Three Journey Mapping Rules You Should Break (Sometimes)

Posted On December 18, 2018
By Peter Haid

Journey Mapping is only two words, but it seems to have infinite definitions and implementation possibilities. On the surface it can seem like a bad thing that we aren’t on the same page for operationalizing Journey Mapping because the “rules” of the methodology aren’t being honored, but let’s pause and think about the fates of rule breakers. Are they more or less successful? Are their journey maps harder or easier to use? Are their internal skill sets solid or underdeveloped?

We at Strativity have our methods and rules for journey mapping too. We’ve seen what works and know the recipe. However, when we scour the broader teaching out there, we see only three basic rules that are viewed as sacred amongst the thought leaders:

  1. Journey mapping must always be done from the customer’s perspective.
  2. Journey maps must be oriented around the concept of customer interactions.
  3. Journey mapping must include the concept of emotion.


These are generally pretty good rules, right? But what if you can get results that are as good or better without these rules? We think that, at least in isolated cases, breaking these rules is actually your best option, and here are a few examples why:

  • Financial tech firm starting from the inside out. First up is a financial tech client who decided to start mapping from an internal company perspective instead of the customer point of view. You might be asking how this isn’t just process mapping. The answer is in the details. This client is an accounting software provider, and they have an online product that is quite complex. In order to see the customer impact of the complexity, they first mapped out the internal software rulesets that required customers to input countless pieces of data. These rulesets were overlaid onto a more typical set of customer journey lifecycle stages like acquisition, installation, usage, etc. From there, the client was able to see the connection between the internal details and customer pain points, and ultimately this helped them both remove inefficient process steps and improve the customer experience at the same time. It also saved them time by getting them to a specific set of recommendations faster.


  • IT service provider mapping process steps. Second, we have an IT Managed Services client who decided to map process steps instead of customer touchpoints. The horror! Here’s why they needed to do it: The process steps were being mapped to align to a new CRM rollout for automating sales activity. Think about it. If you’re designing a CRM to automate tasks, the methods of journey mapping really help. In this case, the lifecycle stages (like marketing, research, acquisition, etc.), helped orient the process to the responsible groups inside the company. For example, seeing that a customer receives a prospecting phone call during the research stage would be pretty typical in a customer journey map. It’s a current-state touchpoint. But this client was creating a future-state journey map driven by the CRM implementation. It seemed useless for them to put something so basic onto a journey map from the touchpoint angle. Instead they skipped ahead to designing the CRM to create the outcomes by triggering sales people to complete a task. By mapping out these tasks (process steps) they killed two birds with one stone: They saw which process steps would impact customers in the future, and they had wired up the CRM to make it come to life. Why do we even call this journey mapping? Because the basic methods and outcome were the same. They just got there in a more efficient way for this situation.


  • Automotive services firm ignoring emotions. Finally, we look at an Automotive Services client who decided to break the rule of mapping customer emotion. This rule is a tough one to break because one of the primary outcomes you want from a journey map is to reduce negative experiences and amplify positive ones. But what if the journey map didn’t need emotion to accomplish that? This client used the concept of financial outcomes instead of emotion. For example, if buying a car stirs up negative emotion for customers in the financing stage, what would the financial outcome be to the business? The financial outcome of that negative emotion is less profitability and repeat purchase revenue because the customer is a) drawing on more internal resources and b) reducing the likelihood of repurchase or referral. Now consider a bunch of touchpoints with financial outcomes that reveal a curve… or even trend. In this case, the Y axis was the scale from bottom to top as lost profit, losing profit, neutral, gaining profit, and gained profit. The X axis was the touchpoints as they occurred through the journey. Our first impression was that it was too full of assumptions. For them it was simple because of what their NPS study revealed with real dollar figures: Happier customers are more profitable. Duh, right? Yes, but when they revealed how executives responded to the map it was the aha moment for us. The executives agreed on the data and premise that happier customers are more profitable, so when they saw the journey map with financial outcomes instead of emotion the conversation moved from hypothetical into taking action with improvement initiatives. Could they have done both emotion and financial outcome? Yes, but in their culture it was easier to skip right by emotion to financials.


What do these three rule breakers have in common? Two things. First, they didn’t start in the same place. From product issues, to new technology, to financial tracking, they were all coming at the problem from different places. Second, they were focused on the outcome of the journey mapping process regardless of how they got there. Each of them saw improved outcomes as a result of their detour.

And now, a final disclaimer: Strativity does play by the journey mapping rules for typical client engagements, and we prefer to teach them to our clients for sustainable journey management. However, we also own and operate a journey management technology called Touchpoint Dashboard. This cloud product is deployed with many of our clients, but especially those who want to get creative. With, and only with, technology, the marginal cost of changing the journey mapping rules become quite low. When journey mapping without technology, it can be expensive to experiment, fail, and retry until the desired outcomes are achieved. Touchpoint Dashboard allows companies to experiment with alternate journeys within a matter of minutes.

If you’re interested in breaking some of the journey mapping rules, proceed with caution and focus on the outcomes.  Yes, the naysayers will tell you it’s not really journey mapping, but it’s just a tool you can use to get to the same outcome.  It’s not much different than a Phillips screwdriver vs. a flathead.  Both fasten the screw in place, but you will struggle to achieve success unless you use the one that fits the screw head best.

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