Posted By Aliza Pollack,
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Journey Mapping: Big Picture Thinking
I sit here writing, waiting for inspiration to hit: Where is that pithy line that usually finds its way to my brain? The one that sets up the essay/article/slide so well? This is what I do: I take big ideas and craft them into compelling packages to showcase their meaning. But times are intense. And inspiration isn’t so light and sparkly right now. My mind shifts to the bigger issues at play. As I ponder the pandemic, and the stark lifestyle changes it has brought on—civic uprisings, Black Lives Matter, pain, unemployment—it’s hard to deny how interconnected we are, and how vital it is to consider the context when trying to understand a problem.
This attitude translates to work. Often, before COVID-19, a business problem would reveal itself and one team would own it and the solution-finding process. Collaboration across teams can easily be stymied by the rush of business life, with looming KPIs, clogged calendars, quarterly reports, changing leadership and multiple hashtag and mottoes like, “move fast and break things.” The world, and the people in it, are complex. Thinking and working contextually is fundamental. It encourages collaborative work and holistic solutions. Enter journey mapping: a framework that sheds light on the full customer experience. The behaviors, attitudes, delight, and pain points that the customer encounters on the way to your product/category/service/experience. When executed well, journey mapping can coalesce often siloed consumer-facing teams and inspire a more nuanced marketing and product development road map.
Here are my four steps that might help you make this fit within your organization:
Benchmark: Root the team
As with all fact-finding missions, before starting consumer fieldwork, gather your major stakeholders in any way possible (e.g., individual interviews – face to face, phone, short workshop, Google doc, survey) and build alignment.
- Download what is known across teams (marketing, product, CX, data science, etc.): ingoing hypotheses, perceptions of the journey, CRM survey open-ends, personas/segments we want to pursue, competitive analysis, data science.
- Identify what is unknown: What confuses, what are barriers to entry, underlying motivations, who is the real customer, duration of this journey, perceived competition, biases.
- Agree on what success looks like: How should the final deliverable look, what does it need to achieve, what will this work impact within the organization—communications development, product development/refinement, innovation, all?
Discovery: Center on your respondent
- Who will you talk to? Think through the key identifying variables of your broad user base: demographics, frequency of usage, awareness of category, awareness of brand, etc.
- Go into discomfort zones: Journeys capture the full lifecycle which extends beyond purchase. Talk with power/passion users, latent users and rejecters.
- Focus on the individual: I strive for pristine data, so choose one-on-one interviews (video, F2F) rather than focus groups. Use your analysis to uncover patterns.
- Kickstart participant memory: We’re asking people to recall experiences, which are inherently flawed (humans forget). Help them shore up memories with real-life artifacts: calendar entries, receipts, credit card slips, social media posts…. these items spark authentic stories and emotions.
Analysis and visualization: Show your story
Most likely, you’re sitting on a trove of data (yikes!) with a need to synthesize in both meaningful and compelling ways.
- Plan ahead: Talk with your client in advance to decide on the best form of deliverable(s). Guide them toward what’s possible. They also might want to validate quantitatively, so talk through how you can be of service to bring it all together without losing the high touch of qual.
- Sparring partner: It’s likely that you will be lost in the data weeds. Pluck someone from the team, the office (the street?) to share your findings. Relaying the story to a stranger reveals its strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t answer their questions, there’s more work to be done.
- Bring on the designers: Unless you’re design-gifted, work with a professional. They’ll elevate your product.
Action planning: Move them to the next step
While this isn’t integral to the journey map process, it’s an important part of your client’s path. I try to bake it in to the workflow. You’ve started the project with full team inclusion; now help them all put this valuable information to use.
- Can you share it to the full team, followed by a Q&A session?
- Can you conduct a workshop/sprint to inspire some new ideas which they will prioritize?
- Can you overlay it with jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework so the team can see how their respective plans match/meet where users are, and how they feel in that moment.
Through a rigorous process, fed by varied disciplines/teams, journey maps help you pull back to see the sum of all parts.
Aliza Pollack runs research projects to root brand initiatives in real insight. Her work is human-centered, not consumer-oriented. Any brand, no matter how loved, is a fleck of dust in our lives. To resonate, it needs to know how people live, their ambitions, fears, and inspirations. I love digging for those nuggets.
Customer Journey maps
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