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A GUIDE FOR CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING

Combining qualitative and quantitative methods for data-driven, faster and more reliable insights
#DataDrivenDesign #CustomerJourney #CustomerJourneyMap

SHOULD I USE A CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP?

A customer journey is a very helpful tool to empathise with customers and plan ahead how your experience will feel like when complete.

It is a valuable tool to create a good flow, with a proper beginning, peak and end — and for adding the right magic dust to it.

METHODOLOGY

I have used this methodology to map experiences in some of the most iconic companies in the Nordics. I have used it in fashion, railways, airlines, beverages and more.

My Academic background in culture and technology has helped me to find ways other designers were not using for gathering insights. Similarly, my Analytics experience helped me to combine quantitative and qualitative data.

Here is a comprehensive step by step, in detail for building maps that help you to design and orchestrate powerful experiences.

 

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS 

 

BE THE SNOOPER

This is when you will learn what the people you are working with see the project. You will be a detective, trying to understand what salesmen are trying to push, what product owners want to achieve and what management is after on the long run. You will learn their intentions, and help them to align and understand one another. 

Points to consider

You will be their shoulder to cry on.

Understand you are in a political discussion.

Trust the statements, but verify.

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS

 

Methodology

In-depth interviews

Nature of data

Qualitative

Highly interpretative

Goal

Ground recognition

Optimal number of interviews

Until answers start repeating.

Usually less than 10 subjects.

Resources

A week planning and recruiting

A week conducting interviews

2-3 days reporting data

 

USER INTERVIEWS 

 

BE THE PSYCHOLOGIST

Now it's time to select your first segment of potential customers and gain insight on how they feel about your ideas, products or prototypes. You will truly empathise with them here, understand their context, their way of living and how they generally behave around the concept.

There are plenty of guides on what to ask users. The most important takeaway here: understand the goal of in-depth interviews.

In-depth interviews are perfect to understand common characteristics of a segment. They let researchers look into the common sense of a specific segment of clients. These interviews reach general, established truths. They bring clarity to ethnographic profiles, socio-economical contexts, prejudices, general impressions and so on.

 

They shed light in what tends to be the general impression of a segment concerning a service. 

For usability, they are the perfect method. Because in general technological culture, usability is a universal skill. If it's bad for 6 people, it tends to be bad for everyone.

Points to consider

Learn what they answer, and what they don't. Don't mix that up.

PRO TIP
SELECTING INTERVIEWEES
 
If you want to interview existing customers, go for the best possible customers. That will give you the perspective of people who really love your product.
If you are exploring a new segment or product, go for representatives of this segment that spends significant time or money with a competitor or substitute solution.
Never recruit based on demographics alone. The best sources are the ones who are, somehow, engaged with what you can possibly offer.

IN-DEPTH USER/CUSTOMER INTERVIEWS

 

Methodology

Interview saturation

Nature of data

Qualitative

Highly interpretative

Goal

Insights used to form a hypothesis about the user's problem or early possible solutions

Optimal number of interviews

Until answers start repeating.

Usually less than 10 subjects.

Resources

A week planning and recruiting

A week conducting interviews

2-3 days reporting data

WHAT DESIGNERS WON'T ADMIT

 

User interviews are fairly easy to setup and it is even easier to get carried away by them. Clients tend to get involved and the designer's life gets easy. That is dangerous, because confirmation bias steps in: nobody wants to be the dissonant voice, and the real goal is missed.

 

Let's get it right: interviews are wonderful to understand if services are usable. They are great methods to generate hypotheses. 

When it comes to certainty, they fall flat. "It seems this could be a good idea given a few circumstances", you may state after these interviews. Not much of an insight.

On the other hand, good interview processes get the designer excited and saying "hey, we now have many ideas to work with!".

Qualitative interviews are very unreliable when used to confirm if users would actually buy a product. You simply cannot ask users to emulate a decision. Unless they open their wallet and place a pre-order, you cannot take in account success market based on a few discussions. The sample being ridiculously small when compared to the market is also a big problem in this respect.

In this respect, interviews are heavily biased. And paradoxically, the bias comes as a side effect from empathising with the interviewer. Generating empathy is the purpose of the interviews — so better let interviews answer the right questions.

 

SEARCH BEHAVIOR​

 

BE THE DATA SCIENTIST

This is where you can really differentiate from the vast majority of service designers out there.

For as incredible as it seems, marketing people are very good with search behavior tools (they call it SEM, or Search Engine Marketing). They use it to understand the exact keywords they want to use to market a product.

 

We are not looking into search behavior for these reasons. We are looking into the way  people think, search and refer to a product, service or industry. This is unprecedented and greatly unbiased access to the collective human brain!

 

This is the step where you leave the 1-6 users sample and access much larger samples. So you are not evaluating contexts or common sense, but validating the common sense assumptions you made after the interviews.

MARKET VIABILITY ANALYSIS STARTS HERE 

Furthermore, this is what gets you a seat around the strategy table. You are able to tell how many people per month look for that kind of problem, product or issue.

 

These are clear indications that there is, possibly, a market for your client's idea — or not. How valuable is that?

EXAMPLE CASE
LAUNCHING OUR OWN 
LIQUID HAND SOAP
 
Here's a fictional case where a client wants to launch a new line of products, starting with liquid hand soap.
If we check Demographics.io (a free tool), you will know that in the U.S. this is a popular search among 45+ women. We don't have to restrict ourselves to this audience, but isn't that an amazing insight, attained in 5 seconds and free of charge?
Now, let's check how many people actually look that up in the U.S. Any market is possible to check, but let's stick to the example.
 
Using SEMRush (about €99 per month) you are able to understand how many people search Google for the term, and if there's a fall or rise in trends. 
12,000 people searching for your product category every month may not be bad at all!
 
The rise in trends is very sharp, and you may inform you client that they are actually onto something: the rise starts on March, 2020, and it may be one of those products that Covid lifted up. So let's check, also for free, in Google Trends:
It's pretty hard to argue with Google Trends!
Now, a good market analyst may gain the same insight by surveying thousands of supermarkets. But isn't it great that a service designer can give you these lean metrics so quickly and at the right time?
But we can dig much deeper. Here we can understand from SEMRush how people actually search these products, and reflect your user interviews:
This examples brings a few insights from Search Behavior to reflect with your previously conducted user interviews:
 
12K persons look up this product online. That tells that they are not yet loyal to one source only, so there is opportunity.
Clear byproduct opportunity. 5.5K people are looking for refills! That hints for a strong satisfaction with the product category, as half of them want to repurchase in some way.
 
Furthermore, it hints that you may already start thinking of a byproduct, the refill — and even opportunize monthly recurrent revenue.
Luxury or health? Antibacterial emphasis is the highest ranking attribute searched! Should it look more like perfume or have that clinical purity aesthetics?
Substitutes? One substitute may be homemade products. Positioning as handcrafted may alleviate this, as long as the price holds. Curiously, the bar soap doesn't look very threatening when in immediate comparison.
You get the point. Can you see the power of Search Behavior in Service Design?
 

EXPLORATION & FEEDBACK​

 

BE THE COGNITIVE SCIENTIST

This is a really fun part of the process, and the way you approach it depends on the stage of your product development or the nature of your business.

First, recruit "agents"​

You need to recruit people and give them a crash course on how to use the tools you will give them. A base instruction is: simply report when something affects your mood.

Users should keep a diary of the experience and report emotional changes and what triggered them.

How many, and what profile?

It is a well established definition that 6 persons are enough to uncover most usability problems on a service. Apply the same rule for real-life businesses!

As for the profile, do not get caught up in segments, here: map your service based on humans, not on specific niches. You want to uncover your essential customer journey, the one performed by most customers. Thus, look for the goal of ground exploration

THE SPLIT

4/5

BIOFEEDBACK IN MOMENTS

FROM PHYSICAL EXISTING SERVICES

Mapping a physical is an incredible process. The main goal is to understand how physically and emotionally your customer experiences the service or product.

HOW IT WORKS

In here, you will recruit users to do some "mystery shopping" — that is, they have a task at hand to complete — and report how they felt along the way.

 

This can last an hour shopping or a week waiting for something to arrive from the mail. 

 

You may use gadgets to collect physiological data: FitBit for heartrate and steps, MoodMeter for reporting emotions and a GoPro to record everything, if that is possible.

 

After the process is over, you will conduct an interview where you discuss how they feel about the service.
 

Report emotions: Mood Meter

I use a brilliant app that costs $0.99 and was developed by the Department of Psychology of Yale University. Users are able to plot how they feel very easily, in very nuanced ways. It also timestamps the usage so you know exactly when each thing happened.

Measure physiology: Fitbit

Retail is a physical experience. I like to know a day in life of the user, but also a day in data. I want to know their heart rate when they reach the store from their car (Is the parking lot 2km away? Are there big staircases?), at what point they get thirsty, at what point they want to go to the restroom and this type of physiological data. Creepy? No, scientific!

REVIEW

Once the agents perform the task, you will sit down with them separately and discuss how it went

 

it's all part of a mosaic of data that, when put together, give a comprehensive view of the experience.

Yale's Mood Meter App Recruit users and equip them with the app, asking them to report emotions as they experience the service.

EXPLORATION & FEEDBACK IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT (RECRUITED AGENTS)

 

Methodology

Self-reported emotions
Geotracking, biotracking

Nature of data

Qualitative data, quantitatively

Moderately accurate

Review session and assessment

Goal

Recognize the service and map it according to emotional reactions to the service.

Markers

Level of Ability — Can they perform the given task?

Level of Confidence — Are they confident or confused?

Level of Sentiment — How do they feel about the service?

Peak

Moment of Truth

Insight, Pride, Connection, Elevation

Optimal number of subjects

Around six, as established by usability research.

Duration of tracking

From 1h (a visit to a shop) up to a week (placing an ecommerce order, waiting for delivery, unboxing).

Resources

A week planning and recruiting

A week collecting data

3-5 days collating and reporting data

Suggested software / hardware

Mood Meter App

GoPro camera

Fitbit (or other biotracker)
Podometer app (if not using Fitbit)

GSR sensor & software

4/5

BIOFEEDBACK

FROM DIGITAL SERVICES

If you are working with digital services you are able to collect biofeedback from users. It doesn't matter if you have a live service or an interactive prototype mockup.

Don't get impressed with the biofeedback term. You may go to eye tracking and other gimmicks, but you don't have to.

To me, the most illuminating thing you can get is a good heatmap from HotJar and proper recorded sessions — also available, for free, in HotJar. Other tools are Google Analytics (or any Business Intelligence suite). If you want to be really fancy, go for Galvanic Skin Reaction devices.

Heatmaps

What percentage of people are scrolling your pages till the end? Can you make a business out of the few ones who get to your call to action?

Mouse cursors

Also a heatmap, what is the mouse cursor behavior? This sounds funny, but it's an incredible indicator for what people pay attention to. Yes, people do read using their mouse. So you definitely don't need eye tracking gadgets (they will mostly track the eyeballs of a few users in a highly controlled an awkward environment, as opposed to free tracking of the mouse).

Screen recordings

You may spend hours watching the behavior of users online, like a legit scientist would do with their subjects. There is just so much that can be observed. Do users seem confused? Where do they get detained? Where are they spending time? At which point do they abandon the website? 

Analytics

Analytics are not entirely user-friendly tools, but if you have a knack for it, dive in. If not, ask your analyst to give you some insights on how the site is used lately, the profile of users (location, gender, age), the pages they most visit, the time they spend on the site, the bounce rate (that is, how many people arrive at the site and leave immediately). Those won't explain everything, but will definitely be very valuable hints for what you are looking after — that is, more confidence in making decisions, raising hypotheses and challenging assumptions.

Galvanic Skin Reaction (GSR)

Once in a while I hear about this, and I go along, because they are fun tests. Galvanic Skin Reaction gadgets are attached to the user's hands and measure the electric current on the hands. If the user gets an increase in palms sweat, the current increases. It should be an indication of arousal, for the good (excitement) or bad (confusion).

