Monday, December 1, 2014

Journey Mapping - Validating Your Initial Map

In the previous journey mapping post, we discussed the mechanics around how to diagram a map. Specifically, we looked at a “low tech” approach using Post-It Notes to depict the steps and associated touchpoints we think a particular customer type (a persona) experiences as he or she completes an end-to-end transaction. I emphasize “we think” because this first map serves as our initial hypothesis for how that particular transaction is experienced from the persona’s perspective. In addition to depicting this initial take on the customer experience, we also captured the corresponding internal activities that are in place to support the transaction. Forrester Research refers to this internal perspective as the “customer ecosystem” because it captures all of the people, processes, partners, policies, and technologies that support the various customer facing touchpoints. With this initial journey map completed, the next step is the validation of our hypothesis with customers representative of the relevant persona.

The following approach can be used to confirm the logic of the initial map, as well as to elicit additional insights from a representative group of customers…
  1. Map validation is a qualitative exercise involving a group of 10 to 12 customers, a facilitator, and a comfortable meeting room. The time required for this validation session will vary depending on the complexity and scope of your journey map or maps, so as a general rule, plan on allocating a minimum of 3 to 4 hours per session. If budget and time allows, consider hosting two to three of these validation sessions in order to capture as many perspectives as possible. 
  2. The validation session will focus only on the top customer facing portion of your completed journey map. A discussion of the underlying ecosystem is not relevant to your customer, and is unlikely to add value to your session. 
  3. With your “low-tech” map pinned on a wall, begin by explaining the context of the map to your customers. Emphasize that your objective is to improve the service they receive, and as such, would like to get their input on what they like and dislike about the particular transaction. You’ll find that customers will appreciate being included as “co-creators” and will eagerly offer their views on what’s working and what’s not. 
  4. Working your way across each of the touchpoints (i.e. those items you’ve captured that the customer interacts with…a website, brochure, telephone call, etc.), explore the extent to which customers utilize each of these. If, for example, a component of a purchase process is a direct-mail solicitation sent to customers, gauge to what extent customers interact with the piece…do they read it carefully? Do they hang on to it for future reference? Do they glance at it, and then head for your website? Understanding the extent of use is a proxy for assessing the importance of a touchpoint in the context of a journey. Record this feedback using Post-It Notes placed next to the applicable touchpoint. 
  5. Next, ask customers how they feel about each of the touchpoints. For example, do they like using your website…why or why not? What thoughts come to my mind when they visit a physical store? What’s the reaction when they read an instruction manual? These emotions serve as indicator of satisfaction with the particular touchpoint, and are often more revealing then a gauging satisfaction using a conventional survey. Again, record these feelings in the appropriate locations in the journey using Post-It Notes. 
  6. A closely related question following on the inquiry about feeling and emotion is probing on the ease and usefulness of the touchpoint. Using a website as an example, if customers say they’re often frustrated when using your site (emotion), is it because it does not provide the information they’re looking for (content), and/or because it’s difficult to find the information (navigation)? Again, you’ll want to capture these on Post-It Notes as well.
  7. To adequately assess each touchpoint, it’s helpful to create a simple table listing the touchpoints in the left-most column and the assessment criteria (emotion, ease, extent, usefulness) across the top row. Assigning a rating to each criteria will help you to see the big picture of what’s working and what’s not from the perspective of your customers. 

While at this point, the customer validation exercise is almost complete, the most important component is yet to come. The last item to address in your customer research focuses on gathering their expectations. In the next post, we’re going to look at understanding customer expectations using the “jobs to be done” framework.