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A Tricky Task: The Customer Journey Map in Design Sprints


Last updated: 16.04.18
Customer journey mapping is an essential technique in design sprints to identify your personas’ pain points.

Everyone knows from experience about the power that a picture can unfold. As clients we almost all fall for stunning photos that grab our attention and by this convince us to also learn about products or services that we would not have invested a minute in before. This promising power is what we try to unfold when we do customer journey mapping in design sprints. Let me introduce to you our map gallery favorites and key learnings a lot of sprint teams take away.

What is the customer journey map?

A customer journey map basically illustrates the “path” a customer follows – from getting to know a company and its services to reaching a certain goal, which in most cases is buying a product or being happy about a service. “Start” as well as “end”points of the customer journey are up to the sprint team’s definition and help the team later on to keep focus. But what sounds quite easy – drawing a line and some steps in between – often turns out to be tricky for teams in a design sprint.

Cross-functionality helps the team get the whole picture

During design sprints we often get the question whether we can’t just roughly sketch the customer journey map and move on to solution sketching. In 99% of all sprints we say: No. Let’s invest time and effort in creating a customer journey map that is as exact as possible. Of course we try to let it go at some point when its complexity handicaps us more than it helps, but our advice stays the same: don’t try to simplify too much. Why? Mostly no one in the team has the full picture of how the customer journey looks like in reality. In a lot of sprints there is a significant discrepancy between the customers’ actual journey and the ideal path each sprint team member has in mind. To make this obvious, the customer journey map is the best way to include the different sprint team members views and highlight pain points within the journey – touch points that are annoying the customer but would never become obvious if we would not insist on the visualization of the team views. The more contact points the map displays (which means every person or department that a customer contacts and interacts with during their journey), the better we see where customers do detours from the team’s intended golden path or where they do shortcuts that leave out the most exciting moments along the way.

Only a cross-functional team will be able to identify all customer touch points, detours and shortcuts.

The five customer map pictures

Quite often, after all ideas of all design sprint team members are sketched on the wall and we have also done some ask-the-expert sessions within the design sprint, we end up with one of the following five customer journey map pictures:

1. The Pinball Machine

The customer journey map looks like the design of a pinball machine, in which the customer takes the way the tiny ball normally goes (tossed and turned between the various machine parts) and in which a lot of noise accompanies a complex, in parts unpredictable ride.

2. A Soccer Tactics Chart

There is the clear attempt to get the ball-customer to score a goal (one can at least see that there is an intended movement in a certain direction) but in the middle of the playing field the map is not far away from the pinball machine drawing of No 1.

3. The Railway Circle Line

The customer is performing a certain circular movement with an unclear concept of where they are supposed to end up being satisfied.

4. The Millipede Bug

In this map the golden customer journey path is a straight line, easy to identify, but has so many possible exits that it is more likely the customer drops off than they reach the company’s targeted goal.

5. The Broom

The teams find a hundred ways customers can come across the company’s services and then there is a clear path and a fixed strategy to get the customer as quick as possible to reach the end goal and be satisfied.

Form visualization helps your customer journey map take shape and simplifies its understandability for further use.

Common takeaways after customer journey mapping

Don’t get me wrong – there is no way of deducing from the map how successful the design sprint in total will be. Teams have found the most straightforward solutions in the most chaotic or complex customer journeys and some of the broom candidates got lost over the simplicity of their journey map when they did not find the right spot to focus on. But all sprinting teams share some frequent learnings emerging from their customer journey map exercise:

  1. We do not have a homogeneous group of customers that find their way themselves. There are other stakeholders that interfere and exchange information with them as well as with our company. For example, the actual customer works in a big company and there is no way to book a service themselves or buy a product right away. First, they need to persuade someone at management level to approve the desired purchase. Second, the actual buying or booking is done by a totally different department (e.g. procurement). Having the other stakeholders clearly identified, we could better pave the customers’ way and address different needs more accurately.
  2. We need to evaluate our customer service and accompanying documents. Some customers we lead astray by presenting misleading or even contradicting information. Documents itself need to be revised, streamlined and fitted to different types of customers. Next time more work must be appointed on evaluating the what-is of communications.
  3. There are a lot more contact persons interacting with our customer than we imagined in the beginning. We shouldn’t ask of our customer to find the responsible persons in our company. We need to provide better guidance and personal service.

The customer journey map helps us to come up with the analogy to the service desk at a hotel. If your water tap is not working, you call the service desk and not a plumber. If the carpet is dirty you also call the service desk and not a cleaning company contracted by the hotel. And, as a customer, it gives you an even better feeling if the service desk calls you in the evening and asks whether all your problems are fixed now or you need additional service. We see that we could easily reduce customers’ confusion if we streamline our workflows and appoint a personal service agent to a customer who makes sure that all problems are solved.

  1. The customer journey never ends! If we manage to keep customers interested and sharing and caring, they are likely to start all over again and stay loyal. They shop again from us, they come to one of our events, they act as influencers, attract others’ attention and inspire us to develop new stuff. We should invest significant effort to keep customers happy not only till they reached our customer journey map end.

 

Let me know how long it took you to find your true map and what your learnings were! Keep on sprinting and don’t hesitate to post your questions to us. We look forward to learning from and together with you!


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