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

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