See also: & Service Blueprinting
What follows is my approach to customer experience mapping. I’m not saying it’s perfect – or easy, and I am most certainly saying it doesn’t and can’t exist in isolation from other techniques – research gives you the evidence, frameworks help sort the interpreted and synthesised information and good old fashioned collaboration is required. And finally, for these to be meaningful in a business setting I advocate a companion service blueprint.
I pitch the map and blueprint as both technique and output. They provide a tangible means for businesses to assess the impact of change on customers and services. Businesses love organisational impact assessment and stakeholder management plans, but often forget the customer and users and the fact that services deliver to customers. This is where design can provide a means.
What’s a customer experience map?
It’s a graphical representation of the service journey of a customer. It shows their perspective from the beginning, middle and end as they engage a service to achieve their goal, showing the range of tangible and quantitative interactions, triggers and touchpoints, as well as the intangible and qualitative motivations, frustrations and meanings.
Why is understanding experience important?
Because with all the competing noise in the world, competing processes from other businesses, agencies, institutions, social networks, life etc it is through understanding and supporting experience that we make services more effective for customers. With effectiveness comes trust. Consequently, when we change processes or introduce new ways of doing things, customers trust what we’re doing works because they’ve experienced it in a way that was meaningful to them to get what they need. Their confidence ultimately translates to effective and efficient engagement for the customer and for the business.
Why and when are they useful?
- Makes visible the end-to-end experience from the customers’ point of view, showing the significant interactions, pathways or expectations we need to understand
- Explicitly calls out experience factors that were implicitly known, or not known at all
- Enables conversation based on evidence of what customers actually think, do and use (not assumption or gut feel)
- Provides the human context for the service blueprint and the connection to the business change that is proposed
- Enables the team to really understand what it is to be in the customers’ shoes
- Ensures the customers’ voice is easily represented and referenced during development and building
As communication tool
- Provides a focus and reference for conversations and workshopping with many different people
- Captures at a visual level complex information and saves time in getting people on the same page because it doesn’t require lengthy text to explain it
What’s in a customer experience map?
There are six dimensions and three components of experience the map should capture. These represent important reference points for features of the service design – e.g. how the service is found, who uses it, what they’re looking for, what information they use, who and what is of most help etc. By capturing these experiential aspects we ensure the customers’ voice is represented as the service is designed and implemented.
6 Dimensions: These dimensions help extract content for the map and generate conversation during the mapping. The responses help in considering what is to be recommended in the design.
- Sensoral/cognitive triggers
3 components: These represent the key content of the map itself. Simply put, what people:
So how do you make one?
Ideally begin as a team, using the research outputs (frameworks, models, insights) and shared knowledge to plot the journey. The point of the initial mapping is generating team conversation.
- Ask a simple question from the customers’ perspective in terms of their goal, for example: “what is the experience of going through a drive-through?” and plot a simple journey using the most typical customer type
- Draw out the journey – on a whiteboard/with post-its/on a wall – whatever works for the team
- Make sure you explore the whole experience, not just when it touches the service. You can use scenarios and storytelling to plot the details. If you have developed personas or customer typologies plot their journey through the service experience
After your initial plot refer to the six dimensions and three components in detail to ensure all aspects of experience are addressed. (This may have started this during the initial plot to generate conversation or identify and dig into details). You may go through multiple maps but you want to get to a single summarising map which includes:
- A name, event trigger(s), customer types, a key to the symbols, the map itself of what customer think, do and use from beginning, middle and end of their experience, specific breakdown of all touchpoints/interactions, and breakdown of level of intensity/emotion, and conclusions about map in terms of opportunity to improve or leverage change.
- Make sure to capture the design decisions or recommendations as you map – the map is just the vehicle for your evidence. The conclusions you make from the exercise are what informs the recommended changes to meet the intent.
The key aspects in terms of customer actions are now able to be plotted for the service blueprint. To further draw out design decisions, compare the service blueprint with the customer experience:
- For points of pain/failpoints – what are the responses/options the service solution address?
- For points of pleasure – what are the things the service must keep?
- Are there areas that take more time for the customer than we expect – what does this mean for the design and implementation of the service?
- Are all the touchpoints and interactions within our control? Are there interactions the customer relies on that we aren’t aware of or may be able to leverage?
- Is the reason why a customer interacts with us reconciled with how we treat the service?
Maps and Service Blueprints
While the Customer Experience Map represents the experience from the customers’ perspective, a Service Blueprint represents the service from the customer and business perspective. The blueprint maps out chronologically and in sequence all the various interactions and actions that occur in parallel when customer and company meet, it shows all the interactions by and with the customer. So it also illustrates the stages and complexity of the encounter and distinguishes between the customer experiences (and decisions) and the systems, invisible to the customer, that operate backstage to ensure that these are delivered.
Together the map and blueprint represent the two key components of service – how it’s experienced and how it works
No designer is a lone genius, shoulders of giants etc, and I must acknowledge in particular three key inputters to the development of this technique (whether they knew it or not: Leslie Tergas (my design mentor) and her old company DSR for the definition of experience, Amber Lindholm for the experience dimensions and great conversations about frameworks, maps and models, and Arne van Oosterom’s 10 steps to customer journey mapping which was the final kick in the proverbial pants to help get this technique finished. I also benefited from a paper by Conifer Research ‘How to find Buried Treasure using Experience Maps‘ which I first read in 2004. (With thanks to email@example.com for re-finding the Conifer link).
Disclaimer: Design process is a misnomer. In order to do a map or blueprint one must start. Process is just a guide, doing is the best way to do.
Update to Post – 27 June 2010: Here is a link to a high res version of the Map
Update to Post – 4 July 2010: Here are some further musings on Maps
Update to Post – 8 November 2011: Here’s another version of a Map from an actual experience
Update to Post – 15 July 2011: Here a reviewed and updated high res version of the Map