Everyone seems to be into journey mapping these days.
It looks pretty easy to lay out the steps, discover, enroll, plan, arrive, experience, remember are common groupings that people use. One extreme case is this one from the San Francisco airport that has 16 steps. Adding personas to the journeys also looks pretty easy (and it is). All of that is easy but most of the journey maps I have seen recently from banks to agriculture stop well short of being actionable, and thus they don’t add much value.
Remember in the 1990s when process reengineering was a big thing? After Michael Hammer and James Champy published their Reengineering the Corporation which sold millions of copies. Companies from Accenture to Accelare built large and successful businesses around that very practice. But over time – people saw the shapes and arrows on the page and thought “how hard can that be” and started doing their own process mapping. That ended up being a lot of work without a lot of value – and if I knew how to graph the popularity of the word “Process” in titles in LinkedIn, my bet is that the line would point pretty sharply downward over the last 15 years.
Unless people start to figure out how to cross over the line into adding value, my guess is that journey mapping will have a similar fate.
There is good news.
Adding value in journey mapping isn’t impossible. It’s not always easy, but it’s also not always hard.
Here are five things that can be done to flip journey maps from just being interesting – to actually adding value.
- Add value. Literally tag each element/capability/step with a value contribution marker. Do this also for the customer personas. Whether it’s data driven or just a red/yellow/green assertion for high value/low value, that’s important. For example, using the steps mentioned above (discover, enroll, plan, arrive, experience, remember) most organizations assume that the “experience” step is their core value – but what if people never get to the discovery step or what if after discovery they don’t enroll? It’s important to know where the value is, and isn’t, in each step, so when you talk about a performance change, whether it’s a lift in customer satisfaction, or revenue, or more of a certain type of customer, you have started with a notion of where the value is.
- Map revenue and cost. Know where you have revenue by step and persona. Some theme parks recognize revenue once people go through their turnstile, but booking the revenue is also critical – and knowing not only where the booking happens, from where, and how much you spent in marketing or sales to get that booked revenue is key. This is one that is easy if you already track and store this information or use a system like Acxiom for that – start work because this is critical. Cost is linked to effort an operations and there’s more about that in #5 below.
- Map current state / future state. It’s interesting to understand where you are today with journeys, and technology and revenue and value, but if you don’t have a specific end state or direction in mind, you really don’t have any way to know if you are on the right path – and it makes it really hard to build trust and confidence with leadership. Have a future state, and map the work needed to get there, have success measures, document the risks. Treat it like a mathematical model such that if one of your numbers is different from plans/expectations, you should know which one of your assumptions to change.
- Compare them to other familiar experiences. This one is fun and easy and hugely valuable. A few years ago I was working for a big global coffee company who wanted to open a big building near their headquarters that would showcase several of the things they do really well. Their leader kept saying it would be a “Willy Wonka”-like experience. The good news was that everyone knew what he meant. The bad news was that the experience journey didn’t resemble the Willy Wonka Experience at all. In the enroll/plan steps you had to get a golden ticket to do to Willy Wonka, not so with this coffee experience. Willy Wonka offered a guided tour, not so with this coffee experience. Everything was free in Willy Wonka, not so with the coffee experience. And so on. But instead of telling the coffee boss that he was wrong, we listed a number of familiar examples to be specific about which ones the journey experiences should be like – at every step along the way (discover, enroll, plan, arrive, experience, remember). We used Nike Town, a popular local restaurant, a wine tour, Disney World and some others. That made the discussion both fun and productive. It also got the coffee boss to stop talking about Willy Wonka. You should do this as well – and you ought to include some of your brand people from marketing because they will have some assertions about which brands you are like – and which ones you aspire to be more like (Apple, Nordstrom, and Amazon often come up as the best experience brands in the world) but remember that experience is just one of the steps in the journey Expedia is one that often comes up as the best for the discover step, as one example of hundreds we have come up with over the years.
- Don’t forget operations. It’s very common for people to do the customer experience journey map and stop there. That’s just the yin without the yang. At every step of the way, there’s something going on operationally (it might be automated today, but it’s still there) behind the scenes. Knowing where the operations cost, effort, and complexity is (and don’t forget regulations/compliance) so when you start to model the future state of an experience – be clear and specific about whether you are creating or removing operational work on the back end (it’s rarely neutral). If you create work as you increase customer satisfaction, you may be lowering employee satisfaction and that can be as deadly as bad customer satisfaction.
Those are my pointers on journey mapping. Whether you are in agile software development or big data or brand management, these are key to success.
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