Mapping the touchpoints the customer has with an organisation.
Mapping the touchpoints the customer has with an organisation.
This includes both direct and indirect contact: from the company’s website to consumer review sites to third party agregators. Every single one of these touchpoints affects the customers willingness (or unwillingness) to purchase your products or services. Mapping these touchpoints compliments the customer journey map that concentrated on direct contacts with your organisation.
Consider both proprietary, third party and social touchpoints. For example, a hotel has its own website and online booking. But customers often also go through online travel agents (such as booking.com) and review what other guests have said about the hotel (tripadvisor.com). From each of these touchpoints, there radiate outward additional touchpoints such as payment platforms, newsletters, feedback forms etc. Add to the mix also physical contact (telephone calls) as well as partner platforms (airline offering your hotel), then over the course of the customer journey the touchpoints can add up to 100s. Almost all of which are outside your direct control, but influence the customer’s opinion of you.
Personas are a short cut. Unless you can have a real-life unbiased customer sitting in your office 24/7, answering and reacting naturally to every idea you have, then the next best thing is a persona.
Personas are used as points-of-reference in workshops and product / service development, where they act as a ballplank that one can virutally test ideas and behaviour on. Personas allow you to anchor customer behaviour based on a certain criteria, that isn’t personal or stereotypical. It allows all stakeholders a common frame of reference about a particular customer type, instead of trying to work towards generic customers. Each persona represents a significant portion of people in the real world and enables you to focus on a manageable and memorable cast of characters.
Critical in the development of personas, is to include their emotional state-of-mind. Humans are emotional beings and most decisions we make during the day are based either on experience (we’ve made the same decision before) or emotion. Rationalising decisions comes after the emotional decision has been made, not before.
The goal is to synthesise a group of observed customers and their traits into a coherent single person. While the background on the individual can be deep, the shorter the summary description of the persona is, while focusing on the key defining attribute, the easier it will be to use the personas in workshops and future design work.
How detailed to make the personas depends very much on the context in which they will be utilised. For long term product and service development, more detailed persona descriptions will allow designers to hypothetically test more features in relative detail. However, for concrete events, such as hypothetical journey mapping workshops, colourful but brief personas exhibiting extreme, rather than generic, characteristics will be more valuable. In general, it is a good idea to create persona’s of fans and enemies of the brand, rather than the gray consumer mass that is your customer incidentally, if the goal is development. However, if it is to gain a snapshot overview of reality, spreading personas according to real representation in customer groups makes more sense.
Mapping the customer journey hypothetically, is a method for gathering all the information from inside the organisation about what you know about the customer’s journey from need to satisfaction.
In a workshop format you gather all relevant stakeholders, to guess your way to how you think the customer’s journey actually looks and feels like. The goal of the excercise is to create a foundation of information to later validate or reject through stakeholder interviews.
Include all relevant qualitative data and conclusions from quantitative data, that you have access to. For example from observations of customers at different touchpoints or web analytics.
Stakeholders: to map out the hypothetical journey you need to gather a relevant team from inside your organisation, that have all different interactions with the customer, at different points of time during the customer journey. The goal is to have as many relevant and different viewpoints, as possible.
Using post-its and issue mapping technique, start defining different actions that happen during the journey. Consider the journey’s aspects from the customer’s point of view only, in the sense of what they see and experience. Ignore internal issues.
Once you have the customer’s point-of-view mapped, using the same method, start defining what is going on from the organisation’s persective:
Empathy maps are an effective method of hearing, seeing, thinking and feeling what customers do.
It is the motivation behind the transaction that is the key to understanding customer behavior and needs. But how do you see what they see? One tool we often use, to hypothesise around different consumer motivations is to work with personas and empathy maps. These help us see our own business through our customer’s eyes.
Developing personas is not difficult. However, it’s important to develop personas based on realistic character traits, including regular problems which real people have. A persona is a fictional character with a purpose. Usually they are described as someone you can easily observe but who’s preferences and abilities are different from yours (and more like your actual customer’s). The goal is to have something that one can attach a name and picture to and perceive as believable. Perfect imaginary friends don’t help. Flaws, wrinkles, muffin tops do. Anchoring the personas in statistics, including socio-demographic and income indicators helps keep them real.
Usually the best way to experience what your customers go through is to experience their experience. The second best way is to use empathy maps, to see the world through their eyes. Empathy maps are an effective method of hearing, seeing, thinking and feeling what customers do. As a part of the empathy map, we’ll understand what ‘pain’ the persona will have to go through for the ‘gain’ of the service or product.
