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Today’s post is a modified version of a post I originally published on Touchpoint Dashboard’s blog on June 15, 2015.

You’ve got buy-in and commitment … all the right people in your company are on board to map your customers’ journeys. They realize the importance of walking in the customer’s shoes in order to understand the experience before they can fix it.

Awesome! Now what?

It’s time to get all of your key stakeholders into a room and start building an assumptive map of the journey. Hold that thought for a moment; let’s talk about the stakeholders first.

Which stakeholders? You’ll want to involve key departmental leaders from across the organization; they should represent the various departments that touch the journeys you’ll be mapping – and even some (departments) that don’t.

Why? They each bring a different understanding or perspective, as well as different datapoints, to the table. Their involvement allows them to see that most journeys are impacted by multiple areas of the organization. And it (a) fosters buy-in, (b) gets them involved early on, and (c) gets everyone on the same page.

In addition, those who are going to fix it should be there to build (map) it and understand it. Stakeholder involvement means that we can ensure that each touchpoint has the appropriate individual or departmental ownership assigned to it.

Before you can bring the stakeholders into a room to begin your workshop, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

  • Outline the objectives of the mapping exercise and your intended outcomes
    • Define the scope of the assumptive map
      • Reiterate that you’re mapping the current state
      • Pinpoint the start and end points for each scenario you’ll be mapping
        • Don’t map too high level, as the map is a catalyst for transformation – if you don’t understand the steps, you can’t fix them; get to the details
        • There may be micro-journeys to map; determine if those will be mapped in your first workshop or in a future workshop
    • Determine for which personas experiences will be mapped
    • Identify which framework to be used for mapping, i.e., define your columns and rows
  • Hold a pre-meeting to give attendees background details, provide mapping guidelines, and generally prepare them for the exercise
    • Ask them to start considering the steps in the journey and to gather artifacts to bring into the workshop

Now it’s time to bring your attendees together in one room so that you can start building an assumptive map. I like starting with an assumptive map because it (a) gets the process started, (b) brings different groups together to discuss the experience, which not only helps them see the breadth and depth of organizational involvement in one customer experience but also helps to start breaking down those silos, and (c) allows you to identify gaps in organizational thinking about the journey (gaps that will be seen only after you validate with customers or have customers map the journey themselves); this alone is a valuable, eye-opening learning from this exercise.

This last point, about validating the maps, is a crucial step when building assumptive maps. The most important rule about mapping is that the map is created from the customer viewpoint and with customer input. The assumptive map is built by stakeholders but from the customer viewpoint; it’s not an internal process map. It’s a starting point to get the organization putting collective heads together to outline what is already known (based on customer feedback, customer data, the fact that you are likely a customer of your own business, etc.) about the experience, but it is not the definitive map. Only your customers can outline the definitive map. And that happens during the validation process in the instance when you start with assumptive maps.

There are many different approaches or frameworks to use for journey mapping. Find the one that works best for you – and just remember two key things: (1) always map from the customer’s perspective; and (2) be sure to capture what the customer is doing at a detailed enough level that it’s meaningful and actionable. And I don’t mind capturing what the customer is thinking and feeling at the same time.

Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient. –Jeff Bezos