We are driven by experiences.
Our natural tendency is to search for positive experiences we will favor and reinforce, while avoiding negative ones (e.g. exercising).
The same behavior applies to digital, where things change fast.
A bad experience rapidly results in a customer loss, even with previously positive ones. PwC measured the percentage of loss at 32%.
The complexity of software combined with our natural tendency to focus on local problems result in lack of alignment on the customer experience.
This article shares how Customer Journey Maps enabling to focus on what matters, constraining the software lifecycle to Quality at Speed software.
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What is a Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map is a representation of a customer’s experience with an organization that is shared, visible and actionable.
One essential aspect of customer journey maps is to be collaborative and act as a point of reference; it’s not only for the head of experience or designers.
Customer journey maps focus the customer problem-solving process interacting with their brand through the following steps:
Many frameworks exist based on the same ideas with different acronyms, such as AIPO (Attention, Interest, Purchase, Ownership), or 5ES.
These steps have many possibilities between channels, time of the day, sharing; that’s where customer journey maps help to refocus.
Having an understanding of customer journeys is, however, not enough. The visualization provides a shared perspective and visibility.
One customer journey maps contain the following the elements:
- Buying Process : significant milestones to achieve a goal
- User Actions : what customer does and possible paths
- Touchpoint : contacts between the customer and the brand
- Emotions : felt during the buying process, positive or negative
- Pain Points : identify the main blockers in the buying process
- Solutions : focus on finding ways to have positive emotions
The vertical axis have swim lanes that can be customized for perspectives like what users think, feel, or data points that can be collected.
Customer journey maps can take different forms depending on the goals to achieve; they most common ones being:
- Current state and future state map
- A competitor’s journey map
- “Day in the life” of a specific persona
- Narrow or wide focus.
Let’s see why it matters for Quality Engineering.
Why using Customer Journey Map in Quality Engineering
Quality Engineering is the paradigm constraining the end-to-end software lifecycle to Quality at Speed, optimizing activities for continuous value delivery.
Customer journey maps let us live the user’s life with omnichannel lenses developing more empathy, discovering new paths and innovative solutions to their needs.
One example are the snacks Snickers and Milky Way; emotions linked to each one (quick boost vs. reconfort) led to changes in their customer experience.
Maps help us to identify the Quality attributes of valuable software increments in short-cycles of iteration, contributing to Quality at Speed.
How Customer Journey Maps Contribute to Quality
Quality is subjective and not always a synonym of “high-quality”, requiring an alignment depending on users profiles and needs.
Customer journey maps are tailored on specific personas and dedicated buying processes, increasing the focus on defining the required quality attributes.
Customer Journey Maps contribute to Quality being:
- Result-oriented on the user experience value and touch-points
- Systematic acting as the master of the journey to deliver with software
- Scalable being applicable to multiple experiences and teams.
How Customer Journey Maps Contribute to Speed
Organizations have the challenge of continuously improving the user experience with velocity; while they iterate, competitors are appearing and evolving.
Focusing on the customer experience enables to identify valuable software increments in the short-term, while building a culture of customer-centricity in the long-term.
Customer Journey Maps contributes to Speed with:
- Focus in identifying changes that will actually impact users
- Rhythm allowing to identify user experience increments
- Asynchronous being available for contribution and reference
- Visibility providing a shared vision of what the experience looks like
Starting Customer Journey Maps in Quality Engineering
Customer journey maps contribute to Quality at Speed software from the day you start them, increasing in value with expansion.
Starting with why helps you clarify the purpose, objectives, and which type of map you should be focusing on. Here are the common cases:
- Document the current state of one customer journey
- Understand and identify specific problem in current states
- Define the possible future states of customer journeys
- Brainstorm, design and create new journeys.
Each of them contribute training and improving collaboration between your teams and customers, as well as document, help to drive changes and communicate.
The macro-steps of building a customer journey map are in 4 steps from preparation, execution, documentation and action.
Here’s the Quality Engineering ones aligned on the macro-phases:
- Define the map objectives and typology
- Narrow your personas defining their goals
- List the elements you want your map to show
- Prepare the necessary resources
- Identify all the touch-points and paths
- Brainstorm and find new solutions
- Determine resources to use or collect
- Make changes, measure and adapt
As general guidelines, the main construction workshop should last about 2 hours, be cross-functional, and avoid highly influential stakeholders in first rounds.
