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How to map your customer Experience Ecosystem


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How to map your customer Experience Ecosystem

  1. 1. Forrester research, inc., 60 acorn park Drive, Cambridge, ma 02140 usatel: +1 617.613.6000 | Fax: +1 617.613.5000 | www.forrester.comHow To Map Your Customer ExperienceEcosystemby Kerry Bodine, February 26, 2013 updated: may 10, 2013For: CustomerexperienceprofessionalsKey TaKeaWaysecosystem Mapping uncovers The dynamics of how Firms deliverexperiencesCustomer experience initiatives frequently falter because companies have anincomplete picture of what underlies an experience. Firms need to systematicallyuncover and document their customer experience ecosystem’s hidden dynamicsthrough a process that Forrester calls ecosystem mapping.Companies derive Benefits From ecosystem MappingCompanies that utilize ecosystem mapping can expect multiple benefits,including: detailed knowledge of customer journeys, greater understanding ofinterdependencies, a prioritized list of root causes, and better communicationacross functional silos.ecosystem Mapping Complements BpM, Lean, and six sigmaapproachesCustomer experience ecosystem mapping helps assess underlying processes in acompany, similar to business process management (BPM), Lean, and Six Sigmaapproaches. However, ecosystem mapping differs in one key respect: its primaryfocus on the experience.
  2. 2. © 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best availableresources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester®, Technographics®, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar,and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. Topurchase reprints of this document, please email For additional information, go to Customer Experience ProfessionalsWhy Read This ReportCustomer interactions are shaped by a complex set of interdependencies that Forrester calls the customerexperience ecosystem. In order to make significant and long-lasting customer experience improvements,companies first need to fully understand the interdependencies within their own ecosystem. To do this,Forrester recommends a process called ecosystem mapping that can systematically assess and documentthe ecosystem’s hidden dynamics and help plan future improvements. This report answers customerexperience professionals’ most common questions about this new tool. It is an update to “Executive Q&A:Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping” originally published on August 15, 2011.Table Of ContentsEcosystem Mapping Is Key To CustomerExperience ImprovementsWhat Is Ecosystem Mapping?What Benefits Should Companies Expect ToGet Out Of Ecosystem Mapping?What Does An Ecosystem Map Look Like?How Does The Process Of Ecosystem MappingWork?How Does It Complement BPM, Lean, And SixSigma Approaches?Who Should Be Involved In The Process?What Kind Of Advanced Preparation Is Needed?What Should Companies Do After TheyComplete The Ecosystem Mapping Process?Notes & ResourcesForrester reviewed various companies’ecosystem mapping exercises in the writingof this report.Related Research DocumentsExecutive Q&A: Design Personas AndCustomer Journey MapsJanuary 10, 2011Service Design Creates BreakthroughCustomer ExperiencesDecember 20, 2010How To Map Your Customer ExperienceEcosystemAssessment: The Customer Experience Ecosystem Playbookby Kerry Bodinewith Harley Manning, Paul Hagen, Allison Stone, and Molly Murphy2February 26, 2013Updated: May 10, 2013
  3. 3. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 2© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013Ecosystem mapping IS KEY TO customer experience improvementsMany customer experience initiatives don’t meet their full potential — or worse, fail completely —because companies don’t have a complete picture of what the customer experience actually entailsor the dynamics that go into creating it. In order to break from their tunnel vision, companies needto understand, and then take control of, their customer experience ecosystem: the complex set ofrelationships among a company’s employees, partners, and customers that determine the quality ofall customer interactions.1The first step is to systematically uncover and document the ecosystem’s hidden dynamics through aprocess that Forrester calls ecosystem mapping.What Is Ecosystem Mapping?Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative process that helps companies identify the set of complexinterdependencies that shape all of their interactions with customers. Typically conducted in aworkshop setting, teams identify and document the people, processes, policies, and technologiesthat create the customer experience. This includes those parts of the ecosystem that are in plain viewof customers as well as those parts that influence the customer experience from behind the scenes.What Benefits Should Companies Expect To Get Out Of Ecosystem Mapping?Companies that undertake ecosystem mapping exercises can expect multiple benefits, including■ Detailed knowledge of customers’ journeys. When customers and frontline staff joinecosystem mapping workshops, teams can construct a detailed picture of what customersgo through when they interact with their company. More often than not, teams identifyinteractions that frustrate customers as well as opportunities where companies could interactwith customers but don’t. One business-to-business company discovered periods of up toseveral weeks where customers waited in the dark for information about their order status.