At the start of a project, it’s critical to bring key stakeholders to a consensus around a primary problem statement. Any assumptions, previous or in-flight initiatives, and business goals should be inputs into this discussion.
This is typically where journey mapping is useful. Marketers, UX, and CX professionals should be familiar with journey mapping as a visual representation of how customers interact with a company, product, or service. It helps to break down silos, spur difficult conversations and help team members understand the bigger picture. The process of co-creating a current-state journey map helps develop a shared understanding of what customers experience today, areas of friction and process inefficiencies, and potential operational and strategic opportunities.
There are many paths an organization can take after completing a current-state customer journey – from informing product backlogs to program prioritization. What’s important is to take the next step that moves the organization forward. One potential next step is to create conceptual designs. Conceptual designs help teams see ideas come to life and easily communicate solutions that move the organization forward.
Here are 7 steps to get you from journey mapping to conceptual design:
1. Identify and build consensus around a problem statement.
Too often, people focus first on the technology they want to use and only then try to figure out how it’ll be used. It’s important that you get to the heart of what it is you’re trying to solve first. Define your problem in 3 steps:
- Articulate the current state of affairs.
- Gather your data.
- Eliminate assumptions.
Learn more about this process and the questions you should be asking at this stage here. This approach helps to prevent going too far down the road with a potential solution that has fatal flaws from its initial stages.
2. Gather customer feedback.
Use interviews, surveys, ethnography, or ride-alongs to understand what’s really happening to build empathy with customers and employees. Be careful in your research to ensure you aren’t simply confirming internal ideas; instead, practice a customer-first approach. Look for co-creation opportunities and be willing to accept that your baby might be ugly. See An ‘Outside-In’ Research Approach for More Productive CX Insights for step-by-step guidance.
3. Co-create the current state customer experience with key stakeholders across the business.
There’s a widespread tendency to focus on what it is we want to get across, rather than what people actually want from us. We ask, what do we have to offer? How much money do we want for it? How can we deliver it?
A much more successful approach is to develop that deep understanding of the customer experience and communicate that internally so that all stakeholders can approach conceptual design from the same mindset. Secondary research, stakeholder interviews, customer or user interviews, observation, personas and more may all be a part of your organization’s holistic toolkit for UX design.
4. Document pain points and areas of friction across the journey for both customers and the business.
Visualizing the customer journey gives all stakeholders greater insight into what people do and how they feel as they interact with your company. Users are on a journey as they discover your products and services, create an account, engage your team, and more.
Learn how to create a clear, customer-centric journey map here.
5. Organize a UX workshop to address strategic decisions and prioritize potential opportunities.
Analyze the pain points identified during the journey mapping exercise and group them into themes or by a common root cause. You can then discuss whether there may be an opportunity to solve the problem through differentiated strategy or operational efficiency.
The goal of choosing a differentiated strategy is to change the way you approach a problem, in order to set your business apart from the competition. Operational efficiency is about getting better at what your business already does. At Skookum, for example, we start with our CX Best Practices to improve areas of friction in the customer journey:
- Communication – Are the right messages delivered at the right time?
- Clarity – Is the value of the request easy to understand?
- Transparency – Do users have all the information to act or make the best decision?
- Empowerment – Do users have the power to make the best decision?
- Expectations – Are the expectations of partners and internal teams met?
Prioritize the brainstormed opportunities. We use a DFV framework: Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability. We also recommend grouping by a simple expected time horizon such as Quick Wins, Near Term, or Long Term. Effective prioritization requires voices from across your business.
6. Design low-fidelity concepts.
These are the software, hardware, or new processes that illustrate a solution and solve for prioritized operational or strategic pain points. Concept testing is the simplest path to proving what works and what doesn’t. We use concept testing to assess, validate and prioritize so that development time is optimized, enabling us to save time and resources.
7. Rally key stakeholders around a conceptual design.
Now you’re ready to add design fidelity, test concepts with customers and iterate, and assess technical feasibility.
Are you using journey maps in creative or unusual ways? Get in touch with our team if you’re looking for an innovative way to solve a persistent problem. We’re here to help.