Check out this cool 6 minute explanation of Journey Mapping created by our friends at the Stanford d.school. By using the relatable experience of visiting a coffee shop, this video serves as a great way to quickly share the value of Journey Mapping with people around your organization.
We’ve had the privilege of collaborating with Brian Raboin, the Chief Strategy Officer of managed cloud services provider HOSTING, over the last year. His enthusiasm for discussing the importance of customer experience is contagious. In the best possible way.
Here, Brian shares some of his insight into why a customer-centered strategy has been a winning formula for HOSTING.
Brian, we know you’re kind of a big deal in customer experience strategy circles these days. Tell us a little bit about yourself. When you’re not setting CX strategy, where might we find you? Favorite superhero?
I’ll try and make this short. It was a Tuesday in 1971. It was raining. I was born in Delaware because I wanted to be close to my mother. “I was born at a very young age.” – Groucho Marx.
I live in Denver, Colorado with my wife and two children. I left the uncertainty of a corporate job with McDonald’s to join the stability of a start-up in 2001 when I joined HostMySite as the fifth employee. Fast-forward to today and HOSTING is the integrated combination of three companies – HostMySite, NeoSpire, and HOSTING. When I am not focusing on CX Strategy or talking about building a Service Culture, I enjoy doing things to make my colleagues, family and friends laugh. Currently my office window is a real life replica of level 1-1 from Mario Brothers. I also make balloon animals for people’s anniversaries and birthdays.
As for my favorite superhero, I would have to say Iron Man. I saw a graphic once where Clark Kent says, “No one must ever know who I really am.” Bruce Wayne says, “To protect my city, I must wear a mask.” Peter Parker says, “No one can ever know my secret.” And Tony Stark says, “Screw it, I’m Iron Man.” I like that Tony innovates and is iterative in the process. He always has different versions of the Iron Man suit that he is working on and takes successful ideas and applies them in different ways. He learns from the failures, and the failures just make him want to do even better. He is also uber-rich and drives some pretty awesome cars.
You’ve recently taken up the position of Chief Strategy Officer at HOSTING. Could you tell us a bit about your position and the role CX plays when setting your corporate strategy?
My new role as Chief Strategy Officer is to take a lot of what we have done internally with regards to building a service culture and to turn that outside-in through thought leadership and activation leadership. For example, using CX Journey Mapping (CXJM) and measuring the true impact on an organization from a revenue standpoint is critical in determining the overall success of the process. But for a process like CXJM to be successful, an organization needs to know its vision, values, culture, brand, customers, market, and competition. Getting those pieces in place is critical for companies today to build a good customer experience.
My role is to get those pieces in place for HOSTING and then effectively innovate around the customer experience not just at the product level, but also from initial engagement through the entire customer life cycle. The questions I try to answer are how can we innovate for the customer at all levels to show our vision, values, culture and brand? How do we know that our vision, values, culture and brand are valued by our target customer and market segment? What new markets will find our offerings distinctly valuable compared to the competition? What are the customer’s problems, needs, desires, passions and goals that we can satisfy? And how do we do it in a distinctive way that our target market and customers will find valuable?
To that end, I am writing, talking, workshopping (I just made up that word) and activating not only HOSTING, but other companies, so that they can build their own service culture and customer experience.
You’ve been a great partner of ours over the last year, sharing your experiences using CX Journey Mapping (CXJM). What was it about CXJM that really resonated with you and your teams?
Why thank you! You have been a great partner as well.
What really clicked for us with CXJM was the idea of telling a customer story and the uniqueness of the innovations that fell out of those stories. CXJM re-focused us not only on value, but on the problem and on the customer need. It made the customer come to life for us and allowed us to experience things from a first person perspective.
We used to write Agile user stories like,
“As the customer, I want to see a backup log, so I know my backups have run and when.”
After CXJM, we started writing,
“As Bobby, the System Admin who works 60 hours a week and is on-call 24×7, I want to know if, when and why a backup failed and have a say as to when it will run again. Because if it runs at the wrong time during the day and causes the application to slow down, my phone is going to ring off the hook and my email is going to blow up, and I’ll spend hours trying to figure out what the hell is going on, pulling my hair out, while people are yelling at me thinking I am incompetent. Only then to learn HOSTING automatically re-ran the backup without me knowing. And when that happens, I will hate HOSTING with the heat of a thousand suns.”
