By Frank Spillers

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Summary: When doing Customer Journey Mapping, you have five options for representing the journey. The choice depends on your intention going into the mapping process; your business goals for the journey effort and how much impact you need to generate with your Journey Map deliverable. 

How to represent Journey Map data

Journey Mapping is a UX process for visually documenting how your customer or user moves across an experience over time. It involves understanding defects in the customer experience and highlights opportunities for healing those breakpoints in channel and touchpoint interaction. 

When representing Journey Maps, you have a choice about how to represent the data. This choice is based on a number of subjective factors, that we have found at Experience Dynamics, have less to do with UX process, and more to do how Journey Mapping is used in your organization. To be clear, Journey Mapping allows for a new level of insight and collaboration to occur across departments and organizational silos. That is the best case use of Journey Maps--as a strategic tool for organizational insight and transformation. The more tactical use of Journey Maps is to quickly figure out how an Interaction Design (UX Design) needs to align with customer needs and address broken aspects of their journey. 

Choosing a Journey Map type comes down to how engaged your stakeholders actually are; how much time you have to socialize the Journey Map and what the priorities are for doing the Journey Map in the first place. For example, if you need to know how to provide a better Customer Experience in a COVID-19 world, you might choose a Future state journey, where new rules and new possibilities are imagined, based on deficits in the experience you serve today.  Let's take a look at the different Journey Mapping options.

The 5 types of Journey Maps 

  1. Current state: Current state journey maps follow the experience as it exists today. They detail how a customer is interacting with the service, product, or experience and illuminate areas of need, strength, and opportunity. This is the most common type of journey map-- but not the most strategic from an ROI perspective. 
  2. Future state: Future state journey maps document the ideal or "dream" scenario for a user. They build on current state maps but offer a higher level of innovation opportunity since they are free of existing constraints. We recommend they be done with current state maps or build on existing knowledge from journey mapping efforts. Future state journey maps have never been more important in UX/CX efforts in a the rapidly changing world we and our customer live in. 
  3. Strategic situation: Strategic journey maps show you the 'big picture' of a customer's goals, experience, and dreams. It provides Agile teams a context for where the UX/CX is moving directionally. In Agile terms, this represents a Saga (Epics and User Stories can be defined based on Saga views). Sagas are vital for context since sometimes User Stories (usage scenarios) are sometimes too detailed or lose focus of the overall mission of a user's journey with the product, service, or experience. 
  4. Tactical situation: Tactical journey maps provide the Agile collection of stories (Epic) level view. This day-in-the-life type of journey map can zoom in on a particular aspect of an experience such as user registration to a service, mobile app onboarding or unboxing (the out of box experience). 
  5. Persona-based: Persona journey maps show a journey map with the presence of the persona. Which user role is struggling most with this breakpoint in this channel? Persona journey maps can be made for each persona, to represent their individual journeys. 

How to Choose the Right Journey Map for your Project

Choosing the right Journey map will determine how much a) organizational impact you are making, and b) how well you can improve your UX/CX with this potentially powerful design decision-making tool. 
First, decide what impact you need (or if you are a consultant, what impact you can have) to have with your particular project. At Experience Dynamics, we once spent a week creating persona-based Journey Maps to find out that nobody was interested in reading them on the client product team other than the UX designer. In this case, a single Current state journey map would have sufficed. If you have a team that is not engaged or do not have time or resources to do user research or host a workshop, you need to factor that into your choice of Journey Map type.
Next, factor in time and resources for creating an impactful Journey Map. Have you made the business case in your organization for Journey Mapping? Is there a willingness to do User research, vital to gaining customer insights? Does the organization need education or is your organizational maturity such that you can deliberately create a Tactical situation map that will be embraced by all?
Remember that choosing a Journey Map type necessarily involves how you create the map. Many UX Designers and Researchers see Journey Maps as a tactical deliverable that is created privately and shared publically. Instead, shifting to creating it with your wider organization and allowing them to own the process and deliverable will allow you to conduct more strategic map types, namely Strategic situation, and Future state journey maps.  

Finally, include these non-negotiables for increased Journey Mapping success

Journey Mapping ROI should be a key priority for any team using this tool. In a recent Experience Dynamics client project, the client asked at the end that we add Journey Maps to the deliverable of a user research study. The idea was to add-on or use Journey Mapping as a visual. We need to retire the idea that Journey Maps are a document, pretty illustrations, or static "UX deliverable" that can be added to a project "just because".

To get the most from Journey Mapping, it is imperative that you:

1. Bring User Research to the Journey Mapping process. Journey maps lacking evidence are flimsy and weak. They represent making decisions without evidence. The risks of being wrong in your assumptions and guesses are too high. Stop gambling, do user research. 

2. Involve Stakeholders in Journey Mapping. Journey maps are nice to look at, but the more important piece is the conversations and shared viewpoints that stakeholders and cross-department teams have. The insights and interpretations from different organizational roles and vantage points can be more important than the actual map itself. 

3. Measure the progress and success of the Journey Mapping process as well as the CX/UX. Measuring your organizational success with a Journey Mapping workshop and effort is key. The more success you have as an organization with this tool, the more leverage you can get from it. In addition, make sure you are measuring how your customers are experiencing the improved journeys you create. 

Best wishes,

Frank Spillers

CXO @ Experience Dynamics

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