Category Archives: Customer journey mapping

Personas should be portraits, not caricatures

noun_202420Personas are an essential tool when using qualitative research with the customer experience, particularly for journey mapping.

It’s easy to forget the customer as we move from using insight to understand their feelings to a more internal view planning improvements.

Personas help us keep customer needs and motivations front of mind, and preserve the nuances and variety we found with the research.

Can you feel a “but” coming?

You’re right, there’s a big danger with personas that we slide from representing diversity to drawing crude stereotypes. Think in terms of archetypes and range rather than clusters or types.

Good personas are:

  • Grounded in research
  • Archetypes, not stereotypes or clichés
  • Defined by motivations and needs more than demographics
  • Used to challenge process, not put people in boxes

I think there’s a simple test that captures all of these: personas should increase your flexibility in dealing with individual customers, not reduce it.

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Classifying journey maps – a thought-starter

This is a slide from my briefing on Customer Journey mapping.
It’s my attempt to bring a bit of order to the chaos of journey mapping. The beginnings of a taxonomy, if you’re feeling generous.

It’s not comprehensive, but I hope it highlights some of the things to be aware of when mapping a journey:

  • Is it focused on an individual’s experience, or on more general stages?
  • Does it include:
    • Experiences
    • Emotions
    • Attitudes
  • Is it looking from the organisation’s perspective, or from the customer’s?
  • Is it based on qualitative insight, quantitative data, or a mixture?
  • Does it show us what makes the difference, and how much?
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Why journey mapping is an effective metaphor

In this video Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, discuss what they have learned about storytelling:

One crucial point is to avoid chaining the events of a story together with “and” (e.g. “This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened…”).

Good writing is based on events linked with “therefore” and “but”, giving them a strong narrative drive. Garr Reynolds analyses the video with some great extra commentary.

This is one of the reasons customer journey mapping is such an effective tool. It forces us to acknowledge flow and dependency (i.e. “therefore”). It also makes lets us examine the points of pain which can derail a whole experience (i.e. “but”).

Customer journey as storytelling

Customer journey mapping as storytelling

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Seeing with fresh eyes

I mentioned last time that the secret to effective customer journey mapping is to talk to customers.

This may not seem like a stunning insight.

The truth is that many people in most organisations act as if they are afraid of customers, which makes talking to them almost inconceivable.

When we do talk to customers, it’s all too easy to ask them closed questions which reflect our agenda.

That will never get you a clear view of the customer journey.

Start with a clean sheet of paper (ignore your process map for now), and use qualitative research to understand how customers see the journey.

We call this the “lens of the customer” versus the “lens of the organisation”.

You’ll find that the moments of truth are different. Some things which are very significant for you will not be on customers’ radar. More importantly, you’ll find points of the journey where customers have a memorable emotional experience that is invisible to you.

Guess where most journeys show the lowest levels of satisfaction?

These missing touchpoints often reflect an unmet emotional need customers have to understand what is going on. Once you know about these missing moments, you can address them by setting expectations and improving communication.

Summary: to map the customer journey, start by using qualitative research to explore how customers see it.

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Customer journey mapping

We run a regular half-day briefing on customer journey mapping in practice, taking people through the process and the decisions they need to make along the way.

Almost everyone who comes along has the same question – “I keep hearing about mapping the customer journey, but I can’t find any good examples on Google. What’s the secret?”

The truth is, there is no secret. A customer journey map is whatever you want it to be, and off the shelf templates or software are unlikely to be much help.

The word “journey” is just a metaphor, albeit a powerful and useful one. So is “map”. Use them however you want.

In an ongoing sequence of posts I’ll lay out some of the approaches that take advantage of those metaphors to improve the customer experience.

The most important thing is to get stuck in and make a start, by talking to customers. Go and do it now.

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