Customer Journey Mapping
Journey mapping helps you visualize how customers experience your product or service, and how they feel along the way. Scroll to step 6 for a real-life example from one of our product teams!
AND I NEED THIS... WHY?
Few things hurt software makers more than seeing something like this:
Feedback like that is a good (if painful) reminder that although we do indeed use our own products – every. single. day. – we don't necessarily use them the same ways our customers do, or for the same tasks. Whether we're building a product or running a service, it's all too easy to forget how much institutional knowledge we have, and assume our customers have it, too. Or get so wrapped up in optimizing the most exciting use cases that we neglect the less glamourous ones.
No matter how mature your product or service is, it's always the right time to step into your customer's shoes so you can deliver what they need.
WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED?
Get a diverse cross-section of skills and experience involved. Likely some combination of the following:
- Experts in what customers go through in this context, such as a customer support agent, developer, or user researcher
- Service owner or the project's full-time owner
- Individuals on the front lines of providing the service
- Individuals on the front lines of making the product
Teams that provide an internal-facing service benefit from pulling an internal customer into the session. Be sure to designate a facilitator and scribe for the session, too.
Running the play
Depending on how many touchpoints along the customer journey you're mapping, you might break the journey into stages and tackle each stage in pairs.
- Sticky notes
- Rubber chicken
Define the map's scope (15 min)
Ideally, customer journey mapping focuses on the experience of a single persona in a single scenario with a single goal. Else, the journey map will be too generic, and you'll miss out on opportunities for new insights and questions.
Once scope is agreed on, double-check your invite list to make sure you've got people who know the details of what customers experience when using your product or service.
Set the stage (5 min)
It's really important that your group understands the user persona and the goal driving their journey. Decide on or recap with your group the target persona and the scope of the journey being explored in your session.
E.g. "We're going to focus on the Alana persona. Alana's role is project manager, and her goal is to find a scalable way for her team to share their knowledge so they spend less time explaining things over email. We're going to map out what it's like for Alana to evaluate Confluence for this purpose, from the point where she clicks that TRY button, to the point where she decides to buy it – or not."
Build a customer back-story (10 min)
Have the group use sticky notes to post up reasons why your target persona would be on this journey in the first place. Odds are, you'll get a range of responses: everything from high-level goals, to pain points, to requested features or services. Group similar ideas and groom the stickies so you can design a story from them.
Take a look at the example provided in the call out of this section. This back story starts with the pain points – the reasons why Alana would be wanting something like Confluence in the first place.
- E.g., "Her team's knowledge is in silos"
Then it basically has a list of requirements – what Alana is looking for in a product to solve the bottom pain points. This is essentially a mental shopping list for the group to refer to when mapping out the customer journey.
- E.g., "Provide structure"
Then it has the outcomes – goals that Alana wants to achieve by using the product
- E.g., "To keep my team focused on their work instead of distracted by unnecessary emails and shoulder-taps"
And finally the highest-level goal for her and her team.
- E.g., "Improve team efficiency"
Round off the back story by getting someone to say out loud what they think the overall story so far is, highlighting the main goals the customer has. This ensures a shared understanding that will inform the journey mapping, and improve the chances that your team will map it from the persona's point of view (not their own).
- E.g., "Alana and her team are frustrated by having to spend so much time explaining their work to each other, and to stakeholders. They want a way to share their knowledge, and organize it so it's easy for people outside their team to find, so they can focus more energy on the tasks at hand."
Here's a backstory the Confluence team created.
Map what the customer thinks and feels (30 min)
With the target persona, back story, and destination in place, it's time to walk a mile in her shoes. Show participants how to get going by writing the first thing that the persona does on a sticky note. The whole group can then grab stickies and markers and continue plotting the journey action by action, one action per sticky.
This can also include questions and decisions! If the journey branches based on the answers or choices, have one participant map out each path.
Sometimes customer journeys involve more than one channel for interaction, and this could be important for your group to capture. For each action on the journey, ask what channel(s) are involved, and write them as initials on that sticky. Depending on your context, channels might include a website, phone, email, postal mail, face-to-face, and/or social media.
It might also help to visually split the mapping area in zones, such as "on-stage" (what the customer experiences) versus "back-stage" (what systems and processes are active in the background).
Journey mapping can open up rich discussion, but try to avoid delving into the wrong sort of detail. The idea is to explore the journey and mine it for opportunities to improve the experience instead of coming up with solutions on the spot. Try to be the commentator, not the critic. And remember: you're there to call out what’s going on for the persona, not explain what’s going on with internal systems and processes.
Use different color sticky notes for actions, questions, decisions, etc. so it's easier to see each element when you look at the whole map.
Your map has heaps of branches and loops.
Your scope is probably too high-level. Map a specific journey that focuses on a specific task, rather than mapping how a customer might explore for the first time.
Map the pain points (10 min)
"Ok, show me where it hurts." Go back over the map and jot down pain points on sticky notes. Place them underneath the corresponding touchpoints on the journey. Where is there frustration? Errors? Bottlenecks? Things not working as expected?
For added value, talk about the impact of each pain point. Is it trivial, or is it likely to necessitate some kind of hack or work-around. Even worse: does it cause the persona to abandon their journey entirely?
Chart a sentiment line (15 min)
(Optional, but totally worth it.) Plot the persona's sentiment in an area under your journey map, so that you can see how their emotional experience changes with each touchpoint. Look for things like:
- Areas of sawtooth sentiment – going up and down a lot is pretty common, but that doesn't mean it's not exhausting for the persona.
- Rapid drops – this indicates large gaps in expectations, and frustration.
- Troughs – these indicate opportunities for lifting overall sentiments.
- Positive peaks – can you design an experience that lifts them even higher? Can you delight the persona and inspire her to recommend you?
Remember that pain points don't always cause immediate drops in customer sentiment. Consider whether a pain point early in the journey might result in negative feelings later on.
Analyse the big picture (15 min)
As a group, stand back from the journey map and discuss trends and patterns in the experience.
- Where are the areas of greatest confusion/frustration?
- Where is the journey falling short of expectations?
- Are there any new un-met needs that have come up for the user type?
- Are there areas in the process being needlessly complicated or duplicated? Are there lots of emails being sent that aren’t actually useful?
Then, discuss areas of opportunity to improve the experience. E.g., are there areas in the process where seven steps could be reduced to three? Is that verification email actually needed?
Be sure to run a full Health Monitor session or checkpoint with your team to see if you're improving.Find your Health Monitor
MAP A FUTURE STATE
Instead of mapping the current experience, map out an experience you haven't delivered yet. You can map one that simply improves on existing pain points, or design an absolutely visionary amazeballs awesome experience.
After the mapping session, capture notes and photos of the group and the artifacts created on a Confluence page. Include a write-up of your analysis and recommendations you came up with. What pain points have the highest impact to customers' evaluation, adoption and usage of our products? What opportunities are there, and which teams should know about them?
KEEP IT VISIBLE
It's best if you can keep the journey on a wall near your team. If not, capture the journey map in pixels using Illustrator, Gliffy, or a similar tool. While you're at it, try to add some order and structure to the journey map you created.
KEEP IT REAL
Validate your journey map with customers if at all possible. And yes: you might learn that your entire map is invalid and have to start again from scratch. (Better to find that out now, versus after you've delivered the journey!) Major initiatives typically make multiple journey maps to capture the needs of multiple personas, and often iterate on each map.
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