In a 2019 survey, the Nielsen Norman Group found that journey mapping was the third-most popular activity for UX professionals. While it is one of the most used methods in CX, it also can be daunting.

Running a successful customer journey mapping workshop is the single most important step in completing your customer journey map. Having the right person to facilitate the process is what will determine how fun, engaging, and inclusive the workshop will be.

Being a facilitator is a wonderful role to have. Soon you learn that everything you plan for the workshop is about other people unlocking their potentials and being playful around serious topics.

In this piece, I’ll break down the following aspects of customer journey mapping workshop:

  1. Your role as a workshop leader  
  2. Defining the ‘why’ behind the workshop
  3. Defining workshop participant roles
  4. Three main parts of the customer journey mapping workshop
  5. Follow up activities

The role of a customer journey mapping workshop leader

journey mapping leader

A workshop leader or a facilitator is skilled in planning, time management, asking powerful questions, and listening. The facilitator owns methods and techniques to empower creative thinking and help teams develop innovative solutions.

Workshop methods will depend on the facilitator’s preferences. For instance, some workshop leaders prefer to use design thinking or sprint design, agile management techniques or develop their own frameworks. I like to combine various methods as they all have powerful techniques to offer.

Four ground rules for successful journey mapping workshop

Whatever technique and environment you decide to go for, there are four things that will save you unnecessary stress and anxiety you might feel before the session:

  • Setting the ground rules and ensuring everyone understands the process and feels invited to participate is your task as the workshop leader. Your role is to navigate the process and suggest techniques of creative thinking, not to ask leading questions or suggest solutions. 
  • No workshop is alike, and nor should it be. Being aware of the limitations and setting the expectations ahead of the workshop will help you communicate the outcomes with the participants.
  • The depth of data available for the workshop will vary from team to team. Therefore, some workshops will only simulate the process and help create a common understanding among different stakeholders. However, if the journey map is well-researched, the workshop can extend to days, even months of intensive collaborative work.
  • Even when you introduce a CX team with a journey mapping workshop and have tangible results, that doesn’t mean they will implement desirable changes. Even though the team will want to push the needle and improve their bottom line, the systems they work in are often too complex and prevent implement changes fast.

Defining the ‘Why’ behind the customer journey mapping workshop

Why are we doing this customer journey mapping workshop? What will be the outcomes? 

These should be the first questions you ask as a workshop leader, even before you commit to the process. There are many different answers to these questions, but you also might discover that journey mapping is not what you need in that moment – and that’s fine.

Let’s imagine that you need a customer journey mapping workshop to help you with one of these challenges:

  • Understand the complexity of the current journey.
  • Co-own the research and break siloes between departments.
  • Understand where the customer pain points are.
  • Design new experiences and see how to fit them into the existing customer journey.
  • Share a tool with the team so they can implement it on their own.
  • Practice customer journey mapping and help a team come together.

Once you understand the why behind the session, you should ask the same question to the team. Set the expectations early on.

 Who should be involved?  

Recently, I’ve completed the Journey Mapping course by Interaction Design Foundation. I loved how they defined the potential workshop participants and their importance to the process. They suggest breaking the stakeholders into five categories:

  • Facilitator
  • Direct decision makers (people with direct decision making responsibilities)
  • Direct stakeholders (people with first-hand experience with the product)
  • Indirect stakeholders (people who might not be directly involved or even know about your product, but might bring surprising insights)
  • Customers

More often than not, you won’t be able to convince allfive suggested personas to get involved in the customer journey mapping workshop. In that case, you might consider role-playing or having someone from an organisation to represent a customer based on research and previously created customer personas.

What’s important to keep in mind is that journey mapping is a collaborative process. The purpose of it is to break siloes and build common understanding. Don’t settle for a journey mapping workshop with three participants from the same department.

I asked Leonie Williams, Customer Centric Culture Specialist and Co-founder at Customer Service Solutions Group what are some of her biggest challenges when preparing for the customer journey mapping workshop:

Leonie Williams

Definitely  getting a buy in and engagement from all the delegates. People are busy, operationally focuses and don’t always see the relevance of them being there. Also, ensuring the delegates are always thinking about the customer persona rather than the process or our own perceptions.’

Are personas one of the essential elements? They might be, but they come along with a few other unavoidable steps. Let’s dive in.

Three main parts of the journey mapping workshop  

The workshop flow will depend on the aspects of the map you want to focus on. Typically, there are three aspects of journey mapping you will be able to cover in a one or two-day workshop:

1. Your actual situation

2. Your ideal situation

3. Identify opportunities 

Let’s break each aspect down and examine the possible workshop outcomes.

Your actual situation

To understand your actual customer journey, you will have to gather data about one or more personas you want to map the journey for. This means analysing all of the existing data on customer interactions you already have in your system. Also, this is where your headache starts both as a facilitator and a team involved in the journey mapping process.

It is not rare that this is where many teams give up or you hear something like: ‘We surely have this data somewhere, but it is not selected and analysed.‘ If a workshop is not a simulation organised to demonstrate the importance of breaking siloes, then you will have to do the following:

  • Define personas, mental models, and select one scenario you will map
  • Interview employees responsible for different aspects of the journey
  • Run a service blueprint workshop
  • Mark the pain points, but not jump to the solutions  

Ideally, you will want to run an empathy mapping session, where participants can discuss different customers’ mental models, how they feel, think, and interact with a product or service. You want to help participants think about individual journey maps and personalised experience each group of customers might expect.

Your ideal situation and identifying opportunities

From complexity to simplicity

Only after having an encompassing understanding of what the current journey looks like, can we start envisioning the ideal scenarios. For this, we should again invite KPIs and metrics that demonstrate how each touchpoint affects consumer loyalty, referrals, brand image, etc.

Ideally, we will need the analytics and insight team to take the lead and tell us what pain points should be removed for better performance. Inviting service blueprint map when designing an ideal scenario is a must. Knowing what motivates your employees to serve customers better, will help you design conditions for them to do their job well.

Therefore, the customer journey mapping is not only about what your customers need to stay loyal to your brand. But also, what your staff needs to feel confident, supported, and rewarded to perform their best.

Collaborate on your collective next steps

The customer journey mapping workshop ends up with brainstorming solutions for improvements. After evaluating touchpoints and discussing customers’ pain points, the team will share enthusiasm for change and have plenty of incredible ideas. Your role as a facilitator is to allow these ideas to get out. Also, you’re helping the team prioritise a few feasible solutions.

I like to wrap up my sessions by asking participants about their three takeaways and the steps they want to implement by the following week. From this, you could ask – What will make you accountable for those actions? 

Final thoughts

There is no one way to run a successful customer journey mapping workshop. Remember, the workshop outcomes will depend on the faciliator’s skills and methods; but also on the team members’ engagement and enthusiasm.

Finally, the team will need your support and encouragement. Checking on them later and following up with additional resources and notes from the workshop might spark their motivation. After each customer journey mapping workshop, you will also want to ask participants what you could do better. Ask which journey mapping templates would make it easier for them to collaborate and complete the process. Journey mapping is not a fixed process. As facilitators, we can constantly improve it and make it more impactful.

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