If the point about Customer Experience is to start with the customer’s psychology then why are we still living in a world where linear Journey Maps are de rigour for most organisations? Customers never think like this and neither should you!
If you were to go to shopping, you would never say, in answer to the question, what was it like?
‘Oh! I opened the door, went to the car, drove to the store, parked the car, entered the store and so on and so forth.’
Customers do not think in such a linear way. Instead they tell stories, which are not only more natural to how we reconstruct and report our actions, but also more contextual and emotional. In effect they parallel process. Hence, a consumer might say:
‘The queues were so long in that store and it’s in such rough neighbourhood, but the staff were really friendly and so on and so forth.’
If this is the natural way that consumers perceive your experience and communicate it, then why not capture the experience in a non-linear way first, building up your understanding (and mapping) of the experience from narratives? Maybe this might mean de-emphasising some steps but if that’s the way (as is) customers remember it then surely that would put more emphasis on what is really important.
Even better, stories capture reports not only ‘what is’ but also ‘what could be important’. For instance, in a quantitative survey we might measure quality of experience based on how we as researchers pre-define it. Our measurements then correlate (or regress) touchpoint quality onto say NPS based on how customers respond to things as they are today. This means that we tend to create 2 fundamental errors in how we measure.
1. Firstly, we predefine in a scale what customers should rate when a narrative reflection may well say something different.
2. Secondly we fail to recognise that customers may well respond to experiences that don’t exist or are underperforming today; hence any predictive modelling based on responses to ‘quality today’ will underreport these events.
As an example consider how interest rates in a bank may not drive savings today (as they are so low) but of course if interest rates rise tomorrow will absolutely do so. A regression model based on current experience alone will make the fatal mistake of saying interest rate quality does not drive savings. Yet a narrative may say:
‘The interest rates are really poor so we are not saving.’ This then acts as a clue to real behaviour.
Here at Innovation Bubble we believe that mapping the experience should take a narrative first approach. Rather than putting on a board a linear step by step map, keep it open. Focus on the customer story and build up from there. Key moments can be captured by how customers emphasise different parts of the experience.
This is why we recommend using the Experience Psychology Model of Customer Experience (source: are you experienced, Research Live, Marlow, Walden) rather than a linear step by step map. In this approach our role is to uncover using behavioural psychology the ‘experiences’ of importance against each psychological frame of reference. Some of these may be hard and fast such as ‘wait time in queue’, some may be more psychological and emotional such as ‘friendliness of staff.’ Some may well be subconscious and therefore requiring observational research from behavioural psychologists.
Filling out this framework and associating strength of touchpoint impact on key KPIs such as NPS/ CSAT or spend through psychological techniques (e.g., rep grid, Q method, customer self- referencing) is a far better and more natural way to assess ‘the journey’.
But of course this is only the first step. This tells companies where we are today ‘as is state’. By reproducing a second map ‘to be’ with ideas taken from a behavioural psychology understanding of the customer journey (i.e., through Narrative Journey Mapping), we can start to redesign our experience more effectively. And, importantly, start to use narratives as a means of measuring the effectiveness of our change.
• Stop using Linear Journey Maps, such an approach is unnatural to customers and
therefore liable to produce false results.
• Start thinking ‘customer psychology’ first using this framework: the Narrative Journey
• Start measuring using narratives.
By Dr Simon Moore, Dr Nigel Marlow and the Innovation Bubble Insights Team