The old user story delivered functionality that gave visibility into the backup process. The new user story using CXJM solved for the problem of an overworked, on-call System Admin who doesn’t want to get yelled at more than he already does. Solving for the latter brings so much more value than just building the former. CXJM allowed us to really get outside of the box when it came to solving problems where both the customer and the company benefited. We are now writing stories that will create an experience that will move customers to be advocates. Not everything you do will make a customer an advocate, but CXJM helps identify the points of frustration as well as opportunities to build advocacy.
One overlooked aspect I think a lot of people miss when doing CXJM for the first time is that while the ideas are out of the box, the best and most effective ideas and innovations are ones that not only support, but propel and push forward, a company’s vision, value, culture and brand. At HOSTING, we want our brand to be about “Serve” and “Guide”, which are the two things we always want to be doing for our customers. The innovations that come from our teams while using CXJM always push us towards more unique ways to serve and guide our customers.
Tell us a bit more about how you’re using CX design principles to create engaged employees within HOSTING.
For HOSTING, CXJM brought all parts of the company together to get a wide, horizontal view of the entire customer experience. CXJM works best for us when we can bring together a microcosm of our entire organization to build and experience the customer journey together. The innovations then come from any part of the organization and it brings a much deeper understanding as to what the customer really experiences. It also gets people involved in the success of the innovations who otherwise wouldn’t be involved or interested. Now, we have Billing and Accounting people really interested in what Engineering and Operations are doing because they were a part of the creation of an innovation. It has blasted cannon balls into the silos of our organization, and that is a good thing.
Like Tony Stark who tries successful ideas in new ways, I wanted to see how CXJM could be applied elsewhere. So we are going to be Journey Mapping the employee experience at HOSTING to see where we can make that experience even better. This is important to me as part of our vision is having the “industry’s best team.” To attract the best team, we have to have an experience that will get people lined up at the door to come work at HOSTING. We have done a lot this year to make that happen. We built a bar at the office in Denver that is always stocked with beer, wine and other adult beverages. This is important to me personally as I am taking over HR and Training with the goal of creating an awesome employee experience. Frankly, I only have a couple of tricks in my bag (CXJM being one of them) so I really hope it helps me in HR and Training. Incidentally, we also hired a full time lawyer. Despite the outward appearance, the bar and the lawyer are not correlated. However me taking over HR and the lawyer are.
Many companies understand that CX is the new business imperative, but struggle to find a place to start. Could you share any guidance or tips to help businesses build alignment and confidence to start a CX transformation?
The secret to our success in CX transformation was to just start. There is a book by Ari Weinzweig, the co-founder of a company called Zingerman’s, called “Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service”. He lists five steps to building a service culture. Step one is Teach It, and step two is Define It. When I first saw that I thought it was odd that they were in that order, and not the other way around. But the genius of teaching before defining hit me quickly. Transformation requires movement, energy, collaboration and action. The physical act of teaching involves movement, energy, collaboration and action. Also, teaching first makes you commit. Last year, we put December 10-11, 2012, on the calendar on for me to teach a class on customer service. We called it WOW training. When that invite went out to 10 people at HOSTING, including our CEO, COO, CTO and seven other people, I had no idea what I was going to talk about or do for two days. But I knew I had to do something. Six months later, the entire company had been through WOW training. We are now doing WOW 2.0 and Manager WOW, as well as CXJM Workshops, How to Hire a Rock Star Workshops, and Giving Reviews that Matter Workshops.
The other part of teaching first and defining second is that it allows the culture of the company to help define it. Find people that are passionate about CX and Service. Passionate people like to talk about their passion. Oracle and the folks that work on Oracle CX offered me the opportunity to attend free CXJM workshops and support. I took unashamed advantage of every opportunity that was presented in front of me to learn from the CX folks at Oracle. I did buy them beer on occasion, which seemed to keep me top of mind when opportunities arose. With a little homework and an attitude of not taking no for an answer, you can find people who have done it before. And they will talk to you for free and teach you a ton – just because it is their passion. Just like every journey, CX transformation all starts with taking a first step. Just take it and keep going.
When we run a CX Journey Mapping session, there are two main roles that run the session:
(1) the Facilitator
(2) the Coach(es)
The more obvious role is that of the Facilitator, the lead speaker who directs the journey mapping activity. But we’ve found that the role of the Coach is equally, in some cases more, important in ensuring the mapping process is completed effectively.
