Have you ever walked into your favorite retail brick and mortar store and felt a disconnect between how its brand attempts to speak to you via email, catalogs and snail mail flyers, compared to how its in-store experience interacts with you?
Often there is a huge difference between these two types of customer services. One commonality that you will find across most top-shelf or luxury brands, such as Equinox, Apple, Macys, Tesla, Tiffany & Co and Hilton, is a seamless and consistent customer service experience across all points of interaction, also referred to as
In companies that put an emphasis on seamless customer interaction - from the emails you receive to the way staff greets you in person - is consistent. None of this harmonious approach happens by chance or accident. Your customer journey has been researched and intentionally designed - with you in mind.
From the moment a prospective customer engages with one of the aforementioned successful brands, regardless if the interaction begins in a retail store location or website, customers are treated to a unified online/offline experience.
So the question remains: how do bootstrapped startups or smaller companies, that do not offer luxury products or services, learn to create these holistic, omni-channel experiences for their customers? You may be wondering “where do I start?”
Implementing Experience Mapping
Customer experience mapping is a process for discovering how your potential customers or new users feel as they engage with your product or service’s sales funnel
Utilizing this step-by-step approach to experience mapping can help you discover insights and reduce friction- all to make necessary adjustments whereby your customer’s experience can become better. Additionally, this process will ensure that all of your customer’s or user’s
This article will cover
What experience mapping is and how it can apply to your startup
How to decide where to focus on improving your user or customer’s experience
The benefits to providing a consistent user experience
Key takeaway tips to help you move forward with implementing this methodology to your own company
A Startup’s Guide To Experience Mapping
Your brand, regardless of how many departments it has and products or services it offers, must create a customer first or centric mission, if you are hoping to have any control over your customer’s experience.
You can also think of this path as making each
So where do you begin?
First Step: Understanding Your Customer’s Journey - Tasks & Actions
Map this out:
What is your average customer or user’s very first interaction or experience usually look like? To even begin
For example, if you were a mortgage broker, one of the first interactions that your potential customers might have with you is when they search online, or pick up a flier for a home listed for sale in their neighborhood.
Or, say you just opened up a new store and a new customer chooses to engage as they walk by it. Alternatively, you may have a portable speaker e-Commerce website and, during one of your ad campaigns, someone searching for speakers clicks on one of your ads.
What the Actions & Tasks Process Looks Like
To begin to support the action and tasks process of experience mapping, you must analyze your customer’s journey by asking questions and using your customer’s feedback as a guide to your mapping. You will want to study your
This can be completed by interviewing your current customers, or market research with people who fit your target demographic and target customer profile but have not yet bought anything from you, yet. This step can even include past customers and polls or surveys on product pages where people drop off.
If, for some reason, you are unable to conduct any interviews, then you need to schedule a meeting with your customer service and sales teams to see if they can fill in some of the gaps for you with their existing knowledge.
Remember, this is a cross-functional collaborative process designed to truly map the variety of different
Maybe you discover, that some other customers do not necessarily first engage with your actual brick and mortar location. Maybe some customers find out about your business through receiving your “New Store Opening” snail mail flyer, via email or even seeing your ad in a magazine. You want to know this information and you will want to capture and record all of this in your customer’s journey log.
Next step : Find Out What Your Customers are Thinking and Feeling
As you finish the initial framework of mapping the entire
So, let’s not diminish the importance of asking questions in customer interviews which will surface some of these emotions. The emotional aspect of the customer’s journey is very important. You may discover that there is an easy, cost-effective way to manage your customer’s expectations and ultimate satisfaction with your brand by just discovering one or two common gripes or objections that a majority of your customers share.
Just as Google has a “Needs Met” criteria in their Search Quality Guidelines, these questions are where you can discover your customers’ ups-and-downs, as well as what were their expectations or needs are and how how all of this information can come together.
You should start to think about customer experience mapping as telling a story.
