Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Journey Mapping - Basic Approach and Content

In the previous couple of posts on journey mapping, we discussed the importance of completing two preliminary but essential activities before undertaking any mapping exercise:
  1. Formulating responses to the 6 key “pre-mapping” questions - Overall purpose of the maps? Who will develop the maps? Existing customer research to draw upon? What stakeholders will be involved in the development of the maps? What persona will be used (see the next point)? How will the map be socialized within the organization?
  2. The need to develop a persona, or a specific customer perspective on which the journey map will be based.  This is important because depending on such factors as age or life-stage, familiarity with the product / service, or affluence, the same journey or transaction can be experienced in different ways by different types of customers.


Remember, our initial objective is to develop a visual representation of the various touchpoints a customer experiences when completing an end-to-end transaction.  We will subsequently validate our efforts by sharing the map with customers who represent our persona…this validation will add further texture and substance to our map as customers elaborate on their (emotional) satisfaction or dissatisfaction with both the individual touchpoints, and the overall transaction.  With all of this completed, we will then be able to map the “future state” or what the experience will look like after we’ve addressed the issues coming out of the design of our initial map.  This initial stab at a  future state will, in essence, serve as our hypothesis for how the enhanced and (hopefully) improved transaction should be experienced by the customer…ongoing monitoring of customer feedback will determine whether our hypothesis succeeded in delivering an improved journey, or if further refinements are required.

Let’s now focus on the mechanics of actually developing a journey map.  It’s recommended that the initial effort always consist of a “low-tech” approach that uses Post-It Notes placed on a large roll of butcher paper or a wall.  The Post-It Notes represent the various customer and internal touchpoints that make-up the overall transaction.  While some dedicated journey mapping software is available, its use is often not conducive to the back-forth discussion among participants that’s often part of a mapping workshop.  At this stage, you’ll want to maintain flexibility to remove or reposition the Post-It Notes in order to accurately reflect the stakeholders’ perception of how the journey unfolds.  Once you have agreement on the flow and detail captured in your Post-It Note version, you can then capture this in more permanent digital format suitable for circulation.  I’ve always found the following method suggested in Outside-In (1) by Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning, to be the simplest approach in developing your map.  Now, putting your customer hat on…

  1. First, draw a horizontal line length-wise across your butcher paper or wall.  The space above the line will be used to capture all of the customer-facing touchpoints.  In the space below the line, the various internal activities that enable or support a touchpoint are recorded.  If, for example, a touchpoint in the transaction is an e-mail promotion, the e-mail is captured above the line, and the marketing department or agency that produced the e-mail is shown below the line.  In your initial map, resist the temptation to add too much detail as this takes time and could derail your efforts.  At this point, focus on capturing the essence of the journey.  On your second pass (and there will likely be several passes), additional detail can be added if required. Note all of the steps a customer experiences in progressing through the journey.  Record one step per Post-It Note, and place it on your wall or butcher paper.  So, in purchasing a motorcycle, the initial steps might be: 1) receive a promotional e-mail from a bike manufacturer; 2) visit manufacturer’s website; 3) visit a local dealer, etc.
  2. The next step is to identify all of the people and groups that the customer interacts with at each step, such as a dealer salesperson. You’ll also want to capture all of the corresponding physical objects or digital touchpoints the customer interacts with.  These could include a direct-mailer, the company’s website, or an e-mail.
  3. Once you’ve captured all of the customer-related activities that comprise the journey, or transaction, you’ll need to focus on the internal company “mechanisms” that support these activities.  It is only by visualizing the explicit connection between the customer’s experience and the organization’s methods for delivering that journey that you’ll be able to identify pain points and opportunities for improvement.  Turning to the area below the horizontal line, (in Outside-In, this is referred to as the “Line of Visibility” as customers do not typically see these activities) capture the internal people, external suppliers, processes, and systems that deliver the above-the-line customer journey.  Using the same Post-It Note method, record one activity per Note.

Now that you have depicted the journey’s ecosystem (that is, the internal and customer perspectives), you’ll next want to identify specific problem areas from the perspective of both your customer as well as from the internal stakeholders who may also have their own pain points that prevent them from delivering the intended customer experience.  To do this, you’ll need three colors of sticky dots - green, yellow and red - that can be placed on each of the Post It Notes on the journey map.  Making your way through each of the Notes both above and below the line, place a green dot on those Notes where that item is working well from the perspective of the person who touches it (again, either the customer, or the internal stakeholder), place a yellow dot on those Notes that, are working okay, but could be improved and add value to the user, and place a red dot on Notes that are unambiguous pain points.  You’ll want to rely on as much hard data as possible in assigning the dots such that you’re confident in the coding, and more importantly, you’ll have a basis for prioritizing the fixes.

Over the next couple of posts, we’re going to focus on 1) determining a priority for which pain-points to tackle such that you’re getting the biggest bang for the buck; 2) a method for how to address each pain point to ensure that all facets of the problem and solution are addressed.


