Miro and SuiteCX: Collaboration in the time of COVID

I love whiteboards. Like, in an inordinately needy way. If I am noodling on something, either alone or with my team, it’s always “Let’s go to the whiteboard” to sketch, to scribble, to brainstorm.

When the pandemic hit and we were all forced to work from home, the pain was real. Zoom brainstorming is simply not a thing. Some people (ahem, yes, myself included) bought whiteboards and dry erase pens on Amazon. Still, Zoom didn’t make it easy to see what was on the board, and honestly it took up a lot of space in my office.

Then someone introduced me to Miro. An unlimited canvas! Built-in sticky note packs!  Templates galore! My design thinking team was soon using it in most of our meetings.

Whiteboarding is just one tool in the huge box that is customer experience design.  Whiteboarding is great first step for jotting ideas and bringing lots of input from various stakeholders into one space. When it comes to synthesizing and diving deeper, however, a two-dimensional space simply isn’t adequate.

As a career-long journey mapper, I suffered from the shortfalls of two-dimensional tools such as Visio and Omnigraffle for years. Map elements would exist in visual form, but would always need to be accompanied as well by background materials in the form of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. One would have to jump from the map to the background materials back to the map.  And that was only if the co-creators were in person. Corrections and updates were rarely possible in real time.

A typical project would look like this:

  1. In-person journey mapping workshop with sticky notes and a whiteboard (or worse, on butcher paper, where the sticky notes would inevitably fall off in transit)
  2. Anne goes away and creates a map draft in Visio
  3. Client prints the map out using a large format printer
  4. Client writes all over the map with comments and changes
  5. Client rolls up map and sends back to Anne via snail mail
  6. Anne makes changes
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 until client is happy with the final map
  8. The paper “wall art” map hangs as a poster in a room (if we were lucky) and all the background and supporting materials either sat nearby in binders or lived on someone’s hard drive
  9. Anne rinses and repeats every time a client’s map needs to be updated

This process was only slightly improved with the ability to take photos of the work to use as map inputs. All of this back and forth took a lot of time and was extremely inefficient. It was this inelegance that led us to create SuiteCX. 

Picture Anne’s new life circa 2014:

  1. In-person journey mapping workshop with sticky notes and a whiteboard
  2. Anne has a scribe with her who can already be entering map elements into SuiteCX
  3. Anne and client are able to log in and see map progress in real time
  4. Clients can make their own changes to maps
  5. All background and supporting materials are uploaded into the maps themselves so that the customer journey lives and breathes in one location
  6. Anne’s sanity is restored

Notice that the whiteboarding element of journey mapping is still a critical part of doing the work. Simply resting at the two-dimensional representation of the customer journey, however, is tantamount to getting the job only half done. The real value comes in the ability to co-create, collaborate, and pack that map with all the data we can find as evidence behind our recommendations.

Enter 2020 and the time of COVID-19. All in-person work is suspended, and all of our beloved whiteboards are collecting dust in our empty conference rooms. That’s when we discovered Miro. We were able to hold entire weeks’ worth of workshops in a collaborative fashion thanks to the virtual whiteboard space Miro provided.

Not only that, but we were then able to pull all of the data down into a CSV file and then upload into SuiteCX to build a living, breathing journey map with in-depth voice of customer and cohort data built into each interaction point.

Picture Anne’s newer new life circa 2020:

  1. We use Miro for agile mapping exercises that are quick, two-dimensional representations of the customer journey 
  2. We use SuiteCX for increased flexibility and depth
  3. Both are integrated for ease of use and ideation

Don’t just take my word for it. Andy Netzel, CCXP, VP of Client Success Effectiveness, Enterprise Payments & Analytics at Key Bank agrees:

“Since the pandemic started, we use two different tools:

  • Miro: Miro is an amazing facilitation tool—basically an online whiteboard with sticky notes. And you can have a whole slew of people collaborate and put stickies on the board. I use it for much more than journey mapping. It’s the tool I use instead of a whiteboard and marker. But it’s not great at actually building a finished product as far as journey mapping goes, which is where the next tool comes in.
  • SuiteCX: SuiteCX is a client journey mapping tool that makes it super efficient to build out those presentation-ready slides. You can type your key steps into an excel, upload it, spend 10-15 minutes tweaking, and you’re done. I’ve also put it up on the screen and built out future state in a template, essentially editing current state underneath. And it provides a beautiful before/after view. It helped us make the case for a tool we wanted to bring into the bank. Very happy with it.”

A match made in heaven! In addition, Valerie Peck, CCXP, the founder and CEO of SuiteCX, is an active member of CXPA and provides amazing support for converting Miro outputs into journey maps.​​

All of our established best practices over the past 20 years have had to transition to an online-only format. New tools such as Miro and Zoom allow us to replace the traditional workshop with a virtual experience that quite frankly improves the work process. No more taking photos of whiteboards and manually entering sticky note content into an excel spreadsheet. 

We are able to hold group validation sessions with simple facilitation entirely online, with conference tools and breakout rooms for people-to-people discussions. We can pull data from virtual sticky notes directly into more robust tools like SuiteCX, saving valuable time. 

Humans are brilliant at adapting to new challenges. Luckily, collaboration software is along for the ride!

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