The 6 Steps of Customer Journey Mapping with Annette Franz

25 min read

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In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Annette Franz, CEO of CX Journey Inc. joins Gabe Larsen to continue exploring customer journey mapping and how to do it effectively. With over 25 years of experience, Annette started her career at JD Power and Associates and then moved to found her company, CX Journey Inc, about 4 years ago. She has witnessed the evolution of customer experience and is very authoritative on the subject. Along with her business, she is Chairwoman of the CXPA Board of Directors and an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council. She also published a book in 2019 titled, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business). For valuable customer journey mapping secrets you don’t want to miss, listen to the full episode below.

Customer journey mapping is a way of capturing the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the customer. As an essential process in any business, Annette describes 6 key steps to creating journey maps. Prior to sharing these steps, Annette mentions an important creative principle. She states, “You’ve got to have the right people in the room and the right people are your customers. And the map has to be created from the customer’s perspective.” Having the right team of people in the room when going through the experience of the customer will be an essential element in creating a functional journey map.

The 6 “must-have” steps that Annette mentions are number one, planning personas, goals, outcomes, etc. Step two is doing the “actual mapping workshop.” Three, identifying — but in two different parts. First, the map has to be translated into a digital format and then “identify the moments of truth, those make or break moments. … Do some root cause analysis, really dig deep and dig into what is at the heart of the matter.” This can be done by assigning people, or owners, to different steps of the journey. Step four involves getting stakeholders and owners in the same room to start working together to fix the problems that they find. Step five is then finalizing the plan and finalizing the methods that will be used to fix the problems. The sixth step is implementation.

What Data to Use When Crafting a Customer Journey Map

Since the journey mapping process can get complicated, Annette discusses the data that companies should use to help simplify and focus their efforts. Traditional “voice of the customer” feedback is the top data to pay attention to, but Annette mentions other data that will make a big difference as well. She states:

You can bring in things like call volume and whole time and time to resolve and the number of transfers and the channels used and those kinds of things to really make the analysis much more robust. … I like to bring in costs to fix, time to fix, effort to fix, impact on the customer, impact on the business, those kinds of things that we can use later on as we’re trying to prioritize what we’re going to do first.

Diversifying the type of data used in the analysis will help ensure a quality customer journey map.

When to Reevaluate the Journey

Because people are subject to change and journey mapping revolves wholly around a person’s experience, it is a very fluid process. So, creating these maps and using them effectively in a business is a continual process with a constant need for evaluation. At the end of her discussion with Gabe, Annette answers the important question of when a customer journey map needs to be updated. She recalls:

Anytime that you’ve got product changes, anytime you’re making an acquisition and you’ve got new customer types coming on board … or there’s something that changes the way we do business and changes the way that our customers will ultimately interact with us. … But the first thing that’s going to tell you that you really need to revisit that map is your customers are going to tell you.

Customers will be the first people to raise a red flag and let you know that the journey map needs to be updated. Listening to their voice, above all, is the ultimate “must-have” when journey mapping.

To learn more about journey mapping strategies and tactics, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

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Full Episode Transcript:

The 6 Steps of Customer Journey Mapping with Annette Franz

Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Alright, welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re going to be talking about this idea of journey mapping and some of the best practices in the space; the why, the what and the how and to do that we have Annette Franz. Multitalented, multi experienced, right now she is the founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She is also an author and sits on the chair, a board chair on the CXPA, which if I’m not mistaken, you’ve got a fun event coming up. Is that right Annette?

Annette Franz: (00:42)
That is correct. First of all, thank you so much for having me. And yes, we have our annual — this year is our first global insight exchange happening April 27th through the 29th in Orlando, Florida. Yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (00:54)
Awesome. We’ll make sure we get that out and about, but yeah, thanks for taking the time. I tried to do a little bit of an intro, but anything you’d fill in or a little more about your background and what you do over there at CX Journey.

Annette Franz: (01:07)
Oh gosh. Here’s a funny little tidbit that I like to share because I started in this customer experience space back in the early nineties at JD Power and Associates, and it’s really been fun or interesting or whatever word you want to use for it, to watch how this thing called “customer experience” has, first of all, how it’s come about and how has it evolved over time. Because back in the early nineties, we didn’t even call it customer experience. We talked about satisfaction and loyalty. So yeah, it’s been a fun ride and I’m really enjoying it. This is almost jumping into my fourth year out of my own under CX Journey, Inc. And yeah, working on some fun client projects and client engagements and really enjoying the things that I’m doing right now.

