Customer Journey Mapping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

One would think that the IT domain is all about numbers, schemes, and prototypes; that functionality means more than empathy when it comes to digital products. In the technological race, where beautiful designs and fancy interfaces rule the day, businesses forget that they create products and services primarily for people. But more and more modern companies are shifting the focus to their audience, trying to align humanity and the development process. That’s how many come to customer journey mapping. 

Yet, a seemingly intuitive methodology can be tricky when being put into use. So, if you are going to take this challenge or are curious to learn whether you do everything right, check out the common journey mapping mistakes I listed in this post.

You’re about to read a guest post by UXPressia’s Katerina Kondrenko about the common pitfalls of making a customer journey map.

Why Creating a Customer Journey Map?

Before proceeding to the mistakes part, let’s take a quick look at the customer journey mapping concept. If you are familiar with the concept, just skip this part.

Customer journey mapping is a visualization of how the audience interacts with your product or service. You might ask how this information can be helpful to your business. A customer journey map (CJM) can help you analyze your users’ or customers’ experience, identify flaws in it and opportunities for its improvement, do strategic planning, reshape content marketing, or consider using another template for your online form. And what’s best, these things are merely a fraction of what you can do with customer journey mapping. 

There’s another great perk: this methodology helps to engage your team and develop a cross-company understanding of who your customers are and how to approach them. Better cooperation within your team will lead to more efficient work. Nothing but benefits by any stretch. 

Common Customer Journey Mistakes

Customer journey mapping is like a medicine that you must use properly to achieve the desired effect. And for a project to succeed, it’s not enough to follow best mapping practices. It’s also worth considering the pitfalls that can turn your project into a customer journey mapping failure. Read on to learn the most common of them.

Mistake #1: No goals were set

What’s wrong: Inexperienced journey mappers are usually tempted to build a CJM just for the sake of building it or want to identify all the flaws in all their customers’ journeys with a single journey map. 

Why it’s bad: They say no pain, no gain. I say no clear goal, no result—a doomed initiative instead. Besides, to get approval for the journey mapping initiative, you need to sell this idea to the stakeholders and engage teammates. Without an explicit objective, you won’t be able to do so. And what strategies for CX/UX improvement can you develop, having no idea why you’re building a map?

How to fix it: Every customer journey map starts with research, but even before this part, be sure to answer the following questions:

  • What and why do you want to analyze? 
  • What processes do you aim to enhance?
  • Who should own the initiative?
  • What departments to involve?
  • Are there any specific customer segments to look at?
  • How will your company benefit from customer experience improvement?

As a result, you have to set a precise goal. Avoid “all” in the wording, since it means “nothing” and feels like getting on a plane that is going everywhere. 

The more explicit goal you set, the more successful your customer journey mapping initiative will be. 

Mistake #2: Weak or no research

What’s wrong: No CJM can be built in one fell swoop. But sometimes journey mappers decide to play a guessing game. They skip the research part or make it too short, reach out to only a few clients to learn their journey, forget to speak with customer-facing colleagues, use pure assumptions, or worse, read the tea leaves.

Why it’s bad: Almost non-existent research provides non-reliable data, which, in return, covers your customer’s trail and gives you wrong ideas about their journey and how to improve it. Eventually, you put the work in the journey mapping initiative, spend money on your product or service improvements, tire teammates and yourself for nothing.

At the same time, your clients struggle because you mistakenly made things worse at those points of the customer journey that were fine and missed the ones that required attention. And it’s the biggest crime you may commit against your audience because you actually do something but are tilting at windmills.

How to fix it: Take this stage of the CJM initiative very seriously. Unreliable data won’t do any good. After all, customer journey mapping isn’t fiction writing. You have to be hungry for statistics and the fullest feedback from your audience. So:

  • Conduct interviews;
  • Find and read industry-related researches and whitepapers;
  • Collect customers’ reviews from different platforms and your NPS form; 
  • Run polls and surveys;
  • Pay attention to what your customers do;
  • Try to reach out to those people whose journey ended too early. 

You don’t have to speak with every single customer; keep going until you’re sure that the data you gathered is solid. For instance, identifying behavior patterns that repeat among your clientele is a clear sign of it.

Mistake #3: Wrong perspective

What’s wrong: There are people who build a map, minding their own business. Literally. And stages of their CJM reflect what they think their customers go through. Why bother about customers, right? 

Why it’s bad: In short, by approaching customer journey mapping not from a customer’s angle, you try to improve only your own experience and sell your product or service to yourself. 

How to fix it: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think like them. A CJM should be built around their journey, thoughts, expectations, goals, channels they use, and steps they take, among other things. You have to check how your service matches the customers’ needs and help them complete their tasks. 

Mistake #4: Poorly developed personas

What’s wrong: They say demographics are key to persona creation. But this is not necessarily the case. Also, some decide that previous experience of personas doesn’t matter. Or they focus only on pains and frustrations, forgetting about goals and motivations. 

Why it’s bad: Customer persona represents a particular segment of your clients and allows you to consider many people with similar features as one. Although a persona is an aggregated image of a whole segment of your clients, they need specific characteristics to feel real. Otherwise, you won’t be able to empathize with them. And they, in return, won’t let you try their shoes on. 

How to fix it: Take into account different sides of your persona and consider focusing on behavioral traits, as they provide better insight into your customer’s mindset and actions. To dig deeper:

  • Consider your persona’s expectations;
  • What they want to achieve by using your service or product;
  • What attracts or scares them off;
  • What they say about you and what is left unsaid. 

Remember that any persona needs personality and the customer profile you will have in the end must feel real, just like a real person.

A customer persona example built in the UXPressia platform

Mistake #5: Late start, early stop

What’s wrong: Some journey mappers accept the challenge of building an end-to-end customer journey map. Yet, they ignore all the stages before a customer comes to them and end with the purchasing stage, although there are many further interactions.

Why it’s bad: You consider only the middle part of your customer’s journey, which can be flawless, and you won’t ever understand why your business doesn’t flourish by providing such a great customer experience. Meanwhile, your clients may experience problems when learning about your business or coming back to purchase something again. 

How to fix it: Think of all the moments in time when a customer interacts with your product or service. And remember to do it from the customer’s perspective. For you, a customer’s journey begins when they come to you to complete a task or achieve a goal. But their real journey begins earlier: e.g., when they see your online ads. The same goes for the clients who leave you after the purchase. You don’t interact with them directly anymore, but they use your product or share their feedback online and offline. All these interactions are better to be taken into account since each can contain valuable insights. 

Mistake #6: One journey for all personas

What’s wrong: You try to build a single map for all of your customers.

Why it’s bad: Segmentation matters and you create personas not to stir them again. When averaging out your customers’ journeys, you end up with improvement strategies and development plans for no one. 

How to fix it: If you have no resources to build separate maps for all personas of yours, choose only the most significant ones and design for them. You can still gather all personas in the same map, turning your CJM into a multipersona customer journey map. Having such a map is useful when you want to compare different personas’ journeys or to analyze interactions between them. 

A multipersona customer journey map example built in the UXPressia platform

Yet don’t forget to consider each persona individually, as every segment of your audience most likely faces different kinds of problems throughout their journeys, and thus requires a unique approach. 

Summing up

I explored the most common customer journey mistakes that can spoil your mapping initiative and leave you without actionable insights. To avoid them, you have to play by the customer journey mapping rules and remember why you decided to build a CJM in the first place and who you should always aim at during the process. And I think you would agree that the results are worth the effort, as a customer journey map done right helps enhance customer experience and develop any product or service in the best possible direction.

by Katerina Kondrenko on 3rd February, 2022

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