Empathy maps collect the views of the observable competition (see), peer pressure and general opinions (hear), decision points and articulated needs (think) and behaviour (do) of the customer. Pain and gain reflect the obstacles and motivation of the customer.
Combining empathy maps with personas allows us to view the world through different customer segment viewpoints, to understand potential motivation as well as the obstacles they face in completing their customer journey. Insight gained from this hypothetical process can then be easily validated through customer interviews as well as real-life observation.
There’s a classic (at least we think so) film of Clayton Christensen explaining the job a milkshake does. This idea, that customers aren’t necessarily buying what you are selling isn’t new. But the jobs to be done theory does help to clarify the difference between what is important to you, the seller, and what is important to the buyer.
Let’s start with the issue of complexity. By definition, what seems difficult also seems important. Lucius Burckhardt said in Design is Invisible, “It isn’t the streetcar that makes the experience good. It is the timetable.” This idea that the benefit of public transport doesn’t manifest itself until people actually know when the next streetcar will show up, and plan their trip accordingly, isn’t a long leap of logic. But it does question whether the big solutions to the big problems actually pay off, if the little problem on the side aren’t treated as important too?
Often in services, the bottlenecks are where people have problems. But the bottlenecks are caused by an oversight that could easily be avoided, if the service provider considered human nature on top of engineering and efficiency. Humans move in packs and average load capacity vs peak load capacity makes all the difference in customer satisfaction at the end of the day, when everyone is trying to make it home at the same time.
Alternatively, there is another theory about complexity, which occasionally manifests itself. This is the phenomenon of complexity increasing over time as more and more features and options are layered onto a basic service. Like a restaurant menu gaining pages and combination options that increase the time it takes to order from seconds to minutes, or the remote control of the TV with too many buttons that do something that no-one actually cares to use. While too many buttons on a remote is just a waste of resources and engineering time, the increase in options on the menu actually end up as a cost to the business. After, research clearly shows that too many options decrease customer satisfaction (Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University) while ordering times will decrease restaurant revenue.
Then there is the question of where is value created. Luwig von Mieses said “There is no sensible distinction to be made in a restaurant between the value created by the one who cooks the food and the value created by the person who sweeps the floor.” From a restaurant owner’s perspective, the the kitchen represents the single largest investment, both from an equipment as well as staff perspective. But from the customer’s point-of-view, the dining room is where the food is eaten and if it isn’t pleasant and clean and comfortable, with clean restrooms, he or she may be disinclined to visit no matter how good the food is. McDonald’s realised this a long time ago. Ray Kroc famously said that “if you can lean, you can clean.” As a family restaurant, making mom’s and dad’s comfortable was key, and restroom cleanliness logically also meant that the kitchen was clean and the food safe.
Service delivered is not equal to value received. What feature of a service a customer places more value on, and on which feature less, makes up the jobs to be done. Considering that there are always a range of jobs to be done, and a range of options for completing the job, it makes sense to list the potential jobs to be done and consider what pain the customer is solving and what he or she will gain by solving it. Take for example the quarter inch drill. It has famously been pointed out, that no-one needs a quarter inch drill. Instead they need a quarter inch hole in the wall to hang a picture.
So what are the job to be done? First and foremost, a hole. But actually a painting on the wall. Or a nicer room. Or perhaps it started with the picture, of where to put mom’s portrait? The follow-up question is will there be a need for more holes or is just going to be the one? What else can you do with a quarter inch drill? What other way can you hang a picture on the wall? What is the actual need, because quite obviously, aside from some enthusiasts, no one needs a hole in the wall. The hole is just a means to an end, and in this case, depending on the weight of the portrait, a nail may work fine. Or a hook with super strong tape. Or chewing gum if it is temporary. In short, by listing an analysing the jobs to be done, it becomes apparent that portrait has many more options of getting attached to the wall than just through drilling and placing a hook.
The relative pains and gains from different options can also be analysed. After all, the average home drill is used for 45 minutes over a 20 year lifespan. While you may still need to drill a hole in the wall it might be cheaper to borrow it from your neighbour for the cost of a six-pack instead of buying your own. Or if a nail will do you can even get away without a hammer if you’ve got a pair clogs in the closet.
The value proposition map lets you define your customer (if you’ve got different defined customer groups, do one for each type), and list the jobs to be done, the pains and gains. This will help you define your actual value proposition. Because a service delivered does not equal value received, you’ll be able to define the value you deliver to the customer in the context where it also actually creates value for the customer. Which help help to deliver the service or product in a manner that also makes sense to the customer, without just mindlessly adding more features to make a useful product hard to use.