Gabe Larsen: (01:53)
Got it. And then just for my understanding as well, are there certain areas that you specialize in or that are more core to what you like to talk about or who you are, projects, et cetera.

Annette Franz: (02:04)
Most of my engagements, either coaching brand new chief customer officers or folks who are new in that type of position, head of CX, and really working on soup to nuts CX strategy, really talking about what needed to be done and how to get there. Right? So, but, a lot of people know me for — and I know we’re going to be talking a little bit about this today — a lot of people know me for my expertise in journey mapping, but that’s not all I do. Most of my work actually is sort of soup to nuts CX strategy.

Gabe Larsen: (02:36)
Okay. Oh, that’s interesting. Well, we might have to have you back on to talk big picture strategy and some of the things you do there.

Annette Franz: (02:42)
Awesome, I’d love to.

Gabe Larsen: (02:42)
Well, let’s start with the big picture. We were talking, pre-show, just a little bit about journey mapping. Sounds like there are some right ways to do it and some wrong ways to do it, but high level. What is it and why is it important?

Annette Franz: (02:55)
Yeah, that’s actually a great place to start because I think a lot of people confuse it and I’ll share a little story about how I know this happens other than what I read or what I see when I’m seeing the work that some folks are doing. But journey mapping is really a way for us to walk in our customer’s shoes to experience the experience that they’re having as they’re trying to interact or transact with the organization. And it’s really, it’s a step by step, I would say from point A to point B; from the moment that there was that need to do something, for example, calling customer service or making a purchase. Or, what were the steps that the customer took to get from that thought, from that need to when it actually transpired.

Annette Franz: (03:41)
And so when we do journey maps, what we capture is what the customer’s doing, thinking, and feeling. And that’s just so important to ultimately [inaudible] the understanding and then ultimately to be able to fix what’s broken. And it’s really important because of that, right? Because it is — we want everything to, we want to understand our customers and we want everything that we do — in terms of the business and how we design our products and our services and our processes and everything — to be with the customer in mind. And if we don’t take the time to understand what the experience is today and designing a better experience for tomorrow is going to be just as bad because we’re not taking the customer into account.

Gabe Larsen: (04:22)
I love it. I love it. So, that’s a big picture of what it is, some of the things that revolve around it. As you think about customer journey maps, and I’m playing the new card here a little bit, but is this something that every organization should do? Is it a must? Is everybody doing it? How predominant is this in the market?

Annette Franz: (04:45)
So, two part question, right? Is everybody doing it and how is it, why is it important or how is it important to the organization? So a lot of people are doing it or think they’re doing it, but, and I just alluded to this as I answered the previous question, but they’re really not. They are either creating lifecycle maps, which is really the stages of the need awareness, consideration, selection, et cetera, et cetera. And thinking that that’s going to get them to some kind of understanding of the customer experience when it really isn’t. Or, they’re doing touchpoint maps, which are taking those lifecycle stages and then inventorying the touchpoints. But that’s not detailed enough for us either. We need more details so we can understand the experience. Or, they’re all sitting around in a room and creating what we call an assumptive map. And it’s sitting around the room saying, Hey, we think this is what the experience is like. And then they create maps from that. And ultimately it often devolves into a process map and it’s all internal anyways so.

Gabe Larsen: (05:49)
Yeah. Do you, I mean, out of some of those, those seem like obviously maybe not best practice. What is the big challenge that is hindering people from making it effective? Is it the idea that we, I love that word, like an assumptive map that they don’t get detailed enough? They don’t involve people or is it they’re using the wrong tools or; what’s kind of the big barrier that you’re like, Oh man, if people could do this, they’d be so much further along?

