Our thinking

Taking Journey Maps to the Next Level: Part 2, How to Approach Your Project

Share This Post

3 Key Takeaways:

  1. For organizations new to journey mapping, it’s best to start small and “applied” – identify a finite CX problem with a practical application for the findings.
  2. Whether your project is experiential or applied in nature will likely impact the project’s scale, budget, timelines, and details of the research plan.
  3. Don’t forget to reserve budget to take action on your findings.

In our last blog, we discussed the basics of journey mapping – what it is and why it’s valuable to many healthcare organizations.  If you are considering a journey map project, it’s important to understand that there are many ways to build journey maps dependent on your budget, goals and timelines.  In this blog, we’ll help you think through the scope of your project.  Regardless of how expansive your research parameters turn out to be, what’s most important is that you’re thinking about and learning what it is that your patients or customers are experiencing.  That’s customer experience gold.

Below are considerations to help you determine the size and scope of your journey map project:

First, determine the project’s “elevation” by asking yourself: “What problem am I looking to solve?”

Are you looking to strategically understand what your customers value from you as a brand, or are you most interested in improving a particular, concrete and precise experience they have with your brand?  Those are very different questions that will help you determine the “elevation” of your journey mapping research project – experiential vs. applied.

  • Experiential: You’re interested in examining the 50,000’, 20,000’, or 10,000’ view of the patient’s experience.  This means a patient’s journey and interactions with your organization as a brand or within a framework that is wider in range (e.g. specialty services as opposed to a specific service line).  These types of projects give applicable insights into brand positioning, messaging, and opportunities to improve the overall customer experience.
  • Applied: This is your 10’ or ground-level view of the patient experience.   Rather than casting a wider net such as specialty services, you’re investigating a person’s journey within a specific service line (e.g. Orthopedic services).  You can lower in your elevation even further – or more applied within a segment of a service line – such as a “high school athlete’s journey for sports medicine treatment”.  As your elevation gets lower and more applied you can uncover deep, insightful and precise data.

How your choice of “elevation” impacts the Research Project Plan.

You’ve determined the question you’re looking to answer.  Great.  So, how will that impact the research project?  In general, experiential journey maps are more expansive in nature, while applied maps are faster in their delivery and project plan.   Remember, journey mapping projects can and should be tailored to fit your outcome needs.  The below chart includes just a few general project plan assumptions based on the elevation you choose for the research:

Research Plan Details Applied Experiential
Project Length Generally quicker project plans with faster time to deliverable. Usually longer due to the increased length of journeys being investigated.
Cost Cheaper than expansive projects due to less lead time, recruiting and participation costs, but can give you quick wins and the ability to tackle low-hanging fruit. Higher budgets due to the increased length of journeys being investigated, research subjects, and number of journeys mapped.
Length of Journey A finite customer-organization interaction or experience. Can look at finite experiences or a longer customer journey (sometimes even a lifespan view).
Number of Journeys Generally one or two. Often allows for a greater depth of research including multiple journeys.
Research Subjects Can include a group of internal employees who know your customer best to help tell their story (for super-fast) or a limited number of customers. Generally includes an array of customers.
Array of Perspectives Due to the speed and budget constraints, these projects generally focus on a single or limited number of personas. Can include what we call the “Real Social Network” – Understanding perspectives from not only the patient, but the people who go on the healthcare journey with the patient and what their needs are – such as a caregiver, family, friend, church member, etc.


Not sure where to start?  Why “applied” projects often make the most business sense.

Our experience has been that journey maps generally have both experiential and aspects to them.  However, most organizations, unless championed by senior executives, just don’t have the readiness to deal with the learnings from high-level experiential projects – whether due to limited resourcing or competing priorities.  That’s why especially for organizations that are new to journey mapping, it’s often best to start with an “applied” project.  While the brand experience is always a research backdrop, we can be looking for practical ways to solve real problems (like learning how to run a more effective or segmented marketing campaign) – uncovering how people make decisions and removing barriers to increase conversion.  Now that’s applied.

Unless you’re doing CX strategy at the highest level with leadership buy-in, the smaller-scale projects give most organizations the best bang for your buck.  They’re cheaper than expansive projects due to less lead time, recruiting and participation costs, but can give you quick wins and the ability to tackle low-hanging fruit.  It takes customer experience research down to the masses in a way that’s affordable and actionable.

Don’t forget to reserve budget to apply your findings.  Improvement is goal, isn’t it?

It’s critical to have resources aligned to do something with the findings.  If you can’t consume it, you may not actualize the promised impact of your research..  This is why the smaller, more applied projects make sense for many of our healthcare industry clients.  They identify a customer experience problem, we design the research, conduct it, gather and analyze real customer insights, solve it, and address it.  Address it – That’s the part many forget about.

At Red Privet, we suggest that clients have some pre-budgeted solution in mind when embarking on a journey mapping project.  Whether that’s a web design project, an app, or another digital or offline initiative.  When there is a pre-budgeted solution in mind (even if the journey map outcome changes it somewhat), there is a place to apply the learnings.  Without a budget to apply findings, it’s like going to a financial advisor with no money to invest.  They may have the greatest investment ideas in the world, but if you went in with no investable assets, where’s the value?

To reap the greatest return on your journey mapping investment, remember to reserve budget for the application of findings.  Stay tuned for our next blog for tips on how to incorporate action items into the journey maps themselves.

>> Read Part 3: Beyond the Map – In this blog, we outline 3 forward-thinking ways to take your journey maps to the next level.

Taking Journey Maps to the Next Level – Blog Series:

See our journey mapping case studies:


Share This Post

Back to top