Journey System

IBM New York City, N.Y. 2018–present

Users don’t care about

offerings. They care

about fulfilling a need.

In 2018, Sarah began her mission as a Distinguished Designer, Digital Journeys to readjust how work is done at IBM.

“It’s an attempt to create the kind of culture change we did at Veterans Affairs,” Sarah said, referring to using service design and design research to improve both customer and employee experience at the administration. “We’re building on that work to bring it back to the private sector.”

Just as at VA, it seemed that many on the IBM team did not know what their customers experienced as they tried to discern which IBM products would best suit their needs.

But understanding that the IBM team saw high rates of churn, clients who started checking into IBM products and then dropped out of the process, or clients who tested products and then opted not to buy them, Sarah realized she needed to understand the consumer’s experience: How did salespeople approach prospective customers? Was the website easy to navigate? What happened when clients tried to test products? Did someone help guide clients through the process?

Sarah spearheaded user research to determine where prospective and current clients—and IBM employees—encountered pain points through their journeys. This included previous IBM research, hundreds of developer surveys, and hundreds of personal interviews.

The team found that customers interested in IBM solutions had been contacted by several people representing several teams and offerings without a coherent approach. The process was disjointed, repetitive, and time-consuming.

Using their research, Sarah’s team created 12 key journeys based on their clients’ experiences. The journeys described end-to-end experiences as a consumer worked with IBM using multiple IBM products to solve a businesses need. The personas recognized that the needs of a small cupcake bakery business owner in Nevada might be different from those of a large shipping business owner in New York City.The potential clients should not all be hit with the same products.

In addition, no one wants 12 calls from 12 differeThe team creatanalytics and finance. And a Journey Top Sheet provides metrics for the client that allows them to gauge the health of their businesses, so they can better assess what products they might need.

“IBM Journey System extends enterprise design thinking from a focus on specific offerings to touchpoints throughout the entire end-to-end journeys,” Sarah says.

The changes have already reduced the number of steps it took for a client to purchase a product by three times and decreased how difficult it is to do so. And, IBM expects the end-to-end journey system will increase faster time to value, while decreasing drop-off, abandonment, and churn rates.

The project will expand in 2019, and senior leaders expect to see improved drop-off, abandonment and churn rates. Sarah’s team will work to track users and outcomes throughout the journey.ed the Journey System. Teams now collaborate to guide clients through end-to-end journeys to solve their business needs. A Service Blueprint maps milestones and touchpoints that can be owned and executed by marketing, sales, offering management, customer success, support,nt sales people pretty much ever.

Rather than thinking of products individually, IBM began thinking of client journeys: What might each client need, end-to-end, to make their business successful? And how might teams work to address a client’s overall experience, rather than base sales approaches on the product?

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