Many organizations go through journey mapping exercises, but few come out of these exercises with journey maps that guide next steps and execution. The recent Growth Innovation and Leadership: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange, included an interactive session that covered key features of effective customer journey maps, the data needed to complete them, and how to use them to identify next steps and achieve desired outcomes.

The interactive session began with presenter Deb Zell asking if anyone in the room had ever done customer journey mapping. Only about 10% of the participants had, so she explained what customer journey mapping was:

Journey mapping is a visualization process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. According to, a customer journey map is a diagram or several diagrams that depict the stages customers go through when interacting with a company, from buying products online to accessing customer service on the phone to airing grievances on social media. Often, journey maps are presented in a linear fashion, but in many B2B cases, the journey is not linear. A key question: without journey mapping, how do you understand what people really experience – and need?

Key insights

  • Journey mapping allows us to see customer priorities
  • Good data can tell us things we wouldn’t know to ask for otherwise
  • Not all journeys start at the beginning
  • Effective journey maps are living artifacts 

Why is journey mapping important?

  • Journey mapping allows us to see the war before the battle or, in other words, prioritize the customers’ needs
  • A journey map can uncover unarticulated needs. People in focus groups may communicate differently than they would in a real life situation. Often, unarticulated needs yield differentiation
  • For example, 90% of consumers wanted to put more clothes into the washing machine after a wash cycle had started. But they wouldn’t have remembered to ask for that in a survey or a focus group — only while they were doing laundry
  • Journey maps frame problems in context. Customers may have a problem in the beginning of the journey that will come up again at the end, and it’s important to be able to see how they got there. Often, surface problems are otherwise too subtle to see

Journey mapping best practices

After sharing four different journey maps with the group, Deb shared several best practices:

  • Begin in the beginning: What is it that sets the journey in motion? Journey maps often don’t align with the marketing funnel, so it’s important to understand how the customer journey actually starts
  • Effective journey maps are cyclical. At any given time, a customer may be at multiple points of their journey
  • Effective journey maps are living artifacts; they are constantly being updated
  • Think of the journey as a cycle, but also consider the different channels. Effective journey maps are omni channel and actionable
  • Journey maps should include rich view-of-customer data, should contain the full customer cycle, should be actionable, and should be omni channel (online, offline, and non-company)

Start with the data

Gather the data to start creating your journey. It’s also important to include the right people from different parts of the company involved to look at the data and put things into action. Once the data is gathered and you’ve created the journey map, consider how you’ll apply the journey. What are you actually trying to solve? Host a kickoff through digital experiences and content marketing, events, etc.

Less-effective journey maps often include only the company’s view of the journey, are overly complex, and only show the future state. More effective journey maps include rich data from the customer’s perspective, the full lifecycle of the journey, are actionable, and are omni channel. When we really understand the customer, the problems that we try and solve for them tend to change.