Posted By Breyda Ortega,
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Updated: Monday, July 27, 2020
Five Lessons I Learned While Designing My First Customer Journey Map
As a marketing researcher, I help brands develop strategies to attract and retain customers. To that end, I have conducted countless brand positioning studies and concept tests, as well as your typical what-does-this-mean-to-you-personally? qualitative interview, yet never had I ever designed a journey map… until this year. A journey map is the visual representation of the sequence of steps customers take to interact with products or services—from discovering the brand to switching and returning and beyond (Tincher & Newton, 2019). Earlier this year, I leveraged the technique to guide customer communications.
Now, you may be thinking, “Why would you need a journey map to craft communications?". Here is my answer in the form of another question—have you ever seen different ads from the same company that seem to contradict or compete with each other? When this happens, it is a clear sign that teams, often working in silos, have lost sight of the big picture. However, customers never experience messages as one-offs, but as part of one big interconnected narrative that shapes their perceptions of a brand. Mapping the customer journey is the best way to fully grasp how a brand, as a whole, shows up to the world.
At its core, journey mapping helps companies identify critical points of friction that cause customers to leave a brand. Effective maps guide efforts toward optimizing high impact moments, thereby unlocking significant revenue potential. As an example, journey mapping allowed T-Mobile to learn that frustration around contracts and data overage fees was pushing customers to switch providers at an alarming rate. By eliminating these frustrations, the company went from losing a million customers a year to adding a million customers per quarter.
The secret to a successful journey map is simple: show everything from the customer’s vantage point. That is, visualize the journey the way the customer experiences it, not the way you think they experience it. For instance, the start of a journey is definitely not at the moment someone subscribes to a service but way earlier, perhaps while enjoying brunch and suddenly their friend cannot stop raving about the new app they downloaded.
Here are the five most valuable lessons I learned while designing my first journey map:
Not a one-size-fits-all
You should plan on designing multiple maps to represent different types of customers. If your company has a segmentation model, definitely reference it and design one map for each of your high opportunity segments. In the absence of segmentation, you can always use some basic profiling such as first time vs. repeat, regular vs. occasional, or early vs. late adopters.
Having several maps will reveal key differences across groups. In an era of information overload, people expect solutions that are personalized to their specific needs. Understanding differences in customer preferences will enable your organization to design more targeted approaches to drive retention.
Get the journey phases right, then add layers
Journey phases are the building blocks of the maps. They chart the path the customer follows; if these are off, the rest of the components will fall apart. Most categories include research, consideration, purchase, trial, post-trial, etc. Be sure to adapt these to the category you are researching. Then start layering some information, such as:
What problem is this customer trying to solve for?
How and where do they interact with the product or service?
How do they feel before, during, and after each interaction?
When layering, use diagrams and colors to visually represent the peaks and valleys in customer sentiment. This will make for a more nuanced map that will inspire organizational alignment.
Ditch the notion of an end
While on paper you may represent a journey as a linear path, in real life, journeys are in fact loops. The Semisonic song I used to listen to as a teen that goes, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end” rings true in journey mapping. Efforts at later stages should prevent customers from switching, becoming latent, or worse, exiting completely.
Big data has made it possible for companies to expertly curate information, making discovery and trial more effortless than ever before. With the widespread availability of behavioral data and predictive analytics, customer journeys have become much more fluid, continually teetering between active and passive engagement. This gives brands the upper hand to nudge customers into the journey rather than waiting for them to make the first move.
Design for efficiency and speed
The simpler the process is for a customer to learn about, select, order, and generally experience a product, the better the company’s chances are at minimizing churn. While a brilliant copywriter may take pride in a quirky and well-articulated, yet long list of instructions, no one will want to fit that type of reading into their weekend plans.
Today almost everything is digitized, however there are still many occasions when customers carry the onus of initiating contact when they need help. Automating actions to the point of making them invisible (think single sign-ups, syncing information from existing accounts, providing recommendations based on past behavior, resolving issues before they become complaints, etc.) is critical to building the long-lasting habits that drive customer loyalty.
Challenge the status quo
The business decisions that stem from journey mapping are just as important as the map itself. Once you have rallied the troops to begin the important work that follows, it is very easy to overcomplicate things by focusing on individual projects rather than the single integrated strategy that will create customer delight.
