Mapping a great customer experience

Now that we have GPS to lead us wherever we need to go, many of us wouldn’t think about unfolding and poring over a traditional map to chart out a trip.

So it may sounds a little old-fashioned when I tell you that I consider mapping to be a crucial step in creating an effective, complete customer experience.

Today’s post will give you a quick introduction to customer experience mapping, a valuable exercise that builds on the user research you have (hopefully) carried out in order to create a great experience.

Is the journey smooth?

A customer experience map takes all of the information you have about your customers and the touchpoints they have with your company/establishment and analyzes each step of that journey to show what people are doing, thinking and feeling along the way.

Customer experience mapping gives you the ability to put yourself in the shoes of your customer – to step back and look in detail at what it’s like to go from the beginning (a shopper completely unfamiliar with your company) to the middle (a customer who is informed and impressed enough to consider making a purchase) to the intended end (a customer who makes a purchase or signs up for your service.)

At a more detailed level, mapping can:

  • Highlight holes or gaps in your customer journey – or, put another way, points where you may be missing out on an opportunity to provide a positive experience or helpful step.
  • Identify problems that may not be obvious without closer analysis – enabling you to fix little things that can add up to big problems.

When do you map?

Customer experience mapping is a wise move any time.

If you’ve already launched a website or app – or opened the doors to your store(s) – and your customer experience is off and running, you can easily map out the steps of that existing experience to see how it’s working.

If you’re in the early stages of creating an experience, your mapping will obviously be hypothetical – based on research and logical projections about what will be needed/desired.

For instance, let’s say you want an app that will allow people to buy local transit bus/metro tickets or multiple-use cards on the go with a smartphone. Designers might head out on a field trip to figure out what the experience is like now. Where are the issues or challenges? How could they be improved on with the new app? As they observe others trying to make the same purchase, what patterns do they notice?

Adaptive Path created a wonderful experience map of the European Rail system that’s well worth checking out.

I’ll dive a little deeper in future posts. Next up: Mapping Across Devices.