Journey maps are a representation of the steps and emotional states that a person goes through to accomplish a specific goal. Because this tool allows you to map out and connect the most important journeys for any type of experience — including those of customers, partners, patients, employees, etc. — it provides a holistic view into a person’s full lifecycle with the organization.

Regardless of which type of experience you’re mapping, each journey will contain a number of interactions and touchpoints. You can think of these individual moments as frames in a comic strip, with each frame representing what the person is trying to do. Inside each frame, you should include the people, processes, and things that person (whether they’re a customer, employee, or partner) is directly interacting with as well as those they are not directly interacting with but which nevertheless impact the experience. For example, a customer’s rental car experience may be affected by the company’s underlying reservations systems and legal policies, while an employee’s experience may be impacted by an organization’s back-end security system that they never directly engage with.

While many XM professionals may be familiar with journey maps as a means to uncover problems or design future experiences, they are also useful for other purposes like helping to define your Voice of the Customer (VoC) or Voice of the Employee (VoE) programs. The map doesn’t even need to be particularly sophisticated or complex to help you identify VoC or VoE listening posts. A basic journey diagram is enough to help you visualize a person’s steps and determine the four W’s: Why, When, Who, and What.


Why do you ask?

Modern XM efforts systematically take action based on insights. Having a prioritized set of actions you intend to take based on the insights from each listening post is key to designing a successful listening program. Using experience data (X-data) and operational data (O-data) to understand the potential value of experience improvements is a powerful way to determine which actions to prioritize. Including O-data alongside X-data in your journey map will help you see the potential relationships between the two types of data. This will help you assess the potential business value of improving an experience and prioritize which actions to take once your listening posts are in place. Presenting the potential value of different improvement opportunities gives senior management the information they need to prioritize the ones with the highest potential value to the business. 

  • Customer experience example: A rental car company looking to improve customer lifetime value and profitability by increasing the number of repeat customers could build a map for the car rental journey. To understand which of these improvements to prioritize, you could incorporate O-data, like upsell revenues, repeat visits per year, and complaint volumes, which would help you model the effect of each improvement.
  • Employee experience example: A retailer looking to improve employee experience could calculate the potential value of improving the onboarding experience by measuring the degree to which new employees who are more satisfied (X-data) with this journey have higher performance ratings and longer tenure (O-data).


When do you ask?

Listening posts should be seamlessly integrated into experiences. Journey maps show the steps people take on their path to a goal. This makes them useful for identifying the key interaction points where you want to place listening posts to gather experience insights. Those key interactions include Moments that Matter – the moments of greatest emotional intensity during an experience. Because Moments that Matter have an outsized effect on people’s perceptions of their experiences, you should establish primary listening posts that capture their insights during these events. While shorter journeys may only have a single Moment that Matters, longer journeys are likely to have 2-3.

  • Customer experience example: In the example of the car rental journey, if the Moment That Matters most for customers is when they pick up the car, you would want to set up your primary listening post at that moment. If you are looking at the customer’s broader journey of renting a car, you’ll want to include additional listening posts around other Moments that Matter, such as booking the reservation or returning the car.
  • Employee experience example: In the case of the retailer looking to improve its onboarding journey, the organization may embed a survey into the online training that all employees go through. They may follow up with a measure of the overall onboarding process 30 and 60 days post-hire to understand the experience more broadly.


Who do you ask?

At each listening post, you’ll want to ensure you are collecting feedback from the right mix of people using the most effective listening methods. Journey maps are helpful for facilitating those decisions because you can see relevant information side-by-side in the context of the journey. For example, for each listening post, you’ll want to consider how many people take the journey overall (and per channel) as well as the objectives for the use of insights gathered at each listening post. This will help you decide whether to gather insights from a representative sample of people or use a census approach. 

  • Customer experience example: Imagine the car rental company needs to set up a listening post for customer care interactions that are part of the car booking journey. You could show on the journey map the different contact options (e.g., live chat, a phone call, or an email), the customer volume per option, and your objective for the use of insights. If the objective is to measure the collective score for all live chats and the volume is high enough, you may design the listening post to sample only 20% of live chat customers, knowing that you’ll still get a statistically significant set of results.
  • Employee experience example: For the new employee onboarding journey, you may want to set up a listening post for IT help desk interactions that take place as part of that experience. Seeing that the intended use of that data gathering is for the purpose of coaching agents and the volume for each individual agent is low per day or per week in the context of the journey map would indicate that you’ll need to ask for input from everyone in order to get a statistically significant experience score.


What do you ask?

Once you’ve specified when in the journey you’ll establish listening posts, you then need to decide what to ask at each one. Start by looking at how listening posts link to key business objectives and what you need to know about experience perceptions at different steps in the journey to make improvements. Also look for cases where you can gather insights through passive listening instead of or in addition to surveys. Asking about people’s satisfaction levels and drivers at key touchpoints will allow you to identify friction points in the journey, understand why expectations are not being met, and identify opportunities to improve. 

  • Customer experience example: If car rental pick up is the Moment That Matters in the customer’s experience, then include survey questions at that listening post along with analytics to understand customers’ emotions, which along with other key drivers of satisfaction,  will be key for the rental car company to find opportunities to increase the number of repeat customers.
  • Employee experience example: For the retailer that’s looking to improve its onboarding experience to drive faster ramp times and increase tenure, it may have found through driver analysis that early employee engagement is driven by how easy or difficult it was to set up their new computer and physical workspace and how clear the new hire training modules were. Therefore, the onboarding should include an outcome measure, such as engagement or satisfaction with onboarding, as well as potential drivers of those attitudes.


Leonie Brown is a Senior Product XM Scientist with Qualtrics, specializing in Customer XM

Moira Dorsey is an XM Catalyst with the Qualtrics XM Institute