Push back on busywork that deviates and distracts from the overall goal of driving retention and keep advocating for holistic solutions that fully enhance the customer experience, not band-aids.
I have always been a big picture kind of thinker; maybe that is why I find journey mapping so alluring. There is something deeply satisfying about placing seemingly disparate pieces of data on a board, taking a step back, and then noticing the patterns that form.
Tincher, Jim, Newton, Nicole (2019). How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer? Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
About the Author: Breyda Ortega
A mixed-methods corporate researcher, Breyda Ortega oversees marketing research at Cruise, a self-driving car company in San Francisco. She combines her background in statistics, psychology, and neuroscience along with a natural ability to “read” people to guide strategic business decisions. She currently serves as QRCA’s Qually Award Vice Chair.
Customer Journey Maps
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Posted By Aliza Pollack,
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Journey Mapping: Big Picture Thinking
I sit here writing, waiting for inspiration to hit: Where is that pithy line that usually finds its way to my brain? The one that sets up the essay/article/slide so well? This is what I do: I take big ideas and craft them into compelling packages to showcase their meaning. But times are intense. And inspiration isn’t so light and sparkly right now. My mind shifts to the bigger issues at play. As I ponder the pandemic, and the stark lifestyle changes it has brought on—civic uprisings, Black Lives Matter, pain, unemployment—it’s hard to deny how interconnected we are, and how vital it is to consider the context when trying to understand a problem.
This attitude translates to work. Often, before COVID-19, a business problem would reveal itself and one team would own it and the solution-finding process. Collaboration across teams can easily be stymied by the rush of business life, with looming KPIs, clogged calendars, quarterly reports, changing leadership and multiple hashtag and mottoes like, “move fast and break things.” The world, and the people in it, are complex. Thinking and working contextually is fundamental. It encourages collaborative work and holistic solutions. Enter journey mapping: a framework that sheds light on the full customer experience. The behaviors, attitudes, delight, and pain points that the customer encounters on the way to your product/category/service/experience. When executed well, journey mapping can coalesce often siloed consumer-facing teams and inspire a more nuanced marketing and product development road map.
Here are my four steps that might help you make this fit within your organization:
Benchmark: Root the team
As with all fact-finding missions, before starting consumer fieldwork, gather your major stakeholders in any way possible (e.g., individual interviews – face to face, phone, short workshop, Google doc, survey) and build alignment.
- Download what is known across teams (marketing, product, CX, data science, etc.): ingoing hypotheses, perceptions of the journey, CRM survey open-ends, personas/segments we want to pursue, competitive analysis, data science.
- Identify what is unknown: What confuses, what are barriers to entry, underlying motivations, who is the real customer, duration of this journey, perceived competition, biases.
- Agree on what success looks like: How should the final deliverable look, what does it need to achieve, what will this work impact within the organization—communications development, product development/refinement, innovation, all?
Discovery: Center on your respondent
- Who will you talk to? Think through the key identifying variables of your broad user base: demographics, frequency of usage, awareness of category, awareness of brand, etc.
- Go into discomfort zones: Journeys capture the full lifecycle which extends beyond purchase. Talk with power/passion users, latent users and rejecters.
- Focus on the individual: I strive for pristine data, so choose one-on-one interviews (video, F2F) rather than focus groups. Use your analysis to uncover patterns.
- Kickstart participant memory: We’re asking people to recall experiences, which are inherently flawed (humans forget). Help them shore up memories with real-life artifacts: calendar entries, receipts, credit card slips, social media posts…. these items spark authentic stories and emotions.
Analysis and visualization: Show your story
Most likely, you’re sitting on a trove of data (yikes!) with a need to synthesize in both meaningful and compelling ways.
- Plan ahead: Talk with your client in advance to decide on the best form of deliverable(s). Guide them toward what’s possible. They also might want to validate quantitatively, so talk through how you can be of service to bring it all together without losing the high touch of qual.
- Sparring partner: It’s likely that you will be lost in the data weeds. Pluck someone from the team, the office (the street?) to share your findings. Relaying the story to a stranger reveals its strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t answer their questions, there’s more work to be done.
- Bring on the designers: Unless you’re design-gifted, work with a professional. They’ll elevate your product.
Action planning: Move them to the next step
While this isn’t integral to the journey map process, it’s an important part of your client’s path. I try to bake it in to the workflow. You’ve started the project with full team inclusion; now help them all put this valuable information to use.
