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Speed and Flexibility: Virtual Customer Journey Mapping

Knowing what a customer experiences or is supposed to experience as they interact with your organization or your product/service is critical to winning in the marketplace.  Organizations are increasingly relying on customer journey mapping to understand and design the optimal customer experience including the touch points customers have that can shape their perceptions and buying decisions. 

Mapping the customer journey is an effort to describe how customers interact with a company and improve their experiences. Sometimes customer journey mapping happens in a large conference room with sticky notes, flip charts, and markers. But is that really the best way to facilitate teams through the customer journey mapping exercise?  Emerging tools like the SOZO white boarding and video conference platform are making visual collaboration easier and more effective than being in a conference room. 

Customer Journey Mapping 101

Let’s look at how facilitators and business leaders are using digital tools to help their teams and organizations understand the customer and design the experiences that resonate with the customer.  The basic steps involved in most customer journey mapping exercises are as follows:

  1. DESCRIBE THE IDEAL CUSTOMER PERSONA OR PROFILE:
    • What does the customer want and need?
    • What problem are they trying to solve with our product or service?
    • What does success look like for the customer?
  2. OUTLINE THE PHASES OF THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY:
    • What are the five to seven key phases that describe the customer’s journey from initiation to fulfillment?
    • Are all of these phases necessary and value-added?
  3. IDENTIFY ACTIVITIES AND TOUCH POINTS:
    • What are the activities the customers must participate in or take to transit the journey?
    • Which activities become crucial touch points with the organization and the product/service that can and should be thoughtfully designed?

By way of definition, touch points are key interactions that typically occur between the customer and the company’s people, procedures, technology, or products/services. Each touch point can provide a positive or negative experience. In the retail example, if a shopper asks a store clerk where the dairy products are and the employee does not know, the underserved customer is dissatisfied. But if the reply is, “Go to Aisle 5”, that interaction becomes positive for the customer.  It might even become an extraordinary experience if the store clerk walks the customer back to Aisle 5 and specifically showcases the dairy options available. 

Some touch points cover more than just the interactions between the company and the customer.  For example, factors such as traffic to and from the store or security procedures at an airport are touch points that the company may not control directly but they need to consider as they understand and design the customer experience.  

  1. DIAGRAM THE INTERRELATIONSHIPS: Once phases, activities, and touch points are identified, participants draw lines to build a network that illustrates how the components of the customer journey interact with one another.  Some key discussion questions include:
    • What information needs to transfer from one person or activity to another?
    • What activities are inter-related such that they should be jointly designed/considered?
  2. BRAINSTORM IMPROVEMENTS: The steps above provide visibility to what the customer experiences and leads to a key question: “Where are our opportunities to improve the customer journey?” Identifying customer dissatisfaction, pain points, process or technology friction in the journey helps organizations focus on prioritizing opportunities for improvement. 
  3. IMPLEMENT SOLUTIONS: Once the group agrees on the best solutions for improving or changing the customer journey, assignments to team members can be made to implement the changes.

Facilitating Customer Journey Mapping Virtually

The key to an effective virtual facilitation exercise is having the right digital tools, setting the stage, and capturing the team’s inputs and suggestions. Facilitators make their job easier when they use a digital collaboration platform like SOZO where teams can contribute simultaneously in real-time while they see and interact via video conference.  When choosing a tool for a virtual work session like customer journey mapping, consider finding one with these features/capabilities:

  • Embedded video conferencing that allows participants to see each other
  • Screen sharing so team members can display content and ideas real-time
  • Simultaneous participation where multiple team members can write and contribute on the digital whiteboard at the same time
  • Robust design studio with countless options for drawing, displaying, marking, and evaluating content
  • Pre-populated templates as well as the ability to draw freestyle diagrams
  • Places to capture notes and comments to aid team members in remembering key ideas and facilitating post-session follow-up
Customer Journey Map Template in SOZO Digital Collaboration Application

Using a powerful collaboration tool, the facilitator can develop a working session agenda, pre-populate workspaces for team members to work, and capture any data that will be used in the customer journey mapping work session. 

During the actual customer journey mapping work session, the facilitator can invite all participants to capture their ideas on the digital whiteboard and, where necessary, organize or group them for further discussion.  To help with priority-setting, participants can conduct multi-voting exercises to set priorities among competing ideas.

Traditionally, customer journey mapping meant bringing a team of people together in one room to brainstorm and capture data on a physical whiteboard. However, today’s hybrid workforce requires digital collaboration tools such as SOZO to enable successful virtual customer journey mapping work sessions.

Mapping the customer journey helps your organization become more customer-centric. Using virtual collaboration tools to create that map allows you to bring together widely-dispersed staff to enable the best customer experiences possible.

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