A Coach works with each individual group of mappers (four to six people per group is the magic number), guiding them through each step of the activity. The Coach largely follows the direction of the Facilitator, but also plays a more hands-on role with the members of the group: repeating/explaining instructions, contributing ideas if the group feels blocked, and keeping everyone engaged and enthused.
We feel it’s a critical role to ensure the activity runs smoothly, and would highly encourage you to include Coaches when you do your mapping.
To help the Coaches guide their groups effectively, I created a set of Coaching Guidelines. There are quite a few steps to our entire journey mapping process, and remembering the key elements of each step takes a lot of practice.
These guidelines outline each step of the process, and provide two or three simple tips for the Coach to emphasize at each step. There are also a few general tips for keeping the group focused and interested in the overall process.
The format of this document (three pages of somewhat longhand instructions) probably lends itself more to pre-session preparation than quick reference during the session. But I’d be curious to hear your feedback after trying it out. A “pocket-sized” Coaches cheat sheet might be cool too, and more easily referenced while mapping.
The Coaching Guidelines document is part of our CX Journey Mapping Toolkit. Good luck Coaches and happy mapping!
At the end of each CX Journey Mapping Workshop that we run, we hold a brief retrospective, asking attendees to give us feedback. We read every bit of this feedback and use it to improve future sessions.
One common piece of feedback our attendees wish for is the ability to see & understand where in the Journey Mapping process we were as we moved through the workshop.
So, I set out to create a simple, one-page visual illustration of the five phases of the process, along with each phase’s activity steps. Alongside each step there is a visual reminder of which sticky note color is used, also showing an example entry for that step.
We now show this graphic at the beginning of the workshop, explaining the five phases that we’re about to tackle. And then during the workshop, we’ll bring it back up to highlight what we’ve just completed, and preview where we’re going next. It serves as a good reminder for not only the workshop attendees, but also the Facilitator in explaining the progression of the steps.
Over the last few months we’ve advanced many elements of our CX Journey Mapping Toolkit, so wanted to update the kit and share the latest versions with you here.
It’s exciting to note that, for the first time, many of the new ideas and updates didn’t originate from our core team. Rather, we’ve complemented our team’s work by curating the most effective improvements and innovations developed by our growing bench of global facilitators.
Because we advocate a culture of testing new workshop material along with workshop retrospectives, our collective body of CX Design tools and techniques is improving at an every increasing rate. Impressive.
Special thanks to Adam Miller, for leading the effort on this. You’ll hear from him shortly explaining this latest collection in further detail.
Until then, I simply wanted to call your attention again to the dedicated CX Journey Mapping Toolkit Page, and highlight what’s new and improved.
Here is what’s new:
- the core CXJM Workshop Slides have been a significantly improved, with more step-by-step details and examples
- the new 1-page CX Journey Mapping Process diagram is the perfect visual step-by-step cheat sheet when you’re coaching others or mapping your own journeys, and
- the latest Facilitator’s Timing Guide now has invaluable facilitator notes and tips in the margin
Everything you need to introduce your teams to these techniques and lead your own journey mapping session, is packaged up for you. We look forward to hearing how they work for you.
As DesigningCX continues to grow, one of the things I mentioned wanting to do was introduce you to my co-conspirators — the small rogue team behind our CX Design efforts to date.
My reason for this is simple: it’s time to weave more voices and points of view into the conversation here. First you’ll start to hear more directly from the rest of our team. And then, soon, we hope to share stories from our favorite CX Practitioners and Innovators globally.
As such, I’d like you to meet my CX Design colleagues: Brian, Mike, Adam, and Matthew.
Brian Curran . [ LinkedIn profile ]
I first met Brian when he joined RightNow (after RightNow acquired my social software startup). He led the Web Experience business for CX, and I ran the Social Experience business. Then, when RightNow became a part of Oracle, we combined forces and co-founded the CX Strategy & Design program.
What’s been exciting about our collaboration, is that we bring different but incredibly complementary backgrounds and points of view to the CX table. We’re both impostors in Enterprise Software: Brian is a serial intrapreneur and I’m a serial entrepreneur. He lives and breathes large organizations, redesigning and transforming businesses to be customer-centric; while I’m most at home in startups using customer-centered design to create new businesses from scratch. Most of what you’ve seen come to life in our CX workshops, tools, and techniques is a hybridization of Brian’s and my innovation approaches, methods, tips, and tricks: a tight marriage of solid business-performance design and human-centered design, that simultaneously considers both business value and customer value.
