Market researchers can be creative. No really! We can be.
Even today, people still think about market research professionals as statisticians, math people, or numbers-gurus.
We still hold those associations close to heart, but our job involves so much more than just numbers.
For example, journey mapping is another growing trend in market research that plays on the creative side of the fence.
Although journey maps are based on data and statistics behind a path to purchase, the actual map itself can be understood by all.
It is another reason we love our job more and more each day as these new tools get added to our toolbox.
In this blog post, our market research company defines journey mapping, the importance of journey maps, and the process of creating a data-driven journey map.
What is Journey Mapping in Market Research?
First things first, let's share a brief definition of journey mapping.
The Definition of Journey Mapping
Journey mapping is the process of boiling down all touchpoints and interactions a customer has with a company, organization, or brand into one path to purchase.
It is a technique used in market research, customer experience (CX) surveys, marketing strategy, and operations to help outline all of the potential touchpoints a customer or potential customer has on their path to purchase a product or service.
Journey mapping forces brands to think about market research differently. Not as a single solution, but as a service that integrates all facets of an organization.
Additionally, as infographics, data visualization, and dashboards have grown in market research, it's forced us researchers to think as non-researchers.
Some market research professional's creative hats may be larger than others, but nonetheless, we all must wear them at some point. Especially during reporting time.
Example of Journey Mapping in Market Research
Graphically appealing deliverables such as journey maps force brands to digest and display the insights and numbers in an easy to comprehend and visually appealing fashion.
In a way all can understand, not just those who have a background in statistics.
They become shareable pieces of information for all divisions in an organization, not just the math nerds.
For example, pick an airline company. Delta. Southwest. Jet Blue. You choose.
Now think about all of the potential touchpoints a customer has with that airline from the time they decide to take a trip to the time they arrive at the destination.
A journey map highlights all of the relevant touchpoints for the organization.
Here are just a few of the touchpoints outlined in the journey map:
- Airline website: how the customer looks up, reviews, and books tickets on the site
- Email: think about the confirmation emails, reminder emails, check-in emails
- Kiosk: arriving at the airport, this would be the customer printing tickets, adding baggage, etc.
- On-flight experience: boarding the plane, service while on-flight, food and beverages
- Post-flight survey: email survey asking how the experience was, what can be improved, etc.
Now, these are only simple examples of touchpoints. In reality, each of those touchpoints has touchpoints within them and they could be further broken down.
On top of this, there are several other points along the airline customer journey we did not outline in the list of 5.
The Importance of Journey Mapping
1. Better understand the customer experience.
Journey mapping helps your organization understand the entire customer experience (CX) including every touchpoint along the way.
The maps help you understand all points of a journey that are often missed by quantitative surveying.
For example, a journey map might detail a heavy amount of search for a product or service in the research phase.
Answering a question such as, "How visible is our brand on Google?" is often difficult to assess or measure with online surveys.
2. Visualize customer patterns.
By identifying all touchpoints, it helps an organization understand customer flow from step-to-step. It helps a brand visualize patterns.
By first identifying them, you can then discover ways to monitor and measure them.
3. Identify gaps in your current CX programs.
Journey mapping in market research will also help you identify gaps in your current CX or Voice of Customer (VoC) programs where no feedback is being obtained.
This is the ultimate goal of journey mapping: to ensure all important touchpoints have a measurement tool in place to monitor them.
Let's say a hotel conducts a customer survey and finds that 58% of reservations come through their website.
The survey also gathers feedback about the ease of use of the website, improvements to the site, and so on.
While this feedback is helpful, does it really explore the user experience (UX) of your website?
A journey map can help you understand and place emphasis on specific areas of the customer journey that need it the most.
It walks you through all steps including research and planning, shopping, booking, pre-travel, travel, and post-travel.
Journey Mapping Process Work in Market Research
Step #1: Conduct a Customer Survey
Two important perspectives to map out are:
- The organizational view of the customer journey.
- The customers' view of the journey.
Understand that these may be very different but both need to be mapped out and understood fully.
What the organization views as a strength in the customer journey may not be viewed as a strength by the same customers.
This is often why an organization starts with a broad customer survey as a first step before drawing a journey map.
Watch this video to learn what our market research professionals believe are the most important questions to include in a customer survey.
Step #2: Create a Comprehensive Map of the Customer Journey
Once you have each laid out, you will need to create a comprehensive map and overview of the journey including each touchpoint (no matter how small or minor).
During this process, you must identify ways to measure each touchpoint.
- What does a good experience look like at each stage?
- Should it be easy, quick, and frustration-free?
List ways to measure this through secondary data or primary survey data through VoC programs.
If the journey involves online or mobile parts (most do) Google Analytics is a great resource to measure.
Step #3: Identify Areas of Opportunity
Finally, identify the areas which need the most improvement. These touchpoints become your priority focus for the next steps and outcomes.
The ultimate goal of a customer journey map is to make the following claim:
"We reviewed our typical customer journey from Steps A to J. We are able to measure 80% of these steps currently but we realized that among the 20% that are not currently measured, two of those unmeasured steps have a large impact on satisfaction, loyalty, and purchase intent on our brand. These priority areas need to be further examined through market research using both VoC and UX."
This type of solution statement is a typical next step or recommendation from customer journey mapping.
As with any research, a journey map answers a lot of questions for your organization but will also likely raise a few others which leads to continual improvement.
Drive Research is a national market research company located in Upstate New York. Although based in Syracuse, we work with organizations across the country on VoC, CX, and UX needs.
Need a proposal on journey mapping or a CX program? Contact our team today for a project quote.
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George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX-certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.
Learn more about George, here.
**Editor's Note: This blog post was originally posted in March of 2018 but has since been updated for readability.