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4 ways to bring the customer into your journey mapping workshop

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 04/17/2014

A journey mapping workshop is a powerful way to build customer intelligence and to create customer-based capabilities.

Journey mapping workshops bring together members from different parts of your company to walk through a particular customer’s journey, documenting your customer’s steps and emotions throughout. Where these workshops really show their value is by documenting how your silos impact your customer. Are there missed handoffs? Perhaps you have redundant emails coming from different departments, or conflicting incentives that lead to contradictory programs. They also show the systems and groups that impact that customer, and are a superior way to create alignment on your needs. See here for more details on how to conduct a journey mapping workshop.

Diving In

Done right, what differentiates a great journey mapping workshop from a process flow discussion is this focus on your customer. And this focus can be really hard to create.

We spend 30-50 hours a week interacting with our internal processes and procedures, and only a small fraction of that time actually talking to customers. It’s hard to leave that behind to really put yourself in your customer’s shoes. But you need to find a way to do that to make your journey mapping workshop successful.

For example, when I was leading a workshop, we started by identifying the customer steps. Our first volunteer began by, “Well, of course the first step our customer takes is to call us.”

That’s when we had to call a pause. From his perspective, what he said was true. This is his first step in the process, so it’s a natural place to begin. But by accepting this, we cut off our best opportunities to make improvements.

This is at least the third step in a typical customer’s process. The first step was that they had a problem. Perhaps they couldn’t login to your website, or they never received their shipment. Maybe their claim was denied, or they had a question about your product.

Okay, so that’s basic, and everybody agrees that this was a missed step. But step number two is just as important. There’s certainly a segment of customers that reacts to an issue by calling you first. But is it really the majority?

What do the Numbers Say?

The CEB tells us that in cross-industry research, 58% of customers visit your website before calling. But for whatever reason, they couldn’t answer their question that way. That’s a real opportunity, and one we can miss because we’re focused on our processes, and not how customers think.

This is just one example, but I’ve seen it played out in process after process. Not just call center managers and IT leaders think this way – I’ve seen marketing and sales representatives make the same mistake.

Best Practices

So, how do we reframe the conversation to bring in customer focus? Here are four ways I’ve found can work:

  1. The best way is to actually invite customers into your journey mapping workshops. Unfortunately, it’s been hard to get clients to accept this idea. But it’s the best way I know to keep the conversation focused on true customer needs.
  2. The next-best way is to record a video of your customers’ thoughts on the journey. Interview customers on their challenges and desires. Video makes an impact like nothing else.
  3. If video isn’t available, try audio. Most call centers record conversations for training purposes. That’s exactly what this is – we’re just training your corporate staff instead of your call center teams. Ask your call center to collect representative calls, and play those to start your workshop. Hearing the literal voice of the customer will keep the conversation focused.  I recommend playing 2-3 calls to start the session, then playing others as you come back from lunch and breaks, just to keep the focus.
  4. What do you do if none of this is available?  In that case, I’ve found the best practice is to ask members to role play. It’s certainly not perfect. But if you can remind members of why they’re there, it still helps give some focus. Just realize that you will need to repeat this throughout your workshop, as members will start to slip over time

A journey mapping workshop is a great tool to improve your customer experience. But only if you keep the focus where it belongs – keeping your feet firmly in your customers’ shoes.

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