Customer Journey Mapping
Customer Journey Mapping is a method of identifying the main processes that a customer meets when they have an interaction with an organisation. By spending time mapping the journey a customer actually takes organisations can make changes to their processes which are based on real customer requirements.
There has been a lot of work done in the UK about mapping customer journeys and the Cabinet Office website is a great place to explore different types of journey from the physical journey of customers using Eurostar through to the virtual journey of someone apply to enter the UK as a worker from outside the EU. http://www.cse.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/getDynamicContentAreaSection.do?id=9
My project involved the careers team from a large University in the UK who wanted to know more about what customer journey mapping was about before they could decide whether to use it in practice or not.
The activity I designed was based on some fictional student profiles. These were designed so that the team could explore the journeys of those students who were not current users of the careers service so that they could identify if there were opportunities that were being missed by the service.
With a group of 50 people designing the event was like designing a piece of choreography. The easiest option would have been to create groups of 5 and for the 5 people to work together on deciding the steps the student would take, their thoughts and feelings and then to plan some reactions to this. The problem with this approach would be that the groups would remain set for the whole session and the element of practice sharing and team work would be lost. I therefore created some steps for the mapping activity which meant that by the end each person was familiar with 4 different customer journeys. This is what I mean by choreography because as a facilitator you are designing each step and imagining where each person will be when you make the next move. I used a large bit of paper with arrows showing where the moves would take people so I could be sure that the moves would maximise the interactions of the different team members.
Moving the groups around meant that I avoided having to have a lengthy feedback session where each group talked about the particular challenges they had faced when creating their map. This wasn’t necessary because I had designed the event to increase the exposure to different journey maps. In my experience these feedback sessions are rarely worthwhile because most participants “tune out” very quickly. I often find that the most boring participant volunteers to give the feedback and unless carefully managed they quickly end up explaining every small discussion that they have had instead of focusing on one important element.
In the place of the large feedback report at the end of the various small group activities I devised two large group sharing activities, these helped to summarise and conclude the event and gave some valuable reaction feedback to my client.
The first technique was the “one minute spotlight” session. This enabled anyone to give an insight or view on the activity to the whole group, and they had up to a minute to communicate their thoughts. A few people did volunteer to share their thoughts in this format and it was helpful to get the insights. The final activity was a reaction board activity. This uses the large Post It notes from 3M. http://solutions.3m.co.uk/wps/portal/3M/en_GB/Post-Its/Post-It/Products/LargePostIt/
I have recommended these before in my blog, and they are a really good way of ensuring that the whole group can read the comments written by others. The notes were very popular with the participants too, when I came to clear up I found that all there were none of the large Post It notes left!
Each person had one note and wrote their reactions to the event: something that that they found useful, something that they were concerned about or something that they think will impact on practice. Once the individual has written their note they stick them on the wall and this is left up for others to browse at the end of the event.
What I found really satisfying about this event was that the time that I spent on the planning meant that the event ran to time and all the activities were completed without the rush and chaos that can sometimes happen with 50 people in a small space. I also invested time visiting the client before the event to talk through the plans and to see the space. This was invaluable as it became apparent that the “large room” would only accommodate 50 people if they were sat in rows and therefore I needed to think creatively about how to use other space in the building, as a result several groups worked on their maps in corridor areas. It made me conscious again about how facilitation is not just about the event but about the work that needs to happen both before and after the event to make it meaningful for the organisation. I think we undersell facilitation as just an event but our pricing should reflect the complexity of the planning that is involved to make the event work well.
Ideally there would be a team of facilitators to work with this size of group but the client only had a small budget and so I relied on my student Preeti and a small team of their staff who volunteered to facilitate the groups. This was helpful but in retrospect I wished I had had longer to brief them about their role. There is always a balance to be struck between over facilitating groups and leaving them alone. In reviewing the event it was clear that some of the administrative staff did not find the event relevant to their needs and this might have been more easily picked up if I was working with the groups in a more intense way.
It was good to put the customer journey mapping process to use with such a large group, I had only previously done the work with a much smaller group of people. I can see how valuable customer journey mapping will be to organisations as they start to review their service delivery model to help cut costs, if this is done in combination with a journey mapping process then the changes might improve customer service and deliver some cost savings at the same time.