Annette Franz: (06:13)
Yeah. That’s a great question. And I think it’s two fold, right? Number one is yes, you’ve got to have the right people in the room and the right people are your customers. And the map has to be created from the customer’s perspective. Right? So, those two things are really key, really critical. The other part of it is, once you’ve done that, you’ve also got to bring in — you’ve got tons of voice of the customer data. You’ve got tons of other data, operational data that you can bring into the maps as well to really; A, go from sort of a qualitative to a quantitative, but then also to really, boost up the power of the maps themselves, by using all of that data to identify the moments of truth. And moments of truth are those make or break moments where a customer says I’m going to move forward with this, or I’m not. And so customers in the room, mapping from the customer perspective and bringing that either voice the customer data or operational data into the map to really enhance the customer viewpoint.

Gabe Larsen: (07:15)
That resonates a lot with me. On the data perspective though, I guess I would probably have a follow up. Bringing the customer, that assumption, you get some people in the room you’re throwing sticky notes up and my guess versus your guess, but actually walking through the shoes of your customer, seeing the customer actually walk you through it. I can see how that adds a lot of value. When you say like operational data, voice of the customer data, okay, I kind of see, but what other data sources are important to bring in to really supplement that map so it does get more media.

Annette Franz: (07:46)
Yeah. That’s a great question. There are a lot of other different kinds of data that you can bring in. So you can bring in not just the voice of the customer feedback in all of its formats, right? So, there’s emotional data, there’s the metrics, the NPS or C-SAT or whatever your metric is. You can bring in other types of data as well. And by that, I mean, things like, let’s go back to the example that I gave with somebody calling customer service, you can bring in things like call volume and whole time and time to resolve and the number of transfers and the channels used and those kinds of things to really make the analysis much more robust. And I also say that you’ve got to bring in what I call, I call it business data for lack of a better thing. But I like to bring in cost to fix, time to fix, effort to fix, impact on the customer, impact on the business, those kinds of things that we can use later on as we’re trying to prioritize what we’re going to do first. Right? So any kind of data like that, that helps us, again, analyze and bring the maps to life.

Gabe Larsen: (08:57)
Yeah. It just makes it more meaty. That’s helpful. I appreciate that. Do you — I am having a hard time how you actually bring it together. Is it, and maybe that’s a technology question or, I’ve gathered this info, I’ve got great interviews, I’ve done stakeholder interviews, I’ve got notes on that. I’ve done maybe some post it notes, maybe you like, or don’t like the post it notes, but I’ve often seen people kind of do the personal example. How does it translate into something real? I mean, are people using PowerPoint? Is it a technology thing? How does it get to a place where you’re like, here is my journey map?

Annette Franz: (09:38)
I love that sound effect because that’s what I use for journey maps too. Oh, it’s just such a aha moment most of the time. But it’s a great question. So yes, most people often start with the butcher paper and the post it notes, and I love to start that way because it is a creative process. And when we have customers in the room, it gets them up and out of their chairs and thinking and talking and Hey, what’s next. And you know, all that. But once you’re done with that, you then need to take it and transfer it into a digital platform so that you can bring that data along. Right? And there are several journey mapping platforms out there that are specifically made for that very purpose. Right? The purpose built to take your dream outs from the analog to the digital. The one thing that I would say is; it’s less about creating that pretty picture and making it look good and stuff. And it’s more about, really is more about A, putting it together, butchering paper and posting notes and then B, being able to bring that data into it. And like I said, you would do that through a digital platform.

Gabe Larsen: (10:48)
I see. I see. And then once the map is created, but before I go there, I do want to get to that in a minute, but other best practices or tips or tricks in that execution or creation part of it? I love bringing in some of the different sources, even the creative, make sure you manage the creative process with maybe some of those types of things, like butcher paper, post it notes. Other best practices you’ve found and kind of getting the ideas out and down and that execution part?

Annette Franz: (11:19)
Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of best practices around creating the maps and then around doing it right. So that once you do have the map created that it is something that you can execute on, right? So there’s a couple of different things, but I wanted to just mention that when I do journey mapping, I have a process to it, right? I look at journey mapping as both a tool, the map itself, and then the process. And the process involves three key things that you have to do in order to get to the sixth step. The sixth step is implementation. But there are three key maps that you have to create. The first one is your journey map. That’s your current state map. The second one is a service blueprint. That service blueprint is an inside look, what’s happening behind the scenes, people, tools, system, processes, policies, all of that, that supports and facilitates the experience that the customer just had and then creates a future state map as well. Because the future state map is where you then design the new experience that you’re now going to go and in step number six, implement. Right? So, those are key components because we can’t fix what’s happening on the outside if we don’t fix what’s happening on the inside. And I think that’s a step that a lot of companies miss is that they try to just identify things in the current state map and go and fix them, but they don’t get at the root of the problem, which is something happening internally.

