Customer Experience is the new battlefield where brands and companies lose or gain relevance, and consequently business. Our clients have numerous interactions with our company, whether or not we are aware of them — the big question is whether we want to offer a positive experience.
89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience by 2016 (vc 36% four year ago). By 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations. By 2018, more than 50% of organizations will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience. Gartner
“Good customer experiences” do not happen by accident, they have to be designed. Busigners works on the process of designing those experiences.
The big challenge when designing the experience is to visualize and communicate the ethereal concept of experience. Creating experience maps, such as the Customer Journey Map, is one of the most effective approaches.
“The journey map is an oriented graph that describes the journey of a user by representing different touchpoints that characterize his interaction with a service.” Servicedesigntools.org
Before designing the customer experience, first ensure that the project team agrees on the challenge itself. This is to ensure everyone is aligned on the objectives, timetable, and budget. It is one thing to create a world map, it is another task to create a map of our kitchen. What scale do we need to use? What depth or level of complexity do we need to cover?
Once the challenge has been defined, we can start going through the main stages of the Customer Experience Design process.
1. Map the ecosystem to give a macro view of the service and challenge.
Mapping an experience is similar to cartography, where we use maps to communicate a reality and the relation between points. The first step is to create a macro view of the system by understanding and mapping the ecosystem and stakeholders.
Identify the actors in the process and what they value, the channels and touchpoints used for products and services, and the value chain between them. Through this map we can understand the dynamics, and look at our challenge in a systematic way. The map helps us to reflect and decide where we can improve the system.
2. To be user focussed, create Personas
It is crucial to identify the customer of the experience, either through our own research or based on our client’s strategy.
Personas are fictional characters (stereotypes) that represent different types of users, based on their characteristics, expectations and needs. Personas are easier to memorize and empathize with, as they usually have a “face” and a name associated with them. Personas help us to focus on the people that are our clients. The personas will be the protagonists of the experience that we will design.
In some cases, the project limitations only let us create proto-personas. Proto-personas are solely built on the information (secondary sources) that the company already has about the consumer.
I’m often asked how many personas to use. To keep the complexity manageable, I prefer to work with a maximum of 8 personas. Generally I work on sprints with 3–8 personas, depending on the depth of the project and the complexity of the service. If the environment is very complicated, a second project phase can be created to explore the additional personas.
3. Create the journey map # 1 structure to define the movement (horizontal axis)
A good service flows. An experience implies that our client goes from point “A” to point “B” to fulfill a certain objective. This flow is called Movement and it is represented horizontally. On this axis we can understand the quality of the service because it allows us to understand and measure how well the service flows. The Movement has 5 moments: Before, the Beginning, the During, the End the After:
Before — Where does the customer come from and what are they looking for? What do they expect?
Beginning — What happens during the first contact with our service?
During — How does the experience unfold?
End — How does the service end?
Next — What will the customer do next?
The journeys that all of our Personas travel through consist of these 5 moments. For example, when buying a phone, the Before is the birth of the need, the beginning is the arrival to the store, the During is the search and selection, the End is the checkout, and the After is the after-sale’s activities.
4. Create journey map # 2 structure to define depth (vertical axis)
On the vertical axis of our map we define the Depth of our project. We create layer to analyze each moment of the Movement.
We include the layers that are the most relevant or necessary for mapping the journey and designing the ideal experience. In Busigners we usually use the following layers, and depending on the intended depth or type of project, we can have several others:
NEEDS layer — Why: What are the objectives, expectations and needs of the customer? What does the customer want at each stage of the experience? What do they have in mind at different each moment?
ACTIVITIES layer — What: What does each customer do? What do they use and need to carry out their actions?
ACTORS layer — Who: Who is present? Apart from the customer, it is important to identify the other people who are present at each moment and who influence the experience.
CHANNELS layer — Where: What channels are present in different moments of the experience? It is necessary to understand and structure the different channels that contribute to the delivery of the service. With this information we have a solid basis for aligning multi-channel experiences.
EMOTIONS layer — Satisfaction: How does our client feel throughout their journey?
We evaluate the degree of satisfaction that the customer has with the service. It allows you to decipher the feelings and sense the pains (faults and obstacles) and the gains from the service that is being offered.
5.Map assumptions to understand the current journey
Based on the map, we structure the existing information and assumptions of the project team, to identify what we do not know about our customers, and what we would like to know.
This step results in a simplified map of the current experience, where we can also identify the pain points (the first signs of a challenge) where we focus on improving the service experience.
6. Research to gather insights
After we have assembled the assumptions in steps 1 to 5, we can conduct further research, e.g. qualitative, ethnographic research (see User Research for Discovery).
7. Draw the ideal experience to ensure customer satisfaction
With all the assumptions and research findings we can analyze the current Journey and understand the current state. After reviewing the pain points and the customer’s objective, we can start improving the experience. Improvements are typically some combination of the following:
Align the service positioning with the Brand: For example, does the brand require a memorable, efficient or nostalgic experience?
Improve the Emotional Journey: We can decide to increase emotional peaks if the aim of the experience is to create memories. If the aim is for efficiency, we can create a more neutral experience by reducing the differences between the ups and downs.
Start strong: We can work on the beginning of the relationship with the customer by adjusting their expectations so that they view the service in a more positive way.
End strong: We can focus on the end of the interaction with the customer, leaving a good impression, increasing their loyalty and the probabilty that they will recommend the service to others.
Ease Pain Points: We can anticipate and prepare the client for the pain points that we can not control.
Expand the customer experience (before and after): We can focus on moments before and after service, discovering new opportunities.
Improving Moments of Truth: We can improve the customer-brand relationship by developing moments that are truly relevant to the customer.
Reorganise Customer Experience moments: We can make the service flow better by reorganizing or omitting parts of the journey.
Unlock moments: we can understand the blocks that prevent the flow of the experience. For example, does the customer lack certain information for decision making, or does the service need information from the customer to offer more relevant choices.
Consistent Omni Channel Experience: offering a good experience means that it is coherent and aligned. However, we don’t want to have the same experience on a bank’s website and app — the expectations and needs are different in each channel.
Design Employee Experience: the challenge may be in the backstage of the service, and it is necessary to align the vision of the team that provides the service.
Understand and Measure the Customer Experience Lifecycle: we can establish service metrics to measure and validate the new proposal, and encourage continuous improvement.
8.Design the service blueprint to define strategic actions and implementation
The Experience Blueprint is an implementation plan, it includes: the map of the desired experience (customer experience map), the necessary actions to implement this experience (the company), the points of contact between the company and the customer (the touchpoints where the interactions unfold).
The Experience Blueprint summarizes the service to be delivered to the customer, and the internal requirements or internal processes required to deliver that experience. It is a strategic roadmap that visually guides the entire team in the delivery of the Customer Experience. We can visualize, test impacts and anticipate the results of the “new” experience before implementation.
Mapping experiences is an exercise similar to Cartography. We create maps that communicate the past and present to learn. We map our vision of the future: the best experience for our customers and our business.
Thanks Ming Lee for the english proofreading.