Why Customer Journey Mapping is like Christmas cake

I’m currently working on a communication plan to help engage various teams in a fantastic evolution on moving away from crusty old customer service and into a more progressive customer success mindset.  (To understand why, see my previous article here.)  As I often do, I was mulling over how I can simply explain to my audience on why customer journey mapping is so important, and why they need to buy in to the journey mapping work we have undertaken.  Late last night, it hit me.  Customer journey mapping is just like Christmas cake! Let me explain.

When I was 5 years old, my mother drew me into the family tradition of making the Christmas cake each December.  The recipe was originally created by my great grandfather, and had been passed down on a scrap of paper, which was subsequently re-written by each generation.  It was a particular recipe, requiring various processes, slightly unusual ingredients and a specific step of cooking a small “tester” cake to taste before the main cake was made.  It wasn’t just any Christmas cake, and you won’t find the recipe in any cookery book, but my great grandfather’s Christmas cake is THE most delicious Christmas cake in the world.  Each generation has been taught the recipe, the techniques and tips for creating the perfect cake, and we act as guardian of the quality and flavour of the cake each Christmas.

I’d never let my brother take charge of doing the Christmas cake.  He is very precise in weighing out the ingredients, but too impatient, and tends to rush the process.  My sister cooks from the heart, and although a fabulous cook, tends to ignore the detailed task of exactly weighing out all the ingredients.  Such uncertainty from either sibling risks a less than perfect Christmas cake.

In much the same way, when you map a customer journey, you take on the mantle of master chef.  Carefully detailing each customer interaction, laying out exactly how your product or service should work, from the moment a customer identifies a need, through signing up, on-boarding, adopting the product, re-nurture, renewal, growth or exit.  Without the customer journey map (the recipe), there is no way to control the consistency of the experience, measures fly out the window and ownership for the experience becomes unclear.

In the analogy, the ingredients and baking process represent your perfect customer journey.  As the owner of your product and master of its consumption, you should be able to document and share exactly how that product should work for a customer – your customer journey map.

Of course, the biggest difference between customer journey mapping and my great grandfather’s Christmas cake is that the former CAN & SHOULD be reviewed, tested and enhanced. Whether making for a better experience, introducing new elements to the product or reducing the cost or complexity to deliver the experience, a well-mapped customer journey is easy to evolve because you have a foundation to build on, and measures to track the impact of the change.  Happy baking, folks!

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