(1) Outside-In, by Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Customer Journey Mapping - Getting Started

A conventional journey by car or plane has a starting point, when we plan our route on a map, for example, and likely ends when we reach our destination.  So too does a journey map start with the point at which a customer starts to think about a transaction, and concludes with an agreed upon “destination”…a purchase or an activation, for example.  The objectives of the map are to identify and understand all of the various obvious and not-so-obvious touchpoints that a customer experiences though out the various facets of their particular transaction, while also capturing all of the related activities the organization undertakes to deliver on those particular activities.  It’s only by understanding the various dynamics of the journey from both the customer’s and the company’s perspectives can pain-points be identified, and enhancements developed.  

Just as a car or plane trip is experienced from the perspective of the individual travellers, so too is a particular transaction with your organization completed within the context of specific customer types.  Consider, for example, the purchase of a motorcycle by two different customer types…an ardent cyclist who uses his or her bike for extensive weekend trips, and a commuter who uses the bike to get to work each day.  From a purchase perspective, these two customer types are likely to take very different journeys in completing their purchases.  They may, for example, consult different research sources to learn more about the particular bike model, or they may shop for their bike at different dealerships that cater to either enthusiasts or commuters.  While the motorcycle manufacturer or dealer may have some anecdotal sense of these two different customer types, without the benefit of a journey map, they likely don’t have a robust understanding of how each experiences the end-to-end ownership of their bike.  With this in mind, the critical first step in developing a journey map is to establish the specific customer perspective (or persona) that the map will depict.

Personas are based on customer research that provides insights on various qualitative characteristics such as interests and lifestyles.  In many cases, an organization will already have this information available in the form of segments that make the most sense for facilitating the marketing and sales of the company’s products or services.  When segments either aren’t available or may not be applicable to developing a journey map, it will be necessary to develop a persona who represents the key characteristics of a particular customer type that completes a transaction with your company.  In the motorcycle illustration, for example, the company may have segmented customers based on the particular model, but neglected to account for the fact that the bike is purchased by both enthusiasts and commuters, and as mentioned, each goes about shopping for a bike in a different way.

If the creation of a persona is a prerequisite for your journey map, here’s a suggested approach as proposed in Designing for Growth by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie:

  1. Identify a small number of customers (generally 12 to 20) representing the range of demographic attributes of interest to you.  In our motorcycle case, for example, we might identify that the majority of purchasers of the XYZ model are male, aged 45 to 55, university educated with a median income of $120,000 per year.  Remember, both of our enthusiast and commuter buyers are drawn from this same demographic, and our task is to identify the characteristics of each for developing our persona.
  2. Conduct  a few pilot interviews.  Ask the customer to walk you through why and how they complete a transaction.  Make sure to capture as much detail as possible, including what they like and dislike about the experience.
  3. From your interviews, identify a number of psychographic dimensions that you think reveal the differences in customer type.  In the case of the motorcycle, these dimensions may be adventurous - practical; introvert - extrovert; help yourself - ask for help.  
  4. Select the two dimensions that you feel are the most revealing in which each quadrant represents a potential persona.  Refer to the example below.
  5. Position each of your interviewees into one of the quadrants, and describe the persona in as much psychographic and demographic detail as possible.  
  6. Select one or two of these personas and develop a journey map for how each experiences the same transaction.


Now that a persona or personas have been established, we can proceed in the next post with the development of our journey map.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Customer Journey Mapping - Preliminary Questions

As mentioned in the previous post, a well constructed journey map is probably the CX manager’s most valuable tool.  That’s because a journey map: 1) can readily identify and/or clarify particular sources of customer dissatisfaction; 2) through its visual format, effectively communicates how the customer experiences a transaction, and how the organization delivers that transaction to the customer; 3) can help to inform the strategies and tactics of various functional areas throughout the company, including marketing, advertising, produce development, and customer service.

Given the many benefits of journey mapping, it’s not uncommon to see organizations plunge straight in and begin developing maps for various transactions.  Resist this temptation, and instead, focus on organizing your journey mapping strategy by addressing the following questions before getting started:

  • What is the overall purpose of your particular map or maps?  Is it to address a known CX issue?  To design a new service process?  To inform your overall CX strategy?  You’ll want to keep this in mind because the answer will, to a certain extent, inform the content of your map (e.g. the map may be constructed from a ground level, 10,000-foot, or 30,000-foot point of view).
  • Who will develop the journey maps?  If it’s an internal effort, is there sufficient expertise and objectivity?  If an outside partner is involved, is there sufficient budget?  Will confidential information be included?
  • What customer research do you have on hand to help with developing the journey map?  Consider deferring the development of your map until you have a reasonably good understanding of how your customer experiences a transaction and how they evaluate the effectiveness of various touchpoints.
  • What stakeholders will be involved in the creation of the journey map?  In addition to validating the map with customers, you’ll also need input from those functions in the organization that directly or indirectly support the delivery of the transaction.  Developing a journey map can take some time, so remember to secure in advance the availability and commitment that will be required of your stakeholders.  
  • From what customer perspective (persona) will the journey be mapped?  We’ll go into this in more detail in a future post.  Before developing your map, it’s critical that you identify the customer segment or type that’s experiencing a particular journey.  If you’re an airline, for example, the online reservation experience is likely different from the perspective of a seasoned business traveler versus that of an occasional leisure passenger.
  • How will the map be socialized within the organization?  Limiting exposure of the map to only those directly involved in its development severely shortchanges the journey mapping process.  As mentioned earlier, a well constructed journey map is not just a CX tool…it can also inform the business plans of other functional areas.  

