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Another question (recall, last week’s question was about CX teams) that has been posed regularly over the last couple of weeks is, “Should we cancel our journey mapping workshops?” or “Is it possible to conduct journey mapping workshops virtually?”

The answers are “No” and “Yes,” respectively.

Just because you’re working from home (WFH) now doesn’t mean you need to put all of your projects on hold.

I know that business as we knew it has ceased to exist for the moment, but most businesses will not cease to exist once this pandemic is behind us. As a matter of fact, some industries, some businesses are still buzzing.

Back in 2012, I wrote an article about listening to customers and employees during times of change. The content could not be more relevant today! Don’t stop what you’re doing. (But adapt to the current situation.) Keep listening. Keep understanding. Keep analyzing. Keep closing the loop. Keep innovating.

Keep preparing for the day this is all behind us and customers are back in full force. Have you thought about that day yet (from a customer experience perspective, and especially from the communications perspective)?! Stay the course today. Keep customers front and center as you make decisions for your business. It’s all about the customer.

I digressed from the topic of this post (journey mapping workshops), but I think that’s an important and related message. Spend time now shoring up what you’re doing and get the business ready for the next phase: customers returning en masse and interacting with your business as usual again!

Going back to the questions posed at the top of this post, there are still ways to conduct your journey mapping workshops when you can’t do them in person. The following is an excerpt from my book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business). It provides a few examples of how to conduct your virtual journey mapping workshops (including number of attendees).

If you’re mapping virtually via a Zoom or WebEx session where everyone is on video and one person is in charge of placing the sticky notes on the butcher paper, then I’d stick with six to ten customers. (You don’t have to capture the map on butcher paper and sticky notes; you can capture it in Google Sheets, where everyone can track with the map as it evolves.)

If you’re mapping virtually via a digital journey mapping platform that doesn’t have online community-like capabilities, then you’ll want to keep the number low as well.

If you’re mapping virtually via an online community or some variation of that (with synchronous and asynchronous options), recruit no fewer than thirty but ideally closer to one hundred to participate.

So there are a few options to journey map virtually: (1) via a video conferencing platform where one person is designated to be in charge of the sticky notes (feel free to send supplies ahead of time, if needed); (2) via a video conferencing platform using Google Sheets as the medium to capture the map; (3) via a digital journey mapping platform, such as Touchpoint Dashboard or CX Workout, with online community or unlimited viewer access; or (4) via an online community platform. (There are likely more options; if you’ve used others, please add them in the comments below.) Get creative. Don’t stop the work. You will/may have to adapt your approach to journey mapping slightly, but I believe these approaches are just as viable and actionable as in-person workshops.

Before the workshops, you should still conduct customer interviews, just like you would if you were going to do in-person workshops. This will provide a lot of context for what you’re about to walk into in the workshop, and it will help you to further formulate questions and identify details that must be captured during the workshop.

The most important thing to remember is that customers must be involved in your journey mapping workshops. At the moment, it may prove to be a little more challenging to engage with some customers, but it is still possible. It may be a welcome relief for some from boredom or from listening to the news. And, positioned correctly and with empathy, it will speak to the need to keep understanding in order to make the experience right.

And customers must be capturing what they are doing, thinking, and feeling as they interact or transact with your company. Don’t forget to ask them to bring artifacts to these virtual workshops. (You will prep for and run the workshops the same way to do in person, except you just won’t be in person!) And you can still incorporate the “parking lot” concept for other maps and for great ideas/solutions offered during the workshop.

You can conduct both current state and future state workshops in this manner. You might incorporate a few other tools for the ideation portion of the future state workshops, but these are all doable remotely!

In order to complete the maps, you will need customer data and feedback. What sources do you currently have access to? Will you be able to include them in your maps and in your analysis? You cannot identify moments of truth without this.

Be sure to take a look at my six-step journey mapping process. Embrace the tool; follow the process. Follow the steps – just adapt for being virtual versus being in person, as needed.

One final thought: this is also a great time to take a look at your existing journey maps. Have you solved all of the issues and painful moments of truth yet? Have you created the corresponding service blueprints for these yet? If not, this would be a good time to look inward at your people, tools, systems, policies, and processes that support and facilitate the customer experience. Make sure that you’ll be operating optimally when you open shop again (if you’ve temporarily shut down).

BTW, it goes without saying at this point because you know where I stand on this: everything I wrote here applies to the employee experience, too, maybe even more so now than ever before.

If there’s one thing that’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty. -Stephen Covey

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. She recently published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.