- Can you share it to the full team, followed by a Q&A session?
- Can you conduct a workshop/sprint to inspire some new ideas which they will prioritize?
- Can you overlay it with jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework so the team can see how their respective plans match/meet where users are, and how they feel in that moment.
Through a rigorous process, fed by varied disciplines/teams, journey maps help you pull back to see the sum of all parts.
Aliza Pollack runs research projects to root brand initiatives in real insight. Her work is human-centered, not consumer-oriented. Any brand, no matter how loved, is a fleck of dust in our lives. To resonate, it needs to know how people live, their ambitions, fears, and inspirations. I love digging for those nuggets.
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Posted By Katrina Noelle,
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Use the CDJ Framework to Innovate Methods
Innovate your tools and methods by going on your own customer journey; become a customer on a journey through your own methods! In order to keep qualitative insight “approaches to understanding customers” fresh and relevant, you should consider, evaluate, buy, enjoy, advocate, and bond with the methods you use to understand consumers.
The customer decision journey (CDJ) is a model that shows how customers complete a purchase, guiding marketers where and what they should do along the way. Borrow this approach to go on your own journey to develop and choose new tools, techniques, and methodologies.
The journey begins with the consumer’s top-of-mind consideration set – just like consumers do.
- Start by considering your needs. Why are you choosing to iterate an existing method or start offering a new one?
- Brainstorm with your team. Where are opportunities for improvement? What do team members want to try/experiment with?
- Make a list of all the contenders. Then walk through each of them, asking yourself:
- Is it answering a need? Filling a gap?
- Is it giving your team something new or unique?
- Can you explain succinctly the value proposition and point of difference as though you were in an elevator with a prospective client?
- Is anyone else doing it? Who? How? Could you offer it differently?
- Test your ideas. While you do so, be sure to constantly ask for feedback from your team, participants, and clients.
- Track iterations and updates. Chronicle changes made to the approach at every step because your ideas may morph, combine, or improve as you progress.
- Be open. Keep an open mind to the changes/modifications/new ideas along the way.
- Keep asking. Constantly query if the new/improved method is filling a need. Is it improving an older process or adding something new?
3. BUY OR CHOOSE
We’ve included “choose” in this traditional third step because when choosing a methodology, it’s often just that – a choice, a decision to move forward in a certain way – not a purchase.
- Note: this step is sometimes overlooked. After all this work, it’s hard to say “no” to an idea to which you’ve grown close. But keep in mind that rolling it out is an even bigger step than testing it.
- If you decide NOT to move forward, table it in a helpful way. Make note of learnings that could be used in a different format or could serve another purpose at some other time.
4. ENTER THE LOYALTY LOOP: Enjoy, Advocate and Bond
Take a moment to ENJOY your hard work; now is the time to advocate your development with your broader organization and with clients. Try a pilot test with an understanding client or ADVOCATE the approach within your organization!
- Ground everyone. To do so, establish with everyone a need you are trying to meet, the gap you are trying to fill, and/or your rationale for adding this approach.
- Bond. Bonding in this sense means that the team gets familiarized with the new approach and comes to see it as their own. Solicit feedback from participants about their experience. Ask clients how they are using the new approaches and what could be improved further.
- Engage. Ensure your team are staying engaged, enjoying the experience, and getting the most out of the new methods as they are a part of the continual evolution.
This post was inspired by a presentation entitled “Innovate Your Tools And Methods By Going On Your Own Customer Journey” at the CX Talks event in Chicago held on September 24, 2019.
Katrina is principal of KNow Research, a full-service insights consultancy specializing in designing custom qualitative insights projects for 16+ years to unlock insights about brands and target audiences. She is also co-founder of Scoot Insights, whose trademarked ScootTM Sprint approach helps decision-makers choose the right direction.
President, KNow Research, Co-Founder Scoot Insights
www.knowresearch.com / www.scootinsights.com
@kat_noelle / https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrinanoelle/
Customer Journey Maps
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Posted By Maria Virobik,
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Updated: Monday, May 13, 2019
Data Visualization: 3 Ways to Make Your Qualitative Reports Pop
What Can Data Visualization Do for Us?
Data visualization—the graphical representation of information and data—can be a powerful tool in qualitative reporting. While we certainly can’t completely escape text-centric pages in our qualitative reports, graphics add visual interest and help break up the monotony of pages (or slides) of text. Done well, graphics help support qualitative findings and enable us to communicate in more interesting ways beyond words on paper (or a screen). Effective data visualization can also help readers understand concepts more quickly and easily and make information more memorable.