Define the map objectives and typology
Defining the objectives of your customer journey maps questions on which ones to work on first, forcing you to prioritize the efforts on what matters.
This focus will let you identify the typology of map to use (current, future, competitor, narrow or deep, etc), with which stakeholders, and for which personas.
The deliverable of this phase can be a powerpoint or a checklist similar to a Definition of Ready listing:
- Map objectives
- Map typology to use
- Stakeholders to involve
- Journey in scope
- Identified personas.
That equip you with the big picture to details in the next steps.
Narrow your personas defining their goals
Customer experiences being complex in the number of possibilities, channels and possible paths, customer journey maps need few personas.
This exercise again forces to prioritize the personas to address, increasing the focus and the possibility to implement valuable increments later on.
You can use tools like the buyer persona tool. Here’s another example:
List the elements you want your map to show
The focus of objectives and personas for your map ease to identify which elements will be more relevant to detail per case.
Your customer journey map’s elements can be composed of:
- Customer Thoughts and Actions (Verbatim)
- Moments of truth (MoTs)
- Emotional journey
- Pain Points
- Opportunities for Improvement
- Technical Limitations.
Element are represented as horizontal swimlanes on the map—reinforcing the need for focus to achieve the exercise with minimal complexity and distraction.
Prepare the necessary resources
The structure of the customer journey map being ready, the next step is to optimize your workshop with preparation, gathering data in advance.
You can use various methodologies like user research, analytics, competitive analytics, direct interviews, or access to replays.
The important point is to focus exclusively on the personas in scope when collecting the data, avoiding bringing biais to your upcoming workshop.
Identify all the touchpoints and paths
The next stage is to fill in the various boxes. This part is the one to perform in synchronous workshops of about 2 hours.
Your preparation is very important for accurate information, especially when assessing a current state or a competitor’s one.
The team needs to use the available data to contribute to the map’s objectives, being understanding the customer journey, identifying pain points or improvements.
Here’s one physical example, even if digital format are equally acceptable:
Brainstorm and find new solutions
Once the map is completed (for example with a Definition of Done), your teams can work on the value of the exercise: what to improve?
The collaboration and interactions are an important asset at that stage; you cannot reach the same result with asynchronous methodology.
The goal is to use the various elements identified, such as moment of truths, opportunities and emotions to find better value propositions.
Your role is to make sure these 3 actions are performed:
- Brainstorm the possible solutions
- Identify the software increments
- Prioritize the changes to implement.
Determine resources to use or collect
The narrowed list of software changes must be measured in terms of value in improving the customer journeys of specific personas.
Determining the resources such as data, surveys and interactions to measure such performance is critical at that stage to know when to continue or stop.
Only then, changes can be implemented and measured.
Make changes, measure and adapt
This part is software changes implementation following the software lifecycle, hopefully for you with Quality Engineering.
Multiple cycles are required on a continuous basis to improve and keep the user experience at the high-standard of user’s expectations.
Doing the exercise of customer journey maps on a regular basis for the same focus every month or quarter is essential to keep adapting plans to reality.
Here’s one example of a complete map.
Customer Journey Map in the Quality Engineering framework
Businesses depend on software to thrive in the marketplace, requiring to keep iterating with Quality at Speed to remain competitive.
Customer journey maps are an essential practice to align the stakeholders on the personas and important improvements to lead on.
One advantage is to be able to implement these maps even for a few personas and journeys, without much complexity, but still focusing on value delivery.
With more maturity, customer journey maps can be leveraged for customer journey monitoring, customer reliability engineering, event-storming, customer walls.
Working on your customer journey maps is an investment in your capability of Quality at Speed for today and tomorrow.
Your challenge is to decide which ones to work on first.
Aaron Agius, How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map. Hubspot.
Jim Roberts (2021), Digital customer journey example – journey mapping. Smartinsights.
Think Insights (April 20, 2022), Customer Journey Maps: How to deliver compelling experiences?
Hotjar (2021), Customer journey mapping in 2 and 1/2 days. Hotjar.
Qualtrics, Your ultimate guide to customer journey mapping. Qualtrics.