Out of the Office

Reflections on A Raised Hand

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What does journey mapping and customer experience have to do with preventing domestic abuse?

A recent HBR article, The Truth About Customer Experience, is a great primer on the topic of journey mapping and how the process can be beneficial in improving the customer experience.

When it comes to changing the customer journey, it isn’t easy and they write “delivering on customer journeys requires two high level changes… (1) modifying the organization and its processes to deliver excellent journeys and (2) adjusting metrics and incentives to support journeys, not just touchpoints.” What’s key is that organization become cross-functional (from siloed) and empower bottom-up innovation.

So what’s the connection?

Kelly Dunne is the COO of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Amesbury, MA. She and her colleague, Suzanne Dubus, were inspired to find a better way to help victims of domestic abuse than just providing shelter after a woman whom they had tried to help was murdered by her abusive partner. (read the New Yorker Article A Raised Hand)

In brief, their quest to understand the break down the of system, led to the creation of the Domestic Violence High Risk Team where they coordinate the work of multiple agencies.

What struck me about the story, besides the depressing statistics about the prevalence of domestic violence, was that the best outcome for women was to do similar things to what one does with a journey map.

The first is to reframe the question (for companies, it’s a shift to thinking about the customer first, from the outside in, rather than inside out). For Dunne, it was to make the problem not about the victim, but about the perpetrator.

With the problem reframed, you often look for solutions in difference places. The High Risk Team broke the silos of the different agencies involved —  the crisis center, local law enforcement, hospitals, governments and courts – and through sharing information can now effectively issue restraining orders, change child visitation privileges, monitor probations and do other things to keep potential abusers away from the victims.

Without the cross-functional teams, each agency looked at just the one piece of the situation or one aspect of data, totally unaware of what the other group might know.

For my work, looking at customer experiences and improving them, it’s all upside….happier customers, stronger business, more innovative offerings. I don’t pretend to be saving anyone’s life.

In the work that Dunne and Dubus have done, improving the journey of victims of abuse is truly a matter of life and death. I feel very humbled to see how this same approach can make a profound difference in a totally different sphere.


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