A recent Google search of the term “Customer Journey Maps” (CJM) turned up 5.3 million results. This indicates that journey mapping is popular and is probably getting more popular every day, So, I decided to share some of the limitations of journey mapping with you so you can make sure you know what’s what when you create one.

Maps are fixed but journeys change

Think about your commute to/from work.  Do you always take the exact same route?  Do you ever take a detour because of a traffic backup?  Do you ever run into a store on the way home? Get gas?  Pick up the cleaning?  We all do!

Now, think about contacting technical support when you have a problem.  Do you always immediately call their 800- number or do you sometimes read the manual and try fixing it yourself?  Do you use chat before you call?  Do you start off reading FAQ’s on the web site then go to the Apple Genius bar or go to Best Buy and talk to someone in the Geek Squad? Different products, different problems, different urgencies, different journeys!

Maps are usually standalone and not related to other journeys

Let’s assume you are researching an auto purchase.  As you narrow you potential selection, you may stop the buying process and reach out to your bank to determine how much you can afford to pay for the vehicle.  The bank’s CJM probably does not consider that you are in the middle of a purchasing journey, with pressures and excitement building up.

The bank’s business processes are very inflexible while the customer’s journeys are varied.

Maps focus on the journeys but not the customer’s expectations or emotions

When you create a CJM, you try and understand what is happening at the time in question. However, rarely do people ask, “What does the customer expect?”  This means that the participants try and make the experience as easy as possible but they rarely try and compare experiences to expectations to improve experiences or reset customer expectations.

Likewise, it is rare that a CJM will accurately capture the customer’s emotion at each touchpoints.  Company actions should be very different depending on the customer’s emotional state, which varies depending on context.

For example, if an airline flight is cancelled, the customer can be happy because she got up really early that day, put in a hard day’s work and was really in no mood to fly for 90 minutes then rent a car and check-in to a new hotel.  Instead, she stays the night at the airport, catches an early flight, and arrives at her next meeting well rested.

On the other hand, I was once at the gate in Detroit for a flight to Chicago when the flight was cancelled because of heavy snow.  I had an early appointment near the airport and really wanted to make it if humanly possible.  I was so desperate that when that I met another passenger on the same flight who said that he was going to drive to Chicago for his early appointment, I decided to ride with him.  After we started out, I decided that the driving was so dangerous I had him drop me at a nearby motel.  My meeting was cancelled the next day and I flew home at a reasonable time.  The banker made it but his meeting was also cancelled because his appointment could not get out of his driveway.  The point of this story is that how we feel at any touchpoint varies depending on circumstances – context.

Moments of truth require different actions then pain points

What is the difference between a moment of truth and a pain point?  Context!  A moment of truth occurs anytime a customer interacts with the organization.  It can be on a web site, while using chat to get an answer to a question, when you book an Uber, or when you turn on your home heating system on the first cold day in the fall.

But when things do not work as expected (or desired), these moments turn into pain points.  And the company has to be intuitive and flexible to prevent things from really heading into the toilet. Consider my Detroit to Chicago ride in the middle of a snowstorm. If, instead of me finding another stranded traveller, I had hired a car and driver to take me west.  And if the driver turned out to drive in a reckless manner then my ride would immediately change from being a part of my experience to becoming a major pain point.  But, since I was not paying for the ride, I had no expectations and he had no obligation to care how I felt.  But I think you get the picture.

Key Takeaway

When working on customer journey mapping, remember that we are dealing with real people who have pressures that cause changes in journeys, expectations that become the basis of determining satisfaction, and who do not live in a bubble but may jump from one journey to another with no warning.  Your challenge is to build flexibility into what is perceived as a linear map!  That means you have to depend on the people in your organization.
I hope your team is fully engaged!