Customer Journey Mapping: 10 Sure Fire Steps to Success!
In the ‘Age of the Customer’ customer journey mapping is a technique that enables you to see and fully understand the customer experience from their perspective. Empowered buyers are demanding a greater focus on their needs, habits and behaviors with an expanded concept of value, and to deliver this we need to gain a more intimate and holistic understanding of who they are as people. Value is now very personal, and consumer expectations are changing!
It’s no longer enough to incorporate the implicit qualities of excellent functionality and usability, as well as the explicit qualities of an appealing look and feel of a product or service. Organizations and companies need to discover new, attractive qualities by considering the whole ‘experience’ of interaction between a person and the product or service over time.
Companies slowly have to walk away from the methods that got them where they are today. Traditional barriers to entry in any given market, such as manufacturing strength and distribution power will no longer solely be enough to sustain competitive advantage. The new role for marketers, service providers, and manufacturers is to come up with an experience, a service, a product that people can’t help talking about, and then consistently delivering on it, over and over and over again!
Using Customer Journey Mapping to Envision the Future State
THRIVE extensively uses customer journey mapping as a means of informing the definition of new products, services, and experiences. It is the process of tracking and describing all the experiences a customer has and understanding not only what they encounter, but also their visceral responses to their experiences. It is a simple and powerful technique any company can begin to use to gain a stronger experience orientation.
However, not all customer journey maps are created equal, and often fail when it comes to identifying how to improve the journey and envision the future state. It’s not enough to create customer empathy; an effective customer journey map should help you prioritize and focus on touchpoints that generate the most value for the customer and envision what the ideal experience looks like for the customer.
Here are THRIVE’s ten sure-fire steps to successful customer journey maps that will help you translate customer statements and behaviors into actionable initiatives and tactics:
1. Anticipate the Customer Journey
Spending some time up front and mapping the territory you are going to explore before going in the field is a critical part of the Customer Journey Mapping process. Hosting a workshop to bring together all your customer insights and understanding is an excellent way to engage stakeholders in the process; keep it high energy, inspirational and engaging. To provide context and scope for the research we suggest focusing on three (3) simple questions to maximize your investment in your upcoming research:
What Do We Know?
The insights you already have that can be supported by facts garnered from your own industry experience and/or past or prior research.
What Do We Think We Know?
These are your insights or your working hypotheses that need to be either validated by, or challenged with, additional primary research and learnings.
What Don’t We Know?
The knowledge gaps that need to be filled with primary research and/or learnings.
2. Get Focused, Be Targeted
Before going into the field, it is imperative that you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve and whom you need to participate in the process. Focus on the following critical elements to bring clarity and purpose to the study:
Define Your Strategic Target: You cannot be everything to everyone, you need to focus on a specific target and understand their current pains and frustrations and what will constitute new value to them in the future.
Prototype Your Journey: Building quick sketches of the anticipated journey for your strategic target is a great way to form your working hypotheses and anticipate what you expect to see when observing customers. Be clear about the map, its scope, scale and offshoots, noting down all the steps you think people will go through and identifying the channels people will use at each step.
3. Capture the Experience
Experiences are tied to the passage of time so to understand customers you need to engage them at the moment. Ethnographic research methods, such as shadowing and observation, help you enter the moment and should be used as much as possible when in-field, along with structured interviews to capture their activities, repertoires, and emotions. Emphasis is on uncovering what customers think and feel as they experience a specific product or service, and the qualities they value. Customers are no longer passive, but a valuable, and intrinsic part of the process consider them holistically and look at the larger context in which they use products and services — above all — engage them!
4. Identify the Touchpoints
Identify the touchpoints for each step of the customer journey, think about all the physical and virtual interactions the customer has with the experience. It is important to understand how a customer interacts with different touchpoints, what is done at each touchpoint and when. This provides you with a holistic assessment of your brand’s relationship with the customer and provides you with an evaluation of the impact and performance of the touch points you already have in place. From here you will be able to identify which touchpoints are redundant, the gaps that exist, how customers are currently experiencing your brand, and where to focus.
5. Identify the Moments of Truth
Moments of truth happen when customers invest a high amount of emotional energy in the outcome. These points in the journey are where customers may pause, evaluate the experience, and make crucial decisions. Address their needs at this moment and you’ll get an engaged, delighted customer. Fail to meet their needs, and you risk losing a customer. These ‘moments of truth’ are the key points where you can act to transform the experience and differentiate your brand.
6. Find the Pain Points
Strong emotions often occur when a customer has a problem. At this point, you have the greatest opportunity to create an emotional bond. Look at the map to identify the issues and pain points that customers experience that need you to address. Capture them using emotive words to bring their pains to life with clear calls to action. After you’ve identified the lows in the experience, you can frame key insights and opportunities that address customer pain points at each stage of the customer journey.
7. Amplify the Emotional Highs
Opposite the pain points are the emotional highs of the customer journey. By amplifying these moments, you have an opportunity to not only stand apart from your competition but also positively engage with the customer. Build on them, this is where you already have equity — but be mindful — it will only create an impact if the customer actually values it. Be selective in where to focus, touch points are expensive to maintain, make sure you are investing in the ones that truly deliver new value for maximum ROI.
8. Explore New Possibilities
Use the customer journey map to generate new ideas and concepts collaboratively with your team. Facilitate ideation workshops that take the insights, opportunities, and principles that populate the map and put them into action. Work together to improve and re-envision the customer experience. The resulting ideas, concepts and systems will have the potential to build more meaningful relationships between the customer and the broader ecosystem of channels, touchpoints, places, and people that you call your brand.
9. Envision the Ideal Journey
To envision an improved and dramatically different customer experience, you’ll need to create an ‘Ideal Customer Journey Map.’ This new map that moves beyond the experience you have just documented and helps to define the desired future state by mapping what customers would ideally like to do, think, and feel as they interact with your brand’s touchpoints on their way to satisfying their needs and desires. Don’t be afraid to dream! Integrate the ideas and concepts you developed in Step 8, create provocative images of the future, and move beyond day-to-day business as usual thinking.
10. Bring the Journey to Life
Turning your map into a compelling visual story means thinking through both the work you’ve done and the work you want to inspire. What action and next steps do you want your map to initiate? How do you want to use your map within your organization in the map short-, mid-, and long-term? Remember a customer journey map is a widely shared artifact, and your goal is to craft a compelling piece of communication that can stand on its own, and inspire new ideas. Invest in design — communication is everything — don’t let all you great work fall at the last hurdle. It should look and feel important and connects with the communication style of your organization.
This new reality to developing products, services, and delivering experiences, is increasingly personal and one where customers are truly in control. We’re entering a new era of customer relationships. Want to see the pieces fit together? Learn more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As the CEO and Co-founder of THRIVE, Jonathan helps clients achieve business objectives and redefine markets through user-centered products and strategic brand design. He’s expert at helping organizations see what people will want in the future and helping development teams manage the change to meet those needs. Jonathan speaks regularly around the globe on people-centered consumer researchand innovation, and he brings a rare balance of design sensibility and strategic thinking to development programs — deciphering user needs and desires and connecting brand with product strategy.