What is Service Design: Part 2 – Journey Mapping

Service design is the process of understanding and refining an organization’s people, processes, systems, and policies to improve both the employee experience and, directly and indirectly, the customer’s experience. I communicate to clients a simple 3 step approach to service design including:

Personas -> Journey Maps -> Service Blueprints

In Part 1 we covered the topic of Personas and the important practice of identifying, defining, and gaining empathy for the specific customers of your products and/or services. Today, in Part 2, we explore the second step of service design, which focuses on customer Journey Mapping.

Journey Mapping: The Voice of the Customer

Once upon a time, I fathered a wonderful girl who, at this time of writing, is four years old. My daughter’s favorite Disney movie is Cinderella. If we flash-forward to the ending of the story, Prince Charming wants to marry the unidentified maiden he met at the Grand Ball. Unfortunately, she leaves in haste before he learns her name. His only clue to her identity is that she leaves behind one glass slipper. The next day, the King sets the Duke on a mission to have the slipper fitted on every girl in the Kingdom. And of course, when the Duke places it on Cinderella’s foot, it fits perfectly!

Cinderella trying on the glass slipper

Too often organizations focus on creating great products and services in a one-size-fits-all approach. That is, we take the time to create a great product (e.g., glass slipper) but we do not thoughtfully consider the unique customer needs and goals – will it fit? We often, like the Duke, try to forcefully stuff oversized feet into a dainty glass slipper. We seek to solve the problem rather than to first understand or reframe the problem.

You will create innovative solutions if you first develop a deep understanding of your target customers (see Part 1 – Personas). Note that I use the plural “customers” because your solution should never be one-size fits all. In fact, one way to gain empathy for your customers is by developing a customer journey map.

journey map

A customer journey map is a visual artifact representing the customer’s perspective of what their experience is like with you, the organization. This does not reflect the organization’s perspective. Rather, it is what I call an “empathy artifact” – a tool to reflect the voice of the customer. Empathy artifacts lead to businesses solving the right problem the right way, significantly increasing their return on investment for upfront costs.

Here are the basic ingredients of a good journey map:

  1. Context – Set the context by addressing:
    • Persona – Which type of customer is represented? Be as specific as possible.
    • Time – Does the visual represent one customer interaction with the organization or does it reflect all touchpoints over an extended period of time?
    • Goals – Why does this customer want to engage with your organization?
  2. Journey – The core content of this artifact should reflect a persona’s:
    • Milestones – what are key chronological events that represent a persona’s interaction with the organization?
    • Doing, thinking, feeling – What activities or motivations does this persona have when interacting with the business? Are these interactions positive or negative?
    • Touchpoints – How does this persona interact with the organization? Email? Phone? In-person? Desktop? Mobile?
  3. Opportunity – Organizations can leverage this artifact for advantage by identifying:
    • Pain Points – Where in the journey are there problem spots, as identified by the customer?
    • Opportunities – Where can businesses find areas of the journey to improve, or even create new products or services that can address opportunities highlighted by their customer?
    • Ownership - Your customer does not care about your org chart, so their experience may traverse multiple parts of your organization. Use this artifact with problem solvers and leadership to identify areas of focus and people willing to take on the challenge.

Although we haven’t addressed how a journey map is constructed, it should go without saying that if you’ve created it without any customer research, input, and validation activities, you’ve done it wrong! A good journey map should act as the customer voice when the organization makes decisions that will impact its customers. Think of this artifact as your “Fairy Godmother” that can help usher in a fairy-tale ending for your organization.