An introduction to journey maps
Journey maps are a key part of visualizing the experience of a defined group of people. Customers may be the most typically selected group, but many other stakeholder groups are equally valid, including employees, patients, students and partners, to name just a few. This is why it is important to keep the term ‘journey maps’ as generic as possible.
They are incredibly useful for aligning project teams — and even the broader organization — around a shared vision of the journey a critical group of people go through from an agreed starting point to a common ending point. Journey maps also help to identify potential areas of improvement in the pursuit of an increasingly exceptional experience.
A journey map breaks down a journey into a handful of phases (typically 5-9), the steps the target group goes through in each phase and the touchpoints that occur at each step in the journey. Journey maps are the prerequisites for the powerful insight generation and analysis that comes next as you dig into the touchpoints and the relevant pain points and experience improvement opportunities within your working group.
Where people go wrong with journey maps
When it comes to doing great customer experience work on behalf of HCLTech clients, journey maps are foundational. But it is harder to create meaningful, actionable journey maps than people might think. Here are a few ways people stray from the optimal path when it comes to journey maps:
- Not creating meaningful personas first
- Not talking to their chosen group of people before building personas and journey maps (do your research)
- Not validating the high-level journey phases internally and externally before beginning to map
- Building a journey map for multiple personas without consciously identifying and understanding the risks
- Accepting sticky notes during journey mapping sessions as-is — don’t probe to make sure meanings are clear
- Failing to cluster similar sticky notes and request permission to combine where appropriate
- Not having workshop participants vote on the importance of touchpoints, the intensity of pain points, and impact of experience improvement opportunities
A journey mapping workshop is an incredible opportunity to surface assumptions, uncover the hidden and build alignment, motivate action and create long-term momentum and commitment for people-centric improvements.
Creating journey magic
Improving customer experiences is an investment with real returns. These returns can go beyond the financial into the realm of psychological and social benefits. If you didn’t care about these people, you wouldn’t invest the time (and money) to go beyond your marketing or process funnel-based understanding of them and dive deep to understand what their experience and interactions with your organization really look like in a journey mapping workshop.
A well-researched, lovingly crafted journey map can be a thing of beauty that many organizations share far and wide and even print poster-sized and mount in the hallways of their headquarters so that everyone can remain anchored in the experience of those they serve and laser-focused on the latest experience improvement projects.
The nuts and bolts
Well-crafted journeys look at touchpoints not through the lens of what the organization has built, but through the lens of what the target individuals are looking to achieve. Touchpoints are central to a successful journey map because they are the places where the persona and the organization come together. They are conversation starters. As workshop participants identify touchpoints, they will often also identify pain points and experience improvement opportunities. If they don’t, consider probing to understand either why a particular touchpoint provides such a good experience or to find missed pain points or experience improvement opportunities.
When building the journey, if you find people jumping repeatedly to add ideas for experience improvement and your collection of identified pain points needs to catch up, try asking people to identify what is preventing the achievement of select experience improvements.
In general, it is best to begin a journey mapping session by:
- Verifying high-level journey stages
- Identifying steps and/or actions in each stage
- Finding related touchpoints that occur in each step/action
- Capturing where pain points exist
- Selecting where improvement opportunities lie
When you reach the end, begin again, and probe to find what is missing. The more complete the download from the group’s collective consciousness across these different categories, the higher the quality of the journey map and the base from which to identify the moments of truth and the persona’s emotional experience along the journey.
Moments of truth can easily be identified too carelessly and broadly, so beware! Moments of truth, by their very definition are those moments that drive purchase, retention, loyalty and word-of-mouth when done well, or their opposite when done poorly.
The path forward
Anybody can fill in an empty template and say they have created a journey map, just as anyone can brew beer at home if they buy the equipment and the supplies, but doing so doesn’t make them a brewmaster. Craft matters. Research-informed personas matter. Getting workshop participants deeply immersed into the mindset of the target persona matters. Going beyond what people are doing to what they are thinking and feeling matters. Understanding why we are gathering this set of information for the journey map and why people are adding these particular sticky notes matters. Digging below the surface of what someone has written to understand what they truly mean matters.
Remember, the goal is to build a holistic view of the experience. To do so, we must be exhaustive in our information gathering, intuitive in how we bring it together and deliberate in how we identify what is missing and how to get it. We must be insanely curious about our target persona and unapologetic about trying to make the journey map truly represent the experience of the people it is intended to represent. Tell a story. Bring it to life. And use it to make the persona’s experience great.
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