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Tanya Levdikova

How to plan and run an online journey mapping workshop

How to plan and run an online journey mapping workshop

Customer journey mapping workshops are a great way to introduce everyone in the company to the mapping process's specifics, get everyone on the same page about the project, gather missing data, generate insights, and even gain stakeholder buy-in. When it comes to conducting an online journey mapping workshop, it can be as rewarding as it is challenging. 

There’s no physical presence, so you can only focus on a few functions, like eyesight and mental focus. The cognitive load increases and you get fatigued faster. Another thing to keep in mind is the lack of nonverbal feedback, like gestures, posture, and facial expressions. 

Even with video on, team dynamics can be skewed. Every team member is simultaneously present in two realities, their physical one and your virtual one, increasing the number of distractions. For this reason, it is vital to use the right tools that make it easier for your team to contribute and be present. 

Below you’ll find useful tips on acing your online workshop.

Before the workshop

Design your workshop with every detail in mind. Write down everything about the upcoming session: the workshop action plan, the timeframes, the audience, the format of the map, and the desired outcomes. 

Step 1 - Establish the roles

Decide who will be facilitating the workshop. To make things easier, engage a co-facilitator if resources allow. Know who the decision-makers and team leaders are and how you would engage with them. 

An important thing to do before the workshop is to confirm how you vote on and make decisions to make everyone feel heard and acknowledged but not too emotionally invested in their resolutions.

Step 2 - Define clear outcomes

Have a clear-cut vision of how you would like your map to look like. Define your minimum viable CJM and critical tasks to be accomplished at the workshop and tasks that can be done afterward by each member individually or left for the next sessions. Ideally, create three scenarios and do your best to identify which one you’re going for:

Scenario 1 – Ideal – You accomplished everything as planned: created a map, held an ideation session, improved your map.

Scenario 2 – Optimal – You accomplished most of the tasks: created a map, but postponed the ideation session and review to the next session.

Scenario 3 – Minimal – You accomplished a few things, like filling out some of your journey map sections.

Step 3 - Time it out vigilantly 

Online work calls often need more time compared to offline sessions, so plan for it when you estimate and book the time. Make sure you cap your session at 1.5 hours, with at least one short break in between. 

Step 4 - Plan your teamwork

To make your workshop not only engaging but also actionable and result-oriented, make sure you invite the right people and build diverse teams. Preferably, you’d build a cross-functional team of:

  • Those who see the value in building a CJM for a certain situation;
  • Those who have direct contact with the customer;
  • Individuals who invested in the outcomes and have enough authority to implement the CJM insights into the company’s operations.

Try to stick to 8-10 people per workshop (3-4 per small group), as with the larger number, it’s going to get that much harder to have a smooth and productive practice.

Step 5 - Prepare your grouping

If small teamwork is involved, you need to prepare grouping and group work guidelines beforehand. To save valuable time and increase efficiency, create group discussion protocols, and define the flow of other activities during the preparation stage.

Step 6 - Create visual aids and templates 

No perfect example of a journey map is better than having a template your team can start working on right away. 

Tip: Have additional map templates ready for group work if you plan to break into small groups.

Step 7 - Select your technology

Do your research and choose the right video conferencing platform (Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc.).

Pick the most suitable real-time communication tool (e.g., Slack.). It’s best if you have it outside the video conferencing platform since it enables you to easily continue the conversation after the session is over. 

Select your online documentation instrument (Google Drive, UXPressia, Evernote, etc.) and appoint a person responsible for taking notes.

Step 8 - Have your tools ready

Check and double-check that everyone has access to the tools used at the workshop. All team members should be able to access the project you’ll be working on, as well as communication and documentation tools used. Send out access codes as required.

Tip: If you are working in UXPressia, provide access to the project you’ll be using to the workshop team ahead of time. 

Step 9 - Test your tools

A few days before the workshop, confirm and test your visual aids, familiarize yourself with the platform and its capabilities, and set up workshop recording. 

