Our top customer journey mapping tools discussed in this article will help guide you to better results for your customers – and they just may be the key to your next solution success.
Join our upcoming webinar for an in-depth discussion on how to use these tools to drive a compelling customer experience from end to end – Becoming Expert: Killer Customer Journey Maps.
The class broke up into groups of two and started their interviews. Across from each small group was a novice user. In their deliberately shortened interviews, each group came away with a much better understanding of each user’s top frustrations. When we created a collective map of their interviews, it became clear that the underlying product wasn’t the problem – no one had taken a good hard look at the breadth of customer experience and worked out all the kinks in getting the product to take off. How did this happen to such a well-meaning group of product managers?
The Critical Importance of a Customer Journey
- The website folks create a beautiful site and guide people through the process of turning awareness of a product into interest. Their key metric: number of people engaging with the site.
- Sales then takes over that relationship and reaches out to the customer. Their key metric: sales revenue.
- Next, the potential customer finally decides to sign on the dotted line and then finance takes over: do they need financing or credit? The financial department rules take the lead. And finance success is based on margin, profitability and risk.
- And the order is fulfilled by another group entirely: operations. Yup, you guessed it: they have different rules too. Are all the forms filled in correctly? And in the correct number of days?
- Need a support issue addressed? Great, fill in their version of the forms and navigate the call center trees and they’ll get right on it. Oh, and their metric for success: Complete your support call in as few steps and as short a time as possible. If your issue is really resolved along the way, that’s nice, but not how they measure success.
As product managers, we spend so much time focused on improving the actual product that we forget to look at the low hanging fruit of increasing sales success: improve the overall customer experience of dealing with your company from end to end.
And I’m not suggesting that doing this work is easy. It’s hard. You have to convince each department head that there’s an issue, then get everyone in the same room (shock, horror!).
Customer Journey Maps
The big question here is: why should product managers drive this effort? There are lots of other options. Hmm. Actually, there are fewer than you think. As influential product managers, you have the ear of upper management. You probably know the heads of most of the departments – and many of the people working in key roles within the department. You have a driving need to fix the problem so that you’ll sell more of your product. And you are probably known as a leader in the organization.
Once you collect everyone together, start by listing all the different types of people that interact with your company. If you have personas, this is a great group of identities to start from. If you don’t, your work may have to start with creating a few customer groupings. As for tools, invest in inexpensive sticky notes, flip chart paper and washable markers as the most flexible way to investigate, explore and possibly discard ideas and thoughts.
Then map out each interaction point. At each one, define who interacts with you. If necessary, list every persona or create swim lanes for each persona. Set a scale to determine how important each interaction point is.
Once all the points and importance of each point is created, go back through your map. Write out their needs and emotions as they approach this particular interaction with your company. What else affects the quality of the interaction with your company? If you have known comments, complaints, support issues, add them into the cloud of information at each point in the customer journey.
And finally, go back over the entire map and determine the best way to improve the situation. Check out our article on how to create a customer journey map for B2B to get you the most relevant insights at every touchpoint. You can then use the 4-Quadrant matrix to pick items which are easy and make a lot of difference to customers. Next, prioritize those items which are harder to fix, but really make a difference to your customers.
Check out our video explaining the 4-Quadrant matrix
A basic customer journey map is a great first step in creating a better customer experience. The reality is that to completely decipher the entire picture, customer journey mapping tools can take your level of understanding and give the folks fixing issues an even more granular view of the work from their perspective. Here are a couple of my personal favorites.
Customer Journey Mapping Tool #1 – Universal Job Map
With the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework, Tony Ulwick has done an amazing job in elaborating the idea that customers really “hire a product” to do something for them. And he’s made a lot of the information freely available. Jobs-To-Be-Done is such a powerful way to break down your customer’s issues into smaller and smaller chunks. You focus the microscope on each detail of what exact jobs need to be done every step along the way to completing them. In Jobs-To-Be-Done, this journey is called a Universal Job Map.
Check out the graphic below to see the sequence.
Let’s use the universal job map as we focus on one job that we want to get done: we want to go for a run through a new neighborhood. Following the steps in the universal job map and choosing just one item in each step, we’d define how far we want to run, create a map of where we wanted to run, prepare running clothing and shoes, check that we have everything we need before we left, execute the run, and check along the way how the run was progressing. If we decided to make the run longer or shorter, we’d modify our run and finally return, concluding our ‘job’ with stretching.
A strange thing has happened to me since I’ve learned about the universal job map. I’ve become more aware of all the steps I take when I work through a task. What does it take for me to actually sit at a desk and write? Leave the house? And when I start an unfamiliar task or one I do infrequently, the amount of effort it takes in the early stages of my job map is daunting. Remember this the next time your familiarity with your product leads you to underestimate how much work a customer takes on just to get started!
Incorporate a customer journey mapping tool like the universal job map in your detailed analysis of your customer’s journey to create a compelling customer experience from beginning to end.
Customer Journey Mapping Tool #2 – User Story Mapping
Another amazing customer journey tool is User Story Mapping, developed by Jeff Patton. User Story Mapping allows Agile development teams to double click on a customer journey in a meaningful way (for them) as they plan key elements of code that are needed for the customer to complete their journey. Invite your key developers, user experience folks and product owners/product managers to the meeting. If you have remote teams, invest in a shared whiteboard space program and a couple of cameras and microphones so that people are all in the same virtual space.
A good time to create a user story map is right at the start of a project, or where there is a new piece of work that needs to be defined. If you already have a lot of items in the product backlog, you may have to scrub the backlog to align with your new user story map.
The top of the User Story Map is the backbone of key user activities. These activities can be taken from a higher-level customer journey. Under each user activity, break up each activity into the tasks that the user has to complete to succeed at the activity. Then the technical folks can more easily break up the work into understandable coding tasks and sub-tasks.
And finally, prioritize what needs to be done first. This creates your first slice of work. On new projects, this corresponds to your MVP. Check out our article explaining the definition of minimum viable product.
Our goal as product managers and product marketing managers is to ensure we deliver successful products. Incorporating customer journey mapping tools is a powerful way to reach that goal more easily. If you’d like to learn more about how to use these key customer journey approaches to improve your solution with less effort and get better results for your customers, join our upcoming AIPMM-hosted Webinar, Becoming Expert: Killer Customer Journey Maps. This fast-evolving topic could be the key to your next solution success. And I’d love to hear how customer journeys impacted your product’s success.
Join our webinar – Becoming Expert: Killer Customer Journey Maps
About the Author
Director of Products and Services
Pamela Schure is the Director of Products and Services with 280 Group. She is a 25-year Product Management, Product Marketing and international business veteran with companies such as Apple, Sun Microsystems and Adaptec. She has worked with many companies, small and large, in diverse industries to determine what the key success factors are. She has deep expertise in how to use Product Management and Product Marketing skills to transform businesses and products.
280 Group is the world’s leading Product Management training and consulting firm. We help companies and individuals do GREAT Product Management and Product Marketing using the Optimal Product Process.
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