Should you make an experience map?

Recently, I have been digging deep into experience mapping to give my team more insight into what is happening in our current customer journey and to inform the decisions we make.

An experience map is a powerful tool for understanding and analyzing anything with multiple steps or stages involving humans. The goal is to capture all customer touchpoints across all channels. Giving the team a clear picture of what a user is experiencing. I would categorize experience mapping as a method of analyzing your user experience. The real magic and power come out when you see all the various touchpoints in context with your channels.

Let’s say you are on a product team and you spend a lot of time and money into making a beautiful product. You understand your user and your giving them what they need. You’ve done user testing, and everything is turning up “happy path” — great!

So now your product is out there in the wild interacting with customers. Let’s imagine we’re the customer for a second. We’re going along, and then something comes up that is confusing or strange and (because we’re a little old-fashioned and like talking to “real humans”) we pick up the phone and call the number on the screen encouraging us to give them a call if we have questions. How helpful, right? Well, the number we call takes us to the generic welcome message that begins listing different reasons you might call along with an extension number to punch in. The product we’re calling about isn’t listed in the recording so we take a guess and hope we land with someone who can help. Guessing is always risky and is never a great experience. So who do we end up with on the other end? Not the person who knows anything about why we are calling, unfortunately. This guy has to transfer us to another guy who we are then able to ask our questions.

By this time, we have frustrated our poor customer whose only fault was that they wanted to know more about our product. How terrible, we’ve taken their time and given them nothing but frustration in return. Is that how we expect to sell something? Is that how we would treat a friend or relative? How about your business partner or your client? The answer is no, or hopefully not.

Have you ever heard the theory that it takes three positive experiences to overcome one negative experience? We could lump the scenario above into one negative experience, but it isn’t. First, the confusion we experienced on the page, followed by having to interact with a recording, followed by having to be transferred. In my books, that amounts to three negatives! That’s nine delightful, positive things we have to do for this customer to help them forget those three negative interactions that happened.

An experience map will highlight pain points that you may otherwise not have noticed. You can make a physical and highly visible installment of your experience map on the wall somewhere which has useful benefits. The team will benefit from it because it will become their one shared reference point while discussing project details. At the same time, any visitors to your space will gain an in-depth understanding of what you are working on and the health of the project.

There you have it. It’s always a good idea to make an experience map.

For anyone who wants to get started on their own experience map, this is a great place to start: The Anatomy of an Experience Map