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Journey maps are one of the best tools I’ve seen for helping companies understand their end-to-end customer experience from the customer perspective. But I’ve found that many prospective journey mappers embark on this activity without articulating what they want to get out of it — and without fully grasping that there are several variations of journey maps to help them achieve their objectives.

In my CX travels, I’ve encountered four major types of journey maps. While they look similar on the surface, each has a different focus and business purpose.

Existing state: These journey maps illustrate what your customers do, think, and feel as they interact with your business today. Because these maps highlight existing pain points between you and your customers, they’re best suited for driving incremental improvements to your customer experience. They’re also the most common type of journey map and typically look something like the one pictured above (which was created by Craig Goebel for Intuit’s TurboTax Personal Pro service).

Day-in-the life: These journey maps also illustrate what people do, think, and feel today. But they take a wider view by examining everything that customers or prospects do (within a specific area of focus), whether that involves your company or not. Because these maps highlight existing pain points in peoples’ lives, they’re best suited for driving innovation through addressing unmet needs.

Future state: These journey maps illustrate what your customers will do, think, and feel as they interact with your business at some point in the future. They’re best suited for communicating your vision for how new products, services, and experiences will function.

System: Often called service blueprints, these diagrams usually start with a simplified version of either an existing or future state journey map. Then they layer on the system of people, processes, policies, and technologies (both customer-facing and behind-the-scenes) that are responsible for delivering that experience today or in the future. If built on an existing state journey map, system journey maps can help you identify the root causes of existing customer paint points. If built on a future state journey map, they can help you identify the system that needs to be in place to support the intended experience.

Have you seen other flavors of journey maps that I’ve missed? Please let me know!

And if you need any help with your journey mapping efforts, just give me jingle. I'd love to help.