Build Your Customer Journey Map
So, now we're gonna kinda drill down into the specifics of customer journey mapping in the way that we're talking about doing it here. And again, this is just one of several frameworks that you can use to document your customer insights, but it's particularly powerful for companies that identify as wanting to drive a specific change to people's lives for the better because of the journey of it. First thing you gotta do is decide what journey you're mapping. And that is largely about knowing what problem it is that you're going to try to address. That said, the truth is sometimes we get to a place where in a company or in a business, we need a little more detail, like, we just need to understand this piece of the customer journey. I encourage you to, especially if this is your first approach at customer journey mapping, zoom way out, don't try to drill in and understand the little piece first. Understand the whole journey first, then you can zoom in. Okay, so for example, I'm gonna use ...
same kinds of, the same companies that we've talked about before because they're, you already know the problems and stuff. So, at Trulia, we would wanna map the journey from renter to homeowner. What does that whole process look like? And MyFitnessPal is like the journey from unhealthy living to healthy. At Airbnb, it might have been like the journey from feeling like an outsider in a place where you're, or a tourist, to feeling like someone who belongs or is part of that local community. Right, so first thing you gotta do is decide which journey you're mapping. The second thing you gotta do is to get some helpers, get some help. She's right, you can't do this process by yourself. You can do... You can do, like, I actually just did a very small customer journey, a customer research project in my own business that was like seven interviews. That I could do by myself, but it was a zoomed in, I had a really specific question I was looking for answers to. If I was doing a whole customer journey mapping process, I would not do it by myself, even as someone who has done this a lot of times. I would get a couple of helpers. Ideally, you need at least like one person to moderate and ask questions. You need one person to take notes. Sometimes that note taker can also be a photographer. Sometimes it's helpful, I think Brandi prefers to always just have a separate photographer because that person can just see things that you may not be seeing. And that's a little bit what you're getting, is like, if you're in someone's space, in particular, there are all sorts of, there's all sorts of contextual intelligence that you can get from what they're saying versus what's happening in the space, and also just from the space itself that you might, or, and the other people in the space, sometimes, that you can't get, necessarily, if it's just one person trying to like moderate and ask questions and take notes and, you know, it's just too many things. So the moderator should be able to focus on having a one-on-one conversation with a person and asking the right questions, which is mostly about listening, right? Just mostly about like listening to their answers, asking the followup. Yes, and you want your note taker, so this is, I'm getting nuts and bolts and technical here, you do want your note taker to take notes as close to verbatim as possible. You are literally looking to capture, like, quote phrases, they said these three words. And generally, like I will ask the note taker to put in quotes any phrases that are like, that seem salient, that are direct quotes. I want to see them in quotes. What you'll find is, when you get to six or seven people, when you get to the point in your research process where you've interviewed six or seven people, and you're putting the Post-Its on the wall, nine times out of 10, you'll start to see the same quotes, people saying the same words. That is important, when you hear it. Because that's what you put in your subject line. That's what triggers their mental frames for like, oh, I care about that already, right, when they see it in your content. So those quotes are important, verbatim is important. We always would do some level of recording, whether that was audio or video, just to have the record in case something went wrong with note taking, but most people, you know, people can type fast. You can kinda keep up, actually. All right, again, you're recruiting your customers the way that we're talking about them, not people who are paying you already, we're recruiting them from the broader pool of people who are facing and trying to solve the problem that you exist to solve, with the mindset that they may not all be my current customers, right? Sometimes they're, like for the small project that I just did, I was actually specifically doing a project around my ideal customer, which is different, and much narrower than my target customer. So you gotta be, you know, thinking about, who is that broader pool of people, thinking, referencing your problem all the time, and then we actually do normally recruit on Craigslist. And then mix it up. Mix up your demographics, especially if you're dealing with, if you're truly dealing with a big, human-scale problem. Now, if your company only is targeting a specific, like, like women, I'm not saying you have to go talk to some guys. But, you know, mix it up. It should be women of a variety of even income levels and ethnicities, and