My two best friends and I recently met in Manhattan for a girls’ weekend. We coordinated train schedules and met at Penn Station, which worked out really well for Friday’s arrival. We headed back to Penn Station on Sunday, both trains scheduled to leave at 1 pm. I watched my BFFs run to board their train early as I stood there staring at the screen, waiting for my track assignment. Before long, a rather large group of Boston-bound travelers formed in the center of the station, trying to telepathically insert a track number onto the screen. The longer we waited, the more visibly (and audibly) unsettled the crowd became.
Then came a voice in the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re all waiting on 164 so let’s have some fun while we wait.”
The crowd parted into a circle to reveal a man in an Amtrak uniform we’ll call Jamal (not his real name) in the middle. Jamal’s smile seemed wider than his face as he started bantering with everyone. Then he zeroed in on a timid young man with a ukulele and persuaded him to play and sing for the crowd. In the background of the impromptu concert, Jamal alternately cheered him on, recorded his performance for the kid’s mother and asked for a status on 164 on his radio. He kept us happily entertained while still doing his job.
As I boarded my train and posted my video to social media calling for Amtrak to #GiveThisManABonus, I settled back in my seat and started wondering what it was about this experience that left a mark on me. Jamal was obviously an outstanding brand ambassador.
Then I landed on it: Jamal understood and empathized with the journey his customers were experiencing.
Building Empathy with Our Clients
At Geneia, we work hard to build empathy with our users, internal and external. For internal projects, we consider our colleagues as customers and we’re fortunate to be able to bring them into a room to help us with personas, empathy maps and journey maps.
More recently, we started enhancing our personas for external clients and building journey maps for their experiences. Because we haven’t brought customer representatives into the process yet, it has required the members of our team to cultivate deep empathy for our customers. We’ve taken the time necessary to build depth and breadth into the personas and accompanying empathy maps. It’s been as much a fun exercise as an enlightening one.
The team enjoys building detailed personal characteristics in the personas, including some traits that seem superficial or silly when they’re posted, like one we were sure was a huge sports fan. Ironically, those traits tended to lead to even more insight about the persona’s career demographics, goals, pains and gains. “He’s a sports fan – he’s checking the ESPN app all day long. That means he’s constantly on his phone, also on apps like LinkedIn and Twitter."
These personas provided very rich insight that feeds a detailed empathy map. We started to view another one of our personas as completely overwhelmed, possibly impacted by decisions she has no part in making. All of this led to a more well-thought out journey mapping experience, complete with actions, questions, thoughts, feelings, touchpoints and opportunities.
Figure 1: A completed persona (right) and empathy map (left)
Figure 2: The corresponding journey map
As we continued to refine and understand one particular journey, we realized there was more to it than we had originally considered (note the stickies that spilled over onto the wall). Our team was truly thinking more like customers, which gave us a much better understanding of where and how we can make our customer journeys fulfilling and meaningful.
Bringing Geneia’s Vision and Mission to Life
Geneia’s vision centers around personalized, patient-centered care and our mission is one of alignment and collaboration. By really understanding what different customers experience when learning about, considering and connecting with Geneia and their path to becoming a client, it becomes clear what we need to do to make sure everyone that is interested in something Geneia offers has a positive experience.
I don’t know whether Jamal understood that by making the customer experience positive in the face of a challenge, he was guaranteeing repeat business for his company. I do know that the next time I’m at Penn Station and I have a question or problem or just need someone to brighten my day, I’m going to seek out Jamal. I’m not sure anyone else could make me walk away asking “What delay?”