User journey maps are used to visualise the experiences of people when using a product or service, evaluating each individual interaction and identifying improvements that can be made at each moment. The map tells the ‘story’ of an individual’s actions, feelings, perceptions, considerations and behaviours including positive as well as negative moments, covering all such interactions over sometimes long periods of time. Such documentation of a series of events helps shift business focus from an operational (system) point of view to a the broader context of how individuals interact with the business in the real world.
Such mapping can help identify specific moments and processes that drive strong emotional reactions and/or need improvement, refinement or greater focus. Mapping can identify those interactions that are currently working optimally as well as those which are failing, and sometimes it may also identify interactions that are insignificant and may be removed. It helps stakeholders agree and work together around key triggers and barriers to improving experience and growing business.
Mapping exercises often follow work on personas and business scenarios, and all are (and should be) informed by a clear focus on how customers use and interact with a product or service. They can provide rich qualitative data to develop business narratives that reflect the real needs of customers (and prospects). Each map usually represents a specific customer persona (archetype) or segment, sometimes limited to a specific scenario although they can also reflect an entire relationship or lifecycle. The map should honestly reflect the reality of interactions with a business, including the good and the bad, and moments of indecision, confusion, frustration, delight, neutrality and closure. There may be a need for a number of maps to reflect the experiences of different personas or segments who will have different successes and pain points.
Often early versions of a journey map will be used as input for discussion and workshopping with stakeholders with understanding of the different interactions and the underlying operations and business challenges. Bringing decision makers together helps ensure that everyone understands the issues, and identify realistic and impactful changes and improvements that can make a real difference to the total journey and overall experience.
Universal Methods of Design by Martin & Hanington