■ Greater understanding of the interdependencies within the ecosystem. Ecosystem mappinghelps teams identify previously hidden people, processes, policies, and technologies — and thecustomer interactions they influence. Business customers of TV service provider CharterCommunications were struggling to install a new software service on their routers. Throughecosystem mapping, Charter’s senior vice president of customer experience discovered that salesreps often failed to communicate the installation tech requirements during the sales process — butthe reps received bonuses based on sales, not successful installs. This “aha” moment clearly pointedto the need to realign sales commissions so that sales reps would feel pain when customers did.■ A prioritized list of root causes that need to be addressed. Understanding the complexities ofthe ecosystem is a good start, but customer experience professionals ultimately need to know
  4. 4. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 3© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013which levers to pull in order to have the greatest impact on customers. Ecosystem mappinghelps teams identify the root causes of problematic customer interactions, which helps teamsprioritize fixes that will have the greatest ripple effects throughout the ecosystem. Whilemapping its ecosystem, one company linked multiple customer experience breakdowns to thefact that no single employee — not even the highest-level execs — had access to the complete setof information required to close complex sales. The outcome was an initiative to re-evaluate thefirm’s core customer and financial data systems.■ Better communication across functional silos. Ecosystem mapping gets people talking.Companies that invite a broad cross-section of internal functions and external partners toecosystem mapping workshops often find it’s the first time that many of these people havespoken, let alone considered work processes outside of their immediate roles in the context ofcustomer interactions. A customer experience professional who recently worked with a groupof peers on an ecosystem mapping exercise told Forrester that it “broke loose some of the badhabits and stalemates” from previous internal conversations.What Does An Ecosystem Map Look Like?Ecosystem maps can take on lots of different formats. One format that Forrester finds particularlyeffective is based on service blueprints: tools often employed by service design agencies during thecreation and planning of complex multichannel customer interactions (see Figure 1).2A typical service blueprint starts by detailing the customer journey. Below each step of the journey,the blueprint illustrates relevant customer touchpoints: branded communications, physical products,digital interfaces, intangible services, physical environments, and frontline personnel. The bottomportion of the blueprint outlines everything that happens behind the scenes — or, in service designlingo, everything that happens “backstage.”This tiered structure helps draw a distinction between things that customers see and have accessto versus things they can’t see — and it can be easily adapted to other visualizations. For example,Virgin Media created an ecosystem map in the shape of infinity symbol — an appropriatevisualization to reinforce Virgin Media’s logo and connote the (hopefully) never-ending customerlife cycle (see Figure 2). The red strips on the outside of the diagram each list a different step inthe customer journey, while the differently colored sticky notes represent the activities of internaldepartments throughout the customer journey.
  5. 5. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 4© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013Figure 1 Service Blueprint Created By Livework For Saverbox, An Energy Savings Finance ServiceSource: Forrester Research, Inc.93541Source: Saverbox; livework
  6. 6. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 5© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013Figure 2 Virgin Media’s Diagram Of The Customer Journey And Behind-The-Scenes DepartmentsSource: Forrester Research, Inc.93541Source: Virgin MediaHow Does The Process Of Ecosystem Mapping Work?The good news for customer experience professionals is that ecosystem mapping leverages workthey’ve likely already done to identify their companies’ most important customers and learn aboutthe quality of their interactions. To officially kick off the ecosystem mapping exercise, teams need to:1. Pick the most important persona. This is the customer archetype that represents a company’smost important behavioral customer segment (see Figure 3).32. Pick that persona’s most important pain point. This should be something that’s causingpain (like increased service calls or missed sales opportunities) for the company as well as forthe customer.
