Journey Mapping: Start With Your Hypothesis

20150429_163805-1I’m on the plane back from the CXPA Insights Exchange – our annual conference where we get to share best practices and help develop as CX professionals.

I had just led a discussion on journey mapping best practices, where representatives from organizations as diverse as telecommunications, healthcare, and even government swapped ideas and asked questions about the best way to use journey maps to drive change.

One member shared how he tried to get his B2B customers to come to a journey mapping session, but none of them agreed to come. He had the time set aside, so he instead used his customer-facing staff to build their idea of a journey. At Heart we call this “Hypothesis Mapping,” and he shared how this really helped them set up the framework that they were then able to use once they were able to finally meet with clients.

Another member chimed in how she was really happy she had learned this language. She joined a new organization, where they proudly shared their “journey map.” She asked them how it was developed, and they discussed how they all went into a conference room as a team to develop it.

Rather than simply squash this inside-out process, she used their enthusiasm, responding, “I love that you’ve developed this hypothesis map. Let’s test this as we go out to customers and get their perspective.”

The conversation then turned to whether you share your hypothesis map with your customers. A member of a government agency is preparing to go out and interview customers, and asked whether he should keep this hypothesis map in his back pocket, or to actually share it with his customers.

We strongly recommend against sharing your hypotheses with customers. Starting with your hypothesis restricts the conversation. Rather than thinking broadly about all of the things that they do in the journey, they instead look at what you have documented, and decide whether what you have included is accurate.

For example, when we studied how B2B clients purchase software, our client’s hypothesis map focused on such items as reviewing their website, downloading brochures, and asking for a demo. And when we spoke with their customers, all of these things did happen. However, we also discovered a whole set of actions that occurred before any of this. The very first thing this company’s clients and prospects did was to reach out to their network to find out who their friends used and trusted.

There was this really important phase that happened first. The customers used their network to select a short list of trusted vendors. Only once they had this list did they go to websites, request demos, etc. Had we shown the customers our client’s hypothesis map, they would have spent their time analyzing these steps, perhaps tweaking a few items. And our client would have missed the most important parts of the journey – what happens before they start evaluating certain vendors.

Your takeaway: Use a workshop to help uncover your company’s hypotheses. This is a great way to learn what the organization thinks the journey looks like. Then set this aside and start fresh with customers. Use open-ended questions to learn what they do and how they do it.

Then, once complete, return to your hypothesis maps to see how the two compare. This will let you know how big of a change you have in front of you.

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