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Mapping the customer journey on the IT service desk

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak)

Any business, department or service that has customers can benefit from customer journey mapping, including the IT service desk. 

Customer journeys are a simple way of understanding how happy your customers are, how they interact with your business and how they feel about those interactions. Thinking of service users as customers can help you and your people to understand how to approach and handle their queries and meet service demands. 

How to build a customer journey

Basically, a customer journey maps the status quo to tell you what an end-to-end engagement with your business or department feels like. Every contact or ‘touch point’ your customers have with you is added to the journey to create a living document giving you an overall view of their interactions.  All of the touch points will not be found immediately but should be added to your customer journey map as they are unearthed during your research. 

Once you’ve established all of the touch points your customers have with the IT service desk, you can then begin to look at how your system and processes underpin and service your customers at each one.  

At each point we can look at the outcomes the customers want to achieve at this stage of their customer journey and how your business provides information and access to them. We map these underneath the touch points.

Alongside this detailed technical mapping, we can map the jobs, pains and gains of our customers at each step to show how their emotional state changes as their engagement progresses. It is important that this emotional map is created through interviews and conversations with actual customers.

Choosing to look at the customer journey as a whole gives you insight into where your business is doings things very well - where customers are happy, and where there are opportunities for improvement - where customers are less happy. The opportunities presented by a customer journey mapping exercise usually fall into the following categories:

Quick wins

Sometimes the simple act of providing more information in a proactive way can alleviate some of your customers' pains. Proactively updating customers on the status of an order or giving them more accurate information about timescales can often manage their expectations so effectively that no more action is required here.

Removal of unnecessary processes and steps

If you have touch points that nobody can explain, then simplify. Removing unnecessary steps will save you money and both you and your customers time. Combining touch points can also relieve your customers of irritating complications - if a customer has to call two different departments in order to place an order or if someone has to call them back in order to provide them with a status update then look to see whether you can fulfil their requirements 'in one’.

Self-service information and actions

Providing self-service access to relevant information or actions can provide you with considerable business benefits and savings as well as improving your relationships with your customers. If there is information that every customer wants – order statuses or lead-time information for example – and your customers are currently phoning you to find out what is going on you might want to provide direct access to this information through your website or through a client portal.

You can extend this with self-service functionality too – at the simplest level, we have seen self-service password resetting have quite an impact on the student experience in universities. Depending on your customer map, this could include more complex solutions to simplify end user engagement.


As you map your processes you may find that to a customer with a single view of the information that they need you are double or even triple-entering data into several systems. This can often introduce time delays into your processes as well as increasing your risk of errors in the data significantly. 

Alternatively, sometimes customers will want information that cannot currently be delivered to them because it is stored in many different systems. By looking at your customers’ requirements alongside the systems and processes that help you to service those needs you may be able to see where there are obvious benefits by starting to integrate those systems. This may help your business to start forming a plan for implementation of an integration platform.

Customer Records Management

In some instances sticking points on the journey could be alleviated either through the implementation of customer relationship management (CRM) or through the better use of an existing CRM solution. A customer journey can be used as the basis for an ongoing CRM strategy that covers everything from marketing, through sales, production and onto aftercare.

Business intelligence

The final big-ticket item that is often surfaced through this exercise is a better understanding of what should be measured in order to gather significant insight into the customer experience and in order to improve it. If your customers are unhappy because your products require too many warranty repairs then this is something you should be measuring or if you think you might increase your student retention by supporting struggling students earlier then your student journey will help you to determine where you should be looking to step in.

By taking a service design led approach to customer journey creation, pulling in elements of human centred design to bring the customer into focus you can greatly improve the customer journey and therefore customer satisfaction. 

Real customer research is key and journeys that are written in the customer’s voice, from the customer’s point of view to highlight the sticking points and issues that they have during their engagement provide you with the best insights into how you can improve your service. 

While some institutions and organisations have similar high-level maps, this especially being the case with universities and airports, each detailed map is unique to the business in question. This means that the customer research and process mapping is essential to understanding the details that are important to your customers.

Alex Waterston, Executive Transformation Consultant, Waterstons Business and IT Consultancy
Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak

Alex Waterston
Alex is an Executive Transformation Consultant at Waterstons Business and IT Consultancy. He specialises in using human centred and service design processes to create bespoke IT solutions.