If you’ve had the chance to meet Brian, you know he’s a singularity — a leading CX change-agent inside and outside Oracle. By way of background, Brian has led customer experience transformations at multiple leading brands (including Best Buy) and has the scars and accolades to prove it. On a personal note: Brian has traveled all over the world, has lived numerous fascinating lives, loves good food and espresso (though really doesn’t need the caffeine), and currently calls DC home. I encourage you to connect with him directly on LinkedIn.
You’ll begin to hear more and more from Brian directly, not just speaking on stage or leading workshops globally, but as a principal contributor to this site going forward.
Mike Alber . [ LinkedIn profile ]
I’ve worked with Mike for nearly 7 years, as he was the first community manager at my social software startup’s first customer. Mike is a social media guru with expertise in agile development, and a background in marketing. We had the good fortune of recruiting Mike to RightNow after we were acquired, and he subsequently coached clients globally on their social media and brand community strategies and practices.
Last year, Mike bravely joined the founding CX Design team at Oracle, where he helped develop the first version of our CXJM workshop curriculum. As the first CX Design Coach, he has led teams and trained facilitators globally. In the process, Mike has been instrumental in figuring out how to kit-up and pop-up workshops all over the world. And, given his background and expertise, it’s no surprise that he also leads our social and content strategy for DesigningCX.
On a personal note: Mike is a Boulder native, hip-hop and micro-brew aficionado, and snowboarding savant. So if you’re visiting the Rockies and looking for someone to help you design a compelling Boulder experience, Mike’s your guy.
Adam Miller . [ LinkedIn profile ]
I’ve had the privilege of working with Adam since our startup days, and through two back-to-back acquisitions. Adam has built his career in client-facing leadership roles, and as a result, he naturally brings a customer-centered perspective to any initiative, along with attention to detail, and poise under pressure. Adam is one of those rare individuals who’s able to navigate uncertainty with certainty.
As our global workshop program lead, Adam adeptly collaborates with regional teams to architect and conduct CX Design Workshops, as well as equip and coordinate workshop teams around the world. If Adam is involved, you know that everything and everyone will run like clockwork, regardless of whether he’s dropped in Tokyo, Singapore, Manila, Shanghai, London, or San Francisco. When he’s not supporting global teams, he’s likely hosting strategic clients in Boulder or facilitating boot camps.
On a personal note: Adam came to Boulder for university and never left. His dog’s name is Fenway, so you can deduce where he hails from. Even so, he’s fully acclimated to mile-high culture and living; he savors fine food and wine, and earns it as an avid mountain and road cyclist, runner and hiker.
Matthew Price . [ LinkedIn profile ]
The newest member of our team is Matthew. He joined to help advance our Workshop program, as more and more folks around the world move from learning CX Design techniques towards applying them.
Matthew is no foreigner to a global role; having managed teams on three continents before (Australia, Brazil, US), he has long had an international focus. And, having spent time in startups and big companies alike — working on new technologies, with packaged goods, even on factory floors — he thrives in diverse and dynamic environments. As such, he is able to intuitively relate to and capably coach the incredible range of organizations we encounter globally.
On a personal note: though he has spent most of his career in the Pacific Northwest, he recently traded rain for the Rockies, and now is a proud resident of Montana. And there, you’ll find him wakeboarding, mountain biking, or just hanging out with the family.
So, keep and eye out. Soon, you’ll begin hearing more and more from Brian, Mike, Adam, and Matthew.
When leading teams through a journey mapping activity, one of the most important jobs of the facilitator is keeping and conducting time. Effective time blocking keeps teams on task, and ensures they finish a complete experience design cycle.
To help plan and run workshop sessions on time, I created a spreadsheet with the step-by-step mapping times that we use (easily adjustable). This started as a iPhone Numbers app sheet (pictured), which is handy while facilitating on the road, and eventually grew into a standard Excel file, which is easier to share and print.
The times listed are by no means exact or perfect, but they give you a sense of 1) how each section takes around 30-40 min; and 2) the compounding effect of instruction time & mapping time, encouraging conciseness and brevity.
Whenever I facilitate a CXJM Workshop, I keep a copy of the Timing Guide close at hand. Inevitably, adjustments are required (as every group is different), and having a reference with which to quickly make timing decisions on the fly is invaluable.
Next time you lead your team through a mapping session, try using a Facilitator’s Timing Guide, and let us know how it goes.
