Journey Mapping helps Focus Your Team on the Customer

journey20mappingSometimes it feel like the teams we work with speak different languages. You have Sales talking (very fast and quite loudly) about what they need built to close the deals that are in their pipeline. You have Product teams drooling over the advanced features they want to build. And you have Support who wants Product to fix the last three features they built and Sales to stop selling new customers on features that aren’t even built yet.

It’s very difficult to agree on priorities and it’t most often not because anyone is wrong. Even if everyone is right and using the correct framework to determine priorities from their point of view it still doesn’t easily translate into shared priorities. The problem is that every team is looking at the world through the lens of what they do as a team.

What’s needed to break out of this situation is a view that all teams can take part in.

The journey to a shared viewpoint can seem frustrating and long, but it’s not as hard as it may seem. A powerful way to develop a shared framework for what is important, is to start from a shared view of what the customer is experiencing. The customer is where it all comes together. The teams may have different ways to measure the impact of the work they do, but it all has to do with what the customer experiences. So, if we can get to a place where we have a shared outline to refer to, there is much less reason to point fingers at each other.

Journey mapping helps us get there by letting the team work together to understand things like:

  • Who the customer is and what they’re trying to achieve.
  • What they’re thinking and feeling throughout the experience.
  • What else is important to them?
  • What else is going on around them that will impact their experience?

The benefits are immeasurable. Frankly, a lot of the improvements in collaboration and alignment between teams comes from just participating in the journey mapping workshop. The conversations it prompts is often what teams cite as the main take-away from the work.

In addition to that, the journey map will serve as a frame of reference, explicitly or implicitly, for the teams going forward. Even in cases where the journey map doesn’t create a clear set of priorities for teams it provides the framework to discuss priorities against. It can help bring somewhat abstract discussions back to something more specific and tangible, linked to the customer. At the very least, even if your teams won’t fully agree on priorities, at least they agree on a framework for discussing what’s important.

What journey mapping is is this…

It’s a way of visualizing the end-to-end customer experience. That can mean from before someone even heard of your company, to when they have used it for a while and want to recommend it to others.

The inputs for a journey maps are, at a minimum, a persona or customer whose journey is mapped. In addition to this, any customer research, segmentation or market research can help make the journey maps even better! Support data is one highly valuable piece of data that can be used as input.

As for map organization, it can be done in a variety of ways. Ideally, it is done in a workshop where people with different areas of expertise work together to create the map. This brings different perspectives together, which results in better maps, for sure. But it also helps align the teams and develop a shared understanding about what the customer experiences and what part of that experience are most critical to get right from the customer’s point of view. And that is priceless!

Another way to work through mapping that can be used if it difficult to get people to dedicate the time needed for a workshop to create a map, is to interview people in other teams individually and then put together the map gradually as the interviews progress. Sometimes, after a first round of interviews, people will see the value in completing the map in one go as a group. If not, then bringing the group together to review the final map may be the way to go. Assess: What would work best with your current circumstances?

There are several tools available to create journey maps – pick the simplest one:

  • Printed template put on the wall.
  • Some Post-It notes to mark the main sections.
  • Online tools like Uxpressia.

Lastly, what can you do with your journey map exactly?

As mentioned, one of the main values of creating a journey map is that it lays out an end-to-end view of something that previously only existed in people’s’ heads. It also helps people get an understanding of where in the journey their work fits in– whether in Marketing, Engineering, Support or another team, there are differences and overlaps in what parts of the journey we’re directly involved in.

The tangible output from the workshop is a set of opportunities for making improvements to the journey. It is not uncommon to identify 50-100 opportunities in a single journey. What an amazing feat for any business!

Taking those initiatives and using the newly developed shared understanding of the end-to-end journey, your company can now make decisions and make progress on initiatives that will have real impact for your customers.

For other tips on how to create a customer journey map take a look at this scrappy version or get the detailed rundown here.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: See The World Like Your Customers Do | Building stuff - design and user experience

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