• Michael Kerman

5 Common Customer Journey Mapping Mistakes

Customer experience (CX) is all the rage these days as companies struggle to attract and retain increasingly sophisticated and fickle customers. This is true not only in the B2C world, but in the B2B space as well. As a result, many companies have embarked on some type of customer journey mapping initiative with the end-goal of developing deeper customer insight which can then be used to improve everything from product offerings to marketing campaigns and service delivery.

As with most complex processes, company leaders quickly (or in the worst cases, slowly) learn that customer journey mapping isn’t so simple and is fraught with pitfalls and opportunities to go off-the-rails. Having done this exercise with several companies, here are five common mistakes:


Unclear Objective. You might find this surprising, but many people rush into this initiative without a clear focus on what they’re actually trying to achieve. There is so much you may want to understand, but what do you actually need? What business processes are you looking to improve or optimize? Moreover, who is actually doing this work (See “DIY” below)? I recommend that this needs to be treated as a true project with a clear mission statement, a “definition of done”, a set of success metrics, a reasonable budget and funding.


Trying to Boil the Ocean. Which journey are you trying to understand? Is it a new customer buying their first product? Is it a customer renewing their license? Is it an existing purchasing an add-on product? Is it an attempt to woo a competitive customer to switch? You see how this can become an enormous project. The best way to avoid this mess is to focus on a critical but distinct business process. For example, customer retention is critical issue for many businesses and therefore, having a truly optimized license renewal process is a must-have. Taking a very specific process like this is a great place to start. From there, you can focus on existing customers purchasing additional licenses or some type of add-on product. Little-by-little, you’ll develop the proficiency to tackle increasingly complex processes.


Taking a Departmental View. Let's say that a company chooses to focus on their license renewal process which is largely owned by their Customer Success team. It’s easy to say this team owns this and should map out the process. However, do they really know every touchpoint with the customer? Do they know about all of the emails, newsletters, event invitations that marketing sends out? What about the banner ads that marketing runs as part of their PPC campaigns? Or the Sales contacts that may be made? Or the support calls that happen while the customer is in the renewal process? And we can forget touchpoints with legal and finance teams as well as the myriad of systems the customer deals with such as eMail, your website, etc. Our customers interact with us in so many different ways, passively and actively, even for the most specific processes. Make sure that ALL functions are represented on your journey and always ask yourself “What else does the customer hear or see from us during this process?”.


Talking to the Wrong People. The first thing we do when we have a project like this is call the people we know best and are confident will take our call and help us out. Unfortunately, these aren’t always the right people. In many cases, these people are end users that we know well from user councils or conferences or even support calls. However, if we’re trying to understand the buying journey, we need to speak with people who are/were involved in the buying decision. You’d be surprised how many companies don’t really know this information well, especially for older customers. You really need to speak with these people to understand what problem they needed to solve, who they considered, what their criteria were, why they chose you and what the process was like. Users are simply not going to have this information (although some power users may have also served as advisors to the purchase process OR been involved in some type of RFP or proof of concept). You can avoid this trap by making sure you have a clear understanding of what personas are involved in the journey and not getting distracted by those that weren’t but may be easier to connect with.


Do-It-Yourself (DIY). We’ve all seen and heard this story. A customer journey mapping initiative comes out of some executive management or Board meeting. Given the importance of this project, the usual characters (high-performing, over-worked) are assembled and given this to run with, on top of their already-overflowing plate of work. No additional funding or resources are provided. No additional systems are provided….they’re told to just use their existing CRM and Support systems and track everything in Excel or Powerpoint. Sound familiar? If this is your approach, STOP. The reality is that this is a major project, not some little side “to-do”. It requires intense focus, careful customer outreach, data mining and true collaboration. Two steps you can take to avoid an epic headache are:

  • Investing in a customer journey mapping tool. You’re going to be accumulating a ton of data points and using Excel or Powerpoint just isn’t going to cut it. Tools such as Smaply, Mixpanel, Medallia, HotJar or Pointillist can help you capture, analyze, link and visualize all of the data and help turn this into actionable insight for your organization.

  • Bringing in a Marketing Research firm. There are a myriad of firms that can be of assistance in terms of having proven processes and templates, all of which save you time and energy. You can also have them run the process to ensure objectivity as well as offload some of the work from your resource-strapped team.

Customer journey mapping is must-do for any company that is looking to deliver a superior, differentiated customer experience in a consistent and cost-effective manner. With the right focus, funding and commitment, you can identify key areas for transformation such as your content, website, sales conversations, contracting processes and personnel training.


#marketing #customerjourney #innovation

Michael Kerman © 2020.  All Rights Reserved

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