Journey Mapping is Key to Digital Transformation

Illustration featuring a key and patches with user journey map key elements on a green background.

Making the decision to undergo a digital transformation is a big step for any company. Any huge shift in how you do business can be scary, and even more so when you’re the first in your industry to set sail into uncharted waters. However, starting the path to digital transformation is easier than you think.

Investing in understanding your users can be the first step to getting buy-in and feeling confident in your new direction. But when deciding on which direction to take, there are a number of factors that affect that decision, all of which can be aided by conducting and analyzing user research to understand what is best for the company’s future. While stakeholder support is crucial, making sure you understand the needs of all users (customers and employees included) while implementing changes is vital to making the transition successful.

Here’s what you need to know about how to implement UX design and journey mapping into your digital transformation decision-making process.

How to use journey maps for digital transformation

Journey maps go beyond product design. At their core, they are a way to understand how users make decisions. Knowing this, we can start thinking of different ways to apply these findings to business development projects like digital transformation.

Digital transformation is more than implementing new technology to your processes. It’s about understanding users.

While a company’s business goals are essential to consider when undergoing a digital transformation, pairing them with user needs is a must—that’s where user journey maps come in handy. Applying a user-centered framework to your digital transformation will not only aid in a smoother process but will also provide valuable insight into those areas of opportunities that may not have been revealed otherwise in your business goals.

Journey maps are often the first step in understanding your users. In the process of developing this deliverable, researchers and strategists map out a customers’ touchpoints with your product or service, as well as any goals and pain points that there might be along the way. It’s this big picture, holistic view of how the consumer interacts with your company that allows us to dig in and find opportunities where digital transformation strategy can help to launch your business forward.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation refers to the evolution of business processes through the implementation of technology. It’s about driving your business forward and using technology to do it. The outcome of this process is different for each company, even if the path to get there takes the same steps.

There are a number of reasons why companies decide on digital transformation. One reason is due to external pressure. In order to keep up with competitors, a company may decide to update its outdated systems for easier workflow. Other times, it’s an internal pressure to move the company on a new path forward and grab a new segment of the market.

Take, for example, the evolution of customer support call centers. In the past, callers were required to stay on hold while waiting to speak with an agent. Digital transformation has allowed many call centers to shift to an updated software system that allows customers to opt in to receiving a call back when they reach the head of the line. Instead of being tied to the phone, forced to listen to an endless loop of hold music, the customer can instead go about their day, confident that they will receive a call when it’s their turn. This method helps mediate the stress and anxiety callers feel that often comes with waiting on hold and gives them the reassurance that their question or issue will be handled. On the business side, this is a huge win for the company as well. This sort of system allows call center employees to answer more calls, have a more positive interaction with customers, and increase the likelihood of having a returning customer or a customer referral in the future. These positive interactions build and bolster the relationship the company has with its end user.  

Actually, in our call-center example, there are two sets of users. Each would benefit from the design team understanding their use of the product. The first user is the customer—the person calling in with a question or problem. Understanding their pain points, their environment, and their eventual interaction with the process can help your team design a solution with empathy that leads to the better interactions (and eventual customer referrals) that we mentioned above. The second user is the call-center employee. In a digital transformation process, there is always some internal user that will be shifting their processes due to these changes. Regardless of whether or not this user had a say in the business decision that launched this change, this user would need to adjust to the business operation changes. Utilizing a user-centered design approach will help get this set of users onboard and more willing to carry out any changes they helped discover. 

What is a user journey map?

A journey map is an opportunity for your team to better understand how your users and customers work to meet their goals. They map out a process from start to finish and identify the touchpoints, pain points, opportunities, and goals that each user type (or persona) may have throughout the lifecycle of the experience.  

The format

Because there are numerous avenues users can take while moving through an experience, user journey maps can end up looking incredibly intimidating at first. All of the thoughts and emotions (in addition to the actual steps) are captured all in one place, which often results in a lot of information distilled into one document of columns and rows. However, after understanding what each of these elements is, journey maps can become one of the most helpful resources for your digital transformation project.

User journey maps can be constructed in a number of different ways, but there are a few key elements that we believe to be the most important.

Example journeymap
Journey map example from a former Fuzzy Math project.

User goals

Along the top of the map are the user’s goals from the start to the end of their journey. Since journey maps are segmented by persona, the goals on one map are specific to one persona and may differ from another journey map even if personas are part of the same project. User goals set up for the entire map because the following rows underneath correspond to each of these.

User tasks

Just like it sounds, user tasks are the tasks needed to complete in order for users to meet their goals. There are a set of tasks listed in correspondence with each of the goals laid out at the top of the journey map. This offers a holistic understanding of what it takes for users to get from point A to B.

Pain points

This row on user journey maps gets more into the emotional side of users. Corresponding to each goal and set of tasks, think about any roadblocks or frustrations a user might run into through their journey.

Areas of opportunity 

Finally, this is the portion of the user journey map where businesses can really reflect on what they know about their users and discover ways to help them have a better experience. In this row, you can address ways to alleviate pain points and enhance the high points in a user’s journey in hopes that those opportunities will end up in the final product. 

Aligning opportunities with business goals to determine your digital transformation strategy

It’s the areas of opportunity that are key to unlocking where digital transformation is going to be successful. Though these opportunities shouldn’t be limited to digital solutions, consider where technology can slot in and help ease the pain points of your users, streamline the touchpoints, or make other improvements. 

You may find a number of different opportunities, some more tactical and some more strategic than others. When we recently tackled this problem for a client seeking to reinvent the debt collection experience, we identified a range of opportunities from retraining callers to have a more empathetic ear to leveraging AI to identify the best method of communication for each end consumer. 

It’s important to start broad with your research, keep yourself open to a variety of new directions, and eventually hone in on the strategy that makes the most sense for your business. As you consider which strategies to focus on, think about your business goals, and the goals for your digital transformation. Which strategies will help you get there, and what metrics can help you monitor the success of your efforts? For our work overhauling the debt collection process, our goal was really to identify opportunities where we could better utilize technology to make the consumer’s life easier, and ultimately increase the dollars recovered from the debtor. We took our recommendations from our research and worked directly with the client team to determine which strategies would help to drive their business goals.

Ultimately, a company seeks a digital transformation in order to drive those business goals, whether those goals are increased conversion rates or retaining customers. Using your newfound knowledge of your users to drive that direction lessens the risk of building or investing in technology that will ultimately be unsuccessful. Instead, you will be well on your way to building a more successful product or experience, backed by solid research and an understanding of how your changes will help your end-users.

Learn more about our digital transformation services, and find out how we can help you apply user experience best practices to your digital transformation project.

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