How long does a journey take to make?
This week a colleague rushed up asking how long it would take to produce a journey and the answer was … it depends.
But first, what is a journey?
A journey is a model of a person’s experience over time with an organisation. They can describe a service experience of an existing customer, such as a support call or they can describe the sales experience of a new customer. The latter usually conforming to some version or other of the purchasing funnel. For the purposes of this post I am discussing current-state and not future-state journey maps.
Who and what is represented in journeys?
A journey can be the story of a specific persona or it can depict the generalised experience of all customers. Adaptive Path makes this distinction and labels the former a customer journey map, and the later an experience map.
Then there is the “stage” to consider. The front-stage shows the customer experience and the back-stage presents the corresponding experience of the organisation – the teams, systems and processes that combine to deliver the experience. This kind of journey is usually described as a service blueprint.
So … how long does a journey take to make?
To plan resources, people, and effort you need to think about the content and the data that’s informing it. This can come from internal workshops, co-design sessions, or through customer and staff research.
Guidelines for planning
|Activity||Inputs||Who you’ll need||Time||Considerations||Cost||Trade-off|
|Quick Workshop||Anecdotal knowledge||Subject matter experts, product owners, front line staff as proxies for customers. 1-2 facilitators.||Half-day||
||$||Minimal time and cost but no first-hand customer data.|
|Workshop||Existing researchVoice of customer data||Subject matter experts, staff, product owners. 1-2 facilitators.||1-2 weeks||
||$$||Minimal time and cost. Depending on quality of research and data journey can be fragmented with no context for wider story or experience.|
|Journey co-design workshops||Recounted experience. Example touch points.||Customers who have recently or are currently going through the experience.One facilitator, one note taker.||2-5 weeks||
||$$$||Customer data represented but highly dependent on recall. Detail of real time customer experience e.g. with a specific touchpoint or episode may be lost.|
|JTBD switch interviews with customers||Recounted experience.||Customers who have very recently switched to your product or away you’re your product to a competitor.
One researcher. Note taker optional.
||$$$||Customer data represented but dependent on recall. Skilled interviewer should be able to elicit detail of real time customer experience of a specific touchpoint or episode.|
|Contextual interviews and/or longitudinal diary studies with customers||Recounted or directly observed experience.Qualitative insights.Can dig deep into quite low level detail and describe context of use of example touch points.||Customers who have recently or are currently going through the experience.
A representative sample for each customer segment.
A team of researchers. 2-4 depending on the number of customers.
||$$$$$||Requires large investment and results are not actionable for some time but end result is credible research report usable by both executive and operational teams.|
As with anything, there are trade offs involved. A well researched and high detailed journey will certainly stand the test of time, be useful to multiple audiences, and be a persuasive research piece to support change. It all depends on your project needs and constraints. The 80/20 rule may also apply—making smaller investments with Jobs-to-be-Done research or co-design workshops may yield most of the major insights you need to uncover for significantly less cost and time.
I have made a some updates since first publishing this post. Thanks to Krispian Emert for your valuable feeback.