Article by Chris Beaudin, director of marketing at Atlatl Software
Steve Jobs once famously said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology — not the other way around.”
What I love about this statement is that it highlights how all too often, we look for the destination without giving enough thought into how we expect to arrive at said destination.
In business, if we make a product our company’s goals are almost always centered around selling that product. We’ll spend incredible amounts of time building it, testing it, designing manufacturing processes around it, and everything else required in bringing that product to market. We must apply similar methodology towards designing the journey we want and expect our potential buyers to take as they pursue this product we’ve invested so much in.
This is where journey mapping comes into play. Just like a buyer persona identifies who you are targeting to purchase your product, the journey map outlines the experience that persona will encounter as they proceed to a purchase.
Journey mapping in the experience economy
Helping your customers find the quickest way from point A to point B might be the goal. After all, buyer friction is what kills most sales. But crafting that streamlined path towards the next most critical point in a buyer journey is not always easy. It takes a dedicated effort to think like your customers, imagine all that they might be considering and evaluating, and make intuitive decisions about ways you can not only meet their expectations but also offer moments of delight.
Creating journey maps
journey maps can take on a number of formats and constructs. A quick google search will show you a host of examples and methods for mapping journeys. Here’s my take on starting a journey map process:
Break the journey down into phases
- You can leverage tried and true phases like “awareness,” “consideration,” etc or you can adopt something that applies more directly to your business.
- I like to start at the highest level possible and break it down from there.
- I often will use the ‘Be Seen – Be Valued – Be Trusted’ steps in thinking about what our journey is doing to address these three pillars.
Once you understand each phase you want to include, then begin to think about ways you’ll evaluate that phase.
- What goals will you have at this phase?
- How will you present your product in this phase?
- What actions do you want the customer to take?
- What touchpoints, channels, or people will be involved?
- What will you want your customer thinking at this phase?
- What pain points might they endure?
Map these questions to your current understanding of your experience, and then take a long, thorough look at ways you can improve your customers experience. Can you eliminate steps, add moments of value they didn’t expect, or meet expectations you may not be meeting today.
Journey mapping in the modern age: Product visualization’s role
In the past, most every journey map would be centered around an in-store experience. But as we know, that’s changed. Today, most are a matrix of technologies combining with the shell of a website to create a digital buyer’s journey. As a result, product experience has become an increasing challenge to the buyer. Imagery and video have allowed e-commerce to take foot, but consumers are still demanding more. Especially for higher dollar, configurable products. The answer to this challenge comes in the form of “the digital test drive.”
The technologies are allowing companies to bring products to life on-screen. Like a digital dressing room, buyers can “try on” the items they’re looking to buy. They can interact with them, configure or customize them, or just get a better perspective of what the product actually is. This capability bridges the gap that exists between the digital world we prefer with the physical world these products exist in. Leveraging the “digital twin” through a visual platform, a buyer is now empowered to browse and shop with confidence.
As you’re crafting journey maps, “product experience” through visualization and visual configuration should be a key consideration in your journey development.