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A customer journey map is a story

Amanda-Purchasing-Insurance-Journey-Map-v2A question I get asked a lot is, “What exactly is a customer journey map?” Considering that my official title is Mapper-In-Chief, it seems like I would have a short, clean answer ready and waiting. Or at least a short overview, with the caveat, but there’s more to it than that. In reality, though, I only have the caveat, and not the actual answer—because there is, in fact, more to it than that.

A journey map can mean a lot of different things. Despite the word “map” in its name, a journey map doesn’t have a set design or layout—in fact, design plays a critical role in creating the map. Because what it’s mapping is the customer and their emotional journey—a highly individual process, and one that defies a set template. It is the customer’s needs that drive the action of the map, and therefore by nature each journey map is an individualized diagram of a customer’s interaction with your company.

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Customer journey maps are all about expectations

Picture2Nobody likes surprises.  Even positive ones can ruin your customer experience.

Here’s a case in point. I was teaching at an insurance company when an employee told me a story. A customer filing a claim told him, “my agent said I don’t have rental coverage. Now I have to pay for the stupid rental car.” The employee informed him that the agent was wrong – he did have rental insurance. But instead of thrilling the customer, it frustrated him.

His relationship is with the agent who sold him his policy. That’s where his trust is. Instead of being happy that he now has rental coverage, he’s confused – who does he trust? How does he know who’s right?  And if the rental coverage is wrong, what else might be?

Map it Out

That’s where effective customer journey maps can really help you understand and prevent customer problems. Effective journey maps show customer expectations and highlight when they’re not being met. They isolate those moments of truth when customer expectations are dashed. One of my first customer journey maps was the health savings account journey (HSA). My client had a “single sign-on” for their health plan and their HSA. For some reason, customers felt this meant they only had to sign in once to get to their HSA (I know – strange, right?).  Of course, that’s not how it worked.  While they only had to enter their username once, they had to enter a second password to get to their account. Surprise!

A surprise for the company was that website login was the number one cause of customer attrition. Their customer journey maps highlighted the issue. Luckily they were able to quickly make at least small adjustments to improve the process, combined with an educational campaign.

That’s the power of effective customer journey maps. And I’m not talking about Excel or Visio boxes on a chart. Or PowerPoint slides with a few bubbles.

No, clearly understanding your customer journey and their challenges requires a well-designed map to instantly show your reader where problems are. Notice how Jane’s inability to order a product above results in a significant drop in engagement.

Do you fully understand your customer’s expectations today? Or will you be as surprised as they are?

Journey Mapping: Interview with Annette Franz

Annette FranzAs part of the launch of our new website, I’m interviewing Annette Franz, author of the popular Customer Experience (CX) blog CX Journey. In addition to her blog, Annette and I volunteer together as CX Experts at the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). We’re discussing all things journey mapping.

Jim: So Annette, let’s start.  You’ve written a lot about journey mapping, even naming your blog CX Journey.  So why do you feel that journey mapping is such an important topic?

Annette: One of the main reasons journey mapping is such an important topic is that it really sheds light on the customer experience the way it ought to be shed, from the customer’s perspective. A journey map really brings the customer experience to life, allowing people in the company to really understand what customers are going through, what their interactions are, and to create that empathy that we are talking about so much lately, that’s so important to creating a great customer experience. Read more

Photos from Journey Mapping Workshop

I had the opportunity to lead at yesterday’s Minnesota Government IT Symposium.  The topic was Journey Mapping Workshop: Reduce User and Customer Effort and Increase Satisfaction, and we had a great time creating maps of various customer journeys. Just check out the proud groups with their Customer-Centric Change Charters!

Participants went through an interactive form of Customer Journey Mapping Made Easy, where they learned how to create a journey map, as well as the importance of including actual customers in your research.

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It’s time to get journey maps right

This is a journey map rant. It’s time we stopped calling employee workshops, Post-It Notes charts and PowerPoint and Visio documents customer journey maps. And we need to realize that design matters.

I recently read an article on journey mapping. It had some good points, but ugly maps. Then I hit a sentence that stopped me altogether:

Focus less on how pretty it is, and more on how valuable it is. Inevitably, someone from design will see this project and want to jump up in there. Suddenly, the conversation will turn to legends, color codes, formatting, and more. Avoid the rabbit whole [sic] that is visualizations and bring it back to the data. If you have valuable data, the visualization is just a vehicle for the valuable story.

Just a vehicle?” Clearly, this author doesn’t understand that design is part of what makes a journey map effective. Although I knew that the moment I saw his maps. It’s not just about data. It’s about telling your customer’s story in an effective way. And you can’t do that with ugly maps. Read more

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. Read more

Reimagining Journey Map Design

Journey maps are game-changing tools to illustrate your current customer experience, highlighting friction points that impact loyalty.

If you’ve researched the topic, you may have noticed that different creators apply the 10+4 criteria of an effective customer journey map very significantly. As a critical input to your customer journey design, journey maps need to grab your reader’s attention and quickly communicate the emotional impact of your experience, highlighting areas that most require focus.. Read more

Create Better Customer Outcomes through Journey Mapping Workshops

This post was originally shared through the ICMI (International Customer Management Institute) newsletter. You can view the original version here.

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Call center managers have seen it before. Customers form an expectation from your sales channel or marketing literature, receive a different experience through operations, and then call your contact center where they may receive a third perspective.

It’s the setup for a rough call, and an even rougher customer experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Great companies have found a way to create a consistent end-to-end experience. They align their silos, creating a consistent experience from start to finish. How do they do it?

Enter customer journey mapping.

Customer journey mapping is a series of techniques that map out your customer experience from start to finish. It follows your customer across silos as they go from initial awareness through the sales process into ongoing engagement.

A popular way to conduct journey mapping is through a workshop. Read more

There are no bathrooms in the USS Enterprise

starship-enterpriseAs I was leading a journey map session this week, one participant asked, “When you’re putting in the customer’s steps on the journey, how do you know which ones to include? It feels like it could get really long”

My response was that, from what I can tell, Captain Kirk never goes to the bathroom.

She paused, clearly trying to decide whether I was saying something insightful or just stupid. I don’t know if she ever decided which it was. Read more

4 ways to bring the customer into your journey mapping workshop

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. Read more