Customer journey mapping is a one-to-one interviewing process that does a deep dive into the minds of target customers.  Done correctly this process can help answer the following questions:

  • Who is my ideal target customer group? How do I describe them both in terms of demographics (age, income, etc.) and psychographics (aspirations, style, etc.)?
  • What is the real problem these customers want to solve? How can I better describe it in their words?
  • How does my product or service solve the problem? What makes it different and compelling from all the other alternatives out there?
  • When is the best timing for being there with the solution to their problem?

In order to make the process as rich as possible, questions are deliberately open ended.  Think of your role as that of an anthropologist or sociologist where you are observing to learn and to understand. The steps are as follows:

Select target customers. Randomly set up interviews with at least 6 people who meet the profile for a potential buyer. (You can also use this process with current customers but you get greater insights by talking to people who do not know you or your product but fit your potential buyer profile.)

Set up times and expectations. Tell them that you will need 30 minutes of their time and that the purpose will be to understand them and their process or needs around “their journey”.  Be clear that you will not be selling anything.  If necessary you can offer a small thank you for their time but it is better to have it without reward. Face-to-face is best in order to observe non-verbal cues; but Skype is another option.

Collect demographics. Ask for demographic info that you think may be relevant. For example with B2C products, it could be gender, age, number of kids, income, etc. For B2B products, it might be industry, job title, number of employees, size of budget, etc.

Explore. Ask a very open ended question that walks them through their journey from problem realization, to looking for solutions, to deciding on a solution, to post experience. Probe more deeply if you see you have hit something that is important.  Note not just the words but the emotional highs and lows of the responses.

Tips for Interviewing:

  • Put the interviewee at ease. Let him or her ask you questions.
  • Ask for stories and examples. Capture memorable quotes.
  • Be curious. Look for surprises and inconsistencies and probe these.
  • Use silence. Don’t be afraid of it.
  • Pay attention. Gesture and tone can say more than words.
  • Paraphrase.  Don’t lead or assume.
  • Listen hard for inefficiencies, pain points, overexertion, and workarounds.
  • Summarize emotional highs and lows

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