Improving UX and CX through Customer Journey Mapping

Lately I’ve been asking the same set of questions to UX people.

How many weeks in the past year did you feel as though you were doing the right kind of work, on the right kind of project. How often do you feel as though you’re really being properly utilised, that you’re using your skills and experience in a way that is really helping companies make a difference?

Based on my own experience, my hypothesis was that the answer would be pretty depressing. And, with a few exceptions, it has been.

At a time where companies are crying out for User Experience people to come help them solve problems – and there are so many problems to solve – the people who are at the coal face generally feel as though they’re either not able to work effectively, or they are doing great work but tackling the wrong problems.

What a tragic waste of talent, of time, of money, of life.

The last few months I’ve seen a lot of movement in the UX field – people moving in house out of agencies, starting their own companies, leaving freelancing – it feels like we’re generally a little restless at the moment, and it’s a feeling I’m familiar with. I need to stop taking briefs and trying to reshape them, and instead to work with companies to give them the tools to make better decisions, to give better briefs, to allow teams to work together more productively. We need to get out of the design or UX department to solve these problems.

So I’m shifting my focus to Customer Journey Mapping.

In workshops and conference talks I’ve done recently I’ve waxed lyrical about the Customer Journey Map and how it has, without doubt, been the thing that has most transformed my practice as a User Experience practitioner over the past few years. In particular it does three things that immediately accelerate an organisation’s customer focus:

  1. Makes the customer experience understandable and addressable – even for quite small companies, understanding what it is like to be your customer at all points of the customer lifecycle and across all channels can be difficult. Creating a customer journey map helps make the big picture of customer experience understandable so that even as we deep dive on specific projects, we’re maintaining a consistent and coherent experience at all times. By picking out the critical moments of truth and focusing on those touchpoints, we make significant improvements much more achievable and measurable.
  2. Unites the silos, ignites customer focus – often organisations are filled with people who are passionate about customer experience but who are functionally separated from each other and have difficulty communicating effectively and aligning their efforts across the organisational silos. A customer journey map gives them a focal point and a shared language and way of communicating the insight they have and activity within their functional group, improving the organisation’s ability to maximise the efforts and expertise of its customer champions.
  3. Visibly connects business value and customer value – Peter Drucker tells us that the purpose of the business is to create value for our customers and that profit is the feedback we get from doing it well, but the connection between customer and business value is often difficult to see in today’s organisations. A customer journey map provides a way to show how the critical moments of truth for customers – the touchpoints that should be most thoughtfully designed – almost always maps to places where money flows in or out of an organisation. Customer journey maps provide a way to measure CX metrics that directly impact the organisations bottom line.

I’m not giving up the usual research, design and strategic UX work I’ve done over the years, but I’d like to spend more of my time working on making Customer Journey Maps with clients and helping to focus their energies on the UX projects that will really make a difference for their organisation, and also to bring some more ‘design’ into the world of Customer Experience (CX) (yes, CX is different to UX, and yes, I totally understand how confusing that sounds).

So, if your organisation needs some customer experience mapping done, or you hear of someone who does, I’d love it if you’d send them my way. With a bit of luck and good management I can do my bit to help make sure more UXers are working on real and important UX projects in the coming years.

8 Responses to “Improving UX and CX through Customer Journey Mapping”

  1. Boon May 4, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Leisa,

    I’m really happy you wrote this post. I’ve been a big fan of customer journey mapping and in some ways, a lot of my work revolves around creating visualisations and illustrations that help clients’ communicate the user experience, rather than UX designers. It takes a lot of listening, understanding businesses, company culture, internal processes, the market, as well as design. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing any service producing these artefacts when I see other UX-ers work on more “common” deliverables that are closer to the product (the end result) – but design without the proper strategy and organisation to back it up will not succeed on its own.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Boon

  2. Rod butcher May 5, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Nice. I’m a big fan too, trying to roll out across aviva, bit by bit, with great (early) results, but it does take time!

  3. Jeff Sussna May 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Thanks for the concise, excellent presentation of the value of customer journey maps. I’ve been coming to a similar conclusion as you from the opposite beginning: IT. I’m finding that customer journey maps help software development, QA, and operations teams understand what they’re building, for whom, and how it integrates with other tools their users bring to the table. In my ideal world, the customer journey map enables unified understanding of IT’s customer (whether internal or external) between marketing (or program management), design, development, QA, operations, and support.

  4. Jim Stembridge May 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Leisa,

    Thanks for writing this! A good overview of something I too have been seeing as a slight shift in the world of UX.

    I recently finished an eight week engagement with a customer where we had the focus start with user journeys. As we talked with the customer and poked on the personas (or people groups) that might be targeted by the organization and specific project, the customer realized that additional work was needed to ensure the right audience was being targeted and that their interactions with the organization were understood and actually mapped to the long list of requirements that had already been gathered.

    Through the exercise of understanding the personas, a clear subset of their marketing segmentation was understood. This in turn guided understanding this particular set of personas interactions (or journeys) with the organization.

    As the personas began to take on lives and began to be used instead of “set of requirements”, further clarifications to what the organization needed were driven. This in turn drove out different priorities and ultimately drove out a set of conceptual wireframes.

    When all was said and done, every participant was glowing about the user journey work and how it had driven everything about the project. While a deep list of requirements and features had been gathered, and not all of them were taken out of scope, the CONTEXT for WHY and HOW was better understood!

    I think context says so much about what we do as UX / CXers. If you design the cool next thing, but the context is wrong, it’s bound to be less successful.

    I, too, encourage folks to try to get involved in persona and user journey work. It doesn’t have to be glossy marketing looking slicks, but even rudimentary drawings and charts can help bring to life the pain points that cause barriers to adoption, but also to opportunity points that can increase adoption and customer satisfaction.

    When it’s all said and done, there is ALWAYS a set of customers/users that, if made exceptionally happy, will result in high satisfaction and high value to the business!

  5. Jennifer May 9, 2012 at 4:50 am #

    Great post! I love what you have to say about “uniting the silos” and “visibly connecting business value and customer value.” These can certainly be challenging aspects of any customer experience improvement initiative, but I agree that touchpoint analysis & customer journey mapping (if done right) can play a tremendous role in a company’s ability to do both of those things. Mapping can give businesses a crystal clear visual of their complete customer journey so they can strategically design an experience that drives value for both the company & the customer. Best of luck to you, & thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this!

    Jennifer Kramp
    TouchpointDashboard.com

  6. Ben Rowe May 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Completely Agree Leisa great post.

    I find that every project I do now feels incomplete without some sort of customer journey mapping first.

    The other thing I find is that clients love it! They may not have realised that they needed it, but to map out the entire experience in the one place gives them more clarity than a business or marketing strategy ever can.

  7. Gaby Prado June 5, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Great point.
    Recently moved to client-side and evidence tells me that there is no single activity more important than to do a Customer Journey Map as a starting point, on so many levels.

  8. Michael Hardy June 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Lisa, thanks for the post.

    I can’t help but notice that your comments on silo busting are similar to thinking from supply chain strategy research (and even activity based accounting!). While its practice normally concerned with more tangible product, journey mapping in the UX sphere has done a lot to provide a language in the shift to digital products. That said is it possible that some of the same learning actually applies? Is UX essentially beating the same drum about a decade too late, or perhaps just in time?