No serious drawing skills necessary and we’re not going to send your customers on an Epic Quest like “The Hobbit” or “The Hangover”. A customer journey or customer experience map is just a visual way to:
- List each touchpoint with customers, anything from advertising to website to phone call
- Rate each touchpoint for customer satisfaction.
See this simple example of a map for a travel agency by customer experience consulting firm Temkin Group and follow these steps to create your own:
Create profiles (“personas” in marketing speak) of key customer types, listing their hopes, wants and fears. This video about personas for a casual restaurant gives some examples: There’s the hipster who wants free wifi and a table big enough for a group of friends, the elderly widow who wants a safe environment for some friendly conversation and is afraid she won’t be able to read the menu board, and so on.
Research personas by interviewing customers and employees, working a shift in a customer-facing role, listening to recordings of customer service calls, and mining any data you’ve collected in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
The timeline for your customer journey could be short—for instance, the experience of scheduling an appointment or returning a purchase—or cover the entire arc from first hearing about your business to making a purchase.
Could be an advertisement or a conversation with an employee in store or on the phone, or a bill that comes in the mail, wherever your business reaches out to customers. Touchpoints have the potential to become Moments of Truth, which make or break conversations between a customer and a salesperson or service rep. This can set the reputation of a business in the customer’s mind, for better or worse as in, “Yes we have a 30-day return policy but we’d be happy to make an exception for you.”
Time for some serious empathizing with your customers. Their emotions can swing from positive to negative during the journey. For a travel agency that might be “Uh-oh, this vacation is going to cost me more than I thought” to “Yay! I got the best package deal available!” Take note of this range of possible mood swings for each phase of the timeline–be honest about the frustrations your processes create for your clients.
(Talk about moody—check this experience map showing the process of buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks by a fussbudget persona named “Eric” . Just about every step is an insult: “Barista doesn’t use my name.” “First sip is too hot.” Some customers will just never be happy.)
5. The Map
Your “map” could be sticky notes stuck on a whiteboard, or written-out lists. A simple grid approach like the travel agency example has the steps to booking a vacation at the top layer, the hopes and desires of the customer on the next layer down, the emotional state of the customer going up and down on a fever chart at the next level and at the bottom, the insights as to how customer business (and emotional) needs could be better met by changes in the customer experience. Each persona gets a new map.
Caution: Roadblocks Ahead
A skeptical article by software executive Michael Fauscette points out the pitfalls of customer journey marketing: Personas don’t capture the range of customers, businesses tend to assume that customers want what they want customers to want, customers have sources of information and influence outside one company’s customer experience.
All true but just to get your team focused on touchpoints from the customer point of view—as the saying goes, it’s the journey that matters. And Don’t Stop Believin’.