Every story has a beginning, middle and end; recalling that compelling stories have some meat or substance to them. So, the story is not just the actions and tasks of the protagonist
Tell a couple stories about your customers or, invite your customer service or sales reps into a meeting again and ask them to surface more feelings and thoughts about your customers’ sales processes or journeys. Documenting the data from your interviews and surveys in conjunction with your customer facing departments is the most effective way to capture this information.
Another reason for going through this process or exercise is that it will give you the context from which you should be
If you find that during one of the sales funnel stages your customers appear uncertain or
If the client seems happy, then you should be happy, as well.
Third Step: Touching All The Customer Touchpoints
Usually, the intention of the interaction is for your potential customer to meet a specific need that your product, service or brand could, would or should satisfy or meet. If your brand does everything online, then typically- particularly in analytics- you would set up an attribution model to assign credit for sales and conversions to marketing
Say a customer finds your site by clicking on one of your AdWords ads. He then returns one week later by clicking over from a
Does your restaurant
You may find out that there is friction or
Waiting and loading times can have
(The Apple Store is one such place that's been designed to be an overarching experience that delightfully connects from the moment you initiate an appointment, to the moment you walk in the store and your geniuses are
Continue Touching Your Touchpoints and Mapping Them
touchpointsare attached to an activity and task and probably already have feelingand thoughts attached to them. Touchpointsare anything that can be designed, whether it is in person or online. Touchpointsare not elements you have no control over, such as the weather or traffic.
touchpointdiscoveries are, make sure to find a way to improve them. If your startup is trying to sign up users to take a free demo or trial, take a look at the process; could you decrease the number fields required in your forms for completion or perhaps have less steps involved for them to start using it? Say your business has a retail location with a waiting room, and people report back to you that they are bored while waiting for their appointments. Maybe you could add more reading materials, coffee or a television that moves the needle in the customer’s experience?
In this process, you may discover common issues or themes that begin to arise, or perhaps common words or phrases customers are using to describe interactions. Record all of these comments and thoughts
inyour customer experience map. These common themes could lend themselves to major insights into how to remove bottlenecks and optimize your customer acquisition funnels better.
Fourth Step: Setting the Stage
During this fourth step is exactly where you want to take a step back along with a good long look at the entire customer journey. What do you see? If we continue to use the storytelling analogy, you probably see some chapters emerging in the beginning, middle and end. This is a natural
Similar to chapters in any good book, this exercise helps you better chart the customer journey so you can see what stages need the most attention in development and better help processes for your customer. Ask: are there any stages that are not converting prospects through to next
You can label these troubled spots as opportunities and insights, and offer light suggestions or solutions to subsequently test under each stage. This step will help your customer experience map more than just an experience - it will make this whole process a strategic sales tool.
Naming the stages:
Consider naming the chapters of the customer journey. This will help with understanding the process more thoroughly. If we continue to use the retail store location as an example:
Stage one: could be labeled “Window Shopping Downtown” or “Searching Online for a Product your Store Sells.”
Stage two: could be titled the “In-store Experience.”
Stage three: could be referenced to as the “Review Process.”
Stage four: “Using, Testing or Trying the Product.”
Subsequent journey chapters could then follow.
A similar process is beneficial for an online digital shopping experience, such booking an RV resort reservation, getting an airline ticket, booking a hotel, buying on Amazon or completing any other type of purchase.
As you may see, the buyer’s journey has many options and take several directions. What you need to ensure is that each stage represents all the - actions, tasks, feelings, thoughts - which then equals the touchpoints with which your customer engages.
You may be asking, how does this whole process really get implemented and completed? We have covered the basic formula of customer experience mapping. Now, let’s use a real world example and map it so we discover and identify opportunities for improvement.
Real Example of Customer Experience Mapping - The California DMV -
Since this a post for entrepreneurs in the Startup Grind community, most of us have had (well let's say it like it is), “a not
The question then arises: has the DMV tried to improve its processes?
