.”

And that is the power of changing the frame of the business – the starting point of how your company does work. The journey map establishes a framework for leaders to use to guide the direction of the business and drive accountability. It enables them to hold people accountable to improving customers’ lives versus independent silo scorecards. Every leader I have worked with and every leadership team I have coached have asked for simple language to galvanize people around customer-driven growth. The customer journey provides that talk track.

When leaders are consistent and united in how they use the journey framework, it enables them to focus on and prioritize the work of the organization, optimize investments, manage resources most effectively, and improve experiences that impact growth.

And, most important, the customer journey provides the framework to diagnose and care about the “why?” What are the circumstances that caused customers to stay, grow, depart, or diminish their relationship with the company? Why did customers leave? What did we do to cause them to decrease their services? Why haven’t they used 50 percent of the software they purchased? By simplifying and stating the outcome of the experience as growth or loss of the customer asset, leaders become more interested in understanding and getting to the bottom of the “why?”

Using the journey as a vehicle to learn about customers’ lives builds an organizational caring to want to know the reasons behind their behavior. And this is a game-changer.

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Leveraging the power of a Customer Journey Map allows leadership to be accountable for improving customer lives. Learn more leadership skills through these AMA skills and resources.

About The Author

Jeanne Bliss pioneered the Customer Leadership Executive position, holding the role for over twenty years at Lands’ End, Allstate, Coldwell Banker, Mazda and Microsoft Corporations. Since 2002 she has led CustomerBliss, where she has guided the customer experience transformation journey with leaders in Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies to help them achieve customer-driven growth. She is a worldwide keynote speaker, and sought frequently by major media for her point of view. Jeanne is the co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, established to advance the worldwide discipline of customer experience and customer experience practitioners. She is also the best-selling author of Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action (2006), and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions to Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad (2011).


  1. avatar

    […] Once you can open up and share, you obtain needed information through the feedback of questions and answers. The customer is willing to relax and process […]

  2. avatar

    Jeanne, this is a great article! I agree that the shift in the mindset after first journey mapping session is sometimes mind blowing.
    I’ve seen how great customer journey mapping sessions with lots of insights ended up leaving paper maps handing on a wall for a week or so and sticky notes flying literally all over the place. On top of that it is sometimes so hard to gather all team members of the distributed team in one place… This inspired our team to create a tool for mapping customer journeys online with little efforts and in engaging format – with no need to involve designer if there’s none.

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