Customer Journey Mapping – Time to Choose the Movie instead of the Book


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On YouTube the top ten videos regarding the incident with Dr. David Dao on United have been viewed about 10 million times collectively. If there had been a highly accurate written description of the event, but no video, would it have been shared as often? Would the clarity about the issue be as great? Would any policies have been changed?

I think we all probably agree on the answers to these questions, but what has this got to do with Customer Journey Mapping? Read on to find out!

Journey Mapping Deliverables Need Better Tailoring

I have seen a lot of different journey maps in my career. Most often, they include visuals that summarize the major steps in the journey. Some have more elaborate visuals and will include connectors, icons and symbols. Labels and comments on these visuals can be either sparse or comprehensive. Most maps will summarize major pain points, moments of truth, emotions, etc. Often this looks like a table in PowerPoint with bulleted text in each cell.

While I believe it is important to catalog all of this information, many practitioners miss the mark by putting this output, or even a subset of it, in front of senior management and frontline employees. How much effort are we expecting them to put into the review and absorption of this information? What are we expecting that seeing the final product will do for those people?

The object of most Journey Mapping efforts is to get people to think and act differently with regard to the experience the company is delivering to its customers. When a Journey Mapping project is successful, employees across the company will be more aware of customers’ mindset and needs. A more common understanding of these needs will be shared across the company. Management will have the information it needs to reprioritize strategies, operations, product development, service and support models, etc. to be more effective. These teams will have much of the input needed to develop new and innovative solutions that will be more successful for customers and the business.

The Rule of Three

I have taken numerous presentation training courses. I’ve also had many mentors and role models when it comes to making presentations. A common theme is always keep in mind the rule of three. No matter how long your presentations are, peoples’ ability to comprehend and retain what you have told them is limited. Focus on three main points that you hope to drive home. If you are doing well, audience members will remember at least two of the three.

So what does this mean for Journey Mapping? For one thing, we need to make sure we are quantifying components of the journey so that we can prioritize which of the moments of truth, pain points or opportunities are most important to drive both improved customer experience and better business outcomes. Once we have this information, we can focus communications on specific parts of the journey that we want everyone to learn about and focus on. But that is only part of the solution…and now I’ll get to my point about video.

Video is a Galvanizing Force

“I love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning…smelled like victory.”

If you have ever seen Apocalypse Now, you almost certainly remember this line and the scene with Robert Duvall kneeling down, shirtless, with smoke all around him. Even among those who haven’t seen the movie, many have heard someone else quote the line. Dramatic video is much more effective at making an indelible mark on human beings than does the written word or even pictures on a page.

Just ask United Airlines or any other company in the airline industry. The visual of security officers dragging Dr. Dao down the aisle and hearing him scream is burned into my memory as well as most everyone’s in the airline industry. I would bet a fair sum of money that the overbooking and involuntary bumping problem was well known to most airlines. Probably, some even had journey maps that called it out as a problem. However, none of the airlines acted to change it prior to this video. Perhaps the finance teams thought it would reduce profitability; perhaps those in charge of the reservations system thought it too costly or intrusive to other priorities to fix; or maybe some just thought it wouldn’t impact their bookings and revenue, so why fix it? In less than two weeks after the Dao incident, not only had United fixed this problem once and for all, but so had every airline in the industry.

Well Maybe Not a Movie in the Traditional Sense – Think YouTube

How much time do you expect senior managers are willing to commit to learning the results of the Journey Mapping effort? Will it be an hour’s presentation? How much will they take away? Will they come back to the material? How often? What will keep the momentum going? What about the same questions for frontline employees?

There is value in doing a presentation of findings. But the emphasis should not be on depth and detail. Put the most important news in a tight presentation and leverage video to help tell the story. Don’t tell your audience about the emotion consumers feel. Show them. At a time when technology disruption is rampant, you may also be able to show management how people are finding hacks that get around frustrations with the company’s products or services, which could make these products less relevant and needed. The same approach will work on senior management as well as the frontline.

Regardless of the audience, don’t stop with just a presentation. Use video in small bites, like YouTube videos that people can look at on intra-company social channels. This will keep them engaged and informed. Enable people to rate and share videos. Comment on what to do about them. Create rewards for those who come up with unique solutions to these problems.

Customer Journey Mapping is about creating a roadmap to customer centricity. However, this is not an “if you build it they will come” scenario. The initial movie in your CX improvement “video” franchise needs to be compelling, engaging and fulfilling. This will give you not just the right, but also demand for a sequel.

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