Like many of you, I have found the the idea of customer journey maps very compelling as an approach for gaining insight into how customers think and feel, but somewhat intimidated by the artsy output from the Service Design community.
My first experience of a customer journey map was as a service leader in an injection molding equipment business where we used it to understand potential opportunities to sell new services. It was very basic, very intuitive but effective at articulating our specific issues.
But as I developed my understanding of the concept, so I realised that there are many ways to do Customer Journey Mapping more effectively than my first self taught attempt. In fact the answer to what kind of journey map to utilise is almost the same as the answer to the question, ‘how long is a piece of string?’ – it depends on what you want it for. Look on the internet and there are so many examples and opinions it is almost overwhelming.
So I was very relieved when I read this excellent HBR article ‘Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience’ by Adam Richardson that describes the customer journey map as:
‘a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination.’
Richardson goes on to say that ‘there is no right or wrong way to develop a Customer Journey.’
He uses the example of the purchase of a home theatre to illustrate the process. For each step of the sales funnel (Awareness, Research, Purchase and Close), he analysed 4 key elements:
- Activities and actions of the customer in that step. This includes all the touchpoint interactions between the customer and organisation
- The Motivations for the customer going to the next step in the process, what they are feeling and why do they care. These emotions are key to improving the journey.
- The Questions the customer are asking: for example jargon or the risk of failure
- What are the Barriers that stop them from moving to the next stage
The result is a journey map that many of you can use as the basis for your own businesses.
As we have already discussed, the structure of a Customer Journey Map does depend on the context in which it is being used. Adam Ramshaw in his article ‘Which Map is That: Selecting the Right Customer Journey Map‘ from the Middlesex Consulting Blog, identifies 3 different Customer Journey Map types you might want to consider:
- User Experience Focused Maps
In today’s digital age, it is important to understand how users interact with the software to understand what is intuitive and what is not. This type of map is focused on a specific touchpoint, is very detailed and in this case considers all the individual web pages and communications that a new user will receive.
- Sales Journeys
These are used to map the customer’s path from Awareness to prospect to customer, to understand what each customer and segment of customers are experiencing as they move through the process. They are very useful in improving the sales process, especially if you are looking for a high level of automation using digital content. The above journey map format from Frog Design would be an example of this. The example below looks more closely at communications and illustrates the increasing complexity that must now be considered in the digital world.
- Customer Experience Journey map
These are used when you want to understand the customer experience through the entire journey from cradle to grave. The injection molding equipment supplier is a very basic example of this type of map. Capturing the total experience as opposed to one specific element of the journey is how it differs from the User Experience Focused map.Some people also call these maps service blue printing , but essentially they serve the same purpose. To:
a) Improve the customers perceived experience with the organisation and so increase loyalty
b) Improve the delivery of the experience so as to reduce costs & streamline operations.
As can be seen from the rail industry example below, these can become very sophisticated. Here we see the journey from initial research, through shopping, booking, travel through to the post travel experience. And then at each stage what the customer is Doing, Thinking, Feeling and Experiencing.
Journey maps originated in the Service Design community, which has brought a much more user centric approach than traditionally existed in the industrial world. They have created a number of tools to better empathise with customers and understand their emotions. A good example of this would be the use of personas. These are the main characters that illustrate the needs, goals, thoughts, feelings, opinions, expectations and pain points of the user. By defining a typical character, we can explore the journey through the eyes of the persona and how they might interact with the different channels they come across such as websites, apps, call centres or field service organisations.
More sophisticated journey maps will examine moments of truth. These are critical interactions that leave a lasting impression and often occur at touchpoints known to generate anxiety or frustration. Another level of analysis is to explore the supporting characters who are peripheral to the customer persona, but will contribute to the experience.
But how do you go about developing a Journey Map? For an excellent overview, I would recommend watching this article & video ‘How to create a customer journey map” by Megan Grocki which captures many of the key aspects. In layman terms she describes a processes with six steps:
- Define your goals for the journey map(s)
- Gather research and customer insight
- Analysis and discussion using a variety of tools such as:
– Touchpoint and brainstorm discussion
– Empathy mapping
– Other more sophisticated methods such as affinity maps
- Sketch the journey
- Refine and digitise, especially if you want to use the map as a communication tool
- Share and use: make the journey map live in your organisation
So what we see is that Journey Maps can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want them to. Probably the two most important pieces of advice in developing your own customer journey maps are:
- Be very clear on why you are going through the Journey Mapping exercise and how you will use the output.
- Don’t be intimidated by arty Service Design examples. It is the process of working through the maps as a team which is as insightful as the final physical map itself.
Nick Frank is Managing Partner at Si2 Partners, a consultancy helping clients leverage services to win in industrial markets
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