Part 1: Understanding the “New Normal” Through Journey Mapping
In the early months of 2020 everyone’s lives changed. Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown regulations forced many companies and their clients to go fully digital. Around mid-March, our company transitioned to working fully remotely. This change brought uncertainty and also numerous opportunities. One of these opportunities was a collaboration between the User Experience (UX) and Digital Experience (DX) teams. The goal was to uncover the current organizational workflows and document the experience as an end-to-end journey map. The scale of this initiative was massive: it covered the entire journey representing people, processes, and technology from customer acquisition through client growth and expansion.
It was no easy task to take a remote inventory of a fast-growing and ever-evolving technology company. While the entire organization continued to find footing in the “new normal” workplace, we interviewed key stakeholders in every department. We inquired about their day-to-day tasks, tools they use, pain points, and opportunities. The result was a comprehensive end-to-end service blueprint capturing all the core workflows taken by prospects, customers, and our employees.
This three-part series will lay out our process and core-takeaways from this journey mapping experience:
- This first part will focus on the new remote work environment, the challenges we faced, and a high-level strategy that was taken to create our journey map.
- The next part will dive into the structure and process to create our journey maps and service blueprints. We will discuss the digital tools and strategies that were used to remotely gather information and create the final deliverable.
- The final part will touch on how to help incorporate the findings into your organization to optimize the digital operations workflow. I’ll share some findings on presenting the deliverable to stakeholders and using the journey content to create an organizational future state.
Journey Mapping for the Brave New Normal
Company Growth & Changes
The context is key for understanding any workflow and situation, especially a remote one. Our company is an aggressive growth company, so expansion is always a goal. Bringing new staff up to speed with an already complex and fast-changing organization is a never-ending challenge. There are numerous systems and processes for each employee to learn in order to function in their role. Some employees needed to take on completely different roles during this time because the pandemic made their previous role less relevant. Also despite the pandemic and the whole company working from home, hiring and onboarding did not pause.
The remote environment presented an opportunity to leverage technology to scale more efficiently. In order to accomplish this, understanding current workflows step-by-step and their impact on the journey became key for building a digital strategy.
Focus on the digital customer experience
The “new normal” shifted the company’s focus on optimizing the customer experience from in-person (i.e. sales tradeshows and training) to a completely online experience. The Digitally Optimized Journey and Operations (DOJO) initiative, was tasked with evaluating the entire journey including all existing pain points and look for opportunities to introduce or refine online experiences. This framework would be then be used by each team to build a more streamlined and completely digital experience for our customers and staff.
Collaborating with DX
Up to this point, all of our UX work was in product development. Nearly all our user research was conducted with clinical staff, and our personas include doctors, nurses, and administrative staff at the practice. Clinician and medical biller workflows are still the dominant focus for our team. When the DX team reached out to collaborate with UX on the initiative, we knew that it fell outside our domain expertise, and crafting the digital user journey lifecycle through the lens of business operations was a new frontier.
In order to build this journey, we needed to uncover how our clients and prospects interact with our internal sales, marketing, accounting, finance, operations, support, and all other supporting roles. I found that my past journey mapping experiences combined with my educational background in Business Operations came extremely handy in bridging the client journey with the business operations journeys.
Journey Mapping on a Massive Scale
Creating an end-to-end user journey for the entire company’s business operations process initially felt like an overwhelming task.
Going down the rabbit hole
This project needed to capture the most common workflows in every department and it was all too easy to get caught up in a neverending level of complexity and details. Figuring out what phases needed to be covered and which could be combined as a subset took some time and analysis. Once the high-level data was collected, it was important to narrow in on a core persona and a single journey. While branching and displaying every potential action was very tempting, it was important to maintain focus and capture only the most common flow. Within each workflow, ensuring that all details relating to people, processes, and tools were properly captured and documented.
A sampling of the different technologies that our company uses.
Numerous stakeholders are responsible for the customer experience. These people are some of the busiest in the company, so finding several sessions for them to go high-level and then in-depth on their process was a very big challenge. It was important to be very strategic and respectful of their time. It was also not uncommon to start a meeting with a major stakeholder only to find them very confused about what information they need to share and the project will result in. It was not uncommon to have stakeholders provide conflicting information on a given set of events. Finding time for the group to meet and reach a consensus on events and their chronology was an ongoing challenge.
Complexities of remote collaboration
We needed to work with individuals from every part of the organization and we encountered challenges with remote collaboration.
- Few people like to be on camera. Body language can add context to each interaction, and at times I had to make do with voice-only interviews. It was also harder to keep people engaged when they weren’t “face to face”.
- Some were hesitant to use remote tools. Currently, it appears more people are gaining confidence in using online collaborative tools (Google Draw, Whimsical, or Miro). However, in the early phases of remote collaboration, few business stakeholders were eager to jump in and leave comments on their own.
- Difficulties capturing all relevant information. With so much new content to absorb, it was difficult to accurately record it on the first try. I found myself struggling to capture the high level message along with the supporting details for each case. I found myself after each interview setting aside time to parse through the all content collected and making lists of follow-up questions. After conducting several interviews and struggling through this painful process, I found a few workarounds that will be shared in the next article.
- Cognitive overload. Collecting, analyzing, and arranging vast amounts of new information can be incredibly exhausting. Finding ways to balance heavy cognitive tasks with lighter ones, getting more rest, and having some strong coffee on hand were a few strategies I employed. In the next article, I’ll be sharing in further detail strategies on how to combat cognitive overload when journey mapping.
The Journey Mapping Process
Without getting into too much detail, I wanted to provide an overview of a high-level strategy that was established to efficiently take on such a massive project. The approach taken for this project was loosely based on the 2005 British Design Council’s Double-Diamond approach:
Research (Diverge, Converge), Design (Diverge, Converge).
Research was the focal point of the strategy. At first, we diverged, by looking at all possibilities, to define a problem. This involved talking with all high level stakeholders. Based on the data collected, we converged, or narrowed in, on the journeys we felt could bring the most benefit to capture. Once these journey concepts were established; we diverged again by looking in-depth at every player in that area and their core tasks. These combinations of tasks would turn into workflow phases. From there, we would converge again; this time filling in the details and gaps until a clear story emerged for each phase of the journey.
Every time interviews took place, we made sure to capture the people, processes, and tools. Having there three areas defined from the very beginning made stakeholder onboarding and data gathering much more efficient. More detail on the strategy will be shared in the following articles.
While every organization is meeting the “new normal” challenges in different ways, there are numerous benefits to understanding the processes taking place now in order to grow and scale in an effective manner. Journey maps can be a great tool for uncovering and documenting the most critical workflows a company can streamline and scale.
Now that you have an overview of the type of journey project along with the challenges and a high level strategy approach that helped guide the project to completion, the next article will delve into the details, tools, and tips on how to effectively implement a similar type of project for your organization.