geographies. If you don't have a big budget for travel, sometimes we'll do a couple of, we will often pick cities by how, like the personality of a city and the size and feel of a city. So even near San Francisco, within driving distance, within a four-hour drive of San Francisco, there is rural, there is very suburban, and there is urban. So you kinda wanna capture those feels. Or you wanna do some video interviews, if you really think there might be a big difference with people in other parts of the country that you hope to serve, you can do some of those by video if you're trying to keep your budget down. Again, it's always kind of ideal if you can get in the room with people, but there's no reason not to do them because you can't. The one other, one of the other ways in which you wanna mix it up, you wanna mix it up in terms of talking with people you suspect will be at different stages of the journey. All right, so you wanna, like, we wanted to talk to people who were like avid CrossFitters and people who were literally morbidly obese. Like, were just really, really having a hard time. You wanna talk to people at a wide range of knowledge, existing knowledge about the subject matter, wide range of skills, wide, even extremes. In fact, sometimes the extremes are very illuminating. You wanna talk to people at the extreme, and you also wanna talk to the people in the mainstream. One thing you can consider is talking to experts. Talking to people who've, and I use the term expert kind of loosely. I often find that talking to salespeople in a space is very illuminating. Because salespeople just talk to people. They just hear stuff that other people in a company don't hear. So, you know, talking to the expert is helpful sometimes. Also, experts sometimes over their whole career have done, essentially, a customer research project because they've talked to like a thousand of your target audience members. And they have, they spot patterns sometimes that you might not. I wouldn't necessarily consider an expert the, like part of my customer research, part of my customer base or target audience, but I would for sure talk with them and maybe validate some of my insights against what they've seen. And then you wanna write a really good interview guide. So whoever is doing, like whoever your moderator is should not be going in with just like, do, do, da do, I'm having a good conversation today. Like, they should be dialed with questions that everybody in the research project is pretty confident are gonna get out the things that you guys wanna get out, but also that aren't, like, asked with total bias, you know? Like, if I had gone in asking these, you know, asking people in some of the suburban areas, you know, an hour and a half or two hours from San Francisco about like, so, what brand of organic kale do you eat? They'd have been like, girl, please. That is not what we're eating. You know what I mean? But like, or, is cost a big issue to you? Even that has some bias in it. Instead what we just, we ask a lot of open-ended questions. Right, what is your number one obstacle? Walk me through a day. Literally, walk me through what your day looks like and the things you might eat during the day or the food choices you make during the day. Part of being, getting good at interviews is remembering that what people say and what they do is often very different. Especially when it comes to kind of touchy subjects. So like, one of the ways you can get around this a little bit is to do the interview where they're making their, in their habitat. That really helps for that. Ask them, like, can you show me? So can you show me, as a followup question, solid. Like, all right, so you just did your grocery shopping for your paleo cookbooks. Can you show me what you bought? Jolly Rancher vodka. Right, just can you show me. And then, where there are discrepancies between what they're, where you see visible discrepancies between what they're saying and what they're doing, is often a really rich point of insight, right? Like, there's something, there's definitely some shame there around this woman, like, holding to this idea that she's paleo, but then she's, you know what I mean, she's doing some different things. And that's just the same part, is something that, from a content perspective, we could address. I find shame to be very counter-productive in the process of making real change in your life. So we did a fair number of mindset management pieces in that blog, around the, one of my favorites, which was something I wrote called, You Can't Hate Yourself Skinny. You can't, so we've gotta stop hating yourself. Doesn't work like that. You know what I mean, because of things that we would hear and things that we would see people do. It's, you know, this constant cycle of trying and self-sabotage and then hating yourself for the self-sabotage. So those are just some tactical thoughts about, you know, going in prepared. And also, again, it's really important that whoever's moderating be super, super engaged. And by that I just mean, like, listening, dialed in. Because that person needs to be able to, like, follow up, ask the "can you show me" at the right point. They kind of have to be into it, but one thing is, we would always take an executive with us and a different one from a different team, to different cities. In part because, not in part, largely because of the buy-in issue. I'll talk to you a little bit more about