Posted on: November 22, 2010
The sheer volume of user research data that companies collect can be overwhelming. Market research, surveys, web analytics, interviews and user personas are just some of the methods our agency utilizes. But how do you assemble all of that information into something useful? How can you make sense of it all and find the game-changing insights trapped in the research? It all starts with understanding your customer’s journey.
A customer journey is a visual way of describing the everyday experience that your customers have when they do business with you.
Mapping journeys is one of the simplest and most useful approaches to understand services, gaps in service, and to identify and design opportunities for improvement and innovation. Customer journey mapping springs from the service design field. We use customer journey maps to help our clients understand customer decision-making and influential moments throughout the sales cycle. We then look for opportunities where digital tools can enhance the user experience and business outcomes.
Focusing on key interactions
Customer journey maps share certain elements which set them apart from other user-centered research methods.
- Each is focused on a single user or user type (leveraging persona work).
- The journey is mapped over time.
- Real-life activities are typically aligned with the business’ marketing/sales cycle.
- They map to real-life behaviors, regardless of whether they are online or offline.
A customer journey map shows one customer’s perspective from the beginning, middle and end as they engage a service to achieve their goal. It looks at a range of tangible and quantitative interactions, triggers and touchpoints, as well as the intangible and qualitative motivations, frustrations and meanings.
We’ve even used mapping as a workshop exercise to gain insights from real customers. Having members of the target audience create their own maps illuminates customer decisions that a business can then use to refine their own online and offline offerings.
Why customer journeys matter
The map is the vehicle for the evidence. It is a way of visualizing all the user research that you and your team have completed. The map encapsulates three core components; what people think, do, and use to make decisions. And because all that rich data is compressed into an easy-to-digest form, it enables design teams to use it in a variety of ways.
- Shows the significant interactions, pathways or expectations we need to understand
- Explicitly calls out experience factors that were implicitly known, or not known at all
- Enables conversation based on evidence
- Provides the human context and the connection to the business change that is proposed
- Ensures the customers’ voice is represented and referenced
As a communication tool
- Provides focus for conversations with clients and vendors
- Captures at a visual level complex information and saves time in getting people on the same page
Digital strategy and customer journeys
In today’s business climate brands can’t afford to ignore their customers’ journeys. Survival depends on it.
As an example, it benefits Disney to understand what their customers experience on the way to and from a Disney cruise and to improve and enhance that experience as much as possible. Because lets’ face it, if your bags don’t make to the cruise, you’re most likely to associate the foul-up with the Disney brand rather than the airline. After all, you were trying to get to the Disney Cruise, a not-trivial vacation experience. It is in Disney’s best interest to ensure that every step of their customer’s journey is filled with Disney magic.
We are using customer journeys in our practice as a way of aligning and uncovering opportunities for our clients. Customer journeys allow us to map customer experiences onto existing business processes, and align them with digital touchpoints. From this exercise we can begin to see opportunities for improving the customer experience and helping our clients devise solid digital strategies that will see them into the future.
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