Case Study: Using Journey Mapping Workshops to Drive Change in City Government Customer Experience

2275992Kelly Ohaver is the Client Experience Manager at the City of Centennial, as well as an active CXPA member. Her mission is to introduce customer experience principles to improve the city’s experience for its citizens and clients. She describes her job as “the most fascinating, challenging, and rewarding job ever” as she strives to bring an outside-in focus to the city. “It’s so rewarding when you see people get caught up and excited.”

I could (and probably will) write an entire article just about Kelly’s role. But one particular activity of hers caught my ear. Kelly recently ran a journey mapping workshop that serves as a great case study for how customer experience tools can be used for internal clients as well as external.

A quick refresher: Journey mapping is an exercise to understand your customer’s true steps, as well as the emotions that actually make up that journey. Some organizations use customer research, while others use workshops to help employees try on their customer’s shoes.  Kelly created the internal session after attending a workshop on the topic.

This was her first journey mapping session in her role. It surrounding a challenging IT transition with four newly-elected council members.

The first step was introducing the concept. She invited ten staff members representing IT and the City Manager’s Office to a half-day workshop. She separated the groups into two teams, both working on the same scenario. What really surprised her was how the groups came up with designs that not only differed significantly from what she expected them to say, but were also very different from each other.

“It’s all about finding that moment of truth,” she explained, “and then working from there to decide what you’re going to do with it. Where do you think the most impact could be, and how can you make that happen?

“The first workshop got to that point of writing out their statements or designs, where the moment of truth was, who’s involved, and how to measure it. Then we waited a month before we could get together again. The teams reviewed their designs, then shared it with the rest of the room. We had a lot of emphasis on the customer’s emotions, drawing on different personas to understand their real need.”

But Kelly noted that, as impactful as the tactical measures implemented was, the dialog this workshop generated was far more important. This has also been my observation. You create the workshop to document the systems and processes involved with customer needs, and this is important. But the true magic is the dialog between front- and back-stage employees that occurs in the workshop.

“Once we completed the designs, we took a step back when we realized that the two recommendations fell within different phases of the experience,” says Kelly. “So we then dug in to better understand the impact they could have. I gave criteria to each group to drive the dialog, such as:

  • Usefulness of function of each recommendation
  • The customer’s level of effort under each scenario
  • At an emotional level, how meaningful each recommendation would be for customers
  • The feasibility and cost of each recommendation; and
  • How each related to the city’s Key Performance Measures (KPMs).”

She also had the city’s Management Analyst available to highlight how each would match to the city’s KPMs, which was very eye-opening to the group.

During this second workshop, Kelly had members take an online survey comparing the potential impact of each option to the five sets of criteria. “This anonymous feedback was really eye-opening. This showed that there was one recommendation that stood out way above the others, and that’s when it changed. I wasn’t leading the session anymore. They were saying, ‘Okay, we want this now. We want to take this to the next step, and develop what that would look like in implementation.’ To see that happen was incredibly motivational and inspirational.”

Using personas to drive customer empathy

One of the biggest challenges from any internal workshop is to see the experience through your customer’s eyes. There’s a real tendency to focus on employee problems instead of your customers’. So I asked Kelly how she approached this challenge.

“This can be a huge problem. To avoid this I spent a lot of time and effort developing the persona that we used for the workshop. We spent time up front and during the workshop circling back on the persona.

“I selected one of our Councilmembers to be our persona. And what was interesting is – they all know him. They have talked with him multiple times. But they never really thought about this from his perspective. So I tried to humanize him, by bringing in facts about him. Some of these they knew, like that he sends out email newsletters to his district. But I went further, telling about his desire to compete with his fellow Councilmembers to sign more people up for his newsletter, and to send more newsletters than any other Councilmember. So, what does that tell us about him, since these are e-newsletters? This really helped them look at the IT needs of our Council from his perspective.

Increasing Impact through Journey Mapping Workshops

How has this helped Kelly’s overall customer experience program? The feedback has been tremendous, to the point where the city leadership is looking for more opportunities to plug in this capability. They see these workshops as great ways to drive the development of their KPMs – to design experiences that map to the key performance metrics of city engagement.

“In addition, dialog with the IT group has grown significantly. When we first started working together, 2-3 people spoke 90% of the time. But now, people who used to sit back and not say anything are opening the conversation.”

Lastly, the specific change – interviewing Councilmembers to understand more about their needs before beginning the transition process – can also be used with other stakeholders and other IT functions such as wireless and printers, helping IT to develop customized solutions around client needs.

Advice for others

Outside of some fantastic work by the UK government, I haven’t run across many examples of journey mapping in government. So I asked Kelly for her advice for others.

“I know that it’s challenging, but embrace it. It’s worth it. If you haven’t done one, and aren’t familiar with the process, learning the process can be challenging. And it’s time-consuming. But the time is well worth spending.” (Editor’s Note: I have a Slideshare on how to lead a journey mapping workshop here.

Kelly estimated that she spent four hours learning the process, twelve to fourteen hours preparing, and another hour sitting down with the representatives to share the idea and get some background. She estimates, “I probably spent a total of 20 hours preparing for the sessions. But it was totally worth it.

“I think journey mapping is beneficial for just about any area where you service a customer, because it brings together your customer’s needs, including those emotional needs and in-the-moment needs, and you combine that with the business needs to find out the best outcome.”

That’s a pretty good return for twenty hours of preparation.

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