What’s Customer Journey Mapping?

The notion of customer journey mapping has been around for quite a while, but is starting to gain a lot more visibility and traction, especially within IT communities. With a twist.

With customer journey mapping you work with a team to identify each touch point or interaction the company has with the customer in its current state. Along the journey, you identify where the moment of truth happens, which is when the customer commits. Then you capture the rest of the journey, which hopefully includes customer value and recurring engagement. You interview each of the stakeholders, and potentially a few hand selected customers, to determine the following: what type of interactions occur, what they think the customer pain points are, how these pain points could be improved, and develop a wish list for better tools or approaches. The last I looked, one of the top rated companies working on journey mapping was mcorp out of California in the US.   

With the information you collect, you can build a heat map that can be used to prioritize efforts to make the interaction more frictionless. If you are in a high risk/high reward environment, you will likely also do quantitative research by building a survey and sending it to your customers. Using those results, along with customer quotes to validate your prioritization, an approach will be developed to creating customer Zen.

Here’s where the twist comes in for IT communities. If you are an enterprise architect and have documented business processes, what business units use those processes? How many people does each business unit have working on the process? If the information and data flow through the process, and the applications and servers automate the process, then you have a very good tool to use with leadership to scope and prioritize efforts. While the documentation can be overwhelming, using views and viewpoints you can limit what you present to various audiences.

Don’t have all of the information listed? Shame on you, but please don’t feel bad. Very few companies have this information and most who have some version of the truth quickly let the data stagnate. So, how do you start without feeling you are boiling the ocean and how do you keep state information fresh?

To start, consider agreeing to a centralized repository with a standard set of documentation you will expect to capture and maintain over time. Once you have that, for each IT initiative, work with the sponsoring business unit(s) to identify the top personas and use cases. Try to keep the number of each manageable, perhaps starting with the top three personas and use cases or however many cover 80% of the business unit’s revenue. You may be surprised and find it is one persona and use case.

Work with the mid-management layer to capture business process. If you don’t have any idea where to start with defining the business processes and maturity levels, consider using an existing industry body of knowledge such as APQC. Share these with the business unit and work with them to customize the process and maturity levels to match their business. In order to keep or grow credibility with the business unit, consider starting development on a proof of concept or new IT capability or fix something that is irritating to the business unit. This helps build good will and show you are not just trying to analyze them to death. They will expect to see something tangible by the end of the quarter and if it is an agile or scrum type environment, a solution in 9 weeks.

From the information you capture build (at a minimum) the persona(s), use case(s) and customer journey map. The customer journey map should include the customer experience pieces tied to the underlying business processes, data flow, applications, and servers that currently exist. As you take on new initiatives, use this approach and require the requisite artifacts to be collected, created, and stored in the centralized repository.

To keep the content fresh, make sure the repository support assigning an owner and workflow so the content is reviewed at some rhythm. You can decide on the frequency of the attestation. However, if the cycle is more than quarterly, you may introduce risk of content stagnation. Business changes quickly and people in specific positions move regularly. Two approaches for keeping content fresh are to pay attention to business group announcements and to make part of succession planning finding a replacement for content review and attestation.

To stay current on business direction, consider attending leadership extended staff meetings for the business units. This will allow you to keep up with any business unit announcements for change in strategy or new initiatives, and will provide you additional visibility with the groups. To keep the list of attesters current, change the IT governance process to set the review and attestation rhythm. Also, when people in the IT group shift roles, make part of the job role change process finding a new person to be responsible for review.

As you work on initiatives you will find you have built enough credibility to leverage your relationships to work with other business units to capture their processes and personas.    

Andy Ruth 
SEI Mentor
Apprenticeship Program