Answering these questions in advance of your journey mapping activities should help you in preparing and executing your plan, and hopefully result in a more effective outcome.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Let’s use this post to summarize what we’ve covered over the last several months, and then set the stage for an extended discussion focusing on the development and use of customer journey maps.  In my opinion, journey maps are the must-have tool for a customer experience manager because they capture the customer’s perspective on how he or she interacts with your company.  As a result, journey maps play a critical role in informing the strategies of not only customer experience, but also those of marketing, product development, public relations, and any other part of the organization that directly or indirectly touches a customer. 

So, as a new CX manager, we had two strategic challenges to address: 1) establish credibility for a new initiative that, in many companies, is greeted with some skepticism; 2) under the heading of “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” we needed to develop a method for systematically capturing customer feedback and then acting on that information to resolve immediate problems and prevent future recurrences.  We reasoned that implementing an initial customer feedback approach would also help us in establishing the credibility of CX.

To recap, let’s again look briefly at each of the key components of our CX foundation that’s built on customer feedback and problem resolution:

We started with an initial assessment of the customer landscape guided by the question... “what is the state of key CX performance?”.  In this case, some basic assessment items include any recent customer research, with a particular eye on satisfaction and loyalty metrics that might be available.  Coming across a recent industry satisfaction report, we learned that our company trailed most competitors on a variety of service and product metrics, and that the underperformance was especially apparent in specific sales territories as well as in some key service channels.  As a result, we now had a reasonably good high-level understanding of some customer (and company) pain-points. 

We then determined whether the company as whole, or any individual department or business unit maintained some type of issue resolution method focused on identifying and responding to sources of dissatisfaction at the individual customer level.  As suspected, this key CX component, “the foundation”  as we call it, was not in place.  Barring a more urgent finding, we had a pretty good idea at this point that developing the company’s CX foundation would be our first major undertaking.

Our next step in the assessment was to arrange personal discussions with a few selected staff.  Our interviews included customer-facing employees, as well as back-office staff who have a supporting connection with the front-line.  We also talked to a few vendors who are involved in some way with contributing to the company’s customer offerings.  

Finally, we synthesized our initial findings using a one page summary capturing the most salient customer facing issues.  From this, we used Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Assessment (1) to determine where our company stands on the customer centricity continuum.

As we initially thought, the design and implementation of a robust customer feedback system would serve as our starting point.  Indeed, customer feedback, and the objective interpretation of this information is the lifeblood of a strong customer experience undertaking.  Together with the introduction of a transaction survey, we also implemented the problem solving process...these two items serve as the foundation of our CX initiative. 

Recall that our transaction survey was a modest undertaking in that we focused on collecting feedback from a single customer journey…the online purchase process.  Too much data can be overwhelming to work with, so starting with results from a single transaction type will facilitate the development of potential responses that we may need to develop.  Effective responses will, in turn, contribute to the credibility for CX that we’re initially wanting to establish in the organization.
Lastly, remember that our problem solving method consists of two components: 1) an immediate (tactical) reply to a dissatisfied customer and the presentation of resolution to their problem, or an appeasement if appropriate; 2) in cases where the source of customer dissatisfaction is due to a systemic issue in the organization, a (strategic) decision to potential develop a more permanent solution that will prevent the dissatisfaction from recurring.

Now let’s turn to a brief introduction of customer journey mapping.  At its simplest level, a journey map is a visual depiction of how a particular customer type (a Persona) interacts with your organization throughout the course of a particular transaction or event.  As the name implies, a journey has a defined beginning and end, which represent the logical starting and completion points of the transaction.  Again, at its simplest level, the journey map captures the “jobs” the customer is attempting to complete as she proceeds through the event…we’ll explore the concept of “jobs” in a lot more detail in a future post.  

Beyond a basic depiction of the customer’s interactions, the journey map can become more informative by including what Forrester Research describes as the customer “ecosystem”(2)…that is, capturing the complete environment of employees, vendors, technologies, and marketing communications that enable the customer’s transaction.  Visualizing the ecosystem allows for a fuller understanding of the strong and weak points of how a customer experiences the particular transaction, and this facilitates the development of corrective actions and enhancements to the process.


It’s important to also note that a journey map’s use should not be limited to the CX context.  A well developed map can serve to inform the strategies and tactics for marketing, I.T., public relations, advertising, product development, and any other organizational function that touches the customer in some way.  Over the course of the next several posts, we’ll discuss the various facets of journey mapping, including development, assessment, and most importantly, utilization for fixing customer experience issues as well as leveraging the insights from the map to proactively guide CX innovation.

(1) (2) From Outside-In, by Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning