This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
It’s 3:30 a.m. I’m sitting in a rocking chair, my eyelids are begging to be closed, and I’m feeding my youngest her first bottle of the day. This is where my day begins. Once she’s asleep again, I force my body to wakefulness by sipping a French press carafe full of black coffee.
It’s 6:00 a.m. My oldest daughter wakes up. She bursts out of her bed with gusto, demanding a cup of milk and a television show. We always allow her to choose the show, something my husband and I learned from lots of experience. It’s an added bonus if she gets to use the remote controls. She sips her milk through a straw and explains the animated show to us in real time. It’s as fun as it sounds.
These are the first of many things I will do on a typical day to meet my daughters’ needs, a path that has been set and redefined in hundreds of ways since they’ve been born. And while this is the story of so many parents out there, it’s also very similar to what a small business owner might go through in order to please her customers.
Fundamentally, parenting and customer journey mapping are very similar. The goal is to find the path that will make the experience worth the journey. Just as a parent wants her children to be fulfilled and happy, so to the small business owner strives to create an experience with the goal of delighting customers.
Customer journey mapping sounds intimidating, but if you’re a parent, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, or even the friend who plans all the gatherings, you are equipped to start building a map that will create a better experience and center your business around its customers.
Here’s how parenting, or any other type of caregiving, can prepare you to create a winning customer journey map.
Know Your Audience
My daughters are what I like to call spirited. If you have a child whom some would refer to as “spirited,” you know the persona well: passionate, strong, creative, bright and full of energy. Spirited children can also become bored and frustrated with the rapidity of a champion mall walker. Knowing these things allows me to parent them in a way that answers as many of their pain points as possible.
It’s important to understand your audience and their pain points before you ever craft their journey. If you don’t have any, take the time to write out a buyer persona. This will help you to understand who you’re targeting and to truly build a map that’s centered around them.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many Google searches I’ve done about snot, but it’s enough for me to feel well educated on the topic. I spend a good amount of my time reading about kid issues because I want to be a well-informed parent who makes sound decisions based on research.
A quality customer journey map needs a lot of research to be successful, and it should include the following:
- how to make an airtight customer journey map
- proprietary data
- social media demographics and statistics
- focus groups
- interviews with employees
Any caretaker knows there’s a lot of planning when managing the lives of others. A seemingly simple trip to the grocery store can turn into a multi-tiered exercise in patience, budget planning, flexibility and time management. At minimum, I’ve learned there’s almost no problem a freshly opened bag of orange fish crackers and a smartphone can’t solve.
Before you begin, there are several measures you need to take to create a journey map your entire business can rally around. A good dose of planning will also allow you to draw up the typical lifespan of a customer from beginning to end more clearly.
You Can Do It Alone, But It’s Going to Be Difficult
I know there are many folks who are raising their kids alone and, whether you chose that path or not, know that you have my undying respect. A friend of mine who is a single parent of three once told me she was exhausted for ten years straight. A little help can go a long way. As they say, it takes a village.
The same can be said about designing a customer journey map. You can definitely do it alone. All the research, all the data collection, all the storytelling, all the interviews, all of the everything – it’s a big undertaking. Whether you are running your business alone or if you have a small team, it’s important to find key stakeholders (family, friends, partners, spouses, employees, etc.) and ask them to assist.
Nothing is Set in Stone
I really wish the way I parent my daughters now was set in concrete, a steadfast plan for the next 20 years. Logic tells me that wish will not be granted; the way I manage my girls is going to change as they change. This is both frightening and magnificent. The freedom to diversify the way things get done takes the pressure off – you don’t have to get it perfect the first time.
The same is true of your customer journey map. As your customer or technology or your product evolves, so to will your map. It’s a good idea to revise the guideline from time-to-time so that it aligns with your customers’ current journey so your organization’s customer experience is staying ahead of the curve.
No, your customers are probably not children. However, journey mapping helps to guide patrons through your company’s processes with ease and places them at the center of every decision, thus providing the best experience possible.
Ready to get started on your map? Check out our free guide to learn more about this method and to begin building a business with your customers in mind.