Mapping Customer Experiences

‘We Don’t Do Umbellas’

A recent experience with a NZ rental car company showed clearly how vital it is to appreciate and respond to customers’ needs – in other words to map their journey.

On a soaking wet Queenstown day I wanted an umbrella to go from the air terminal to my rental car 300 metres away outside. Or perhaps a staff member might bring the car to the terminal.

The abrupt response, however, was “Sorry, we don’t do umbrellas.”

If the rental car company had cared to map its customer experience on a wet day and addressed a reasonable expectation, I would have enjoyed a comfortable drive to Wanaka and returned for future business. Predictably, neither of these events occurred!

The Power of Customers

In today’s competitive market customers have all the power due to the sheer amount of choice and the huge influence of social media.

In the case above, I have recounted my experience to many people at seminars and speaking engagements. Plus I have written business articles using this experience to make a critical point – ignore your customers’ needs at your peril.

Exceeding Their Expectations

Mapping customers’ experience enables a clear understanding of their expectations and what has motivated them to do business with you. It gives you the ability to exceed those expectations.

In today’s market, customers will only remember experiences when their expectations have been exceeded.

It’s from these customers that loyalty and referrals are produced, two of the most rewarding and effective tools for any business.

Try This Example

You can get a feel for mapping customer experience by looking at a business not related to your own. This helps you to understand the process before attempting it with your own actual customers.

Use a recent supermarket visit and note all the things that bothered you, or exceeded your expections, from the car park and checkout to presentation and packaging.

Doing this puts you in the customers’ shoes with a focus on their perspective, as opposed to operational process. In practice it allows a culture to develop that not only looks “outside-in” but also meets and exceeds customer expectations.

Chris Bell