08/11/2013

The benefits of consumer journey mapping

By Nick Dormon

Journey mapping

The digital revolution has dramatically increased the function and reduced the cost of consumer devices. This has led to an explosion of new gadgets and services for the home, from digital TVs and game systems to environmental controls, smart appliances, and safety and monitoring devices, along with lifestyle, wellness and medical tools.

With this explosion of services, we believe that many brand owners are missing valuable opportunities.

One costly side effect of poor design strategy is consumer confusion. If consumers struggle to find the information that they need, customer care departments may find themselves overwhelmed with basic enquires at any point on their journey.

We have a simple and effective approach that can help you begin to resolve these issues:

Mapping the consumer experience

Before you can address any of these issues you will need to understand how consumers interact with your brand. We like to create a comprehensive map illustrating the journey that the consumer takes. We undertake user observation, home visits, interviews and conventional research to inform this process, aiming to capture all aspects of consumer interaction starting from the moment they enter the retail environment, through the purchase decision process, take home, use of the product and eventual disposal.

Typically there are three fundamental aspects that make up the total product experience. Understanding these fully will help you to create solutions to any existing problems, and will also help you to identify new opportunities in each area.

1. You need to understand what consumers are looking for when they choose a brand. Managing their expectations, educating them appropriately about what to expect and promoting the most appropriate package for their requirements can have a huge influence on later satisfaction levels.

2. You need to identify any problems associated with setting up the
 device once the consumer gets the package home. How do consumers approach the task? How intuitive is the packaging to interact with? Are instructions observed and complied with? Any issues observed should directly inform the packaging and design brief, so you can ensure that the right information is put in the right places.

3. Lastly, we need to understand the range of complex issues encountered whilst using the sevice over its entire lifetime. These range from serious faults to niggling technical issues. Because of the wide range of possible problems and the timescales needed to research these, this is an exercise best done with help from the sales and service teams, together with CMI data and other information sources.

What the map can be used for

We have found that packaging design is often a weak point in a brand’s overall communications mix. Packaging is often an afterthought, produced at the lowest possible cost without any real strategy in place. Though they may have a strong brand identity, frequently, brand values are not manifested in a consistent way across all packaging. Mapping the experience can identify ways to inform this tangible part of the user journey.

Building a visual map of the consumer experience will present
 you with a unique visual reference to discuss and review how your products and support network are delivering on brand values (common values in the tech sector being, trusted, simple, easy) and contributing (negatively and positively) to the perception of value for money and reward for loyalty.

As a tool for informing design, the map is an invaluable source of inspiration for creative ideas and will help to ensure that all key decisions are made with consumer experience in mind.

The benefits

- Helps to identify new service opportunities so that you can take full advantage of under-utilised consumer touchpoints

- Increases engagement with consumers by adding depth and richness to the user experience

- Makes it easier to ensure consistency of communication across all packaging touchpoints

- Making information clearer and instructions more user-friendly will cut costs by reduce customer care activity

- Improves synergy across suppliers, materials and design, and delivers economies of scale

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