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What Is a Living Journey Map?

Shawn Phillips Shawn Phillips 02/18/2021

Once you find out what a living journey map can do, you won’t have any trouble understanding why it’s so important to the success of your CX initiatives.

So what can it do?

Unlike a static journey map, a living journey map doesn’t remain fixed in particular point in time. It changes and evolves as your journey does, tracking updates in customer/operational data and KPIs across the entire journey as you implement improvements. This allows you not only to see what’s working, but to prove it with the kind of hard business data the C-suite is eager to see. (And who here isn’t eager to please the C-suite?)

Can you take the heat?

Imagine the heat section of your map – the part that illustrates customers’ positive and negative emotions throughout the journey. A living journey map can update that each time a new set of survey responses are processed. (If you don’t include those feelings on your journey map, you need to start. Now.)

Or picture individual touchpoints. Now think about how awesome it would be to see first-call resolution numbers from your call center updated at that step.

We find it helpful to illustrate the distinction by comparing old staples of roadtrips – Rand McNally paper atlases or custom-bound AAA TripTiks, for example – to Google Maps, with its real-time traffic statuses and links to attractions and businesses that update based on your current location. Those old maps still provide essential information, but once produced, unlike online services, they can’t be updated without a cumbersome, if not prohibitive, investment of time and resources.

There are lots of options on the market, but we’re particularly impressed by the new class of live-map-enabling journey mapping software offered by our partner Quadient.

The first step of your journey

With or without this software, access to these customer insights are available to anyone willing to take a focused journey of their own. The first step of that journey is to talk to your customers.

Any effective living journey map develops from the research you do to create your static journey map. You simply can’t accurately determine what to focus on or track until you’ve gained this understanding. It’s the journey mapping process that helps you identify the phases, touchpoints, friction points, and, of course, the critical Moments of Truth that have a disproportionate impact on your customer’s perception of the journey.

This data provides a clear vision of the current journey and aligns your priorities on the most impactful changes you can make in designing your improved future-state journey.

The second step of your journey

Step Two entails modeling your live map based on your hot-off-the-press static map. The static map helped you identify the desired emotional outcome of your journey. And now you know the KPIs you want to focus on to show the health of the customer journey. The visualizations will be similar, with the same steps included. But then the fun begins. Place those identified metrics on your map and let ’em run.

Establish a baseline from current data for your targeted sentiment and other measurements, the track your progress as you take customer-focused action enabled by your static-map research.

Congratulations! You’re no longer stuck in time. You now can see what the traffic is doing in real time along your customers’ route.

The whole point of this exercise is to improve the journey. If all Google Maps did was alert you to a 25-minute delay up ahead, sure, that would be useful. But it really shines when it also provides alternate routes, revised ETAs, and updated information about your environs.

It’s all about impact, improvement…and proof

These capabilities show you the bottlenecks and trouble spots, but also point to the solutions that lead to better outcomes. That’s the information essential to making improvements that generate significant and ongoing ROI.

Use this information to strategize and prioritize, then take cost-effective, impactful action to reach those customers who are stuck in traffic.

This might be something as simple as targeting interventions. For example, you could send an email to a customer struggling with an order. Or kick off more involved journey improvement projects. For example, Delta focused on baggage claim pickup times in the airport exit journey after discovering it took an average of 15 minutes to deliver bags.

But like that tree falling in the forest,
no one will hear if you’ve made an impact if you don’t track your progress.

The success of some interventions can be measured in days or weeks. Others might take years before they show their true value. But like that tree that fell in the forest, no one will hear if you’ve made an impact if you don’t track your progress.

The long and short of it

For Quick Wins, update your living map to spotlight the interventions you designed. Show how many more people successfully fill out your registration form, now that those who abandoned it receive a reminder email with instructions. Visually track how that affects your bottom line.

Now you have concrete figures that demonstrate the result of your journey orchestration efforts.

You can target interventions manually by writing processes to guide employees interacting with customers at those critical moments. But it’s typically more effective in the long term to use journey orchestration platforms such as those offered by industry leaders like Quadient, Usermind, and Pointillist.

Your living map also can track progress against long term-initiatives. Connections to project management (PM) platforms like Jira allow the journey manager to track all journey improvement projects in one place. They can also display results from BI systems showing incremental benefits realized at each stage of a project.

In addition, the orchestration and links to PM platforms allow you to see what the alternate routes are and how those might improve the customer journey. Think of it this way: The PM connection shows construction updates…but also how those newly constructed sections of the interstate are projected to improve traffic flow once they’re opened.

The journey continually evolves…so must you

There is no final step here, no fixed destination. Unless you’re planning on closing down your business and won’t need happy customers anymore.

Living journey maps empower you to continually optimize your customers’ experience as the journey evolves. Including when outside circumstances – like, say, a global pandemic? – intervene.

That’s the key to strengthening your business today, and growing it tomorrow…no matter what the future may bring.

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