By Andrew Foley
You have finally done it! You have gotten your first Journey Maps front and center into the discussion of how to interpret the customer experience and really drive meaningful change. First off – congratulations! This is really a moment of transformation and should be appreciated as such. You have just joined the ranks of companies that are setting the tone and pace of evolution by adopting new tools and journey mapping techniques to make customer experience a centerpiece of business strategy.
So How and Where Do You Begin to Execute Against Your Journey Mapping Insights?
Some issues leap off the map – drop off rates! Confusion! Channel transitions that are awkward! Missed cross sell opportunities! But sometimes it can be a little ambiguous on what to do next. How do you translate your insights into action?
Here are FIVE next steps that we have found organizations utilize to keep the momentum up and bring the improved or reimagined experience to life.
1. Visualize the Experience! – Concepting the Journey
Create a concept or prototype to help the rest of the organization see the improved experience in action. This could be for either the current or future state journeys.
Concepts, storyboards, prototypes – the outputs of concepting gets people in your organization and most importantly, your initiative product owners, stakeholders and champions, excited. They see what the potential for transformation truly is. It gets them on the same page speaking the language of experience, discussions become more grounded, barriers fall, people show up to meetings and participate, often energetically. Showing how predictive analytics can improve the quality of content or how a new mobile application can be so sleek and easy to use tells the story better than another boring PowerPoint deck with bullets. There is an efficiency to dollars invested at this stage of the product development pipeline – good ideas can be accelerated and weaker ideas can be shut down before the bigger requirements and development investment dollars hit the budget.
Don’t over invest in the “completeness” of the concept. There may be details yet to iron out that will become distracting if presented. You also don’t want to give the illusion to the rest of the organization that it is almost done and just simply needs to be rolled out. Keeping the concept more directional will help keep everyone aligned to the early nature of the product definition.
2. Get Tactical! – Target Specific Initiatives
Fix a known problem by redesigning or building a new part of the digital experience.
Use a thorough and transparent method to identify the handful of most promising initiatives. Use a framework (such as a functionality matrix) to help structure the decision criteria and identify the priority candidates. This will help to ensure broader stakeholder buy in. Another useful technique is to identify a small number of improvement themes across your customer’s journey. These themes can help provide a stronger vision of what the key experience benefits are across the journey. Examples of improvement themes include “Provide Customer More Control”, “Streamline and Simplify”, and “Build the Relationship”. Each initiative will contribute to progress in the improvement theme. Really focus on uplifting the experience in a few areas. This approach will be more achievable and set the stage for the value of the Journey Mapping process to have iterative and continuous impact.
It’s not just about low hanging fruit or highly visible projects for that matter. Often foundational initiatives such as data architecture rationalization and data quality can have the most long term impact on client experiences. Developing a portfolio view of digital initiatives can help to ensure balance of short and long term needs. And there are always times when bet the farm is the best choice.
3. Take a Fresh Look! – Develop the Future Journey
Radically re-imagine the journey for the future
It is completely possible that your current state journey map is uninspiring and nothing is leaping out as being broken or obviously an opportunity for innovation. Was this a wasted effort? Most likely not! It could be that the market segment the journey is in is relatively mature. It is also possible that some form of disruption is looming on the horizon. New technologies are constantly emerging and setting the stage from dramatically different experiences for your customers. Get a small group of visionaries and non-traditional thinkers together and lock them in a room for several days with the instructions to imagine the future state journey map of client engagement 5 years from now. Have them develop the future state journey map using the same overall structure as the current state journey map for example becoming a new client and using the product for the first time. This a chance to really innovate and take some giant steps.
Keep the group small 4-6 and only spend 1.5-2 days together. Keeping the investment minimal will take the pressure off the outputs and keep the team feeling loose and relaxed thereby maximizing the chance of true innovation.
4. Plan Forward! – Develop a Realistic Roadmap
Plan out the next one to two years by performing analysis and developing a roadmap.
The completed journey map implies the need to do something. There are drop off points to provide an improved experience. Or there are new technologies that need to be integrated into the platform and new interfaces developed to take advantage of these new capabilities. A gap analysis needs to be performed between the current supporting platforms and processes and the new requirements. All of this should be carefully planned out into a multi-year roadmap that shows timing and critical paths to deployment. Without a roadmap you will be forever firefighting and surviving quarter to quarter. The long term vision will continue to recede into the horizon. Think of the roadmap as a planning framework for executing against a longer term vision. The definition of initiatives several years down the road is inherently more general and will need to be reassessed as technologies and markets continue to evolve.
Implementation Insight: make sure that this is as cross-functional as possible. The best roadmaps always include business drivers, technology enablers and experience impacts in addition to laying out a series of initiatives with sequences and dependencies. Getting those stakeholders to say in unison “yes we believe in this roadmap” is critical to it ultimate success.
5. Get a Fresh Perspective! – Ongoing Customer Research
Go back to the field and refine personas and perform fresh (or ongoing) customer research.
Expectations around digital experiences are so dynamic that insights into expectations that are more than 1 to 2 years old are at risk of becoming out of date. Emerging technologies and trends in interface and experience design are constantly morphing into the latest incantation. Clearly different industries have distinct evolution cadences but understanding that rhythm is key to understanding the optimal pace of reinvestment. There is nothing like talking to new or potential clients to really get a sense of what is on their mind. Another consideration is to perform “deeper dives” on the pain points or other touch points that have the most potential for improvement on the customer journey that has just been mapped out.
Use new product launches and new market entries to see the structure of your client base in a new way. Work with a new partner, employ a new methodology. This is a chance to seek out innovative ideas.
Putting These Ideas into Practice: Customized Approaches
Some or all of these next steps may be a useful way to continue to build on the momentum of your journey mapping initiative. In order to be successful, it is important to have a clear sense of how the approach taken will support your organization’s broader business drivers. Here are a few of examples of how to link up some of the more common business drivers to a customized approach:
Example 1: Need to show impact right away? – Just focus on Targeted Initiatives based on specific Touch/Pain Points for a high priority customer persona. Make sure to have a baseline of metrics in place so you can clearly show the impact in business terms (ROI, clicks, reduced drop off rates, increased conversions, etc.).
Example 2: Need to drive the organization to think differently? – Focus on the concept and future journey map. These two together can have a dramatic impact on getting the rest of the organization to see the long term potential for a significantly enhanced experience.
Example 3: Need to institutionalize Journey Mapping? – Consider adding ongoing research into your overall program. This is what will ensure the access to new insights into the mind and behaviors of your clients. This will lead to new journeys and keeping the value of mapping them top of mind in the organization.
Note: Agile Considerations – If your organization has adopted Agile development techniques then some of these recommendations will need to be modified accordingly. In particular, Agile processes have specific implications for conceptual prototypes and roadmaps in terms of timing, methodology and outcomes.
Summing It Up
Ultimately, each organizational situation is unique, but we have seen a broad range of our clients adopt a customized approach drawing on and combining elements from each of these major strategies for building on journey mapping success.