that. But I would almost never have that person be the moderator. I kind of just want them to observe. Like, you are probably thinking about your spreadsheets. So you think about your spreadsheets, but you're gonna listen to some cool stuff, and then I'll go in, right? So here are just a couple more tips on interview guides. Avoid leading them down a path, like with the organic kale example that I just gave. Avoid yes or no answers. Yes or no things are pretty easy to find out in surveys and with user data. Yes, start broad, like, tell me what a normal day for you looks like and what you would eat in the course of a normal day. That question, people will talk about for a half hour. They will literally be like, here is what, I pack this, I don't pack this, I think I'm gonna pack this, I buy that oatmeal, because I heard it was good, you know, and they'll like, tell you all this stuff that's actually really useful. What happens when I get to work, they've always got donuts, and da da da, and the kids' birthday parties and the pizza at the kids' birthday parties, and then they'll just tell you a lot of what you need if you start broad. And then you can, if you have really specific things you're trying to get at, you can get to them later, but often people will get to them for you if you start really broad. And then our example of really broad is the, you know, what are your obstacles? What are, in general, what is your number one obstacle to living the healthy life you wanna live? People will tell you. And then observe. Observe, observe, observe. And observe both the behaviors and the surroundings. You know, in health things, people, a lot of people who have very good intentions, and may even have a lot of discipline, don't do what they want to do because of perceived family pressure or family logistical challenges. Nobody else in the house wants to eat this, I can't cook two dinners, those kinds of things. So observing both them and their surroundings is actually important. Decide what journey you wanna map, get a team together to help you, make sure that you're recruiting broadly enough, including, you know, all of the kinds of people who are trying to solve the problem you exist to solve. Talk to people, you know, make sure that the customers you recruit from are from a wide variety of backgrounds and a wide variety of stages in your process. And then write a really good interview guide. All right, so, as you're doing this customer research, here are the kinds of patterns that you're looking to spot, to put together, in specific, to put together a customer journey map. You're trying to spot universal stages. So you're going to like identify and name, and I'll blow this up in just a second, you're gonna identify and name universal stages that people seem to go through along the journey that you're trying to map. You wanna spot how they feel at the different stages. You wanna spot how they act at the different stages. These are patterns you're gonna spot, right, in the customers that you talk to. You wanna spot where they get stuck, resistance points. You definitely wanna spot what gets them unstuck. And we call those progress triggers. Micro-moments are what questions are they asking at what stage in their journey, what are they searching for, and who are they asking. And then natural language. So this is just a sample journey map that I've created for this process, or this journey, from being broke financially to being actually a really good steward of your money, feeling like you're, you know, pretty mindful about money and feeling like you're pretty financially healthy. Sometimes, as I said, you'll find other little, either whole frameworks or just little points that you want to put in to help, you know, this becomes an institutional memorialization of your research process, basically, especially if you're in a larger company. This, like, lives on after the process and people end up using it, ideally, to make decisions. So you kind of have to explain yourself so that the document stands on its own without you necessarily having to explain it every time. So for me, it was really important to call out that, you know, this is progress, it goes this way, and that as you go along this axis, this X-axis, you're getting, you're increasing in money mindfulness and you're increasing in financial health. So, let's talk about stages. I am a marketer, so I give everything a brand name. I can't help it. I love to give brand names that are funny and provocative, as you can see with fi-curious. And what we've found a lot is that, in transformational consumer journeys, on a, like, on a specifically like healthy, wealthy, wise problem, you can tend to see people move from left to right in degrees of struggle and success, right? Almost no matter what the problem is. People are like, I'm really broke. And you know what, when I'm not broke, I'm broker than I was before. I'm really broke. And that's like, I'm struggling. It's like, it may not even, sometimes we even do a pre-stage, which is like, I'm not even trying. I just am not there yet. Right, at this point someone's had some catalyzing thing that made them at least try or be uncomfortable enough to be thinking about their finances. At this stage, they're struggling still. They may not be all the way successful yet, but they're trying a little more. And we'll talk about what those feelings and behaviors look like. Here, there's like a little, they're just more