Journey mapping isn't about planning a vacation. As a business coach at Designed Culture and mentor at the Boomtown accelerator, I help startups trace the emotional road that people travel when they buy something. To improve your chances of connecting with customers, here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
1. Every buying decision is an emotional one.
If it wasn't, our clothes, phones, homes, cars and slick new apps would be pretty boring and plain. We even judge a meal by how it looks before we taste it. Warm and comforting, cool and relaxing. Most people believe they are making logical buying decisions, but part of each individual's logic is emotions, experiences and beliefs. A product that can tap into a strong emotion or belief will get snatched up much faster.
2. You don't know what a customer wants until you ask them.
When small businesses upgrade products, I’m surprised more don't let their teams get out of the building and talk to customers. Companies have to believe they don't know what customers want and be open to discovering what they do want. Customer empathy can be difficult to master, and impossible to master if it's under appreciated. Once you become obsessed with how to tap into customers' needs and problems instead of with what to build next, the rest is easy... mostly.
3. Create a journey map before talking to a customer.
Map how you think the customer is using a product to reach their goals. Validate the map through customer discussions. Turn each assumption into fact. You might be surprised that how a customer uses a product or service isn't how you thought they would. Customers find interesting uses for features or ignore ones we thought worked.
4. Don't randomly throw features at customers.
That's the traditional model. Instead, interview customers about their problems, interests and needs. What frustrates, excites or delights them in the world, or with your product? Listen. If they validate your idea, move on to a solution interview. Let them experience your new solution in a hands-on or visual way. Watch and ask questions. Customers often have emotional connections to different solutions or ideas, and something that seems unimportant to us may be a big feature that they'll pay for.