When I launched DesigningCX just over a year ago, my (lofty, but simple) goal was to help equip customer experience innovators advance and accelerate their CX strategy and design initiatives.
And to do this, my approach was two fold:
- Create a CX Design Workshop program: the idea here was to develop an approachable and pragmatic set of CX Design techniques, and help folks experience working with them in hands-on CX Design Workshops modeled after Stanford’s d.school Boot Camps
- Start a CX Design blog: we realized that, with such a small initial team, the only way to leverage and scale our efforts was to post what we were learning, and share the resources and tools we developed along the way
And granted, all of this was a bit of an experiment, a prototype. And that’s exactly what made it exciting.
A year later, I can confidently say that the effort has succeeded beyond my highest expectations (in a separate post, I’ll look to share some napkin stats of the momentum we’re seeing in what’s now a global program).
So where do we go from here?
Well, as our team continues to refine the workshop program, I feel it’s time to evolve this site to reflect everything we’ve learned along the way (with your help!), and expand it to better support you and your teams.
Here are three things I’m imaging for DesigningCX going forward:
- Introduce my CX Design co-conspirators: though I’ve been the founding author and contributor to date, this work is certainly a team effort. It’s time you meet my co-conspirators, and hear from them as well.
- Introduce our favorite CX Innovators: Over the last year, we’ve had the opportunity to meet, collaborate with, and learn from some truly amazing CX professionals, who are doing incredible things in their customer experience initiatives. Over the coming months, we’d love to introduce you to them, highlight some of the things they’re trying and the successes they’re seeing in their work.
- Expand the format of DesigningCX: After a year online, we want to incorporate everything that we’ve learned, amplify what’s working, and emphasize the most requested topics. We imagine this having two primary facets: a) shifting from a blog format to a site format, to balance emphasis across everything available here and bring more voices to the table; and b) amplifying the tools & resources sections (which are far and away the most visited ares of the site… as we had hoped!).
So, consider this a heads up that things are going to start evolving here. I welcome your comments and feedback along the way.
Thank you all for your engagement and help to date, and I look forward to this next phase of DesigningCX!
We frequently receive requests for the latest and greatest slide deck we use to run our CX Journey Mapping Workshops. Granted, this is a bit of a moving target, as we routinely iterate and enhance the materials.
Even so, it’s been quite a while since I posted a version of our core workshop deck: see the slimmed-down Crash Course in CX Journey Mapping. Though we’re aware of folks bravely running their own workshops using the original material, it’s high time we shared an updated deck.
In this most recent version (embedded below & on slideshare), you’ll find the slides divided into four key sections:
- Intro: CX Strategy & Design Principles
- Story: Doug Dietz’s MRI Patient Experience
- Crash Course: CX Journey Mapping
- Activity: ZoomGo storyline & step-by-step mapping examples
These slides complement the rest of our CX Journey Mapping Toolkit. So, if you’d like to re-review the latest materials, or run your team through a similar experience, go for it.
We’ve wanted to record and share a video of our intros to CX Design and Journey Mapping for quite a while, but until now have been unsuccessful for various technical reasons. But, thanks to a professional media crew at a recent conference, we have something to share.
Our friends across the street — the Sterling-Rice Group, a wonderful strategy & innovation firm — run an annual conference on innovation here in Boulder, aptly named the Bolder Innovation Executive Forum.
This year, they asked if I could speak at their event and talk about human-centered design and customer experience innovation — an honor given the invitation-only crowd of business and academic leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents. The event was just a few weeks ago, and I had the intimidating task of opening the conference.
I used the opportunity to speak about how human-centered design can unlock innovation within and across our organizations in everything we do, and touched on what I believe are the implications for innovation leadership in today’s business climate.
You’ll notice that the talk is built around a crash course in design thinking and another crash course in CX Journey Mapping, and it weaves in two of my favorite stories from the d.school. And since these are close cousins to the very same crash courses we offer in our CX Design workshops, I wanted to share the video here.
You’ll find the two crash courses at the following video locations:
- 05:20 – 17:20 :: Intro to Human-Centered Design (design thinking style)
- 18:05 – 38:45 :: Intro to CX Journey Mapping
So grab some popcorn and have a look. I hope you find the video useful and can leverage it in multiple ways: e.g., spin up before one of our workshops, get a refresher after, introduce your teams to the material, or prepare to facilitate your own session.
Many thanks to the SRG media & productions teams for capturing, editing, and posting this, so we could share it with you!