A customer journey map is a powerful tool to bridge gaps in delivery and customer experience of internal teams. After a presentation at World IA Day 2016, I was inspired to share the content of this talk and add my own two cents to it.
What is a customer journey map ?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of user experiences at each stage of their interaction with a product or brand.
It is divided in steps which reflect the discovery and engagement with the product.
- Awareness : a prospect discovers the product’s existence or has a problem they want to solve
- Research : the prospect actively looks for solutions or learns more about the products
- Decision : the prospect compares and contrasts options and picks the best one
- Purchase : the prospect acts on their decision and buys the product
- Support : the client has and uses the product
- Advocacy : after the client uses the product, do they communicate about it and if so, how ?
The steps may not be linear of course. For example, advocacy can lead to a new purchase if the steps include a loyalty loop. Maybe a prospect made a decision to buy but the procedure is too complex so they give up and go back to the research step.
The information it represents details content driven personas by stages of the journey : it describes tasks, motivations, triggers. They can be both in-app or in real life. For example, a trigger can be a call to action on a landing page or a job loss. This information will allow to identify what users need in terms of content and functionalities, and when they need it.
How to create a customer journey map
The first step is to define user personas that will serve as reference. If it isn’t possible to build personas, then a composite user profile can be used.
The exact steps of a customer journey map may vary based on the persona. Filling the content of the map should be done through research and end-user input.
Three sources I like to use to create the maps are :
Synthetise exiting knowledge
A customer journey map is a good way to synthesise insights from a combination of past qualitative studies and analytics. If past studies exist, I make sure to report their relevant findings into the customer journey map.
Journey mapping workshops
Invite customers to fill in their own journey map with their experiences. The small group setting can generate rich insights as users bounce off each other’s ideas. It is effective and cost-efficient. Some of the more subtle or intimate factors may not emerge from this kind of workshop. Make sure there are only end-users and trained researchers in the room. The worst thing that can happen is you invite a client sucess manager who will reassure participants and offer solutions whenever something negative is mentioned. This valuable brainstorming of ideas should be leveraged later in the process.
Interview with end-users
They allow to dig deep into attitudes and motivations as well as decision making factors. The insights can be a lot more intimate in this one on one setting. Looking for description of behavior can also give insights, but poeple are not the best at describing and explaining their behavior accurately out of context.
Turning insights into action
Once the map is rich with insights about end-users, it is time to communicate those findings with your own audience and work with them on solutions.
The audience of customer journey map
As for all design work, the map has to be tailored to the needs of its audience : internal teams. They’re our users and we can help them the same way we design for any products end-users.
Building trust with stakeholders is a long term process. It starts with learning to know them before even starting to gather insights from end-users : what are their goals and cares? What’s they buy-in behavior? What is working with them? what isn’t? What are their roles and responsabilities? A good place to start is talking with sales, product conversations, customer service information…
This will help to position our needs with theirs. It helps organising successful workshops. It allows to invite the right team members to each workshop and manage expectations.
Brainstorming with customer journey maps
Once you have the user-side of the story on the customer journey map, it is time to offer solutions. All you need is a clear agenda, expected outcome and post its. Don’t try to eat an elephant all at once. Tackle each issue step by step.
The user-content of the map is a great way to educate and inform internal teams about the real struggles and joys of end-users. They allow teams to start with a common truth. This top part of the map describing the user experience should be fairly stable. It can be used to challenge, inspire, entertain, or motivate…
Each step in the user journey can be associated with content questions, experiences, types and formats, channels, purposes, topics, messages… This is what the workshop is about : adding ideas to the bottom part : ideas to improve the product, solve user problems, push content when it is most relevant, etc.
To run a successful workshop, it’s important not only to invite the right team members, but also to be clear about next steps. When something is off topic, or a strong voice overpowers the discussions, it’s also important to keep things together and stay on topic.
From brainstorm to design
During the brainstorm, all ideas are welcome. There are no good or bad ideas. Sorting ideas starts after possibly multiple brainstorms, early in the design process.
Some ideas may be irrelevant to the business. Others may be unrealistic. Am early design aims to sort through all the ideas and keep the ones with the highest ROI both for the company and the end-users. It can be as simple as sorting ideas in an excel sheet, and progressively working on them to fine tune conceptual designs and requirement details.
This means it’s important to know the starting point and ressources available to the project.
Staying in touch
Having a customer journey map is not enough to bridge the gap on its own. You also have to stay connected after the brainstorming phases to make sure everyone remains on the same page. Weekly progress meetings are very good to keep the link open.
The customer journey map can be used to keep track of process in the long run, by impacting changes in the product on it, and updating consequences on the user experience.
The most important part in using ustomer journey maps to bridge the gap in delivery is to start. Start small, but start.