Journey Mapping

This document uses the term “journey map” to refer to an alignment diagram, which is any map, diagram, or visualization that reveals both sides of value creation in a single overview [Kalbach 2016]. Alignment diagrams have two parts: a description of an experience and a description of an enterprise product, with the interaction between the two. Journey maps and service blueprints are alignment diagrams.

Some touchpoints, such as a newsletter or an advertisement, do not allow users to interact. Interactions can be automated; for example, interacting with a chatbot in a self-care situation. Human-to-human interactions can be “in person” or conducted remotely using collaboration technology.

Service Blueprint is an example of an alignment diagram which represents both sides of value creation.

Figure 1. Service Blueprint

Each step:

  • Specifies the channel(s) that support(s) the interaction

  • Describes the actual or desired customer experience

  • Presents the needed features or functionalities

If the existing operations or software are not good enough to support the targeted experience quality, you have to settle for a lesser quality unless the supporting operations or software are improved.

The “Missing Features” line identifies the new functionalities that must be developed to deliver the expected customer experience.

Not all interactions are equal. Some interactions, referred to as “moments of truth”, matter more than others.

Moments of Truth

McKinsey defines moments of truth as:

Those few interactions (for instance, a lost credit card, a canceled flight, a damaged piece of clothing, or investment advice) when customers invest a high amount of emotional energy in the outcome [Beaujean 2006].

How well or how poorly the enterprise handles moments of truth has a decisive impact on the quality of the customer experience. Moments of truth test the quality of operations because:

  • They require that at the same time employees respect service standards and show initiative to resolve a client’s problems, even though they may be unexpected

  • Lessons learned solving unexpected problems should be incorporated into service standards to help prevent similar problems from happening in the first place

  • Defects in existing processes and software are a frequent cause of poor customer experience

This document recommends using moments of truth to prioritize operational improvements [Patton 2014].

Focusing on specific target outcomes is the secret to prioritizing development work.

The goal should be to maximize outcomes while minimizing costs by minimizing new features development. The focus on moments of truth gives the opportunity for cross-functional teams to develop their level of understanding of what really matters and to explore the space of solutions to discover the best way to deliver an outstanding experience.

This is illustrated with the example of a housing rental enterprise. The first moment of truth for new prospects is to be rapidly informed when available properties that meet their needs become available.

What does it mean to be informed rapidly? Is it to receive a choice of properties immediately? The next business day? How can the enterprise ensure the choice of property meets client needs? Answering these questions requires a deep understanding of client expectations and also the ability to determine which operating model improvements are required.

Generating a short list of available houses or apartments that meet needs most of the time is critical to the moment of truth. If clients rapidly receive a list containing mostly properties that do not match their needs, they will be rapidly disappointed. In order to prevent this, the enterprise needs a very large inventory. This may require the enterprise to develop new sources of rental properties that it can add to its inventory.

In addition to the large inventory requirement, new features are needed:

  • The enterprise needs access to an inventory of available housing for rent

  • That inventory must be updated in real time

  • Smart search algorithms that select properties on criteria such as the number of rooms or the distance to public transportation

The Human Side

Mistakes and errors are inevitable, but dissatisfied customers are not. Paradoxically, when a service defect such as a late delivery or a lost parcel is fixed, frustrated customers can become more loyal than they would if no problem had occurred.

The difficulty is to grant employees the freedom and the responsibility not to follow “standard operating procedures” when solving urgent or important customer problems. The enterprise needs to:

  • Give meaning and clarity of purpose to front-line employees

  • Influence the mindset of employees so they develop their emotional intelligence

  • Adjust the reward system to reinforce the right behavior

  • Design the work system so it has enough slack for employees to take the time to solve customer problems

  • Ensure this is considered as part of a broader transformation approach, such as the one described in agile-transformation.adoc.

The Role of Automation

Digital technologies, in particular AI, dramatically expand the scope of what can be automated. Does this mean the automation potential should be pushed to its limits? Not necessarily; for example:

  • Automation increases the need for maintenance, which requires skilled workers

  • The impact of automating one task is felt beyond that one task

  • When automation is visible to the client it can change customer experience

  • New risks can emerge when automation fails; for example, when operators have lost essential skills

Automating requires a careful assessment of benefits and drawbacks. Instead of automating in a big bang manner, the Agile enterprise will conduct experiments and automate using an incremental approach when possible.

Automation failures come in two forms: misses and false alarms. For example, the system has failed to detect a harmful situation, or the system acted when it should not have.

A failure to detect can harm the customer; for example, a fraudulent payment not being prevented by an automated fraud detection algorithm. On the other hand, if the fraud detection algorithm disables a credit card when the client is abroad late at night and during a weekend, it becomes a service failure in the case of a false-positive.

Computers and humans have distinct abilities. Therefore, augmenting the human with the power of automation and AI could be a legitimate goal if the man-computer symbiosis is achieved.

When automation is used as an augmentative tool, it leaves decisions to humans. Now that deep learning scores better than humans in the accomplishment of many tasks, should there be a switch to fully-automated decisioning? What happens when an unforeseen event occurs that the machine is not capable of handling?

Concluding Words

Journey mapping is a great tool to help align experience mapping with the operating system that is supposed to deliver it. When the mismatch between experience and target operating model cannot be solved locally, it is necessary to look at the operating system as a whole. Improving the human side and automating will often require a holistic approach.