  7. 7. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 6© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 20133. Document the surrounding customer journey. Write down what the persona does, thinks, andfeels at each step and every touchpoint that he or she interacts with along the way.44. Collaboratively visualize the sources of the customer’s pain. Identify every person, process,policy, and technology that affects that customer journey.5. Conduct root-cause analysis. Use an approach like the “five whys” to uncover the underlyingdrivers of experience.5Teams that partner with experts like their company’s business processoptimization professionals can develop a more complete understanding of the ecosystem.6. Identify and prioritize problem spots. Look for the signposts of broken processes, policies, andtechnologies like unhappy employees, partners, or customers.Figure 3 Reading Room’s Persona For An Automotive CompanySource: Forrester Research, Inc.93541Source: Reading Room
  8. 8. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 7© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013How Does It Complement BPM, Lean, And Six Sigma Approaches?Customer experience ecosystem mapping helps assess the underlying processes in an organization —and in that respect, it shares many similarities with business process management (BPM), Lean, andSix Sigma approaches. All of these disciplines seek to understand the root cause of business problemsso that the underlying processes can be eradicated, aligned, or improved.However, ecosystem mapping differs from these approaches in one key respect: its primary focus. Inmost process-oriented initiatives, customer experience improvements are an objective but not thedriving force.6For example, BPM ultimately improves — and where possible automates — businessprocesses, Six Sigma methods primarily seek to squeeze out defects, and Lean approaches strive toremove waste.In contrast, ecosystem mapping is laser-focused on improving the qualitative customer experience —and its goal is to align both the processes and the participants involved in the delivery of that experience.It seeks to bring firms business benefits ranging from additional brand equity to increased profits andcost savings as a result of customer experience improvements. Ecosystem mapping is therefore aprimary input into BPM initiatives — helping create a customer-centered context for detailed processimprovement work that will follow.Who Should Be Involved In The Process?The effectiveness of ecosystem mapping workshops depends greatly on the people who participate.Failing to invite someone from a key function will make it difficult for teams to fully identifyhow that function fits into the overall ecosystem and affects the customer experience. In contrast,including an exec who’s too senior might make lower-level employees clam up. To create acollaborative environment, customer experience professionals should invite:■ Employees. Select employees from every function that might possibly affect the particularjourney the group will focus on in the workshop. For this exercise, it’s better to err on the sideof casting a wide net. Include employees from various levels of seniority and company tenure.Make sure the list also includes both frontline and behind-the-scenes staff. At Capital One, allof the various associates who “own” a piece of a particular customer journey — like disputinga charge or making a payment — reside in a conference room and work together until targetedcustomer experience process issues have been resolved.■ Partners. Select external partners to participate based on criteria similar to those used forinternal employees. Partners like parcel shippers and third-party retailers might be obvious, butdon’t forget partners that operate behind the scenes, like interactive agencies and recruitingfirms. To map English utility provider Southern Water’s customer experience ecosystem, servicedesign agency Radarstation talked with Southern Water’s subcontractors — including frontlinemeter installers and back-office schedulers.
  9. 9. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 8© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013■ Customers. It might feel scary to invite customers to an internal working session. Get over it.They’re the best source of information and will likely feel honored to get a glimpse under thehood of a company they buy from. Identify good candidates from past customer research effortslike ethnographic research or focus groups. Unhappy customers can join too, as long as they’llbe able to be constructive during the process. Virgin Media held several ecosystem designworkshops and invited not only its own customers but also competitors’ customers.What Kind Of Advanced Preparation Is Needed?Even with minimal advanced prep, companies can still reap some benefits from this process.■ At a minimum, take care to assemble the right list of participants. Companies that do justthis minimal amount of advanced prep work will, at the very least, foster better communicationacross functional silos. Workshop participants are likely to leave with a greater understandingof how they and their respective departments affect the customer experience — even if thecustomer journey isn’t 100% fleshed out.■ To get a head start, gather existing personas and customer journey maps. Companies thatleverage existing personas and journey maps will give workshop participants a leg up on theprocess. Teams will spend less time at the outset deciding which customers to focus on andfiguring out what the customer journey actually entails. In addition, this prep work will ensurethat participants’ efforts are aligned with customer experience initiatives already in progress.■ To make the most of it, conduct in-depth research with customers, employees, and partners.It’s a challenge to convince attendees to sequester themselves from email and focus on any typeof exercise for an entire day — so teams should arm themselves with research that will helpparticipants make the most of their precious time. Find out what customers really do, think, andfeel as they interact with the company. Then collect details on how employees and partners actand make decisions — both in plain view of customers and behind the scenes.What Should Companies Do After They Complete The Ecosystem Mapping Process?Ecosystems are by their nature alive and ever-changing. Therefore companies are never done withthe ecosystem mapping process, which needs to keep up with changes to people, processes, policies,economic uncertainty, and volatile competitive landscapes — in short, business reality. In response,teams wrapping up their first ecosystem mapping workshop should:■ Conduct more investigation where necessary. The ecosystem mapping exercise will likely generatea long list of questions like: What’s the complete list of touchpoints at this step of the customerjourney, who’s responsible for sending out these emails, why are our customer service repsescalating so many calls, and why is this particular field required on our registration form? Teams