successful. Now, often at the stage before the end stage on a transformational consumer journey, there's still a lot of struggle. You know this person, like, in the weight realm, right? Like, they're workin' out hard and it's not always fun to them, but they're doin' it, they're actually, like, making gains, right? And then the last stage is where they're kind of getting some ease around it. Their default behaviors tend to be a little more healthy, it's not so hard. So then at every stage of the process, you actually kind of want to document what people are, what their actions are and what their emotions are, for every stage. So like, just to kind of sample, on broke and broker, their feelings are like, I feel really emotional about my money, I feel helpless. I dread dealing with it. I feel like my spending is out of control. Right? And as they go across, it's like, there's still some overwhelm and embarrassment and still a feeling like, I'm pretty sure my finances are worse than other people's. Like, I don't know what they are, what other people's are, but I'm pretty sure mine are worse. Here, people are like, okay, I have a little bit of control over this. Like, I'm not totally out of debt, in fact, at this stage, people expressed a lot of anger at their past selves. Like, okay, I'm getting out of debt, I can't believe that I got myself into this mess. Which, on the, in my spirituality business, we would say, like, frustration is a good step from just overwhelm and dread. Like, regret, even anger at your past self, is like, oh, you see, you know, you're doing something. And here they're like, oh my gosh. There's like exhilaration. One thing we saw here was that wealthy, for these people, a lot of times, they think negatively about wealthy people. Here, they're like, ah, wealth is good. You know, or they brag about frugality at that end. Like, I'm really good with money. Like, I don't spend my money frivolously. I don't buy things, I buy on experiences, those are things people say at this end. You all know some of these people, I can see. Behaviors at these different stages. Here it's like avoidance and overspending. It's just like, I can't, I cannot even. Whereas over here, it's like, kind of default behaviors are pretty financially responsible. There's, like, room, nothing's gonna get, you know, emergency items, in fact, I think even on, yes, they don't even see unexpected expenses as emergencies anymore. That's just like, life. And they're not derailed by them. Resistance points. Resistance points are sort of the obstacles that get people stuck or cause people to quit. You know, going along, making progress on their journey. So, under broke and, and we don't do resistance points on the sort of easeful cell because they are not in stuck anymore. So here it's like, number blindness is one, which is actually a well-known cognitive bias, where many people just kinda glaze over when they think about big numbers. It's just out of their, they can't. There's a bunch of stuff here. Scarcity belief systems, people who can't actually imagine not being in debt. Like, that's been their experience, so it's just not, it's a belief system that's not available to them. Here it's more like, you know, their families aren't on the same page, they spend emotionally. And over here, it's a, it's really like regret, self-loathing. New bills and emergencies coming up is a big derailer for these people. Because they're trying and they're actually, like, making progress, but something, a big expense comes up and it kind of knocks them off. So these are things that commonly get people stuck. Progress triggers, so you saw on the original journey map that there's kind of one between each stage. There are some characteristic patterns we saw in what gets someone to move from one stage to the next. So that's kind of what you're looking for for progress triggers. Here on broke and broker, something that moves people over to in debt and intimidated, but actually trying to make some progress, is like, you know what, I have a vision. I just have like something I want bad enough that I'm willing to like work to get out of this. Cause and effect, aha moments. Remember when we talked before about the guy who stopped drinking beer because he realized his one beer was like to hours of cycling? That same kind of thing happens in finance, right, where people are like, oh my gosh, wait, I had, my late payments on my credit cards were how much? Like, I had to work two days to pay off late payments? That's not acceptable. Right so people kind of draw lines in that way. Going from here to the next stage, "like me" is big. Someone likes me, tells me, shares with me their experience of getting out of debt, and I start to kind of believe that it's possible for me in a way it wasn't before. Or, you know, I really can't, there's something I really wanna do. Like, I wanna go to somebody's wedding and I can't afford to do it, and that's really not cool. Milestone birthdays and life events actually are a big trigger, progress trigger, in many transformational journeys. People are like, I'm sorry, I'm 40, I'm not doing this anymore. And they just, like, aren't doing it anymore and it triggers them into more action on their goals. Micro-moments. Micro-moments are a concept that originated out of Google's consumer insights organization. So micro-moments are basically the questions people ask, the searches they do, it can even be, they usually use it to mean online, because Google's a search technology organization. But it can, I've done projects where the micro-moments were like, pregnant women ask their ob-gyns and midwives this question at this stage. Like, literally down to that level of specificity. Because you hear it over and over in the customer research. So it can be what they're searching for at different stages. You see how it changed. Like here, it's like payday loans. And here it's like, should I be declaring bankruptcy? How do I get out of debt? Like, I'm trying to figure this out. It can also be like, what are they buying at different stages? In fact, so the micro-moment rubric is, it is, micro-moments are questions people ask in moments when they want to know something, they want to go somewhere, they want to do something, or they want to buy something that moves them down the journey. I wanna know, I wanna go, I wanna do, or I wanna buy. And these are literally just patterns you spot in talking to people that come up over and over. Recently, Google also did, they didn't call it this, I don't remember what they called it, but in my mind it was like, transformational micro-moments, specifically that they found people were searching on their cell phones at specific times. And they called them like, show me how moments. They talked about how that was often like, people had bought a product already and they were trying to figure out how to use it. So that was like a really great moment in time for the brand to reconnect with and engage someone, if they had good content published about how to use a kind of difficult to use product. One step at a time moments. That one was about, the example that was given was about people searching for information about the multi, multi, multi-step process of buying a home. Just like while they were waiting in line, they were like, what do I do for a, I probably need a mortgage. You know what I mean? So they're just like searching this one step. Time for a change moments. So that example was about a young gentleman who was just like over his terrible boss and terrible day job, and he was like, I can't do this anymore, and started searching for like, general assembly type classes. Creative, CreativeLive classes, but in a technical context. And new day, new me moments, where people are like kind of, you know, just bored and they're going, you know what, I want a change in my life. So they're searching for like, what does it look like to become a physical therapist? Or whatever. And then natural language. So natural languages are a way of capturing quotes, actual, like, phrases that people use that reveal how they frame the problem you exist to solve in their minds. And that can sometimes be very different than the way you've been thinking about it. The power of this is that it allows you to, it allows you to create content and marketing and subject lines and campaigns and everything that just triggers their mental frames for like, they get me, I already care about this. Examples that I often use are some of the programs we ran, we did a couple of blog posts and emails with the subject line, "What to do when people push food on you." Which is not like a, we get dieticians and engineers and like me, in that company, that's not a phrase we would use, but our customers used it. And it was very successful. People were like, that happens to me all the time. People push food on me, like at parties or, I think we actually ran this at the holiday. We knew that our people were beginning exercisers and many of them had knee injuries or knee problems. So we had done some content on early, on like, workouts for people with knee injuries. Nobody says knee injuries who has knee injuries. They say, I have bad knees. So we started publishing things with like, workouts for bad knees, and that was a thing that got people to open them. So it's literally about getting this granular, where people are, the broke people are like, you can't buy happiness. You know what I mean? That's what these people were saying. Whereas here they're like, the struggle is real. My bad habits are, oh, this was a big one, my parents had a messed-up relationship with money too. And here a lot is, we've paid off X and we have this much to go. That's just, like, a thing people say, all of them. So understanding natural language empowers you to engage people with content. So if you don't have a ton of time or money to do a, to engage a company and do a big customer research project, or have five people go out on it, what you can afford to do is to listen. And by that, I mean online listening. So there are many online communities and forums where your customers are right now, talking to each other about the problem that you exist to solve and they don't think anyone official is listening. Key. They don't think you're listening. So you should go to there and listen. You should listen for their comments, listen for the questions, you're looking for them, the people who rant and rave, you're looking for people who are like, oh my gosh, you have to use this thing. You're looking, in particular, for repeats, where you see someone's, different people saying the same thing over and over, expressing the same concern over and over. And these are some of the places you should look. For sure, Amazon reviews. Like, even if it's not on your product, even if you don't have a product that you sell like that. Is there a product that someone who's trying to solve the problem you exist to solve would be buying? Read the Amazon reviews for it. Read, I know people think that Quora is crazy. But let me tell you, there are many transformational sub, or, I'm sorry, on Reddit, there are many people, transformational sub-Reddits, which are, so on Reddit, sub-Reddits are like the individual discussion boards that are very subject-specific. Many are wonderful, full of people trying to like achieve goals with community. So there are sub-Reddits for personal finance, for frugality, for minimalism. There are sub-Reddits for every kind of fitness thing, every kind of diet. Same with Quora. People are going there, asking questions, and giving their answers. Blogs and boards. Subject-specific media outlets and private Facebook groups. So I have a piece of exercise equipment, like a very fancy spin bike, at home, and they talk about, they rave and market that they have this big private Facebook group for a community, but I'm sure they're using it for listening, because all of the owners of these bikes are on this community and it's very active and people talk. And I'm like, guys, if you guys are not fixing that squeaky pedal because every other post on this page is about that squeaky pedal, you're nuts. But like, it's such a rich trove of user insight, without you having so spend a lot of money, is just join one of the private Facebook groups for people that are trying to solve the problem that you exist to solve, and listen to what people say over and over again. So, with that, you're ready. And if you go to your downloads, at transformationalconsumer.com/creativelive, you will see a blank customer journey map document that you can use and fill out on your own. Let's see here. It's also important to do that kind of final step, which is to really make sure that all of the teams in your company, that your product, that your, you know, all of the initiatives that you do in your marketing are aligning to the same customer journey. When you don't, you end up with situations like, you've heard of the phrase greenwashing? Greenwashing, I think, is what happens when a company and their product are not actually that environmentally friendly, but the marketing team knows that they think that's how to reach people, so they just make claims that aren't really, they're not meaningful, but they might tap into users' desires and needs, right? Healthwashing is the same thing. All these products saying that, you know, just making, just saying words that kinda sound healthy but don't really mean any, and don't, you know, or like, natural. Well, okay, it has atoms in it, so sure. You know what I'm saying? Like, that's the kind of thing that I think happens when people are disconnected. And if you're watching this, you are a transformational leader, that's not really what you're trying to do, right? You're really wanting to make change in people's lives. So there is a, you know, as I've mentioned before, there's a need to do some real change management, and make sure, to Brandi's point, that you're bringing people with you the whole way. So when I talk about enlisting a squad of change agents at every level and in every function, that's what I'm talking about. That's why we would always have an executive in every single, an executive, or like, someone highly influential. So sometimes it was just like, that one guy who's been here for 20 years, who everybody just like trusts. You know what I mean? Or that one person in, there's always one, or we had eight, that were just like beloved customer support reps that people just love throughout the company because they're just decent human beings and really good people. And they often are already advocating for the customer all the time, because they talk to them. So when you bring these kinds of people into your customer interviews, especially in a larger company context, what happens is, you know, you come out, you do your customer journey presentation to the company, everybody's like, yay, and then you do, you know, you're gonna set some goals and people are gonna maybe use it and kind of remember it a little bit, maybe. But when you've had these people with you, you have five or 10 people in the company who are in all these different meetings where decisions are being made about the product all the time, and every one of them remembers the Jell-O, or the Jolly Rancher vodka story. Like, they remember the individual stories better than they remember the actual journey. But that matters a lot because it just, it sort of gives your customer presence in all of these places and ways in the company that you couldn't do on your own. And there are a bunch of other things you can do, in terms of like institutionalizing this knowledge. Like I said, Pinterest is a company that does a really good job of bringing actual customers into their meetings a lot. We did that, I think, once a month. We would pick a problem, a different version of a customer problem, and bring someone in once a month. There are lots of different ways to do that and I talk about some of those in the book. But generally, it's helpful if you just have people with you who can advocate for your customers' point of view. Once you do that, you kinda have superpowers. Here's where you can find me: transformationalconsumer.com, soultour.com. Take my 30-day writing challenge, download your sample customer journey map, the one we just went through in the template, the fillable one, for yourself.