Recently, we made the case for mapping your customer experience. So, how do you do it? If you can get the right people in the room, it’s surprisingly easy. Here’s the drill.
- Scope the problem. Taking on the customer lifecycle cradle-to-grave isn’t practical, but the best insights come when multiple groups explore their hand-offs from the customer’s perspective. Pick a use case that’s important, but manageable. When in doubt, scope it down.
- Get the right people in the room. A group of four or five per scenario seems to work best. Have representatives from each of the groups that own policies, operations, products, and services that will drive what the customer sees. Make sure they’re prepared with process flows, reports, case notes, escalations, and other data that will help them understand and explain what the customer sees.
- Put up paper. Lots of paper. A double width of butcher paper seems to work well. It seems like a small thing, but you’ll want to use the map that you create over and over again, to enlighten and encourage other stakeholders.
- Distribute colored stickies. Different colors will represent different actions, objects, and experiences. It’s funny, but any room brightens up when people get their hands on colored sticky notes and Sharpies.
- Walk through the customer’s experience as a series of events, creating a time-sequenced row of one sticky per event. Here’s where the magic happens. Make sure everyone contributes: no one knows it all. There will be judgment calls as to whether suggestions represent corner cases or important steps to model; keep track of the ones that fall on the cutting room floor, as you may change your mind or choose to focus on these later.
- Identify on stage and back stage tasks that you do, again, each in its own row and color. By “on stage,” we mean things that you do that the customer experiences directly, such as talking with a support analyst. By “back stage,” we mean something that you do that the customer can’t see directly, like routing a case to a different queue or submitting a product defect. These stickies are where your team lives, so this builds a bridge from the customer’s world to yours.
- “Watch” your customer’s reaction. At each point in the customer’s map, what are they feeling, do you suppose? Was something surprising, delightful, frustrating, annoying, or offensive? Use your powers of empathy. It’s often useful to remember back on experiences that you’ve had with other vendors.
- Identify Key Moments of Truth (KMOTs). Of all the places customers react, which seem the most important to them? Which are the ones most likely to adjust their opinion of you, for better or worse? Which will surprise them? KMOTs create the short list for further examination.
- Look for experience fracture points. Are there places where the ball really gets dropped from the customer’s perspective? (At this point, we don’t care if there are good reasons or not from your perspective.) These, especially if they’re KMOTs, are worth a “five whys” deep dive.
- Look for ownership fracture points. As enterprises, we’re at our blindest when we’re transitioning customers from one team to another: marketing to sales, sales to implementation, web to assisted, tier 1 to tier 2, EMEA to North American, etc. Watch the customer carefully as they transition, and work especially hard to see if their experience goes sideways when no one is watching.
- Validate with customers. This is optional, but what a great idea to walk customers through this map to find out if this really is what they experience and feel, and what you might have missed. Again, judgment is required to not over-focus on a single customer.
- Explore hunches. Before getting into a serious action plan, are there any quick wins? Any brainstorms about what to do? Sometimes, as soon as an experience gap is identified and the right people are in the room, the solution is completely obvious.
- Put together an action plan. Prioritize the KMOTs with gaps, assigning owners to each. Use the map to test proposed solutions—will they solve the problem at hand from the customer’s perspective? Do they create new problems? If there’s a problem with a hand-off, make sure that all the right organizations are working together on it.
As with usability testing or customer surveying, the process isn’t all that difficult, but actually taking action requires commitment. The good news is, as with usability tests or customer verbatims, the process makes believers out of those who participate in it. So that product manager or sales exec who never could be bothered to listen to Support’s “complaints” may now become your biggest advocate for change, now that they see what’s at stake.
Ps – If you think an external facilitator might make this process more effective, especially a facilitator who has worked with your industry peers and leaders, we’d be happy to help: please let us know.