Operationalize Your Customer Experience Journey Map


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source: The Experience LLC

So you’ve spent lots of money gathering all of your Voice of the Customer data. Then you’ve hired an outside consultant to come in and run a journey mapping workshop. But after the workshop is over and you’ve rolled up your 9 foot butcher paper Journey Map with hundreds of sticky notes…what’s next? How do you put the plan into action and actually operationalize the experience you’ve just spent so much time and money designing? Even more importantly, how do you break down departmental silos and bring everyone in your company into the conversation of improving your customer experience? This article is aimed at answering these questions and other important tips for driving action and value in your Customer Experience efforts.

In recent years I’ve come to find that there are some unaddressed and unanswered questions pertaining to companies efforts to operationalize their customer experience journey maps. I keep hearing time and time again businesses asking the question “what’s the next step to operationalizing my journey map” but very few CX professionals are providing the answers. Sure, there are plenty of solution providers out there that enable you to delve deep into your customer data allowing you to get a well-rounded picture of where you stand with your customers today. And there are thousands of CX consultants out there that would be happy to interpret said data and provide a series of workshops teaching your company about CX best practices and helping you create a detailed and often complex journey map based on your customer personas. But when all the data has been gathered, the workshops are over and the consultants go home, it’s up to the company to deliver on the newly designed experience by conveying the new journey to the rest of the company. But how does a company actually operationalize a complex journey map? It’s hard enough to operationalize and align employees around a singular journey in a company of 100 or less but almost impossible to do it across a large enterprise. But, it doesn’t have to be. No matter how large or small your company, or how simple or complex your customer journey is, you can follow these three simple steps for operationalizing your journey maps that will help you begin breaking down your company silos and start creating the customer-centric culture you dream of.

source: The Experience LLC

Step #1: Translate your journey map into a simplified story that everyone can understand.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where complexity is sometimes a necessary evil, and too often this is true when talking about customer journey mapping. It is important for CX designers to understand that complexity does not always translate to the masses and therefore many times is not understood when explaining to others. I encourage all CX professionals to read John Maeda’s book “The Laws of Simplicity”. His first Law ”Reduce” states that “the simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction”. So by all means collect the necessary data on customers and develop detailed journey maps, but at the end of the day simplifying these journeys into a story that everyone can understand will be essential for company-wide alignment. I’m going to go ahead and guess that a majority of the employees in your company aren’t experience nerds like yourself. They’re probably not familiar with the term customer experience much less what a journey map is. Therefore, the key to getting everyone to actually understand the experience you want them to produce is to distill your journey map into a storyboard that everyone can understand.

An experience storyboard is a simplified version of your journey map. Think of it as an easy to read “CliffsNotes” version of the complex customer journey you’ve already designed. A simplified storyboard will provide everyone in your company with an easy-to-understand frame-by-frame view of the customer experience you want them to deliver. Storyboards will help you create a customer-centric culture by enabling everyone in your organization to see the customer experience in the same way. Furthermore, a simpler view ensures that every member of the company not only sees the experience you want them to deliver but allows them to see the role they play in the overall delivery.

There are a myriad of tools you can use to create simple storyboards for your employees. Obvious choices would be Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, or any of the other collaborative presentation softwares on the marketplace today. No matter what tool you end up choosing, make sure the storyboard that is produced is easy to update and mobile friendly. After all, your storyboards will evolve so the tools you use to storyboard need to be agile, adaptable and easy-to-use.

source: The Experience LLC

Step #2: Share your storyboard in a way everyone can access it at anytime!

After you’ve distilled your journey map into a storyboard that everyone can understand, the next step is sharing that story with everyone in your company. Sharing your experience storyboard not only gives your employees an operational playbook that will help them deliver the experience, it allows them to view the experience through the same lens as everyone else in the company. True organizational alignment happens when everyone can focus on the same vision for success.

How you share your storyboard and through what medium you send it is extremely important. The key is to share storboards through something that is easily consumable and can be referenced at anytime from anywhere an employee might be performing their job. Again this stresses the importance of using a technological tool that is easily viewable on a mobile device. Depending on the type of business you’re in, you might have many desk-bound employees with access to a computer. But for businesses that primarily operate outside of the traditional office place, mobile devices might be the only thing most employees have access to. Furthermore, making sure that the storyboards you send are easily updatable in real-time without having to resend will be an important factor for ensuring that your team is always working off the most current version. For most companies email is a likely form of communication but leveraging a real-time technology like Google Slides or Powerpoint allows you to make adjustments that reflect in real-time through the cloud to those you’ve shared with.

source: The Experience LLC

Step #3: Gain ideas and feedback from your team and improve your experience.

Harnessing feedback and ideas to improve your customer experience should be the priority of any business. The people on the front-lines of experience delivery in your company are often the ones with the best ideas to improve it. When we make journey maps in a workshop we often pull a stratified sample of employees from across the organization that represent all of the various departmental silos. The issue with that is the full intellectual power of your organization cannot be expressed by such a small sample.

The key to rapid evolution and improvement is to get everyone in the company to join in the conversation. Now that you’ve shared the vision for the ideal customer experience through your storyboard you need to create a transparent channel for feedback from the “front-office” to the “head-office”. It might be as simple as setting up a new email inbox titled ideas@(companyname).com. Or you could leverage any number of online collaborative tools for creating feedback loops. You can encourage these ideas and feedback from employees through incentives to drive engagement across the organization. Set up challenges to overcome complex problems and offer a paid vacation day, a free lunch, or even just a formal recognition in your next meeting. Of course the ultimate incentive for any employee is showing them that their ideas and feedback really do matter to the company by implementing changes in the customer experience they’re delivering based on their valuable insights.

source: The Experience LLC

Remember that operationalizing your customer experience journey map doesn’t have to be hard as as long as you keep the process simple and distill down the complexity making it easy for everyone to understand the experience you want them to produce. There are tons of tools out there that you can leverage to help get the job done it’s just a matter of finding the one(s) that work best for you and your team.

Mitch Belsley
Mitch is a CX consultant, blogger, and co-founder of the CXM software platform The Experience Manager.Over the years he's worked everywhere from the "front office" to the "head office" which has provided him with a unique view for creating CX strategies, customer centric cultures, and operationalizing unforgettable experiences for businesses big and small.


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