Rather than treating your customer journey map like a static resource or a museum piece, treat it as an active, living example of what your team is doing.
It feels like, in the past year, customer journey mapping has become the hottest thing since sliced bread. It’s everywhere.
Everyone is talking about how to make the best customer journey map, how to make the technology work for you, and promising that your journey map will be your silver bullet to understanding your customers’ motivations.
While customer journey mapping is super helpful and can lend a ton of transparency to your customer experience, it will never be the end-all-be-all to understanding your customers. That’s right: your customer journey map will never be perfect.
The perfect customer journey map, despite what people may say, doesn’t exist, because there is no definitive state for your journey map to remain in. It will never be “finished,” but should instead be a constantly shifting, changing creation. Let’s dig deeper into why that is.
Customers are ever-changing
You don’t want your customers to stay the same. You might think that you do, but if your customers remained the same and their needs never evolved, there would be no expansion opportunities for your product. People pay you more because their strategy evolves and changes—otherwise they would never need to upgrade.
A static customer journey map will never entirely encompass a changing customer demographic—but it still can help make sense of it.
According to the 2017 PWC Global Operations Survey, 63% of business leaders said their companies find it challenging to understand their customers’ priorities, and 61% struggle when they need to shift and adapt to customer needs. Customer journey maps, however imperfect, give you the opportunity to keep a thumb on the pulse of where your customers are at and get a sense for when there are rumblings of change.
Just remember: when things change and your customers’ sentiments shift, that also means that your journey map will be out of date. It will be time, once again, to get that puppy up to snuff!
Your product should not remain static
Teams need to always be building. Your product needs to always be changing. In fact, according to Brendan from Wistia, there are three pillars that your product team should always be working on:
Shiny aspects are the new, exciting features that move that state of the market forward. Base are features that your core customers will get excited about (e.g. organization, simplified workflows), and scale is the reliability and speed with which your application functions.
In order to have a healthy product, you need to be working on each of those three things equally.
A customer journey map helps you to prioritize which of those are most important and which aspects of them have the most direct impact on your customer experience.
However, if you’re doing it right, because your product is changing and evolving (just like your customer), your customer journey map will be constantly out of date. Unless you have someone working around the clock to keep your customer journey map updated with every individual change your product team makes, it will never be perfect—especially if your engineers move with speed! It’s a good problem to have.
Don’t view it in a vacuum
Would you look at a single CSAT rating and base all of your success as a support team on it? Probably not. We all know that it’s better to compare metrics to each other and find correlations, rather than just assume that one is the source of truth.
In its nature, a customer journey map is effectively a visual representation across a swatch of customer experience metrics. Ideally, it should represent metrics such as customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, customer effort score, and customer sentiment overlayed across common actions customers need to take to be successful with your product. Just the act of realizing that some of the metrics are out of date and updating them moves your journey map towards a more perfect version of itself.
Along with that, your journey map can still be helpful even without updating the whole thing. Take the insights included on your journey map and compare them to metrics outside of your customer experience organization.
For example, how does dissatisfaction with one specific aspect of your product make an impact on something like monthly recurring revenue and churn?
Your journey map may be out of date and imperfect, but it can still be super-insightful when viewed alongside foreign metrics.
Nothing is ever perfect
Spoiler alert: if you’re doing things right, your work and company will be changing enough that nothing will ever be perfect.
That’s a good thing! An imperfect, out-of-date journey map indicates a thriving, driven, quick-moving company. That being said, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still be working your darndest to get to a place where your customer journey map feels as close to perfect as possible.
Take time to actively assess how your customers are doing and feeling. Have their needs changed? Are there additional new demographics that are interested in your product, but that you might not be serving as well as you could? Pay primary attention to the changes that are occurring, especially because they won’t be visible on your map, and then set time aside to update your map so the rest of your company has a solid view of what’s going on.
The same goes for the product. It’s impossible, or at least it feels like it, to slow down the flow of the product. Once something gets rolling, it can feel like a ten-ton boulder to stop.
Use time and energy to update your customer journey map whenever something that directly impacts your users occurs. In the grand scheme of things, it’s okay if it takes a bit longer than expected, especially if you don’t have the resources to staff a customer journey expert individually.
The best approach to this is to have an individual on your support or customer success team who has a partial responsibility and ownership over the map. A customer journey map should be something that your whole company can reference to get a feel for where your customers are at. It doesn’t need to be perfect—but it should be as up to date as possible.
Customer journey maps are great! They’re excellent tools to better understand how your product decisions and features have a direct impact on the individuals that are paying to use your product.
Perfection isn’t an attainable goal, and no matter how much work or time you put into updating a customer journey map, if you are also putting in effort and time into updating your product or CX (which you should be), it’s going to change. Use the tool to make informed changes, and then update it when you get time.
Something that’s so well and frequently used isn’t meant to be perfect, anyway—just like The Velveteen Rabbit, a few bumps or bald patches just show signs of being well-loved.
Rather than treating your customer journey map like a static resource or a museum piece, treat it as an active, living example of what your team is doing. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be helpful.