How To Innovate with Customer Journey Maps


We've written before about why too many customer journey maps have lost the plot - ending up as narrowly focused charts reflecting only the steps that the organisation itself has some interest or control over. Instead, we've encouraged companies to park their own view of the world, and instead create journey maps solely from the customers' perspective. As a result, firms end up discovering journey steps they didn't know were important, or saw as someone else's responsibility. However, when it comes to designing new products & services based on a customer journey map, it's tempting for organisations to take customer insight too literally at face value.

For example, imagine if heavy users of mobile phones say they want "battery life that lasts for days". It would be justifiably customer-centric for a mobile handset maker to challenge its engineers and suppliers to achieve just that. In doing so, it would probably add cost and weight (kg) to the product, so adding a trade-off for potential consumers to consider. Yet, a journey map of customers' lives is unlikely to talk about battery life, until it is virtually out of juice. Instead, users will talk about what they do with their phones through the day - catching up on last week's missed TV, finding their way with a sat-nav app, laughing at friends' Facebook posts etc. These are the 'jobs' they are 'hiring' their phone to do, which as a result, may run down the battery.

For those trying to innovate, identifying the jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) as described by users, is more insightful than how they describe the solution.

The most terrible poverty...
The most terrible poverty...

In our work in healthcare, we ask people living with chronic conditions to describe their experiences, their frustrations and ambitions, their needs and expectations. When terminally ill cancer patients told us how much they value 'starting every day on a positive', and 'not letting negative thoughts get in', they were not describing a solution. They were explaining what they had learned over time - that many aspects of their disease were beyond their control, but that this was a task they could set themselves to try and gain a frame-of-mind to cope. We put these experience markers on the journey map, and from them, a series of different stakeholders (from clinicians to charities to carers, family & friends and the patients themselves) had the opportunity to design and innovate ways to achieve this task. At face value, such emotional datapoints might not seem to be directly applicable to clinical outcomes. And yet, by supporting such a positive mindset, patients are better able to approach their treatment regimes and focus on a quality of life built around what they can do, rather than what they can't.

Take Out: By creating journey maps that reflect the tasks or jobs that people are trying to achieve, product and service designers have a clearer picture of what outcomes to target than a list of customer-built solution ideas can provide. Better still, an outcomes approach helps organisations from falling back on traditional and, dare we say it, lazy profiling and categorisation of solutions ("young people want this", "women won't use that"). Instead, customers can be segmented on the outcomes or tasks they are trying to achieve. By designing new products & services against the emotional and/or functional outcomes that users are seeking, companies will find developing matching communication connects more naturally and clearly too.

Further reading: for practical exercises on innovating with journey maps, see our slideshare presentation below!

Further reading:

Image Credits:

RenaudPhoto -