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We are moving from value-in-exchange to value-in-use. You don’t want to buy a car, you want to buy mobility. Instead of selling products and services, organizations must develop ecosystems where customers can co-create value with them. This requires a holistic view of the ecosystem and can be obtained with Customer Journey Mapping.

First, what is Customer Journey Mapping?

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A customer journey map is a method for assessing, visualizing, and mastering customer experiences. It helps you view a product or service system from the customer’s perspective, allowing you to identify opportunities for improvement and innovation.

Customer journey mapping includes the relationship you build with your customer, not only their purchase. You can provide value to the customer both before and after the purchase. We call the collection of activities that a customer goes through the "customer journey". It is a journey that often begins before your offering even comes into the picture, for example, looking for some kind of solution by simply browsing the internet while at home. And this journey does not end when the customer has purchased your product or service. On the contrary, this is where the usage, maintenance, and maybe upgrading starts. At the end of the journey, you always hope that the customer will eventually return to your brand. If you succeed at this, you will have built a sustainable relationship and created a loyal customer.

At the end of the journey, you always hope that the customer will eventually return to your brand.


Now that we have a basic understanding of what a customer journey map is, l'd like to dive into an example and provide some tips for how you can get started with your own map.

The IKEA journey

Regardless of the time or day I go, my local IKEA is packed. The crowded overwhelming parking lots don't scare away anyone from shopping for their tastefully designed, budget-friendly furniture.

Entering the store, you are led up an escalator where someone hands you a disposable measuring tape, a miniature pencil, and a notepad so you can measure items in the showroom and write down the names and item numbers of things you intend to buy (or just like).

From there, you are taken to the second floor,where you walk on a designated path through beautifully designed showrooms. If you're a first time IKEA shopper, you don’t even realize the well-played merchandising tactic they've put into place until later on. You walk through bedrooms, kitchens, offices, bathrooms, and living rooms, taking note of how they use their merchandise to create welcoming envrionmnts. You start to envision this chair or that mirror in your own home, scribbling the item numbers on your pad as you go.

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The trip can take an hour (or three) depending on how busy it is and how long you “stop and stare”.  After the showrooms, you reach IKEA's very own restaurant. For very little, you can treat yourself to swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam or continue downstairs to the actual store. Yep - the actual store - where you can buy all those items you jotted down on your notepad.

The entire store is so merchandised that I always leave with more than what I had originally intended to buy. They have articulated the journey so well that I don’t even feel like I'm walking around in a circular mousetrap.

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Their journey contains a “peak-end rule”, a psychological phenomenon in which people judge experiences largely based on how they were at their peak (i.e., their most intense point) and at their end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. It occurs regardless of whether the experience is pleasant or unpleasant. Information aside from the peak and end of the experience is not lost, but it is not used.

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Looking at the touchpoint experience ranking (image above), you see a clear dissatisfaction at “searching the stock” and “check out”. So what they do very well at the end is offer inexpensive ice cream and hotdogs after the check out to make the end a treat for everyone.

So what about the peak experience? Well even though the in-store experience is quite positive and satisfying during events such as “indoor decoration and inspiration” and “product trial”, the real “peak experience” for the IKEA consumer is the moment when  they have finished assembling their furniture from scratch and show it to their friends and family with pride.

Great! Sounds like this can help increase leads...

Wait a minute! It doesn’t provide a quick fix to a specific problem. Customer Journey Mapping is merely a framework that allows you to get a grip on many different aspects of customer experience design.

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It is always related to the customer’s experience, but it is up to you to map that experience and what you map exactly:

  • What customer are you focusing on? You can use a large range of customers or a very specific customer type. Maybe you don't want to focus on customers, but rather a supplier or another key stakeholder.
  • What situation are you analyzing? You can analyze a very specific situation, such as a customer using a POS for self-checkout at the grocery store or you could choose to explore a more general journey, like a customer's entire experience at the grocery store.
  • What does every touchpoint look like? For every stage of their journey, you can examine customer needs, your objectives, the customer’s objectives, emotions, how your brand values are expressed, what you wish to communicate, and whether there are opportunities for innovation.

Below are some tips on how to scope and design a Customer Journey Map which can help you and your team visualise the optimum experience you want to deliver to your customers.

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1)      Start with words. Map out the customer journey using single words/statements first. These might be as simple as "find & learn" or "get help." The typical journey at a high level won’t be that long and will likely cover not more than 8 steps.

2)      Create a storyboard. Write the journey as a story or scenario from the customer perspective. Here I advise you to conduct consumer research (through insight communities) with different customers in order to get a thorough and deep understanding of what the journey is all about.

3)      Define channels and touchpoints. Map out and label the times where the customer interacts with your business. Include the types of channels used - for instance, phone, social media, retail or online.

4)      Explore your customer’s drivers. Define experience drivers that really make a difference for the customer throughout their journey. Think about what makes the experience memorable for them. You should end up with a wobbly line across your journey which shows the areas you intend to provide "bells and whistles" and those areas where you intend to deliver a basic but effective experience.

5)      Explore your customer’s pain points. Look at your existing customer feedback and examine negative feedback and times when they weren't given a good and memorable experience. If you place these on the map against each touchpoint, the map becomes a way of identifying potential problems and areas for improvement and change.

6)      Emotional journey. Think about the expectations and emotions you want the customer to experience. After a pain point, ensure you can make the customer smile again. IKEA ha,,,s a nice end to it’s journey as you can get an ice cream cone that's almost free after the long lines at the (painful) check-out.

7)      Use customer language. Make sure the journey map is written from the customer perspective in the language they would use themselves. Cut the jargon!

8)      Add flexibility jumps. The journey for most of your customers is unlikely to be linear no matter how hard you try. Think about defining a journey where a customer might have to go back a step or two. You need to have the flexibility to jump back and forth, how are you going to manage that experience?

9)      Develop persona journeys. Build a set of "persona journeys" which cover the main customer segments you have. Have a mixture of easy and complex journeys.

How do you evaluate your customer journey in an optimal way?

In healthcare, the mission of many caregivers is to become more “patient centric” and therefore, it’s key for them to understand their patients’ journey.

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Hospitals are interested to learn more about the in-patient (hospital stay) experience, in order to understand where they can improve customer experience in the future. An in-patient experience consists of around 15 touchpoints with scheduling, emergency room, food, treatment and procedures, and more. Typically a hospital measures the in-patient experience by conducting traditional surveys of patients who recently experienced a given touchpoint. The problem with this approach is that the various experiences are not independent of each other.

touchpoints-healthcare-system

A better approach is to explore patient journeys in closed “patient experience & insight communities” where patients can share their stories and experiences with touchpoint experiences interacting with each other. This way you get richer insights into the patient journey and start the design of an ecosystem of lasting value.

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Elena Ozeritskaya

Elena Ozeritskaya

Elena Ozeritskaya is an expert on Customer Insight with a passion for creativity & innovation. During her time at Unilever and Syngenta, she was responsible for driving innovation projects with Custom
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