Gabe Larsen: (12:49)
Got it, got it. And then that — so I liked the idea of the future state. It seems like we would get caught up at times. You just get a current state, you fix some problems. You’re like, I’m done with this. You don’t actually get to that [inaudible] state. So that’s fascinating. The other points you kind of mentioned there, the internal policy thing. Can you double click there? And I don’t know if I quite got that. So you’re saying, how do you bring the internal policies there?

Annette Franz: (13:20)
So, when you create the service blueprint, you basically take — Oh yeah, it’s coming from the service blueprint. In that service blueprint, you’re going to identify the tools and the systems, the people, the processes, and the policies. So if the policies are broken and an employee is trying to do something for a customer and they can’t because the policy is bad or outdated or broken or whatever, we’ll be able to identify that in the service blueprint, because the customer has now identified a pain point in the journey map and the corresponding service blueprint for that journey. We’ll dig deep. We’ll go, well, why is that part broken there? And services, customer service is a great example, you know, right? Because you call customer service and the agent is following a script, and that’s not always the best solution, right? To follow the script. Sometimes it’s better to think about the human on the other end of the phone and do the right thing based on that particular scenario. And so what we can do with those service blueprints is make that connection and say, Oh, okay, something broke here and let’s see why. And so we’ll dig in and go, well, is it a policy? Is this a process with a person who wasn’t trained or whatever it was.

Gabe Larsen: (14:32)
Yeah, no, I love that. That makes more sense. Okay. And then once that map’s created, it seems like oftentimes you go through all this work to gather, you finally visualize it in some digital or analog format. It seems like — I could see how companies may get stuck there or maybe there is a conversation or one session about it, but then it kind of dies. Like it’s not a living [inaudible] document. Walk us through how you would say would be optimal. Like it’s created, okay. Now that it’s created, now what? What do we do to make this work better?

Annette Franz: (15:10)
Yep, exactly. So, I mentioned the six step process, right? So the third step in the process is what I call identify and identify is all about taking what you just learned in that journey map. So, step one is all the planning, the personas you’re gonna map for what the journey is, the objectives and the scope and the goals and the outcomes and all of those things. Step number two is the actual during mapping workshop, step number three, once you’ve completed that map, the next thing you’re going to do is identify and identify is, what happens in that step is that’s where you convert the map to a digital format. You bring the data in, and all of that. This is where you’re going to identify the moments of truth, those make or break moments.

Annette Franz: (15:56)
And you’re going to also identify what’s happening there. Do some root cause analysis, really dig deep and dig into what is at the heart of the matter. What’s at the heart of the matter, right? And then in this phase, you’re also going to — one of the things that I like to do when I journey map is assign owners to each step of the customer’s journey. And in this third step, as we go through that, we take those owners. This is, I call them the throat to choke, right. That’s why they’re there. And that one throat to choke — if that’s a pain point for our customers, who do we go to, who owns that step in the customer journey and needs to really do the work and identify what’s causing that step in the journey to break. And so we go through root cause analysis workshops.

Annette Franz: (16:43)
We go through other workshops where we start to do some action planning and put together, okay, we found the problem. We know what the problem is, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s our project plan for doing it, here’s who owns it. So it’s a — and you have to handhold folks through this, right? And that’s the fun or not so fun part of it. You have to handhold folks through this and then get it done that way. But yeah, there’s a whole next step after the mapping that you’ve got to get the stakeholders in the room and the owners of those steps in the room and start to dig in and then create your plan for how you’re going to fix it.

