Over the past few years, journey mapping has emerged as an engaging and effective method for companies seeking to build a more customer-focused organization. It offers a fresh perspective and, with an increased emphasis on customer initiatives, is recognized as a popular and useful tool.
What is journey mapping?
Journey mapping is a process conducted by businesses to help them truly comprehend what their customers want and go through when they work with their company. By understanding the path a customer takes—the people and functions he or she interacts with along the way, and other enablers and obstacles—the journey map provides a complete picture of the customer experience.
Journey maps typically involve a series of highly interactive workshops to document the customer mindset and interactions from the perspective of the customer, as well as other internal and external stakeholders. The process makes the experience visible to the company, helps educate and train employees, and zeros in on the real moments of truth.
Workshops: Roll up your sleeves!
Journey mapping takes place in several stages, beginning with intelligent goal setting and planning with key people in your company. However, at the heart and soul of journey mapping are interactive workshops with a variety of stakeholders. This is where business processes are examined, touchpoints are documented, challenges surface, and ideas come to life.
While new technologies are emerging to provide digital options, I prefer old-fashioned methods. Here are what I consider to be the key ingredients of a good journey mapping workshop:
Paper: Bring a big roll and cover the entire wall—or multiple walls. This will be the canvas on which participants work. What begins as a blank page evolves to be a complex diagram of everything customers encounter.
Stickies: Use a generous supply of large sticky notes to document not only the customer touchpoints, but also the internal processes used to serve the customer. Often, several colors of notes are used because groups typically categorize steps in the process. For instance, yellow may represent what customers are trying to achieve, pink may document the steps they go through, green can represent the company's process, and so on.
Markers: Naturally, markers are necessary to write the steps, but they will inevitably be used to draw arrows, dashed lines, stars, and other symbols to signify unique strengths, key problems, snags, and ideas.
People: This is the most important ingredient! Workshops typically involve anywhere from five to 15 people at a time. Any more than 15 may become unmanageable. The key is to ensure that all perspectives are included. It is essential to involve a broad range of customers, not to mention a view from the inside. Internal workshops are important for documenting the view of employees, and you will likely need to conduct workshops with intermediaries such as distributors, channel partners, or retailers to factor in their perspectives.
While I view these as the primary ingredients for successful journey mapping workshops, I also recommend an ample supply of snacks, lots of coffee, and maybe a stash of beer and wine (or your beverage of choice) for a celebratory toast at the end. After all, this is hard work.
Taking ownership of the process
One of the best things about journey mapping is how people become thoroughly engaged. At the end of a workshop, participants can admire what they've created. The walls will likely be covered with a complex array of multicolored sticky notes with arrows, stars, asterisks, and other seemingly arbitrary markings. To an outsider, this may look disorganized and messy. However, to the participants, it is logical, coherent, significant, and meaningful. Not only do they understand it, but they own it.
Pulling it all together
Once workshops are completed, the information is distilled into a more presentation-worthy package or series of presentations to communicate challenges and propose solutions to drive action and change. Done right, this material is a powerful communication tool that becomes a living document for employees, the foundation for your organization&'s customer experience initiatives, and an important resource for strategy and action planning.
Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker Information, a customer intelligence consulting firm. You can read his blog at http://blog.walkerinfo.com/blog/engaging-the-enterprise, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.