Design series: Part 1 - The value of mapping ...

Design series: Part 1 - The value of mapping the Customer Journey

In our design series we have been writing about the value of writing personas in the design process. In this second article in this design series we take the logical follow up by focusing on the value of mapping the customer journey. In order to create great digital experiences at aFrogleap, we want to make sure that the foundation of our work is right. It is key to focus on customer value to create business value. Therefore, we believe that we first need to define the digital strategy. A clear strategy ensures a cohesive user experience across multiple 'touch points'. In doing so, we map out the customer journey to define the exact contact or touch points with the user. Mapping the customer journey has proven to be a great tool in applying the service design methodology, and this article shows you why.

What is a customer journey?

So, let's first start with the question, what is a customer journey? A customer journey tells the story of the customer experience. From the initial first engagement moment with the user, which can be the process of on-boarding, into hopefully a long-term relationship. Which can include key moments like buying, honeymoon periods, complaints and goodbyes. It identifies the key interactions that the customer has with an organisation or brand, and gives insights in the user’s feelings, motivations and questions for each of these touch points. It isn't limited to channels or type of contact moments. It includes selling, service, peaks and depths. In many ways it is what an experience with a real life person is. It should also reveal a sense of the customer’s greater motivation: What do they wish to achieve? What are their expectations of your brand and organisation?

For aFrogleap customer journey mapping is a very useful tool and exercise. It helps us in forming a better strategy, concept, design and hopefully a better experience.

The process

We have been talking about 'touch points', but what is a valuable touch point? It indicates the moment of contact that the customer has with the organisation or brand. There where the two interact, you have a touch point. For the customer, these moments are decisive in how the customer experience is valued. It is spread out across all channels - from callcentre, website, product, shop, WiFi's and mobile app. For an organisation, these are valuable moments that contribute to creating brand awareness and engagement, or sales. Often touchpoints are singular in it's relationship. The customer is experiencing something with a brand, but doesn't give extensive feedback. Buying a book on Amazon is like the "like" on Facebook. But for more depth you actually want the "comment", which learns you more about the customer. More interesting touch points occur when the customer needs help with or wants to be informed. Those moments of interaction give an actual opportunity to listen to the user, e.a. get valuable 'learnings' from user feedback on how the experience can be improved further more. A rich relationship is based on mutual input and output. In defining the journey we start with customer journey mapping. This is the process of creating a graphic representation of the steps and stages that a customer undergoes in 'getting in touch with' and experiencing a product or service.

What it can tell you

As I already mentioned above, the customer journey map is a powerful tool. It will guide you in understanding the context of the user. It helps to identify the gaps. With gaps we mean the points or moments in the experience that are disjoined or painful. For example, the integration between devices, between departments or between channels.

We learn from our clients that their organisations are mostly divided in different departments and every department has their own touch point with the customer. But the end user usually don’t think in these isolated or channeled experiences. They derive value and meaning from the total experience. The big challenge is to optimise the omni-channel experience, which is seamless on any device or through any channel, and considers the customer’s feelings, questions, needs and expectations. This last part is why it is very important to have solid persona's to map your experience on.

We believe that especially your customers expectations need special attention. Forrester research analyst Ryan Hart describes in his report that "expectation mapping is a tool to capture diverse emotional elements to augment your existing customer journey to see if it works". Further more he adds that "empathy and expectation mapping exercises can help both B2C and B2B organisations improve their customer experiences by helping interpret the irrational buying behaviour of customer decisions and better visualise emotional flashpoints". We believe that companies must continuously develop their customer experience capabilities to meet the customers constantly increasing expectations to keep them loyal.

What comes next?

In the next design series blog we will focus on how to map customer journeys step by step. Also, read here about the other tools in the Service design methodology.