The Power of Journey Mapping: How to Avoid Pitfalls and Design Impactful Experiences

This post discusses the benefits of journey mapping for understanding customer experiences and improving brand impact. It identifies three key pitfalls to avoid when journey mapping, such as not including customers or employees. By gaining insights from both groups, organizations can create reliable journey maps that holistically capture the functional and emotional customer experience.
April 24, 2024
Reading Time
3 Min

You hear a lot about journey mapping these days, and that’s no surprise. As companies and organizations place increasing emphasis on delivering exceptional customer experiences, journey mapping has emerged as a powerful tool for achieving this goal. Once you have an understanding of the experience, including the defining moments of the journey and the gaps between customer expectations and reality, you will be able to prioritize what you need in order to attract and retain customers, patients, employees, or any of the stakeholders you serve.

But, journey mapping the right way isn’t easy. There are a lot of shortcuts out there, each with its own set of sacrifices to the quality and usability of the journey map.

Over the past decade that we've been building journey maps at Cast & Hue, we've heard a lot of stories and seen different approaches to the process. And, as more organizations consider this, we want to share some of the most common pitfalls we've encountered. In this post, we'll explore three shortcuts that may seem like time-savers, but can actually result in a journey map that's inadequate or hard to use.

Pitfall #1: Not including customers (or patients) in the journey mapping process.

This is a common mistake that can lead to inaccurate and biased journey maps. People will say, “Oh yes, we’ve done journey mapping.” But the reality is that they simply get a group of executives into a boardroom and map out the journey themselves, thinking that they can accurately represent their customers' or patients’ experiences. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. In fact, studies have shown that no matter how hard internal stakeholders try to remove their biases, they can’t effectively represent their customers.

Customer satisfaction responses also don’t give the context of the whole journey and usually don’t get into the details necessary. In order to develop the most accurate and reliable customer journey maps, it's crucial to involve customers (or patients) in the journey mapping process. By doing so, you can gain a more holistic understanding of their experiences, needs, and pain points. This ensures that your journey maps reflect the reality of your customer's journeys, not just your assumptions about them.

Pitfall #2: Not including employees and frontline staff in the process.

The employee’s experience impacts the customer experience, and vice-versa, but many maps still lack focus on the intersection of the two journeys. It's essential to break down the separation between the customer and employee experience by involving frontline staff in the journey mapping process. This is especially important in the post-COVID world, where the employee experience has become even more crucial to the customer experience.

IDC found that 85% of companies reported that improved employee experience and employee engagement led to higher customer experience scores, improved customer satisfaction, and importantly, higher revenue. The lesson? Don’t map your customer journey without mapping your employee journey. The two are likely related in ways you can’t even anticipate. When you can identify pain points and opportunities for improvement in both areas, it will help you design a more holistic and effective customer experience strategy that drives impact.

Pitfall #3: Not mapping the emotional journey.

The core of a journey map consists of touchpoints and actions taken at each phase, which can provide valuable insights for marketing, engagement, and experience strategies. However, the emotional journey is often overlooked, even though it's the most critical element. Many of us are familiar with the famous Maya Angelou quote, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Whenever we conduct journey mapping research for a client, that quote rings true every time. Why? Because emotions are closely linked to how people perceive and react to experiences with organizations. By analyzing the emotional journey, we can identify pain points, constraints, enablers, and defining moments that people experience throughout their journey with a brand. This analysis enables us to prioritize the most crucial elements of the experience to redesign in order to create a memorable and loyalty-driving experience that differentiates your brand.

Journey mapping is one of the most powerful tools leaders can use to design experiences that drive tangible results. However, the process can become expensive, time-consuming, and ineffective when not done correctly. If you avoid the pitfalls above, you will be on your way to a successful journey-mapping initiative that will set your organization up for sustained success.

What other advice do you have for leaders embarking on a journey-mapping initiative?


Steve Kock


Speed Journey Mapping at NESHCo 2024


Our Takeaways from HMPS24 in Las Vegas

Journey Mapping

The Power of Journey Mapping: How to Avoid Pitfalls and Design Impactful Experiences