Experience Maps: Unlocking the Customer Journey

Experience maps present information collected through user research. They are documents that present data from all aspects of the user experience (both online and offline). Research produces task flows, scenarios, personas and a range of other artifacts. These documents are revealing but on their own can seem fragmented in relation to the process. In particular for projects with large teams or where there is a lot of data.

The Experience Map illustrates a customer’s entire experience with your product. It takes into account your user’s needs and emotions at each interaction or ‘touchpoint’. From this we can understand the key interactions that have both a positive and negative impact on the user’s emotions.

In “The Value of Customer Journey Maps: A UX Designer’s Personal Journey”, Joel Flom gives an account of his personal experience and conversion to the utility of Experience Maps while working on a project for Boeing. He describes the essential elements to creating an effective experience map as the following:

  • They should be based on actual research. Assumptions and anecdotal evidence about the customer’s journey are not satisfactory. Ethnographic research and contextual inquiry is necessary to gain insight into what the customer experiences when dealing with your service or product.
  • The research should focus on the customer’s behavior and not their opinions or demographic data. The Experience Map must communicate what your customers actually do, not what they say.
  • The map should convey both positive as well negative experiences. Mapping positive experiences gives us the key touchpoints for moving the customer towards their end goal. Teams can look into ways to optimize those interactions to increase conversion. Alternatively, mapping negative experiences highlights those touchpoints that need the attention of the team.
  • Creating Experience Maps should involve the concept of ‘Service Design’. They should provide insights into every aspect of the experience, online and offline; and into every step, from beginning, middle and end.
  • The finished document should be on display in physical media. The main point of the Maps is that anyone involved in any way with the project can view the entire process using a simple and usable document. The Map should be printed out and displayed in an accessible manner.

The Experience Maps are not the end in and of itself. They are a tool to summarize the data from research about users and their behaviors. They should act as the push for ideas about UX improvements from all team members and stakeholders.

Further Reading:

Pinterest: A Collection of Customer Journey Maps

Adaptive Path: The Anatomy of an Experience Map


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