A recording is useful not only for the team, who might wish to review the session or for those who missed it, but also for you, to evaluate and improve your future online journey mapping workshops. Consider creating a backup plan if something doesn’t work as you intended.

Step 10 - Send out guidelines

A week or few days before the workshop, send all the details to the online journey map workshop participants. Be sure to include the following information:

  • The tools you’ll use (e.g., Zoom, UXPressia, Slack, Google Docs, etc.);
  • The workshop time and duration. If participants are in different time zones, be sure to include them all in your email;
  • Participation requirements (e.g. reliable internet connection, microphone + earphones);
  • Workshop agenda and desired outcomes;
  • Consider asking the team to get acquainted with journey mapping in advance. Tip: send them links to the best articles on the topic or invite them to take an introductory course like this one

During the workshop

If you have done the preparation work as outlined above, you are fully prepared for running a great workshop.

Start on the right foot

During the introduction, talk about workshop goals and get familiar with journey mapping. Make this as much interactive as possible. Consider the following:

  • Engage the participants by asking them to share how they feel and what they’re hoping to get from this meeting;
  • Do a few warm-up exercises (find good examples here and here);
  • Make it fun (e.g., you can use virtual backgrounds);
  • To get ready for map creation, introduce the basic map set-up (color, emotions, sections, etc.);
  • Create groups if you’re going to conduct group work;
  • Appoint a person (or ask participants in each group select one) who will be filling out the map.

Engage with teamwork

Break down the map into areas and assign them to different teams, so they stay busy filling those out. Keep a small group at 3-4 people max. 

An advantage of online workshops over in-person ones is the convenience for the team to engage with the map in its entirety, leave comments and notes and hear more voices than only the loudest ones.

Use a variety of activities

Carry out prioritization activities, like voting for the most important pain points or ideas, asking for feedback from different team members, and keeping them on their feet. Use check-in, opening, exploring, and closing activities. Find good examples of such exercises here

To help participants switch and reset but stay engaged, ask them to get creative. E.g., they can take screenshots or photos and attach them to a journey map. This will help the participants to engage with a map on a different level, build empathy, and stay focused.

Break, break, break

Create mini-breaks and transitions between activities that require different mindsets (focusing and goal setting vs. research and empathy vs. defining problems vs. ideation). 

During those, give them a minute to stand up, stretch, or close their eyes for a few moments. Have at least one 10-minute break during a 1.5-hour workshop, when participants can turn off their cameras and switch off completely.

Take time to wrap up

Save at least 3-5 minutes (in the best-case scenario, take up to 10 minutes) at the end of the workshop for feedback and a warm-down activity. Ask the team about what they enjoyed about the workshop the most, what was challenging, and how they see a customer journey map integrated into their day to day work activities. If time allows, invite their questions, and have a short Q&A session.

Communicate the next steps clearly. Review the map, conclude with what has been accomplished during the workshop against what was planned, advise what will happen next, how you will communicate the results and summary (intranet, a Slack chat, email, etc.) and when you will do it. Make it clear how people can participate next time. Encourage the team to brainstorm some ideas for the next session.

After the workshop

Review the session, revisit the map. Evaluate how successful the workshop was and how you can improve next time. Send a follow-up email to the workshop team with the summary, notes, your feedback, and actionable next steps. Schedule the next session or time when you will revisit the map altogether. Share additional resources about journey mapping to keep their interest alive and get them ready for the next session.

Conclusion

Running a successful online journey mapping workshop is no mean feat. For everything to go smoothly, it is vital to use the right tools for your CJM call, think through every aspect of the session before the workshop begins, and follow up right after to set the stage for successful integration of CJM into your team’s workflow. 

If you follow the tips above, you’re that much more likely to ace your next online workshop, keep your team engaged and excited about customer journey mapping and its potential for your business.

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