Designing experiences that deliver hope and strength

Mapping the wish kid journey with Make-A-Wish Illinois

The Make-A-Wish team reviewing their wish journey with Highland.

Like many nonprofit organizations, Make-A-Wish Illinois wanted to create a bigger impact for wish kids - but the 35-year-old organization felt stuck. In order to grant more life-changing wishes for critically ill children and their families, they needed to re-examine their wish granting process. That’s why Make-A-Wish partnered with Highland Solutions to create a customer journey map that’s helping the organization take its mission to the next level.

The customer journey mapping process gave us ability to visually see the work that we do and to validate the things that we know, believe, or assume to be true. The ability to take a step back and look at where we do well and where we have room for improvement was invaluable and re-energizing.
Dina Thachet
Make-A-Wish Illinois

The Process

To help Make-A-Wish understand what factors are needed to deliver a wish with the greatest possible impact, they partnered with Highland Solutions to create a customer journey map. These maps show the path of a constituent in relation to the organization, making it clear where the organization can improve the customer’s experience of its product or services. In Make-A-Wish’s case, their “customer” is wish kids and their families.

David Whited, Highland’s CX Practice Lead, says that Make-A-Wish, “saw this process as a way to bring the actual experience of wish children into the room.”

“The true gift of journey mapping is distributed cognition,” said David. “Getting what’s in everybody’s head and in everyone’s computer out into the real world feels so good. It gets critical information out of the organizational silos and into the open so you can see it.”

A Make-A-Wish team member taking group notes.

Make-A-Wish’s customer journey mapping project took about six weeks to complete. Through a series of interactive in-person workshops, stakeholder interviews, and a group mapping exercise, Make-A-Wish identified opportunities for improving the wish experience that they couldn’t have seen otherwise.

Dina Thachet, Medical Outreach Manager at Make-A-Wish Illinois remarked,

“We walked away with many new opportunities to focus on areas we haven't or didn't even realize we should to truly build resilience and promote psychosocial healing. As an organization that values progress, we have even stronger evidence of what we are doing well that we can share with staff and wish granters to validate their hard work and inspire them to continue.”

To help Make-A-Wish apply these insights, Highland worked with them after creating the journey map to distill the recommended changes into a clear plan of action.

The Outcome

The journey map that Make-A-Wish made with Highland shows the journey that many of the children in their program experience.

Armed with powerful evidence and a clear path forward, Make-A-Wish will be making changes to their wish granting process that they anticipate will have a positive impact on the medical and emotional healing for wish kids. A physical customer journey map now lives in Make-A-Wish Illinois offices in downtown Chicago, where it reminds staff to consider the holistic experience of wish families and provides guidance on how best to serve them depending on where they are in the process.

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Suzanne Fichter

Director of New Business Development