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5 Questions You Need To Ask When Embarking on Journey Mapping

in All Posts, Customer Journey Mapping Articles tagged , ,

Advice from Barbara Williams, Chief Executive, St Peter & St James Hospice


At St Peter & St James Hospice, we are consistently complimented on the care and services we provide. We have a loyal and committed supporter base and have flexed and grown our programmes to serve our local community.

But we want to understand what is really important for our donors, the people who use our services and their families…in order to deliver the experience they hope for.

We knew about ‘customer journey mapping’ and its usefulness to show each step of an experience. And how it shows the relevant touch-points, emotions and weak points of the process. We understood the strategic significance of taking a client centred approach. But what we didn’t know was what a journey mapping programme would need, how long it would take and who to involve?

So here are some reflections about how we have started journey mapping, with some key questions to help you navigate your way.

starting a journeyQ1.  Why should we start this journey?

We have outstanding feedback. Our values are clear. But there are moments when people are frustrated, confused or disappointed with us. Often, we’re not quite sure what the cause is. Is it a result of our communications or clunky systems which are slowing down the process? Perhaps it’s due to an interaction with staff or volunteers.

There are often process inefficiencies, especially at ‘hand-over’ points between departments e.g. double handling or slow response time. We found that departments may be aware of their own weak points, but did they understand the impact this has on the whole client experience?

For example, journey mapping showed how often we ask patients for the same information. We made improvements but then we came up against GDPR and the realities of data privacy! We’ve had to re-think but now we have the ‘voice of the client’ as our clear and compelling reference point.


Customer Journey Map OutputQ2.  Is there a better time to start / schedule journey mapping?

Our main piece of advice here is that you don’t have to wait until you have everything sewn-up. For example, our work with local population data enabled us to identify our key personas but we hadn’t cross-checked with our patients yet. We are now working with prototype personas whilst we validate our initial assumptions. Another feature of journey mapping is that you learn so much by doing it. Start with a simple journey for a specific client group and select a small team to map. This will then show you what you need to know e.g.

  • the data you need to gather
  • processes you need to document
  • research you need to commission
  • steps you need to justify
  • communications pieces you need to locate.

Expect a period of ‘information gathering’ before you embark on your next round of mapping. This may sound daunting but in the words of Tony Robbins “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin”.


Journey mapping workshopQ3. Who should be our trailblazers? What is required?

Personally, I have seen the benefits of Journey Mapping first-hand (at a different organisation) so the next stage was to involve our senior managers. We used a one-day workshop where we learned how to apply the technique and started to map two key journeys.

This helped clarify the purpose of journey mapping and the direction of travel. Importantly, it helped achieve commitment to the approach from our senior team.

This becomes significant when the practicalities of journey mapping start. For example we needed our people to:

  • supply an array of data / information
  • trawl through our feedback
  • undertake observations of steps taken
  • listen-in to patient discussions
  • collate all messages that clients see.

Resource hungry you’re thinking!

If staff are going to give up their valuable time, and allocate tasks outside their normal day-job, senior managers need to enable this. They’ll need to embrace the rationale for journey mapping and believe in the benefits.

Next, we ran workshops with participants across the organisation, mapping simple patient journeys. We included administrative staff, nurses, retail managers, wellbeing staff, senior clinicians, website & communications specialists, facilities staff and trustees. Our aim was to share how journey mapping was going to become part of ‘the way we do things round here’. This has proved invaluable in demonstrating how journey mapping works. It also uncovered some useful insights and ideas for improvements. We now have some clear advocates who are spreading the word and keen to map more journeys in their areas.


Customer Journey Mapping Interview questionsQ4.  Will we need to commission extra insight / research?

It isn’t possible to answer this question without knowing what information you have. We’ve realised that we have more information within our organisation that we imagined. But we are still learning how to collate it and draw insights and conclusions. For example, you can ask some staff to undertake a 10 minute ‘observation’ each day for a week e.g. at reception. Don’t give them a list of things to look for, just ask them to record what they see. When you review it, you’ll find common themes and issues. You’ll get a few ideas for simple ‘quick wins’ as well as identifying more complex challenges. But you may also discover that there are specific issues where you need to dig deeper. Generally, interviews are a better tool than focus groups or surveys to understand customer experience. This is where you might want to commission external help. Clients are more likely to be candid if they know they are speaking to an independent person. Also, external researchers are adept and analysing and interpreting a range of information. And they are experts in how to ask questions in the right way!

Don’t forget, if you are going to gather more data, you’ll glean some of the best information ‘in context’. This is when you get feedback during the interaction / experience. Consider using simple single questions to look at:

  • are things going as expected?
  • how they are being treated?
  • what they are feeling in the moment?
  • did anything get in the way?

This is often more helpful than a longer survey. The reason is that when people reflect after an experience, they often post-rationalise.


Journey Mapping Techniques and ToolsQ5.  Should we get external guidance and expert help?

You might have staff with specific customer journey mapping experience. Or you may even be able to recruit someone into this role. But if not, don’t fear. These skills can be taught and developed in the right environment and culture. You may wish to use specialists to guide you through the process, and perhaps run some workshops. We use Envoca who provide workshop facilitation, private and one-day public courses. They provide advice and guidance for public, private and third sector organisations.

If you decide to commission external support, use a company who’ll help you drive sustainable business change. Check if they will work with your methodology whilst upholding best practice for customer journey mapping. You want to be able to ‘do it for yourselves’ – rather than becoming dependent on an agency who holds on to the core knowledge and expertise.

You’ll need internal collaboration and buy-in by the bucket load! So, to enable capability building, you’ll need to include internal training and knowledge transfer activities in your planning.


In conclusion.

These are just our initial reflections and there are many more questions we can help you answer such as:

  • How long will it take?
  • What are the main costs?
  • What are the obstacles / what can go wrong?
  • How do we share the findings?
  • What is the best way to present the information?

But for now, the main question we have asked ourselves is “Do the benefits of journey mapping outweigh the time and effort?”

We’re confident that our learning, shared staff understanding, and collaboration have paid off.

Added to the excitement and practical ideas that we’ve been able to implement… we know it’s been of value to the people we serve. And we’ve only just started our journey!

Good luck to all of you who embark on this voyage of discovery – we’d love to hear how you get on.

Barbara Williams
Chief Executive

St Peter & St James Hospice


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