Experience Mapping: The Magical Crystal Ball

By Clemente Miller, User Experience Designer

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a magical crystal ball that could reveal everything about your customers?  About their needs and aspirations, their worries and fears, their goals and barriers? Unfortunately there isn’t…yet…but experience mapping gets you pretty darn close.

Experience mapping is a group activity that empowers us to take an outside-in viewpoint on our user research – looking at the entirety of the customer journey, not just within the context of your particular product or service. Through this holistic lens, we can identify how and where your company is currently engaging with customers – for better or worse – as well as previously unrealized opportunities for broader/deeper engagement. Since the customer journey is at the heart of the experience mapping activity, what makes experience mapping effective is:

  • Viewing the journey through the eyes of an identified archetype/persona
  • Mapping out all the stages of their journey (including those that do not intersect with your product or service)
  • Identifying the what, when, where, how and why of their interaction touch-points
  • Aligning their emotional state to their interaction touch-points

Before starting any experience mapping activity, we first must understand your business and the goals you have for your product. Simultaneously, we begin conducting user research to gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs, motivations, and pain-points as they relate to both your product/service and their broader associated goals. When we’ve gathered enough insights from the research to make some informed decisions about your customers, we can begin identifying the archetypes/personas that will serve as the primary “lenses” for the experience mapping activities. Now, the fun begins! Together, we’ll go through a series of collaborative workshops, capturing everything we know about the archetypes/personas in order to begin mapping out their story and journey as we understand it today. By the end of the series we should have a good understanding of their experiential relationship with your product/service, and some clear opportunities to focus on or scope against. In addition, experience mapping has the potential to reveal pain-points, which help both our user experience design efforts and our client’s long-term strategic planning. By deep diving into areas of opportunity we gain a greater understanding of a customer’s engagement factors and uncover new ways to create more meaningful and long-lasting connections with them.

The value our clients have gleaned from the experience mapping activity is tremendous. We repeatedly see more impactful results, and a sharper focus on which opportunities will result in the most meaningful improvements for your customers.  Experience mapping helps validate assumptions, refute long-held internal beliefs that create barriers to progress, and even impacts ROI by improving strategic visibility on which paths to take, and which to avoid. Experience mapping is a fresh way to take an outside-in look at your customers and explore new ways to create deeper, more meaningful connections with them.

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