Where to Find the Data for a Customer Journey Map

By Jeff Sauro

The customer journey should be based on data that describes reality, not any idealistic image or impression you might have. Here are approaches for gathering data to build the customer journey:

  • Look for existing data: Before planning an extensive research campaign, look for existing sources of information.

    Surveys, customer interviews, and call logs to customer support usually have great insights into what the customer experiences. When the data’s already collected, there’s no reason not to use it.

  • Follow Me Home: One technique for conducting your own primary research is a technique called Follow Me Home. As the name suggests, you follow customer volunteers to their house or workplace and observe them.

    Intuit (maker of QuickBooks and TurboTax) used this extensively at one time. The idea is to immerse yourself into your customers’ typical lives to understand how they use and perceive your products and company.

    This is a great opportunity to get quotes and interview people face to face. Most importantly, it gives you an opportunity to observe what customers do rather than rely on what customers say.

  • Analytic thinking: If you have a good idea about how the process works, you can start by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and walking through his journey.

    This can be an easy way to get a journey map off the ground, but be prepared to validate your thinking and make room for corrections. You don’t want the journey to be based just on what you think.

  • Stakeholder interviews: Interview the sales team, the marketing team, accounting, a support person — anyone who has direct contact with customers at different stages.

    Look for patterns but don’t immediately dismiss one-off data points — look to corroborate them with later methods and data.

  • Survey customers: Surveys are one of the most efficient ways for collecting data from customers. Find a way to survey current, former, and prospective customers, and have them describe their process for deciding, purchasing, and using a product.

    Look for patterns and consider using third-party research firms that can present a more objective face to customers who may engage with your organization and its competition.