Let’s take a look and start by qualifying the DMVs “behavior.” Our research indicates that, over the last five years, California’s budget cuts have resulted in shortened DMV open hours, pushed many services to the online, and sometimes inaccessible realm and reduced the number of full time staff available to DMV “users.” All of these changes were done with the intention of digitally automating some seemingly less complicated tasks in order to save money and allow for more budget cuts.
Shown here is the California DMV's” Book An Appointment” feature. As you can see, it's not offered in other languages, and doesn't indicate wait times on the
The Waiting Line
One thing that the California DMV has always tried to improve [or stay consistent with] is its notorious waiting times. The ability to make an appointment in advance (an online booking page appears) feature is one method that California has used to try and improve this problem.
Let’s see how the customer experience mapping technique could have made this process better.
Currently, if you own a smartphone or laptop, merely booking this appointment is the only way to make your DMV experience slightly more bearable. This appointment is supposedly helping you avoid the hardship of waiting for countless hours just to renew a license or re-register your vehicle, etc.
You may be surprised to know that there are some people who do not even know you can book an appointment on the California
These people remain among those who are still experiencing extraordinarily long wait times
Experience Mapping of the California DMV
What happened (Activities & Tasks):
You received a letter in the mail from the DMV: your license or registration is going to expire, so you need to get it renewed. You probably will need to take a new photo and collect supporting documentation.
You head over to https://www.dmv.ca.gov/ and take advantage of the book an appointment page feature.
Thoughts & Feelings:
Getting a notice in the mail from any government agency can make you feel a little anxious, or even annoyed.
You now start thinking “When am going to find the time during the busy schedule that my startup demands? How am I going to just hang out at the DMV for half a day?”
You hope that booking the appointment online will make the process faster and run
more smoothly. Touchpoints: Notice of the License Renewal letter. Online Book An Appointment Feature.
Discoveries & Insights:
Non-English speakers are not able to book an appointment unless they can read and type in English.
Booking an appointment online does not absolutely guarantee you a shorter waiting time or provide a parameter for actual wait time either.
The DMV could offer different language options (especially Spanish) for notices, renewal letters, as well as the online booking page feature.
The DMV could provide drivers and other customers with an estimated wait time of service or estimated wait time based on the number of appointments for the day, so at the actual time of the booking, customers can have at least a vague understanding or
guestimateof the wait time they could potentially experience.
Once you are inside the actual building, the DMV could display an estimated wait time for those with and without an appointment.
The DMV could text notifications to let you know when it will be ready for you after you’ve checked in for your appointment, comparable to what Apple does at all
Booking the appointment at the DMV.
Going to the appointment.
Getting your picture taken and paying/producing supporting documents when necessary.
Exiting the parking lot experience.
Receiving the renewed license or registration in the mail.
At this point, the DMV’s marketing team, or equivalent, might attempt to tackle certain opportunities and create new strategies to address and tackle issues in order to ease the customer’s experience.
Recapping the Blueprint: Map your Customer’s Journey
As you can see, mapping a customer’s journey can bring to light so many useful insights; insights that can help your product, your service, your brand or business. Ways that will just, overall, provide a better experience for your customers - experiences that could not only yield higher ROIs and greater customer loyalty, but also yield better reviews, testimonials and social proof.
All of these elements and details are fodder for an improved overall experience with your brand
So Now What?
If you are now literally chomping at the bit and ready to try the customer experience mapping process out on your brand, here are some more helpful tips to move you along:
1. Remember: the journey always represents and is meant to benefit the customer. Focus on discovering, at each stage of the journey and at each
2. Don’t forget: about the context of each stage. What
3. Make sure: to note all
4. Pro Tip: in regards to the people (
5. Lastly: don’t forget to collaborate with all teams in your organization. Gather as much data and insights from these teams and departments to help get you started and craft a customer journey that’s spot-on from the beginning, middle, to the very-end.
Takeaways: How Does this Help your business results Bottom Line?
Remember that, for some brands, improvements in customer experience can easily translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars of incremental annual revenues. From the moment your users first interact with your product or service, they begin their customer journey.
Experience mapping captures the customer’s experience across