Customer Journeys As A Tool For Cross-Functional Product Innovation

Knowledge / Inspiration

Customer Journeys As A Tool For Cross-Functional Product Innovation

Continuous Discovery
UXDX EMEA 2021

How we turned the customer journey map into a focal point for cross functional collaboration for product innovation generation, product and technology planning and commercial launch.
In this session, Mall will talk through her experiences on how she has used customer journey and service blueprint mapping to shift cross functional teams around shared idea generation, product planning, backend renewal planning and overall product innovation.
She will touch on how she has used the customer journey map as a;

  • Process for business design
  • Starting point for the backlog planning, for service planning and commercial launch; and
  • Tool to coordinate complex service design coordination and the project status across a large organisation

My name is Mall Alpere and I work with a Design Leadership and Design Strategies, mainly large companies.

Earlier, I've been at Telia and today at Swedbank. I have this extra large interest in building capacity for better business through design, by finding ways to truly collaborate on customer centric development across the functions. And in that quest, I found by far the best tool to do just that and it can be the Customer Journey Map.

So let me start by telling a hero story on what the customer journey map can achieve.

This it's not the customer journey map. This is a comparison between different mobile switchboards for small companies made by the most influential magazine in mobile phones in Sweden, (inaudible) and Mobile. And perhaps some of you know, how important these comparisons are when selling services to small companies, small companies, they just don't have time to do research on different services. They trust these comparisons.

At this time some years ago, an unofficial truth was at services got good grades and sold well, only if they had as many features as possible. So full specs equals good grades. But for us who had developed a mobile switchboard at Telia, the largest telecom company in Sweden. This was trouble because when the magazine was scheduled to make a comparison of what switchboards, we had not yet developed all of the features that were thought as necessary for the specs.

So, what to do? Well, the team sat down and discussed and came up with a plan that they should try to explain to the magazine that the service that does exactly what the customer really wants is better than one with the full specs.

So Carolyn here in the middle, she's the product owner and marketing responsible. She simply went to see the journalist who was going to write this article. And she was armed with our customer journey map, where she could easily point out all of the areas where this service had managed to solve the customer's real problems in an easy to use way, which was not at all the fanciest features.

This resulted in five out of five in Getting Started and in Daily Usage. The review that came out was as a whole focusing on usability, instead of specs. So not only our sales gone up, but also the reputation of this project and how it worked with design in the company. It became our hero project.

So today I will guide you through how we got to this point in this hero project, what we learned during the course and how I have healed from the learnings in many projects after that. Secondly, I would present four phases of introducing customer journeys as a process in an organisation. And finally, I only give you some hands on advice on how to use the customer journey maps to tear down the silos cross-functionally and to gather the organsation around the we. But first, for those of you who don't work with customer journey maps already, I do urge you to Google and research it yourself. You would find that there are many many ways to visualise and work with them. But here I will give you a short crash course that I like giving to management and cross-functional teams in Swedbank where I work now.

Here is one customer journey map. I think you've seen many different versions of it. They have a similar anatomy and this is how the skeletal looks before populating it. And here is how we populate it. It starts from the left with everything concerned, the user before she uses the service, even before the customer has started to think about anything to do with our company and need for doing something at peers, she tries to find the solution. To the middle where the customer is using the service, paying a loan, making a payment to the end where she's changing the service, getting a larger loan, looking for better interest rates or even leaving. This upper line with a timeline is fully scalable. It can be full life from cradle to grave, to buying the first house and getting a loan to renegotiating the house loan. Then we continue down with anatomy. Here is the travel maps, a subway map, consisting of activities that they use. It does marking, which was a really important for the customer. We put in actions that regardless of which channel the user is acting in, not only our own, friends talking, newspapers, web, logged in, branch offices then there is an area where we describe positive experiences of the current service, negative experience of the current service pain points and how the customer feels about them. And maybe the most important is a role or what we know about the customer's needs at this point. And when we're done mapping, what we learned about the customer from these in-depth interviews only now, only now we can create ideas on it .

So, here we can continue using the customer journey map by putting ideas vertically that meets the needs and solves the problems regardless of the channel. This way, we keep the focus and we remember what we created the ideas from.

From this point, we can build the backlog for the team. And here below, it's a treat for you where we put what happens behind the scenes in the company. The underlying system, the business rules, the regulations, everything that affects the customer experience. It helps us identify the root cause and think longterm in what needs to be changed. So there is your populated map. Back to my switchboard project, the Telia and how the team turned it into a hero project that spearheaded all cross-functional collaboration at my former employer.

I'll talk about five steps on making it such a success. Because, getting five out of five in ease of use, it just doesn't come by chance. It was made by a systematical corporation between design and development marketing. All starting from true customer insights.

At Telia, the team with UX lead Johannes Bextrom, made everything right. They made many field interviews, all summarsed in a large customer journey map. But only those closest to the project, we're able to digest this quite hard to read customer journey map. And when I saw it, I thought that we would get through much better if we improve the visualisation, because I knew that it's a simple fact that almost everybody's interest goes up with a level of beauty of the presentation. So I asked the very skilled graphic designer (inaudible) to free up some hours from her day job, with the graphic design of the service and put those hours in a very beautiful customer journey map.