GSR sounds all very illuminating, but the truth is simpler: why do you need to measure these somewhat imprecise nervousness levels if you can, quite simply, just measure if the design you are offering sells more than the previous? So forget GSR and focus on A/B tests.

HotJar of a Wikipedia page Heated areas show clicks or mouse movement, indicating clearly the areas and functions of most interest.

EXPLORATION & FEEDBACK IN LIVE DIGITAL SERVICES (DATA TRACKING)

 

Methodology

Tracking user sessions
Observation

Nature of data

Quantitative data

Goal

Observe users interacting with the service on their own.

Markers

Level of Ability — Can they perform the given task?

Level of Confidence — Are they confident or confused?

Minimum number of subjects

50-100, minimum

Duration of tracking

A few minutes, or as long as a typical session takes.

Resources

A week planning and recruiting

A week conducting data

3-5 days collating and reporting data

Suggested software 

HotJar 

SEM Rush

Google Trends

Google Analytics

PRO TIP
CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT OR OUT IN THE OPEN?
As you may see from the takeaways, what you get varies from each method. Having a low number of respondents tracked quantitatively can give you "qualitative data, quantitatively", which may inspire you for great service design along the journey. It's greatly precise method. You measure closely, but you may be measuring irrelevant things if they don't ultimately represent many customers.
Quantitative studies, however, validate enormously if your design is working. It's a highly accurate method — you have less precision, but accurately indicates what is relevant.
Try to combine both according to your budget, urgency and need.
 

THE REVIEW

 

It's time to collate the data we gathered and turn it into actionable insights.

REVIEW​ WITH AGENTS

 

It's time to collate the data we gathered and turn it into actionable insights.

If your research had recruited agents (either in physical services or digital prototypes), you will discuss the following markers:

 

Markers

You will ask, from 1 to 10, how they felt about three main markers: Ability, Confidence, Sentiment.

Ability
Could they perform the task?

 

Confidence
Were they confidence on how to perform the task, or confused?

 

Sentiment
How did they feel about the service in the end?

Qualitative Markers

These are not quantified, but described by users.

Moment of Truth

When did they feel they actually "got what they were looking for"?

 

Peak
What would they say was the peak of the experience?

Special moments 
Did they encounter any moment of insight, pride, connection or elevation?

Emotion variations

Along the journey, how moods change. A quadrant of emotions may help:

 

Good high energy

Excited, Cheerful

Good low energy

Satisfied, calm

Bad high energy

Angry, Nervous

Bad low energy

Bored, frustrated

REVIEW​ WITH TOOLS

 

It's time to collate the data we gathered and turn it into actionable insights.

If your research was based on live services tracked with tools like HotJar and Analytics, you will investigate the following markers, and assess them:

 

Markers

You will estimate from 1 to 10 how they felt about three main markers: Ability and Confidence, and identify these markers in the main screens of the service (homepage, product page, contact form, for example).

Ability
Could users perform the task?

 

Confidence
Did users seem confused and wandering at points, or confident and to the point?

 

THE MAP

Finally, it's time to build our map. You will gather the insights and lay them over a map.

The big difference between this methodology and other methodologies is that here we will break down the journey in moments not in objective touchpoints. Ready?

[TO BE CONTINUED]

KPI_Canvas_web_edited.jpg

DOWNLOAD THE KPI CANVAS

 

You may create your own canvas, but this is a working model I have used with many businesses, from small to big. Enjoy, and share if it was helpful!

MORE TOOLS AND CANVAS FOR DATA-DRIVEN SERVICE DESIGN

Framing your wild idea into a structured hypothesis

It's great to have ideas, and after converging them, nothing speaks feasibility like a properly structure hypothesis.

A planner to build loyalty with rewards, suitable for any marketing stack

Based on video-game studies and best-in-class cases, this three-layered calendar is a design tool for incentives and rewards.

Customer Journeys, the whole story

I published this ebook a while ago. It is still my practice  for mapping customer journeys: build the Essential Journey, track emotions and touchpoint data — lift the experience from there.

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©2020 by Lutav | Sérgio Tavares, ph.D.