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There are many flavors of journey maps — with different purposes: customer journeys, user journeys, peak-end maps or journey maps. These maps are often overlooked as integral parts of a website redesign, go to market strategy, or marketing plan. Whatever you might call them, these types of efforts are necessary to gain insights so you can design smarter experiences that meet your target audiences’ needs. Why would you want to create a journey map? Well, let's start by defining what an ideal journey map looks like:

An optimized journey map…

  • Shows the interactions, actions and paths a person takes in a set scenario
  • Is based on touchpoints with your product, brand or experience
  • Occurs over a set period of time

As an example, user journeys provide you with a holistic, birds eye view into a person’s experience with a system. They illustrate positive, meaningful moments as well as the negative yet still meaningful moments. These key moments define the impression your brand leaves on a customer and arm you with the insights you need to refine and evolve the experience for future customers. At Primacy, we emphasize understanding your unique audiences so that we can create smarter experiences and meaningful moments. So why are we suggesting you revisit your customer journeys and user journey maps now? Well, it's pretty safe to say the COVID pandemic changed the way we live, think, and act. Traditional experiences such as dining at a restaurant, going to school, and receiving healthcare have changed. National lockdowns and local restrictions have forced consumers to adapt their day to day lives, and disrupted their usual engagement paths with brands and products (see 4 COVID-era trends from Google).  As a business, it's your responsibility to acknowledge and react to these adaptations and deliver an experience that meets your audience’s changing needs. While we all have hopes of returning to normalcy, some of these new behaviors are bound to stick in the long run. That's why right now is the perfect opportunity to revisit your existing user journeys or create new ones. Stay ahead of your competitors by understanding and meeting your consumers where they are now, in this soon-to-be post COVID world. Using the following worksheet and 6-step framework, sketch out journeys with your teams and leverage them as a springboard for ideation and exploration. Download Journey Map Worksheet


1. Do your Research

Don’t assume you know your audience. The biggest mistake you can make is to let your own biases define who your audiences are across the ecosystem. Who your customers were a year ago, and the actions they took may not be the same now, especially after 2020. That’s why it’s important to do your research. Some simple research ideas include holding virtual focus groups, creating surveys, or conducting remote usability testing. Pair methods like these with analytics or any other behavioral data you might have to help round out the story. When you utilize a variety of data sources, you're able to shape a better picture of your audiences and their journey with your brand or product.  


2. Define the Scenario

Briefly set the stage for your journey by describing the consumer and the situation they're in. For example, are they searching for cheaper auto insurance because they drive less? Are they looking for a new primary care provider who has better telehealth options? You can use the following questions as a guide to help define the scenario:

  • What’s happening in the person’s life?
  • What are their goals and what are they trying to accomplish?
  • What type of environment are they in?
  • What motivates them? What do they want or need? What will help them make a decision?
  • How would they measure success?

If you have your personas defined, you can use them to help populate this portion of the journey (see The Value of User Personas on the Customer Experience).  


3. Stages of the Journey

Next, outline the stages of the journey; what is the consumer trying to accomplish and how long will it take them to reach their goal? Is this journey occurring over minutes, days, months or years? Don’t forget to account for COVID - has it affected the timeframe at all? These questions really depend on your industry, so take the time to consider what your customer is thinking from start to finish. Here’s an idea of what stages could look like for your journey map:

  • Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Loyalty (Financial)
  • Awareness, Evaluation, Application, Acceptance, Enrollment (Education)
  • Attract, Explore, Purchase (Consumer)
  • Exploration, Research, Decision, Ongoing (Health)


4. List Out Key Actions and Emotional Touchpoints

Once you define your stages, list out what’s happening at each stage. Remember to refer to your research and not your own assumptions and biases. What are the key actions the consumer is taking? How do they feel about each step in the process? I like to break each stage down with the following categories:

  • Doing 
    • What are they doing? Are they browsing websites and comparing prices? Are they talking to their friends or family? Are they looking to Reddit or Facebook groups for advice?
  • Thinking/Saying
    • What are they thinking or saying as they are doing? Does anything stand out?
  • Feeling
    • What are emotions like at this stage? Does your customer start off frustrated? Are they more relaxed as they take action towards their goal?

At the end of this exercise, you'll have a general idea of the milestones and steps across the user journey, including any positive or negative touchpoints, and the average timeframe for a user to complete each step.


5. Highlight Meaningful Moments

After you list out the individual’s (customer or user) actions and emotions, take a look to see if anything jumps out at you. Is there anything overly positive or negative occurring? Those peaks or valleys are the meaningful moments you’ll want to highlight and emphasize. These are the areas of the journey that the individual will remember the most (see Peak-End Rule) — along with the true end of the experience. These are the areas where you and your teams can start ideating on opportunities to build a lasting brand impression.


6. Ideate Improvements

With your meaningful moments captured, start brainstorming and ideating. Are there any negative moments in the journey where you can make improvements? This is where you have the highest risk for losing your customer or user. A bad experience is always remembered and most likely voiced to others. Next, move on to anything that feels awkward or overcomplicated. How could you make the process easier or more efficient for your customer/user? Lastly, ideate on the positive moments. Use these as opportunities to convert your customers to loyalists and brand advocates. (See The Secret Ratio).


Don’t Set It and Forget It

A customer journey or user journey is constantly evolving over time as your customers’ lives change and your experiences grow. Make sure you're revisiting your journeys every so often to keep them relevant to your shifting audiences and their developing needs. With COVID altering the way your audiences think and behave, now is the time to be proactive. Do your research, define your journeys, and meet the people you engage with, where they are today.