Problem and Context

As part of my role as UX director at SDL, I hosted annual internal mini-conferences with all UX professionals and marketing designers in SDL. Those events became known as our internal “UX Summits”. Main objective of these 3 day summits where bringing the whole design community together, kicking off or working on shared projects and initiatives, and testing and learning new methods and tools. For the 2015 edition I developed a customer journey mapping workshop, and applied it with a large cross-disciplinary group to one of our main enterprise products that had a product release and marketing launch coming up.

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The target customers and journey we chose to evaluate, analyze and optimize in this workshop were digital marketing teams in large globally operating enterprises which use a web content management system to run their multilingual web sites, and the way they would get their hands on the new version of the product. SDL as a vendor for web content management systems had a release for its WCM product coming up and various teams were busy preparing the different aspects (content, processes, communication, etc.) of releasing and shipping this products to its customers. To ensure those activities and processes were aligned and delivered an optimal experience to new and upgrading customers, I invited all internal disciplines that were involved and had influence in those journeys our web content management customers were going through.

Workshop Format

Primary goal of this workshop was to map the anticipated customer journey around the new product release together in this cross-functional setup, build up a common and shared understanding of the flow and the related customer experiences, and see where we might have gaps and how to address and improve them.

To prepare and facilitate this session, I created a short kick-off and overview on customer journeys and customer experience management in general. This was to ensure that everybody was on the same page and understood the task. Critical takeaway for everybody was that a customer journey is the combination of all those small interactions a customer (or prospect) experiences when interacting with SDL across several different touchpoints (e.g. web site, sales team, product UI, support systems). Those touchpoints can be digital or physical (even a conversation), they don’t necessarily occur in linear order, and customers will have an experience when they engage there, negative or positive.

So, customers will have an end-to-end customer experience on their journey with a company and its products or services, regardless if it’s one that is carefully crafted and designed (and likely a positive one) or one that “just happens” (and is most likely negative and frustrating).

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The problem is that due to the distributed and silo’ed nature of large enterprises, customers are often the only ones having this end to end perspective and experience. Internal teams often only “see” the touchpoints and stages in the journey they own and have responsibility for. Building this holistic picture with all teams and helping them to align their individual team performance metrics towards the overall customer experience was another key objective of this workshop.

After this introduction, I asked the different teams to describe the anticipated customer flows from their perspective including the various touchpoints involved. I created and printed touchpoint cards upfront that helped me quickly mapping the touchpoints on a large whiteboard wall and connecting them with whiteboard markers (indicating the flow) as the teams went on describing their part in the journey.

Starting from a few target personas we managed to map out the entire customer journey as seen from the perspective of different teams, adding success metrics and KPI’s along the way. In the last phase of the workshop we reviewed and analyzed the picture that emerge it front of us and analyzed it according to several criteria which resulted into concrete short and mid-term follow up activities.

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The result was as much of a team alignment and process analysis exercise as it was a design method with a clear deliverable. Collaboratively, we managed to map the entire anticipated customer journey and review it from various vantage points which resulted into several outcomes and follow ups.


On the short term, we were able to identify missing content, outdated content, inconsistencies, gaps in the customer journey, dead-ends during handovers from one touch point to another etc. that we could all translate into concrete short term follow up actions.

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For the mid-term, this exercise revealed conflicting KPI’s and success metrics for some teams that we could take back to their respective management teams to address more structurally. We also discussed what metrics to track ones this new customer journey is live so we could assess and validate our assumptions.

Most important outcome of this collaborative exercise in my opinion was the strong ownership for a great end-to-end customer experience across the various touchpoints that all participants expressed and took home. Something that impossible to create in a presentation, but something that can be co-created while a cross functional team is running through such a workshop together.

More generally I believe that alignment across teams in large companies is only possible through common goals and shared values. This customer journey workshop was good example and a great tool for creating this big picture and aligning the teams and their actions and objectives behind it.