All the Cool Kids Are Doing it
Newspapers and other media outlets have jumped on board the data visualization bandwagon. Publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times employ full-time data journalists to augment their reporting. These folks take an enormous trove of data on a particular topic—for instance, the earlier start of spring in some parts of the U.S. or the confirmed U.S. measles cases by county in 2019 —and expertly slice, dice and manipulate the information into interactive graphics that communicate big ideas in an accessible and elegant way.
Data Visualization and Qual: Not a Linear Journey
Visualizing quantitative data is relatively easy. Hard numbers and percentages naturally lend themselves to visual representation. Charts, graphs and their modern equivalent—infographics—are easy to create from quant data.
Qualitative data can be harder to visualize; transforming qual data into graphics isn't as straightforward or simple. A search for “infographics and qualitative data” reveals that some people even argue that qual data can’t be turned into infographics. Take heart, however. An equal number argue that it can and provide examples to back this assertion.
But it’s not a linear journey from qualitative data to data visualization. Many of us have heard from end clients who want hard numbers or percentages included in a final report to quantify how various concepts or ideas stacked up against each other. We can explain that “qual isn't quant” until the cows come home, but clients persist in making such requests.
Instead of giving in to these requests (or refusing them outright), there is another option. We can take this as the opportunity to develop data visualization approaches that give our clients the detail they want and expect without compromising the qualitative nature of the report. A few examples follow.
Word Clouds – an Oldie but Goodie
Word clouds are a common data visualization technique in qualitative reports. Using font size (and often color), they convey magnitude of various responses, thoughts or ideas. Larger words=more popular/frequent/common. This approach works well because it’s a way to provide granular detail without showing the actual numbers behind the information.
While word clouds aren't the answer for every situation, they are a great tool, and websites for creating them abound. The PollEverywhere blog lists nine favorite word cloud generators, including Wordle and Tagxedo. A Google search for “word cloud generator” will point you to others.
Customer Journey Maps: Timelines in Disguise
Customer journey maps are another way to employ data visualization in qualitative reports. These maps are essentially timelines; a quick Google search on this term turns up many great examples that can be easily adapted to fit your particular purpose.
Here’s one example: a timeline detailing milestones in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps history from 2010 to 2014.
The example above is organized by year, but the general format can be adapted to visualize a customer journey. Year markers become phases in the purchase journey: research, comparison, selection, purchase. The linear format allows room above and below the line for details on the individual steps consumers undertake in each phase.
Venngage is one great resource for infographic templates and tools, including many for timelines (such as the one below). They offer a couple different subscription plans. But you can peruse the templates for free, and that might be all the inspiration you need to create your own.
Bubble Graphs – Form and Function
Bubble graphs are another idea we can borrow from data journalism. During the 2012 London Olympics, The New York Times kept a running medal count by country and visualized the data in a simple table (below). The information is clear, but the table doesn't do a great job conveying the magnitude of differences among countries.
The Times formatted the same information into a bubble graph. This approach does a much better job conveying magnitude. You can easily identify the countries that led the medal counts. Readers could hover over any circle for more detailed information, including a country’s medal count by type (gold/silver/bronze). (Visit the link below the graphic and try it for yourself!)
The same idea—sans numbers, of course—could be employed in qualitative reporting. For example, we could use a bubble graph to report the characteristics that participants want in a dog.
Readers can immediately see which characteristics were most important and which were mentioned by fewer participants. By keeping numbers out of it, the graphic remains faithful to the spirit of qualitative research.
Sky’s the Limit
These are just a few examples of how data visualization techniques can be employed to make qualitative reports more engaging and communicate findings and implications more effectively.
Here are several links to more examples; many additional resources can be found by searching data visualization:
What are your go-to data visualization techniques and tools? What works? What doesn't? If you have advice or a favorite resource to share, please leave a comment.
Maria Virobik joined QRCA in 2018 but has worked in qualitative research since 1997. After early dalliances in the advertising world, she came to her senses and has been devoted to qualitative analysis and reporting ever since. Originally from Southern California, she and her husband sold their house last year and now live a nomadic lifestyle with their two marginally obedient dogs, Lucy and Ginger Snap.
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