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Don’t Forget to Map the Employee Journey

Published: November 2, 2016 | By: Jim Tincher

Last month I led a journey mapping workshop at the ICMI conference. It was a ton of fun, as we mapped out how Amanda chooses her new health insurance plan. We looked at how and when to use journey mapping (answers: frequently, and in partnership with customers).

During a break, one call center director asked me whether journey mapping can be used to map out employee journeys. That’s when I realized my mistake. I’m so passionate about mapping the customer journeys that I completely forgot to talk about how journey mapping is also a great tool to use for employee journeys.

Employee journeys are critically important to your customer experience. As Bruce Temkin says, you can’t create an engaged customer with disengaged employees. Journey mapping is a great tool to understand the friction your employees face as they serve your customers.

In fact, it’s even easier to use a journey mapping workshop with your employees than it is with customers. Mapping your customer journey obviously requires customers. Well, maybe that’s not always so obvious. But if it is to be done right, it’s critical to include customers. And that takes a certain amount of effort – and cost – to bring in your customers.

But employees are right there. And they’re very eager to share their perspectives. In fact, while customer journey maps are where our company, Heart of the Customer, spends most of our time, we have been known to also map employee journeys. Unfortunately, it’s a capability I rarely see used. Companies will – and should – spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to understand their customers’ journeys. And that’s a good investment – it allows them to understand where customers are frustrated, and what might lead them to defect.

But these same companies often forget to invest the relatively small amount it takes to uncover the employee journey that can lead to the customer friction. When a call center employee can’t get the information she needs to solve a customer problem, or when a high-potential employee can’t find the education he needs to accelerate his career, both are at risk of decreased loyalty. And at-risk employees can create at-risk customers.

The nice thing is that you can understand your employees’ journeys with just a little bit of preparation, along with some snacks and Diet Coke.

Just like with customer journey maps, your first two questions will be what to map and whom to map.

Start by deciding what is the most critical journey to examine. Use employee surveys to guide you here – where are they most frustrated? In a recent survey of customer experience leaders who had recently completed a customer journey mapping process, the choice of which journey to map was reported as one of the most important decisions to make in order to be successful. So take some time here.

Do they want the training needed to move up or better serve customers? Then map out how they access information today, in order to build a program that best meets their needs.

Are they having a difficult time accessing their benefits? Map out how they’re looking for them today, in order to understand where the most friction comes in.

Or perhaps new employees report that it was really difficult to get through the hiring process. Many companies forget about the impact their hiring process – which can be one of the most internally-focused journeys in a company – has on new employees.

Once you’ve determined which journey to map, the next decision is whom to include. This is often an art – and the more essential decision is whom not to include. Spend some time deciding which audiences are most critical. Do you want to understand different generations? Perhaps new employees, and contrast their needs with experienced employees. Or you might want to focus only on those seen as at-risk, or perhaps high-potential. But take some time to make this decision deliberately.

Then, once you know what you want to map, and whom to map, it’s time to get started. Look here for more information on how to run a workshop. And good luck! Both your employees and your customers will thank you for the effort.

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