By Loletta Cheng
Customers are increasingly choosing products and services based on the quality of the experiences they have with them. Indeed, research shows that when customers encounter problems, they are 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is experiential (e.g. service) rather than rational (e.g. price) (Bain & Company, 2013).
Customer experience mapping can help provide a holistic, human-centric view of the experiences you are creating for your customers. This allows you to easily identify where to focus your resources in the future, and the most effective changes to implement. This article speaks to the WHAT WHY HOW of customer experience mapping.
What is a customer experience map?
A customer experience map is an oriented graph that describes the end-to-end journey of a user by representing the different touch-points that characterise his or her interactions with the products or services. It is often broken down into different stages, so you can streamline your products or services to meet your customers’ needs at each and every stage. Below are some example experience maps: Rail Europe experience map, Starbucks experience map, and Journey Map from effective UI.
Why would you need a customer experience map?
The primary purpose of customer experience mapping is to identify areas for improvement within the customer experience. The key benefits are:
1. Customer experience mapping puts you in your customer shoes.
Customer experience mapping asks business leaders, who typically focus on business operations and revenue, to “walk in their customer’s shoes” and consider how the customer feels about their interactions with the company. This act of empathising with the customer makes it easier to shift out of internal process mode into thinking about how the company could be doing a better job of delivering value to customers.
2. Customer experience maps help develop the best possible product or service roadmap.
When you map out how your customers explore your products and services, it becomes very evident where they got stuck and what they are missing. You literally start to see what they see, and from there you see the holes. It’s these “ah-ha” moments that should steer your product roadmaps.
3. Customer experience mapping unites isolated departments across your company.
Seeing the customer journey from start to finish is powerful, because individuals or teams typically have very little visibility into the entire customer experience, and for good reason (as each team tend to focus on different elements of the actual product or service delivery). Having a better understanding of how their endeavours fit in with the customer’s larger-scale goals can help them think more broadly and innovate beyond the next obvious feature.
4. Customer experience mapping helps to understand your customers’ expectations.
There is often a disconnect between what you think your customers want and what they truly want. Customer experience maps spell out the touch-points, motivations, needs, and expectations of customers. While what they expect may sound unrealistic in the current environment, it sheds light on their underlying needs, leaving it to the designer to think innovatively on how to meet those needs.
How to create a customer experience map?
Unfortunately, there is no “standard map,” because there is no “standard” customer experience. The best maps are highly customised, documenting your customer’s journey, through their eyes. That said, there are a couple of things to be mindful of:
1. Use both qualitative and quantitative data.
Both qualitative and quantitative research help to uncover customers’ experiences and their emotional states throughout the journey. Qualitative research approaches like contextual inquiry and ethnographic research are especially effective at capturing customers’ actual behaviour and their emotions. These techniques allow us to understand behaviours in context, ask follow-up questions to verify the motivations behind the observed behaviours, and capture quotes to bring the findings to life.While storytelling through quotes is a very powerful way to communicate findings, certain stakeholders will prefer, and are more persuaded by, quantitative data. Leveraging quantitative research, such as satisfaction surveys and web statistics, can reinforce the qualitative findings and increase the overall robustness of the map.
2. Recognise moments of truth.
Some interactions have more impact on the customer experience than others. Great journey maps spotlight those critical moments and separate them from those with lesser relevance. Each moment of truth is often referred to as “showstoppers” in which the customer gets very annoyed and frustrated or abandons the task entirely. For example, in an e-commence scenario, the customer is likely to abandon the checkout process if the product can’t be delivered to the desired destination (for more information on moments of truth, refer to Moments of Truth: The Future of the Customer Experience Charles Araugio or The 4 Moments of Truth That Create an Unforgettable Customer Experience by Matthew E. May).
3. Incorporate performance indicators.
Incorporating operational data can add richness and explanatory power to your experience maps. Some helpful metrics you may want to incorporate in your customer experience maps include customer lifetime value (i.e. a prediction of all the value a business will derive from their entire relationship with a customer), net promoter score (i.e. an index used to measure the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others), and customer satisfaction measures. The metrics you collect and include in your experience maps should help you measure the health of your customer experience, now and in the future. And in doing so, empower you and your stakeholders to make value driven decisions based on a model of customer experience performance.
4. View customer experience mapping as a living iterative process.
What may be true today may not be true tomorrow. Invest in efforts to maintain a customer experience map that evolves according to the changing needs of the customer. Customer habits can change quickly in the new social world and must be reviewed regularly to address new habits. As the authors of the Bain & Company report wrote: “It’s extremely difficult to understand what customers really want, keep the promises you make to them, and maintain the right dialogue to ensure that you adjust your propositions according to customers’ changing or increasing needs.”
How can you put customer experience map into good use?
Don’t just create your customer experience map and let them gather dust on your desk or office wall. Use them as much as possible! You might use your maps:
1. When brainstorming ideas for offers and promotions. Refer back to the customer experience map to get ideas of what can move each persona into the next level of engagement.
2. When redesigning key pages of your website or key components of your service.Review the customer experience map to make sure it contains elements that appeal to each persona and the different levels of engagement for key pages such as the homepage.
3. When considering new initiatives/products. To maximise engagement & reduce churn, you can use the customer experience map to understand some of the roadblocks that might affect each persona and come up with solutions which are more likely to help them progress along the journey.
4. When defining EDMs. Look at the personas and customer experience journey to better understand how a specific content type fits into the context of each persona and what would be most valuable to them.
Designing your customer experience map
Effective customer experience maps are a combination of both art and science. Be sure to leverage visual designers who are skilled in data visualization to make your journey maps engaging and actionable.
In closing, here are three simple principles of good design for experience maps:
- Keep it simple. Any viewer should be able to make sense out of the map at one glance. Don’t be afraid to include description boxes.
- Keep it self-contained. The experience map should stand on its own. Everything needed to understand the map should be included.
- Keep it sharable. Create a poster to hang on the wall, but also create an 11-inch by 14-inch laminated version you can pass around.