Detailing Your Client Journey Map
This is the second in a two-part series on client journey mapping. The first blog defined the process and provided an explanation of its value. This second part details the process, along with some tips on how to improve your odds for success.
Differentiating the client experience is a critical component of a law firm’s success, and client journey mapping is a very effective tool in helping firms differentiate that experience.
A client journey map is a visual representation of the steps and perceptions that a specific client goes through over a period of time to accomplish a specific goal that may include some interactions with your organization. The map helps identify how the client views an organization by putting interactions in the context of the client’s broader goals, objectives and activities.
There are seven basic steps to the mapping process:
All images are property of Yolanda Cartusciello
Now let’s explore each step in greater detail.
Step One: Select a journey that you’d like to map out.
For the purposes of this blog, we will map out a client’s experience managing a class action litigation. When we talk about identifying a client, we use the definition of a person, not an entity. It’s important to humanize the journey for the mapping process to work. Our fictitious client for this exercise is Dana Smith, general counsel of a pharmaceutical company. It is critical that the entirety of the mapping process is done from Dana’s perspective. Therefore, you must assume the voice of the client — the “I” pronoun — when developing the map.
Step Two: List the chronological stages of the journey.
In this litigation, the stages may look something like this:
Step Three: List the client’s objectives for each stage of the matter.
For example, in the strategy development stage, Dana’s objective might be to provide the CEO and board with the best option(s) to settle the matter expeditiously.
Step Four: List the activities in which the client would
During the strategy development stage, Dana will need to meet with the CFO and CEO prior to the presentation to the board. Before doing so, she will need to review the case analysis and discuss various legal options for handling the matter. (She will need to do a lot more than that; but I have listed only the major steps for the purposes of simplifying an example.)
Step Five: Develop a list of expectations and obstacles that the client might face in each stage of the journey.
In our fictitious example, Dana expected to receive practical advice from her outside counsel as she developed a strategy that she took to the CEO and board. Instead, she ended up at odds with the lead partner who believed Dana’s favored approach to be too high risk. As you can imagine, Dana was not pleased. She now considers the outside counsel to be an obstacle to the successful resolution of the matter rather than the ally she had expected.
Step Six: Identify and mitigate obstacles – and don’t forget about finding the bright spots.
After filling in the map completely, we need to review the expectations and obstacles and brainstorm better ways the firm might help the client address those obstacles. In our example above, there may have been a lack of communication between the client and the outside lawyer at the onset of the matter about the company’s risk tolerance that led to the miscommunication.
When engaging in this part of the journey, it is important to disregard the limitations of your firm. That will be addressed in the last step. Instead, try to imagine the ideal version of this journey and how the obstacles identified could be addressed. What processes could a firm put in place early to ensure that miscommunications don’t occur? What could the firm do throughout the engagement?
It is important to note that issues that reveal themselves often have their origin in a different part of the journey. Therefore, when brainstorming solutions, try to identify and address problems at their source. In addition, those issues are rarely limited to miscommunications. They can include surprises about billing, staffing and unexpected legal or personnel issues that arise during the course of a matter. When considering potential solutions, think about whether manpower, expertise, process, technology or communication (or some combination) needs to be adjusted. Draw upon the strengths of the team to be creative about the solutions.
However, one of the biggest mistakes that people make when engaging is this exercise is to focus solely on the obstacles. Try to find the areas in which the firm has performed well — also known as the bright spots. Often, these bright spots will provide inspiration for improvements that can be made across the client journey and may hold the key to addressing some of the obstacles identified.
Step Seven: Take action.
Now that the journey has been mapped, the hardest part is taking the idealized version of the journey and making as much of it a reality as possible. It requires courage and commitment to tackle issues and obstacles within the firm that might stand in the way of improving the client journey. When armed with the client’s point of view and a diverse team around the table, I’m confident that the solutions you develop organically will be meaningful. Don’t forget that small wins are still wins.
How to Improve Your Odds for Success
At the heart of it, client journey mapping will be more successful if you focus not only on what you do, but how you think as an organization. Mapping, done correctly, can be a powerful first step in creating a client-centric culture that delivers differentiated client experiences. At Bernero & Press, we have created a whiteboard animation to introduce you to the basic process of client journey mapping.
The process may appear daunting at first, but the concept behind it is really simple: The better a law firm understands the client’s journey, the better positioned that firm will be to help the client in a more complete and sophisticated manner. As a result, the firm will distinguish itself from other firms that focus predominantly on the legal issues. Now, are you willing to go the extra step?
For more than 20 years, Yolanda Cartusciello, partner at Bernero & Press LLC, has served in senior administrative leadership roles in major law firms, including Debevoise & Plimpton and Cleary Gottlieb. She has led marketing teams, designed business development and media strategies and implemented client development programs. She was the chief architect of profile enhancement strategies, perception studies, branding exercises, comprehensive client interview programs and practice and lateral partner rollouts. She co-developed marketing technology solutions and created media relations and digital strategies. She has also developed business development and communications training and coaching programs for lawyers at all levels.