Top 6 Reasons Why Experience Maps Fail

05 Mar 2018
Top 6 Reasons Why Experience Maps Fail
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Nick Partridge

Out with the confusing, in with the crystal clear. In an effort to help brands innovate profitably, Senior Innovation Director, Nick Partridge, makes the case for a new kind of consumer experience map.

This is the third in a multipart series on the Roadblocks to Innovation—where we’ll be providing real-world examples, actionable insights and practical tools that can help you innovate to win. Read part one and part two.

Before we can talk about how to improve customer experience maps, let’s start with a definition. In the branding world, the customer-experience map tends to be one of the following:

  • A large, colorful chart that impresses leadership for a few weeks and then gathers dust in the corner.
  • A complex visualization that requires a user manual in order to identify anything productive.
  • A user-centered process that, once completed, leaves teams too exhausted to take further action.

All joking aside, organizations are hungry for growth, and experience maps are a great way to identify opportunities to increase top-line revenue. But if you’ve ever mapped your brand’s customer experience, you know this tool could be improved.

Here are 6 Roadblocks that stand in the way of successful customer-experience work and the growth opportunities it hopes to uncover.

1. Organization Lacks Urgency
People are not motivated or incentivized to make the changes needed for an innovation to succeed. Often the experience-design team toils away for months, only for senior stakeholders to admire the artifact but ultimately provide little more than lip service to the final product.

2. No Organization-Wide Idea Gathering
Once the experience is mapped, the team lacks a system to gather and advance promising ideas across the organization. Often, ownership of experience-mapping efforts is delegated too far down into one function, lacking the visibility needed to engage a broad audience for serious activation.

3. Inactionable Insights
Exploratory research often results in stale insights that fail to make new connections or inspire fresh ideas. There’s nothing worse than to be drawn in by an impressive-looking experience map, only to find there is nothing new to learn from it.

4. Idea Obsessed, Execution Allergic
Some project teams are so fixated on the artifacts of the experience-mapping process that they lose sight of their ultimate growth objectives. Teams may entertain and discuss many ideas, but rarely act on any of them.

5. No Home in the Organization
If ownership of the customer experience has no clear home in the organization, it will likely languish. In this case, different functions may map their own version of the experience, but they are often disconnected from the rest of the organization and irrelevant to other groups.

6. Difficult to Scale
Many organizations recognize the value of experience mapping, but find it difficult and expensive to initiate based on existing capabilities. For teams that need short-term wins, creating a comprehensive experience map can seem daunting and inefficient.

We think there’s a better way to map the customer experience—a more scalable and shareable tool that increases the pace of innovation and delivers both short-term wins and long-term growth. To start a deeper conversation, reach out to me at

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