First of a two-part series

Customer journey mapping is on the minds of far more people today than five years ago — and I didn’t need to check Google Trends to prove it.

I’m speaking from experience.

In 2012, I gave a presentation on customer journey mapping at the CRMUG Summit, the annual Microsoft Dynamics CRM learning and networking event. It drew about two dozen people.

This year, I again presented on customer journey mapping at the same conference —and drew a standing-room-only crowd.

More than 150 people squeezed into a room designed for less than 100. As one person who unsuccessfully tried to enter the room later told me, “I opened the door and people fell out.”

I was flattered, of course. But I was even more curious. What drew all these people here?

Interest in Customer Journeys

The room was full of marketing professionals. Most were from B2B companies with revenues between $50 million and $250 million. Most had marketing teams of two to 10 people — and most felt they were behind the curve in understanding their customer journeys.

Only one marketing professional felt his customers still followed a linear journey. He works in railroads.

When I asked who was thinking about personas, a small group of hands went up.

A few hands also went up when I asked who had experience with customer journey mapping.

But almost everyone in the room raised a hand when I asked who had questions about the most effective ways to create customer journey maps. That answered my question.

Customer Journey Mapping Basics

I instantly knew why so many people were here and the type of information they wanted me to share. It also reinforced my belief that more and more companies not only see the need to better understand their customers but are also willing to invest time and effort to do so.

My goal during the presentation was to break down the mystique around creating a customer journey map. To that end, I took a couple of volunteers from the room and walked them through the mapping process on the spot.

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There are many versions of journey maps, from basic Excel files to visually attractive renderings.

Embrace Customer Journey Mapping

I advised the room of marketing professionals to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. The big questions: “What’s it like to experience your company as a prospect or a customer? How easily can you find the product or service you’re interested in? Once you reach out to the company, how long does it take to get a response? Then what?”

By honestly answering those questions, you can kick-start the journey mapping process. Take it slow and resist the urge to feel overwhelmed. Don’t let fear get in the way of getting started.

In part two of this series, I’ll offer step-by-step instructions to get the journey mapping conversation started in your organization. 

Margaret Wise leads Arke Systems' initiatives related to their strategic technology partners including Microsoft and Sitecore. Margaret joined the Microsoft CRM ecosystem with the introduction of Microsoft CRM v1 and has been contributing her extensive CRM experience ever since. Margaret holds an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Brenau University. Margaret has also volunteered around Atlanta through Hands On Atlanta, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, at her church and her children’s school in Dunwoody. She has been a member of TAG (Technology Association of Georgia), CRM Society for 8 years and a board member for 3 years. As a member of WIT (Women in Technology), her favorite volunteer opportunities have been to mentor through Girls Get IT. Margaret is an avid reader and runner but mostly enjoys spending time with her husband, 10 year old son and 7 year old daughter.