5 Questions to Ask When Making the Choice – Customer Journey Map or Touchpoint Map?

January 5, 2022

Marley Wagner

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy

They may sound the same, but customer journey maps are different from touchpoint maps (also known as service blueprints). They are both ways of looking at the customer journey, but one concentrates on the front-end, customer experience and the other focuses on the back-end processes that drive those experiences. Customer Success leaders must understand the differences between these two perspectives because each mapping technique is a separate tool in our CS toolbox, and each end result serves a different purpose.

Understandably, these two get mixed up frequently. They are both extremely useful in helping Customer Success teams work across the organization to continuously monitor and enhance the customer experience. If you haven’t yet read our deep dive on what makes each of these tools unique and how Customer Success organizations can leverage both customer journey maps and touchpoint maps for results, I recommend giving it a read. Here, I’ll go over a rundown of the questions you can ask yourself if you’re trying to decide which is best for the situation – customer journey map or touchpoint map?

1. Who am I making this for?

The most significant difference between a customer journey map and a touchpoint map/service blueprint is the point of view you’re using to create it. By definition, journey maps look at things from your customer’s point of view (read that again – it’s the most commonly overlooked and most critical factor here). Service blueprints, on the other hand, come at things from your business’s point of view. But, a more subtle way to look at this difference is from the point of view of the person or team you’re creating the map for. If they are a team deeply connected to processes, like an internal operations team, they may need a deeper understanding of the “how” behind the interactions between the user and the individuals supporting that user. A touchpoint map makes more sense in this scenario.

Customer Success Managers, on the other hand, might be investigating customer pain points and are more likely to need a map that visualizes the flow of a customer’s experience through essential parts of their journey. A journey map puts the customer experience into a comprehensible narrative. Teams that directly affect that narrative are more likely to need customer journey maps to improve the customer experience or track it during times of transformation.

2. Where in the customer journey are we looking?

Similarly, the phase of the customer journey you’re investigating could mean you should focus on one mapping technique over the other. A touchpoint map comes in handy if you’re zooming in on a specific process or playbook, especially within a phase later in the journey, like adoption, run-state, or maintain, or those that happen sometimes, but not all the time. For example, a Professional Services delivery process or Support procedures. Customer journey maps are particularly useful for a big picture view near the beginning of the customer relationship. TSIA believes that there is a correlation between positive Net Promoter Score (NPS) metrics and customer journey mapping at the beginning of onboarding. Combining a customer journey mapping exercise with Customer Success plans at the start of the customer lifecycle gives everyone a “clearer understanding on roles and responsibilities in obtaining their desired outcomes,” thus positively impacting NPS.

Keep in mind, each map type can be helpful at all stages of the customer journey, but looking at where your focus is can help determine which technique is best.

3. Why am I making this map?

Perhaps the best indicator of which mapping technique to choose is the reason you’re making the map in the first place. Your goals for it will help dictate if a journey map or touchpoint map makes more sense, as each facilitates different purposes and outcomes. A good rule of thumb is that a journey map works best when your goals are customer-centric – improving how a customer experiences your products and services. A touchpoint map is best when your goals revolve around internal design and functions – maximizing operational efficiency or improving processes.

Digital transformation initiatives may require some current state and future state mapping to help ease the transition for internal teams. In this case, touchpoint maps are a great tool because they can help you optimize internal resources as your organization makes the shift. Alternatively, if Product wants to know more about how customers interact with a specific function or if CS needs to learn more about why certain customers aren’t renewing, a journey map is probably the way to go.

4. How are we making this map?

Because customer journey maps and service blueprints often get confused, you may have already begun building one out. Or, you may have been given a direction to run in before really understanding which of these techniques will help you the most. In this case, knowing your most important data and metrics can get you on the right track. What information and factors are you looking at as you go into this mapping exercise? Are you tracking the roles of each department? Is customer satisfaction a specific point of interest?

In customer journey maps, you’re charting things like the actions, thoughts, and feelings of the customers themselves as they engage with your people, products, and services. You want to know the kinds of questions customers are asking in each phase, the challenges they face, and any opportunities these interactions present. In touchpoint maps, you’re diving deeper into which internal team is interacting with the customer, when they are doing so, and how (physical or digital) they are doing it.

Pro tip: Tracking customer satisfaction throughout is always a good idea, no matter which map you’re making!

5. What happens next?

After you put in all this work to create a map of the customer experience, what will you do with it? Sure, you had a goal in mind, but what are your concrete next steps? In our experience, too many organizations go through all the trouble of building these maps, only to stick them in a drawer. First, don’t let that be you! Second, whatever you plan to do with your map after its creation will help determine which type of map you need.

Interestingly enough, creating touchpoint maps is a common next step after first creating a customer journey map. This happens because once you’ve visualized the overall experience at a high level from the customer’s perspective, it’s a natural thought progression to then want to go a step deeper.

CS teams can really benefit from creating and using both of these map types. In fact, used together, these two can be powerful tools for change. Customer Success teams should be looking at the customer experience from both the internal and external perspectives, but it’s critical to understand what you’re aiming for before jumping in. That’s why you should ask yourself these questions and decide which type of map works best for your specific situation. Then you can determine what you need, customer journey map, touchpoint map, or both, before committing.