Gabe Larsen: (17:18)
And that makes sense, right? I mean, you kind of get the — I like the action planning, kind of the strategic sessions and holding people accountable. I mean, that’s kinda your project. From that point it’s probably more project management, so to say, 101. But even that last piece then, so you — and maybe I’m getting kind of to the end here, but you get, you’ve done that action planning session, you’re holding people accountable, you’re getting it through. Is it wise then to revisit that map once a year and go through another exercise? How do you make it so that it — and maybe you don’t. Maybe, well, that can’t be right actually. You probably don’t want to just [inaudible] exercise right?

Annette Franz: (17:56)
It’s a good question. And you’re right. It might be —

Gabe Larsen: (18:02)
Debating myself in my head.

Annette Franz: (18:08)
It’s okay. It’s okay. This is the Gabe podcast. He’s interviewing himself right now folks.

Gabe Larsen: (18:15)
Sorry for that.

Annette Franz: (18:15)
No, you’re fine. No, you’re fine. No, but it is a good question. It really is. And the question is really more around how often do you have to refresh those maps, right? And when should you go back and revisit them? And it’s a fair question. And it’s hard to actually put a timestamp on them because, for a couple of reasons. Number one, how quickly can you go through that process? How quickly can you service blueprint the future state design, because you’ve got to design the future state, and then go and implement that future state.

Annette Franz: (18:52)
So, once that new experience is implemented, now you’ve got to train your employees and you’ve got to let your customers know and set expectations on what the new experience is going to be, et cetera, et cetera. But any time that you get feedback from customers going forward after that, anytime you get feedback from customers that something’s not right, or you’re starting to see sort of these — you’re tracking the experience, right? So anytime you start to see where there’s leakage points, where people are falling out of the experience, they’re abandoning their shopping carts, whatever it is. Anytime that you’ve got product changes, anytime you’re making an acquisition and you’ve got new customer types coming on board, or there’s a lot of things that happen in businesses every day that are an evolution or they’re a change, or there’s something that changes the way we do business and changes the way that our customers will ultimately interact with us. So we need to consider all of those and take a look at those. But the first thing that’s going to tell you that you really need to revisit that map is your customers are going to tell you, Hey, this is not working. I’m not happy. And this could come in many different forms.

Gabe Larsen: (20:04)
I like that. Right? The qualitative or quantitative feedback, I’m starting to see that something’s broken basically. So maybe [inaudible]. That’s probably the best answer. That’s fine. I’ve often wondered, how do you make this more alive? And should you put it on a quarterly, put it in a quarterly review or QBR or whatever you want to call that. But you’re right. You’ll, if you’re honest, you’ll watch kind of the end outcome, which is ultimately your customer feedback in some form or fashion. If that starts to dip or there’s a problem, then obviously maybe something in the background is broken. I love it. Good. That’s helpful. Yeah. Am I an expert? What am I missing? What am I not asking? That’s what I should’ve asked.

Annette Franz: (20:46)
We hit the tip of the iceberg there, but yeah, you did good. We can dive in — again, as we talked about before we started recording, I wrote a book on journey mapping and how to do it. And so there’s that, there’s a lot to it. But no, I think we’ve hit — we’ve touched on a lot of points and any of those points, we could dive into much deeper, but that’s probably for another day.

Gabe Larsen: (21:16)
I got the cliff note version. Okay. I should have — I’m a cliff note.

Annette Franz: (21:21)
Yes that’s a good way to put it.

Gabe Larsen: (21:21)
Awesome. Well, I really appreciate taking the time. I love the talk track mostly because it feels — the best thing about journey mapping, and sometimes I feel like in this service experience space we talk about delighting and you get into those examples of the, you know the tire is being brought back to Nordstrom or stuff that’s sometimes a little harder. It doesn’t feel as tangible. The thing I love about journey mapping, it just feels so real. You’re action planning about real problems and moments of truth. And it’s like, ah, this is tangible. I can do something with it. It’s not “make people happy.” So, thank you for the talk track. I like that it’s practical. I like that it’s tactical. If someone wants to learn a little more about you dive into this, the book, where would you kind of direct them to, to take that next step?

Annette Franz: (22:05)
Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that. Of course. The best place to find all things about me and information about the book and everything would be my website, which is So thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Gabe Larsen: (22:18)
Absolutely. Absolutely. We’ll make sure we get that in the notes here so that people can find it and see it. Again, appreciate the time, like the talk track. For the audience, hope you have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (22:38)
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