  10. 10. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 9© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013need to conduct whatever research is required to answer these questions and then update theirecosystem maps accordingly, repeating this process until no major questions remain unanswered.■ Attack the prioritized list of root causes. Once the group is confident that it has identified theroot causes of the issues plaguing the customer experience, they need to go after them. Somefixes will fall into the “no brainer” category, while others — especially those in the technologyspace — will require return on investment modeling to assess the potential impact of theproposed change. The newly formed cross-functional team can help socialize the required fixesthroughout the company and partner organizations.■ Create more ecosystem maps. Through the initial ecosystem mapping workshop, teamsidentify core issues that affect not only the customer journey they focused on but also manyother journeys. This means that every subsequent ecosystem map can build off of this first effort.Take advantage of this momentum by scheduling another workshop for several months downthe road — this time frame will give customer experience professionals time to implement somekey fixes and present results back to the group.Endnotes1 Even companies that make customer experience a strategic priority struggle to implement major long-lasting improvements. That’s because they fail to connect behind-the-scenes activities to customerinteractions. These firms need a new approach to customer experience management: one that considers theinfluence of every single employee and external partner on every single customer interaction.2 Although the term “service design” conjures up images of customer service, service designers have a muchbroader mandate: They plan and organize complex systems of people, products, interfaces, services, andspaces. See the December 20, 2010, “Service Design Creates Breakthrough Customer Experiences” report.3 Design personas are models of the key behaviors, attributes, motivations, and goals of a company’s targetcustomers. A persona is created from primary research with real customers and takes the form of a vividnarrative description of a single person who represents a behavioral segment. See the January 10, 2011,“Executive Q&A: Design Personas And Customer Journey Maps” report.4 When executed well, customer journey maps can help customer experience professionals plan improvementprojects and communicate with employees across their organizations. Unfortunately, journey maps oftenfall short due to missing content, overwhelming detail, and poor visual design. See the October 15, 2010,“Assess The Effectiveness Of Your Customer Journey Map” report.5 To use the “five whys” technique, pick an employee process or a partner sales policy and ask why it is theway it is. When you find the underlying reason — another process or policy — ask why that is the way it is.Continue this process until you’ve dug down five levels — five whys — deep. Although this type of analysisis referred to as “five whys” and commonly goes five levels deep to get to the root cause of a problem,practitioners sometimes get to the root cause in fewer levels or, conversely, have to go more than five
  11. 11. For Customer Experience ProfessionalsHow To Map Your Customer Experience Ecosystem 10© 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 26, 2013 Updated: May 10, 2013levels deep to find the root cause. For a basic discussion of this highly useful technique, visit the iSixSigmawebsite. Source: “Determine the Root Cause: 5 Whys,” iSixSigma ( BPM attempts to alleviate problems around productivity bottlenecks, customer channel integration, cycle-time reduction, and customer service improvement. But while those are important challenges to address,BPM also improves organizations at a more fundamental level by changing their core business operatingmodels. See the January 6, 2011, “Identify How BPM Can Improve Your Organization” report.
  12. 12. Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice toglobal leaders in business and technology. Forrester works with professionals in 17 key roles at major companies providing proprietaryresearch, customer insight, consulting, events, and peer-to-peer executive programs. For more than 29 years, Forrester has been makingIT, marketing, and technology industry leaders successful every day. For more information, visit 93541«Forrester Focuses OnCustomer Experience ProfessionalsTo improve the perceived quality of customer interactions with yourcompany, you must leverage emerging digital technologies and leadenterprise-wide customer experience transformations. Forrester helpsyou create forward-thinking strategies to justify decisions and optimizeyour individual, team, and corporate performance.Carl Erickson, client persona representing Customer Experience ProfessionalsAbout ForresterGlobal marketing and strategy leaders turn to Forrester to helpthem make the tough decisions necessary to capitalize on shiftsin marketing, technology, and consumer behavior. We ensure yoursuccess by providing:n Data-driven insight to understand the impact of changingconsumer behavior.n Forward-looking research and analysis to guide your decisions.n Objective advice on tools and technologies to connect you withcustomers.n Best practices for marketing and cross-channel strategy.for more informationTo find out how Forrester Research can help you be successful every day, pleasecontact the office nearest you, or visit us at For a complete listof worldwide locations, visit supportFor information on hard-copy or electronic reprints, please contact Client Supportat +1 866.367.7378, +1 617.613.5730, or We offerquantity discounts and special pricing for academic and nonprofit institutions.