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VOC Insights Techniques for Better Innovation

During his June 2, 2022 PDMA webcast “Combining Jobs-to-be-Done with Customer Journey Mapping: An Innovative Approach to Innovation”, Phase 5 Partner Steve Hansen described Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) and Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) as individual research or Voice of Customer (VOC) approaches within an innovation context. More importantly, he shared the merits of the combination of the two to inform and guide innovation strategies in a more customer-centric way. He explained that while the practice of Customer Journey Mapping helps to document activities, resources, decisions, and emotions, applying a JTBD framework to the process provides an important and more insightful customer perspective on each step within the journey. This integrated approach leads to better insights that drive better innovation.

After his presentation, Steve took a few minutes to sit down with the Phase 5 Insights team and dive deeper into the topic. We had the opportunity to further explore the concept of combining JTBD and Customer Journey Mapping, and to have our additional questions answered by the expert himself. Read on to learn about the incremental insights gathered during our follow-up conversation.

Steve Hansen Interview Excerpts

Q: When combining these techniques, what should happen first, Customer Journey Mapping, or JTBD?

By combining CJM & JTBD, you get a better sense of the customer’s story, and the context for their decision making. CJM helps you think like your customer, and it also helps to frame your search for “jobs”, even among diverse groups of customers. In other words, CJM helps you identify better questions to ask, and sheds light on what jobs to explore. Therefore when combining these techniques, it is advisable to start with CJM to understand the stages, and then investigate the jobs (including metrics of success and constraints).

Q: “Recent experience is a must”, in terms of getting an accurate read on customer needs and journey stages. What does this mean, and how often should an organization re-engage its customer base to validate and/or reset?

When recruiting participants for research to support CJM & JTBD techniques, it’s imperative that the participants have recently been through a relevant experience / journey. For example, if you want to better understand and serve decision-makers involved in an infrequent purchase, such as a once-in-five-years piece of industrial equipment, or a software system, you need to research people who have lived this within the last few months - as opposed to people who did it 2 years ago. In other words, the experience needs to be fresh in the participant’s mind for them to recall important details, and for the findings to be most insightful as well as timely.

To determine when you should go back to your customer base and re-assess their journey and their jobs, it is highly dependent on the industry. As an example, retail requires more frequent check-ins, as the current environment is constantly shifting. However if you are manufacturing hard goods, the pace of change may be slower. In Phase 5’s Best Practices for Customer Journey Mapping, we recommend refreshing every 3-7 years in general, but it’s important to customize this timeframe to your business and its specific environment.

Q: When working through JTBD, it’s not unusual for jobs to be “nested”. What does this term mean? How does CJM help avoid the potential pitfalls of nested jobs?

In a classic example, consider that you’re an organization that sells drills. If you “drill down” (pardon the pun) and ask what job your customer actually needs to have done, you might find that the customer needs a ¼” hole. But then you can go on to ask what job the ¼” hole needs to do, and you might find that it needs to hold a screw to attach two things together. And perhaps at that point, you’ll realize there is a better solution altogether, such as using adhesive instead of screws.

Like Russian dolls that nest within larger dolls, the term “nesting” in this context reflects the idea that there may be jobs within jobs, and that you can continue asking the question and getting new answers multiple times.

There is some risk in continuing to probe so far for the nested jobs that you lose sight of the current opportunity and/or job. Take business software as an example. Perhaps you come up with a revolutionary job that customers need done, but one that would also require 5 years to develop. If you ignore the jobs that customers need done in the meantime (even if they are going to be obsolete in 5 years), you may go out of business. Using Customer Journey Mapping to frame JTBD can help you keep business context in mind, by keeping the process grounded in the present, without losing sight of how the journey may evolve. Check out The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen to learn more about this concept.

Q: “White spaces” are jobs that need to be done but are not currently being served. Once white spaces are identified, they need to be evaluated against the business strategy, meaning that some opportunities may be eliminated because they don’t fit with the strategy. Do clients ever change their business strategy because of a white space that was identified in JTBD & CJM?

Of course it is possible, depending on the business strategy. Experience, data, and market research may indicate that your market is going away, and as a business, you’ll need to pivot. CJM and JBTD combined can provide guidance about the next best opportunities.

No strategy is set in stone, and change is a constant. That is why research can be such an effective tool for growth as well as risk reduction. However it is critical to understand the core capabilities of your organization, and choose a path that best leverages them. When evaluating strategic course corrections, first ask “Should we?”, and then ask “Can we?” from a business capabilities standpoint.

Q: Using CJM and JTBD helps add structure to the innovation process, making it more efficient. Is there any downside because it limits ideas / brainstorming?

This is not “blue sky” thinking, but it is intentionally not blue sky. Brainstorming at the end of the day has to be constrained by something that is customer-centric. You will always have some defining parameters, like timeframe or geography for example. But then you can apply “no idea is a bad idea” blue sky thinking within your parameters. And after you get all those ideas out, you have a framework within which to evaluate them.

Q: Even though there is broad awareness of CJM and JTBD techniques generally, they are applied less often than you might expect. Why do you suppose that is the case?

Customer Journey Mapping is a tool typically used by CX teams, whereas the Jobs-to-be-Done technique comes up more often with teams responsible for product development and/or innovation. Often these two groups exist in silos, or at least separate from one another within an organization.

Our goal at Phase 5 is to help companies win by becoming more customer-centric and, to us, customer centricity is built on the two pillars of innovation AND experience. To be successful, innovation has to take Customer Experience into account. Conversely, experience has to be innovative to prevent being copied. Combining CJM and JTBD enables us to help clients connect the two and manage them in this powerful intertwined way.

Contact us to discuss how we can support your organization’s journey to becoming more customer-centric.

Written by Stephan Sigaud

Stephan Sigaud, MBA, is Phase 5’s EVP of Marketing. Stephan is passionate about partnering with clients to address their challenges and opportunities around customer centricity. Stephan has more than 25 years’ experience in Market Research and Customer Loyalty and Experience and is a Board Director of the Insights Association. He has also been volunteering with the Customer Experience Professionals Association (as past Chair of the CXPA Toronto Network) and the Canadian Marketing Association (as member of the Leaders Network and past co-Chair of the CMA CX Council).