Optimal Customer Visioning

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If you read my blog with any frequency, you’ve likely seen one of my many posts on the do’s and don’ts of customer journey mapping (e.g., Three Keys to Effective Customer Journey Mapping and What is Persona-Based Customer Journey Mapping?)

Persona-based customer journey mapping is a favorite topic of mine and has proven to be an important technology for my customers. Despite all my blogs on the topic to date, I hadn’t gotten around to the subject of using journey maps to define the optimal customer experience of the future – let’s fix that!



Over the past decade, I began using customer journey maps as a way to envision the optimal future customer experience. As part of SWOT analyses and other strategic planning activities or as a free-standing tool, I often work with leaders to not only see the current state of their customer experience and their initiatives to drive incremental improvement, but also to jump into the future perceptions, wants, needs, and desires of their customers.

The foundation for much of this work is outlined in my upcoming book about Airbnb, which will be released in October. (As a reader of my blog, I have secured a special pre-release price for an AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Airbnb Way and with a pre-order, you will be invited to an EXCLUSIVE WEBINAR to discuss lessons from the book in greater detail. To access this offer, please click here and enter the word THANKS).

For example, in The Airbnb Way, I explore how Airbnb disrupted an industry by applying forward-thinking design principles like optimal journey mapping. To appreciate the importance of stepping into the likely future perspective of your key customers, let’s take a moment to explore Martec’s Law.

As you likely know, Martec’s Law can be depicted as follows:

These days much of consumer change is fueled by technological breakthroughs and innovative service standards (think iPhone or Amazon “just walk out technology”).



If a company fails to consider behavior trends, customer technology adoption, emerging technology trends, and other social advancements, the business can improve a customer experience that quickly becomes irrelevant.

When conducting optimal future journey mapping, we often start by collecting consumer trend data (across industries and specific to a sector), establish a future point in time (for example 5 years) and incorporate insights specific to the target segment being considered. We saturate cross-functional teams with this customer knowledge and ask them to assume the psychographics and demographics of the relevant personas.

We then walk them through the likely desired future state experiences of that persona group (breaking the bounds of existing processes and offerings). We restrict participants to using “I statements” and speak in the voice of the core customer of the future. Enough about the process, let’s talk about the actual benefits of optimal customer journey visioning.

Starbucks (a company with whom I’ve worked and about whom I’ve written in The Starbucks Experience and  Leading the Starbucks Way) has done its share of optimal customer journey mapping and recently announced a follow-up to a test they conducted in 20 U.S. cities with Uber Eats. Here’s that announcement:

“We are driven to create new and unique digital experiences that are meaningful, valuable and convenient for our customers,” said Roz Brewer, group president and chief operating officer for Starbucks. “Partnering with Uber Eats helps us take another step towards bringing Starbucks to customers wherever they are.”

“By partnering with Uber Eats, Starbucks is leveraging the expertise of the largest global delivery service outside of China while extending the potential customer base beyond those who currently include Starbucks as part of their morning or afternoon routines. Through the agreement, the companies will collaborate on innovation and technology integration. Starbucks and Uber Eats will continue to focus on delivery packaging, in-store operations, and a quick order-to-door delivery window.”

Ultimately, Starbucks is positioning itself for a long-term future where its core customer base won’t enter the doors of a Starbucks store. Can you imagine that world? More importantly, what are you imagining about the optimal future state of your core customer segments?

If you would like to effectively envision and take action related to the optimal customer experience for your core customer segments, reach out to me.



Harvard professor and guru on change management, John Kotter observes, “The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.” With that vision, we will need to anticipate customer wants, needs, lifestyle, and desires and not just react to them. Otherwise, we will perish instead of soar.

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