THRIVing in the "Age of the Customer"

Jonathan Dalton, IDSA, co-founder and chief executive officer of product development and innovation strategy firm THRIVE, an IDSA Ambassador, finds that customer journey mapping is a technique that enables product and service designers to see and fully understand the customer experience from the customer perspective.

“Empowered buyers are demanding a greater focus on their needs, habits and behaviors with an expanded concept of value, and to deliver on this we need to gain a more intimate and holistic understanding of who they are as people,” says Dalton. “Value is now very personal, and consumer expectations are changing!”

It’s no longer enough to incorporate the implicit qualities of excellent functionality and usability, as well as the explicit qualities of an appealing look and feel of a product or service. Organizations and companies need to discover new, attractive qualities by considering the whole experience of interaction between a person and the product or service over time.

Dalton recommends 10 Steps to Sure-fire Success:

  1. Anticipate the Journey: Spending some time up front and mapping the territory before going in the field is a critical part of the customer journey mapping process. Hosting a workshop to bring together all customer insights and understanding within an organization is an excellent way to engage stakeholders in the process. Ask “What Do We Know?” “What Do We Think We Know?” and “What Don’t We Know?”
  2. Get Focused: Before going into the field, it’s imperative to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve and who should participate. Focus on defining the strategic target; prototyping the journey, and capturing the experience.
  3. Identify Touchpoints: Think about all the physical and virtual interactions the customer has with the experience to create a holistic assessment of the brand’s relationship with the customer. Identify which of the touchpoints are redundant; the gaps that exist; how customers are currently experiencing your brand; and where to focus.
  4. Capture the Experience: Ethnographic research methods, such as shadowing and observation, help the designer enter the moment and should be used as much as possible when in-field—along with structured interviews—to capture their activities, repertoires and emotions. “Customers are no longer passive, but a valuable and intrinsic part of the process,” says Dalton. “Consider them holistically and look at the larger context in which they use products and services. Above all—engage them!”
  5. Determine Moments of Truth: When customers invest a high amount of emotional energy in the outcome, they pause, evaluate the experience and make crucial decisions. Address their needs at this moment to get an engaged, delighted customer.
  6. Find Pain Points: Strong emotions often occur when a customer has a problem, and this is the greatest opportunity to create an emotional bond. Look at the map to identify the issues and pain points experienced by customers. Capture the issues and pain points using emotive words and bring them to life with clear calls to action. After determining the lows in the experience, frame key insights and opportunities that address customer pain points at each stage of the customer journey.
  7. Amplify Emotional Highs: Designers are uniquely empowered to help their brands not only stand apart from the competition but also positively engage the customer. Build on the emotional highs of the customer journey—after all, this is where the designer already has equity. But be mindful, it will only create an impact if it's valued by the customer.
  8. Explore New Opportunities: Use the customer journey map to generate new ideas and concepts collaboratively with the team. Facilitate ideation workshops which take the insights, opportunities and principles that populate the map and put them into action. Work together to improve and re-envision the customer experience.
  9. Envision the Ideal Journey: To envision an improved and dramatically different customer experience, create an Ideal Customer Journey Map that moves beyond the documented experience and helps to define the desired future state, by mapping what customers would ideally like to do, think and feel as they interact with the brand’s touchpoints. “Don’t be afraid to dream!” says Dalton.
  10. Bring the Journey to Life: Turning the customer journey map into a compelling visual story means thinking through both work already done—and the work which it will inspire. The goal is to craft a compelling piece of communication that can stand on its own. Invest in design—communication is everything. Don’t let all the great work fall at the last hurdle.

Delve into how customer journey mapping fits into the bigger picture. Find more details on the THRIVE Blog.