The Path To Untapped Business Potential: How Holistic UX Mapping Helps Identify Friction

Why You Need a UX Journey Map Now

Beyond the end user, an effective customer journey map should also examine what employees and systems are involved to support it. This insight illuminates what important data is being transferred between the two, and shows where and how the information is being exchanged, to truly see how employees and systems with separate functions interact to support the outcome.



Imagine you are the parent of a small child with a serious illness. At your child’s most recent doctor visit, they tell you that your child needs an MRI. This worries you, because you know that your child will not want to get in the MRI machine, let alone stay still enough for the technicians to get the images they need.

MRI day comes, and you are even more worried. You get in the car to go to the appointment and your child picks up on your stress and becomes even more frightened.

You arrive and are shown to a cold, dark, sterile MRI room. Your child sees the large, loud machine and reels in fear. You know it will be difficult to get them into the machine and you aren’t even sure if they will remain still long enough to complete the procedure.

After much coercion, your child is persuaded to get into the machine but (shockingly) they won’t stay still and the process needs to start all over again. Three hours later, you are leaving the appointment that was scheduled to last fortyfive minutes and both you and your child, although relieved, are as stressed as ever.

The hospital preemptively scheduled less patients for the day, creating a lost opportunity cost. The technicians are running behind for patients that they do have, causing the technicians and patients additional stress. The other patients become agitated and annoyed by the delayed schedule, and may choose to have their MRI done elsewhere. The loss of a patient ultimately impacts the hospital, which needs to do a certain number of MRIs a day to cover costs.

You see what is happening here? Every variable, no matter how insignificant, is interconnected. This one seemingly small thing has ripple effects that could very well reach the top of the health care provider’s chain of command. How could it have been prevented? How could the health care facility have predicted, prepared, and altered this outcome?

If the health care provider had effectively mapped the patient's experience journey, they would have been able to anticipate the child’s reaction, how it would impact the organization and its stakeholders, and develop a plan to prevent the negative reaction in the first place. Experience journey mapping can do all that? Absolutely.

Calling it mapping over-simplifies it a bit; it’s really considering the steps each person involved must take to reach their goal, what influences those steps, what promotes or prevents those steps, and how those steps could be made easier. Effective journey mapping considers how the entire organization impacts the user experience and vice-versa, not just the product with which the users are interacting.

Identify Opportunities

The knowledge provided by a journey map is invaluable. It not only shows you how the users are interacting with your product, but also reveals how the product could be improved. Take the MRI example, a journey map would provide the insight to anticipate the child’s fears, thus making empathizing with those fears easier. It would also uncover preventative opportunities the organization could capitalize on to keep the child in good spirits.

Instead of walking into a cold, dark room, what if the child sees a galaxy of planets and stars painted on the walls, and was anticipating a planetary exploration guided by mission control (their doctors also dressed to play the part). Instead of a large, loud machine they see a spaceship that they can get into and go on an adventure. Once inside the machine, they see more planets and stars, and get to wear a fun astronaut headset that plays their favorite songs. There are so many ways this experience could be improved, it just takes a journey map to find them.

We recently discussed journey mapping with Katharine Nester, the Chief Technology Officer of Ruby Receptionists on the Mobile First podcast. When she came to Ruby Receptionists, she was charged with improving the company’s customer-facing applications. She used journey mapping to discover how she should change Ruby Receptionists’ digital products. When she looked at the journey, it became clear that the customers were having a great experience with the product itself (receptionist services) but their satisfaction with the website and mobile application left something to be desired. As a result of mapping the experience, Katharine was able to clearly identify the disconnect between the technology and services. Katharine used this insight to revamp both the website and application for more continuity with their service offering, much to the delight of her customers.

Examine Workflow

Beyond the end user, an effective customer journey map should also examine what employees and systems are involved to support it. This insight illuminates what important data is being transferred between the two, and shows where and how the information is being exchanged, to truly see how employees and systems with separate functions interact to support the outcome.

In the case of the MRI above, maybe the organization had protocols in place to make children’s experiences a little less scary. But maybe the patient’s age was lost in translation from the referring doctor, causing the child to not receive the mindful care they should have. This could have been a lapse in an existing API between the scheduling system and the patient care system, or perhaps it was a verbal miscommunication between the scheduler and the technician. Or worse, maybe the protocols or systems don’t even exist and every patient receives the same care. Whatever the cause, it becomes quite clear where friction lives when the journey is mapped.

Learn About Your Data

Journey mapping is a powerful tool that not only provides customer insights, but insight into data. Data is being created at an incredible rate and it can be difficult to figure out how to properly harness its power. With journey mapping, you can see how the data is moving to support the end user experience, considering the systems and functions that support it.

If the hospital had done a journey map, maybe they would have discovered that a large portion of MRIs done on minors take longer than the allotted appointment time. Maybe they would have learned that most MRIs of minors have the be repeated. Getting this data helps organizations identify the true costs of these problems and find an efficient, economic solution. Use data to prioritize your problems and solutions, as well.

Mapping the customer journey is an essential, yet challenging task when done right. If you’ve already taken a stab at mapping your user journey and are now wondering how you can level it up, this User Stories Framework is a great way to do just that. It will help you create user stories within the context of the journey, and allow you to score and rank the various stories to help you focus on the initiative with the highest value to your business and customer. Consider your current products and projects. Have you done a journey map? Hopefully. Could the outcomes be improved by an effective journey mapping exercise and more in-depth user stories? Absolutely.

Journey mapping will unlock invaluable insights to your business, your product and the way that product is received and perceived in the market. Create your map and discover how to truly transform your business.


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