Here, great looking easy to read, pulls you in and this was almost magical. The interest accelerated to show it in the company, have it up on the wall with three meters length in full. Many people saw it. And my inbox got full with other projects who saw the need for customer journey map, and real user research. But most importantly, the cross-functional team and this project started to feel proud and more willing to put effort in the cross-functional work and it was also easier to make sure that others in the company a bit further out from the core team, like marketing and business could be interested in joining our workshops in which the extended cross functional team went through the mapping detain, agreeing on which pain points or needs to address in this workshop. Then sitting down and sketching ideas on how to solve the needs and pain points. And through inviting people from different competencies, the teams saw solutions from different viewpoints. One opportunity could be about changing the information the customer support gives about the product. And now there are new ways of selling the product and service, also key here was to bring in business development, to get buying and mandate. And finally, in the same workshops, the team discussed together all of the ideas that each one had created merging them and actually continuing on other people ideas, stealing if I may say. This creates a strong bond or shared ownership.

Now, all of these ideas form the foundation for populating the backlog, which led to the next phase, the signing for all different touch points, both designing for the expected, such as the actual app, which was really the only thing that we were supposed to do from the beginning. Here is a feature in the app that allow the customer to freely select when the service was deployed. But we also dug into pain points that were sold outside the original scope in other channels. For example, improved saves material. And then you easy to use admin interface, replacing multiple old ones. Then the final stage reiterating and keeping alive. The project team kept on redesigning making new user tests and updating the customer journey map continuously, allowing everybody to see the current state and celebrate the wins and also see where to focus next and over and over again until self moving. We were updating the map continued to live a long while after the launch. That sounded easy, didn't it. Well, nobody really asked us to make this elaborate map, but it sure helped us to pay the way for a collaborative culture of customer centric innovation.

I'd like to share with you four phases of seeding and rooting the process in the organization that I've seen, not only at Telia, but also at Swedbank where I work now. The phase one, the hero project that I just talked about, the phase two more projects, more and more projects helps us to really make this come alive in the company, but scaling it for real require other means than just populating some projects. Three, cross-functional trainings, the next great step. Once we have some showcase project is to train others in the county. Now here is how we made hundreds of managers and others from all kinds of functions in Swedbank filled the customer journey mapping. We gave them a crash course in which they tried out all of the steps or customer journey mapping. All compressed in one afternoon, where they could really feel the effect of talking to real users, mapping the needs and creating ideas from that. We had made very thorough preparations with the fictional case and well-made instructions and templates and exact timekeeping. I think we orchestrated about 40 teams who were getting this crash course at the same time and in the evening and nice get together for all to exchange experiences and to plan future common projects.

We had several similar trainings iterations at Telia and in the end we found ourselves with ambassadors all over. At this point, it becomes easier to involve people from all different parts of the company in customer journey mapping. This made it easier for us to even introduce this method. When we, as a company was moving into unchartered territory, into new business areas and even into pricing, here, we would invite business owners into a startup workshop where they could write down their hypothesis or possible new businesses areas and the problems they were solved for the customer. And we would go out and investigate the true needs from the customers and update the business.

Now, I believe I made it sound like a piece of cake to create a sustainable culture that continuously uses the customer journey map to center the organisation ram. But you know, I've really failed several times and I've learned from that. Things that I'd like to share with you.

First, the mindset needs to be, that you're looking for true collaboration, the kind of collaboration with a team and the larger units sees this, not as anything that's starting or ending with a Me or an I, it must start and end with a We, your role is to make sure that this We happens and you can do that through some tricks.

First, starting with a company's hypothesis. And, you know, even if I said that a customer journey map must start from real customer insights by meeting real customers, it can absolutely be worth the while to gather people in the company who thinks they know everything about what the customer feeds and needs. To gather them in a room and let them jot down and post-it notes. Well, they think that the customer says and needs in each stage. This makes them feel heard and in most cases it raises an appetite to actually get real user data and to join in the user research.

We give access, a second key to getting a We is to make the map truly accessible, both in making it easy to read and then as I said, by printing it large and by keeping the layout the same across the company to help non-designers understands that it's anatomy. But, also to create it in a program that's available for different functions to add into and to change and to keep alive. This is a true invitation to co-creation. That's quite often overlooked by designers, which takes us to the next step to create a We.

We share ownership. You must see too, that this is not owned by the design team or owned by the product owner. Just try talking about ownership to in. This is really an area where I have failed in my years. So I don't know if I should give any advice, but here it is, get yourself one or several ambassadors who are not of the same occupation as you are. Try to find those people out there who are great at shared ownership and convince them that this is the tool and that it is the tool that they can use to create shared ownership and the last trick to get the real We is to involve cross-functionally both when meeting the customer and when the design for them. These cross-functional idea generation workshops can be great if they are stringent and if we get the right people in the room. And when we have them in the room, we make sure that they start drawing and building on each other's ideas so that they learn. That when we share problems and solutions and build on each other's competence, we tend to go beyond our own domain and create lasting customer centric services and lasting collaboration across the functions.

Thank you.