What do you use when you are looking to build the next big thing or to reinvent your previous big one? Many people just sit down and try to invent the future from the top of their head, preferring to use personal insight and experience to conjure the next big thing. In many instances, these are fuelled by personal biases and pet projects. They are no different from a self-glorification exercise, as we look to validate our own biases. Some times they work, other times they fail miserably. But since new product development is about failing - failing fast and failing cheap - the results can be swept under the carpet and the process restarted without really understanding the root of the failure. If this seems to be your experience, then read on, because I am going to share with you a powerful tool that you can - and should - use at the start of any new product development process. Enter the journey map.
The Journey Map
A journey map is a map of the processes that a stakeholder uses when interacting with your product or service. It is more than a process map, because it also assesses the emotional level of the stakeholder at each point in the process. Points of low emotion are areas where we can focus on in our first iteration of the new product. Take a look at the map below made by a group of designers looking to improve customer service in a cafe:
You will see that the map is broken up into distinct zones; at the top, there are the steps that the stakeholder took from end to end. The next zone maps the emotional level of the stakeholder at each step - high, medium or low. While it seems that there should be more gradation in emotions, the intent is not in seeing how satisfied a person is, but how each step contributes to the total customer experience. Hence, low, medium and high are all we need. The last step is zone is optional - it takes note of the senses engaged. This is important when building a customer journey map because when more of a customer's senses are engaged, the more immersive, and ultimately satisfying, the journey is; and that is what we strive for, don't we?
Uses of the journey map
The journey map is a great tool for uncovering hidden opportunities. When several maps are overlaid, and there is a consistent low emotion point, it points to an area of improvement and change that can lead to increased customer satisfaction and ultimately, a better product.
When the map is used with internal stakeholders like sales and fulfilment, it can highlight points within our system that need serious retooling. It opens up the discussions of what is, and what if, and give us an opportunity to optimise our processes, and provide key customer service to keep them coming back for more.
The map also allows us to collapse steps, or reorder the way customers interact with our product or service. This can open up new areas of emotional highs, and enable us to deliver highly targetted and superlative service that people have come to expect from all businesses.
Increasing customer lifetime value
So the journey map is a very important tool in the arsenal of the corporate design thinker. To grow businesses organically, there is a need to provide over-the-top customer experience so that they not only come back to us time and again, but to also invite their friends, and their friends' friends, so that your customer lifetime value is extended. And that is why you should start all product development exercises with the look of what is with the journey map.