Customer Journey Mapping: Take a Walk in Your Customers’ Shoes

March 30, 2017

By Jennifer Watters & Emma DeCotis

Our industry has started to embrace customer journey mapping as another tool in the process evaluation toolbox. Energy efficiency programs can be complex, often with multiple components, goals, and stakeholders, each with a unique set of needs and desires. Because of this, program implementers sometimes struggle to develop programs that are customer-centric.

Customer journey mapping is a strategy, long used in other industries, that requires those selling a product or service to examine their services from the perspective of the customer. Doing so allows stakeholders to imagine their customers’ delights as well as frustrations with each company or product interaction. By creating a journey map, companies learn more about the customer experience, which helps to ensure better customer satisfaction and engagement.

The benefits of enhanced customer experience vary depending on the program design. For programs that involve multiple steps, like a home energy assessment program, customers are more likely to continue further down the path to higher energy savings if they are engaged and face fewer barriers. For programs that rely on persistent engagement to achieve ongoing energy savings, such as home energy reports, customer satisfaction is paramount to achieving long term savings. As an added benefit, engaged customers may share their positive experience with others, generating word of mouth promotion and new participants for a program.

To illustrate the powerful content contained in a journey map, we provide an example that traces the customer’s experience with a home energy assessment program, a common energy efficiency program that involves multiple steps and customer touchpoints. In the example, we follow the customer’s journey from first learning about the program – through completion of an assessment-recommended project. The journey map contains the following components:

Stages: We organize the journey map by each participation stage the customer goes through from initial through final contact with the program. For each stage listed at the top of each column in the journey map, we provide key details about how the program engages with the customer, as well as what the customer is doing, thinking and feeling.

Program Interactions: For each stage, we list the touchpoints between program and the customer in the gray cells. Notice that at different steps in their journey, the customer interacts with different stakeholders and engagement channels including a program representative, outreach materials such as the program website, an energy specialist, and a contractor.

What the Customer is Doing, Thinking, and Feeling: We provide details about the customer’s actions and cognitive experience at each stage in the light blue cells. The doing section identifies the actions the customer takes, while the thinking and feeling sections lists possible customer concerns, perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs associated with each program interaction.

The customer journey map helps identify the places in the delivery and customer engagement process where the program design team should add interventions to lessen the customer burden and engage the customer in a more positive manner. For example, in developing this journey map, we uncovered that when scheduling a home energy assessment, customers are frustrated that assessments aren’t offered at convenient times, and that the program only offers one channel to schedule an assessment. Knowing that this is a stress point for the customer, program designers can weigh whether the additional cost of adding staff to accommodate night and weekend visits is worth it to allow for more customer convenience and potentially more program uptake.

Market research is an important tool to develop a customer journey map, and quality data provides the foundation. A common approach to constructing a customer journey map uses anecdotal inputs from stakeholders based on their interactions with customers to develop a hypothetical mapping of the customer experience. While this approach is a valuable starting point, it misses the full customer perspective and provides only part of the picture. A better approach is to combine the stakeholder perspectives with customer research. Qualitative research methods such as ethnographic studies, in-depth interviews, and focus groups are particularly valuable for exploring what the customer is thinking, feeling, and doing. Quantitative methods, such as structured telephone or on-line interviews can also be useful to confirm qualitative findings among the larger program target population, as well as putting together customer profiles (a journey map typically focuses on a single customer profile).

Journey maps have enabled our clients to gain insightful knowledge about the intricacies of their customers’ experiences. We find that many program evaluations already use methods, such as program theory and logic models, process mapping or customer satisfaction studies that serve as good starting points for journey maps. Taking the research one step further, by collecting a few additional insights and turning them into a journey map will benefit both the program and the customer.

Interested in learning more about journey mapping and its applications? Please contact Tami Buhr at tbuhr@opiniondynamics.com.