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Experience Maps

What Are They?

Experience maps are visual representations of the entire experience a consumer will have with your product or service. They can be current maps that reflect the true-to-life experiences customers have with your product, or they can be future maps that reflect the ideal ways in which consumers could experience your product. The kind of map you make depends entirely on what you want from it, and it can look however you think it should look. Usually experience maps take the form of some sort of chart, but you should pick the format that will best represent your customers’ experience.

All forms of experience maps should be comprehensive and should include every way a customer could possibly interact with your product—from researching your product to post-use. They should also be self-explanatory. Anyone viewing the map should be able to understand a customer’s experience without any explanation apart from the map itself.

Creating experience maps can often seem like a daunting task. However, with proper planning and research, creating experience maps can be a straightforward, enlightening, and enjoyable process.

How do I Create Them?

The process for creating a successful experience map can be outlined in the following six steps:

  1. Define Your Persona and Targeted Problems – Define the persona you want to base the map around. This persona should be a generic representation of the widest range of customers possible. Next, identify any problems you want to solve through the creation of the experience map. Are customers experiencing difficulties finding your product? Are your competitors doing better than you? Why? Are customers not staying long enough to use your product to its fullest potential? Record all the problems you want to solve so you can refer back to them later.
  1. Define Customer Phases – What is the process a customer goes through with your product? This process can be broken down into phases like these:
                       1) Developing the need for a product like yours

                        2) Product research

                        3) Finding your brand

                        4) Committing to your brand

                        5) Purchasing your product

                        6) Using your product

                        7) Post product use experience

    These do not need to be your identified customer phases; they are simply examples. However, note how these examples include events before and after experiencing your product, in addition to actually interacting with your product. These are important phases that should be included in your experience map. Once you have identified the proper customer phases for the experience with your product, organize the phases in chronological order. You will continue to organize all further information according to these chronological phases.

  1. Identify ALL Touchpoints – Think of every way a customer could possibly interact with your product. Think of all the reasons why these touchpoints happen. Discover who is in charge of each touchpoint. Organize these touchpoints according to the customer phases in which they occur.
  1. Conduct Research – Look at statistics and analytics you may have access to already; scour social media, reviews, blogs, and forums. Go out and talk to people! Discover what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling about their experiences with your product. Record all information. Then, from your research, determine customers’ thoughts on the purpose of each touchpoint, quantify the touchpoints’ effectiveness, and identify points of friction between customers and your brand. Add your discoveries to the map where applicable.
  1. Resolve Problems – Congratulations! Your map should be nearly completed by this point. Now you should review it with your team. Discuss any answers to the problems you listed in step 1 that were discovered during your research, and see if you can solve any other problems together. Make plans to implement your solutions.
  1. Iterate – You may find that you need additional research to solve your problems. If so, that’s fine. Go out and get it! Experience maps are fluid, and they should be created through iterations. As you discover more about customers’ experiences with your product, remap as necessary.

Why Should I Create Them?

The main benefit of an experience map is helping your team identify and solve problems occurring within the experience of using your product. This will ideally lead to gaining and retaining more customers and providing these customers with more positive experiences than are currently available using your product. Another benefit of an experience map is having a visual interpretation of your customers’ experience that can be seen and understood easily by all stakeholders and incite action that can help solve problems. As long as you are as comprehensive as possible in your mapping and research and follow the steps outlined above, you should be able to produce experience maps that will lead your business to needed insights and improved experiences for your customers.

Additional Resources