Quick Guide to Experience Mapping

Sometimes all it takes to accelerate your 'Net success is to understand how users are experiencing your digital brand. While there's no replacement for asking directly, as an Internet professional you know you can do more. Enter experience mapping.

Experience mapping is essentially just a process of capturing often complex customer interactions (and all the intricacies of those interactions), understanding the barriers to greater usage, and eventually modifying the paths in order to optimize conversion and engagement. The actual activity of mapping helps your digital team build knowledge (and more importantly consensus) and build more seamless customer experiences over time. In essence, experience maps are visual representation of a customers experience with a brand. When you can identify what's preventing users from fully interacting (and converting), well, then you're one step closer to 'Net success.

Experience maps can take on a variety of forms (i.e. it can be handwritten or achieved by impleimenting some software) but the aim is the same - obtaining the required insights on the customers experience so that it can be accurately assessed and ultimately modified for the benefit of your enterprise. There's a great deal to know about the process (and it will vary depending on your organization and the individual personas that make up your prospective and existing client base), but Website Magazine has put together a quick guide to the process, and provided a high-level overview of what it will take to make an experience mapping initiative pay off. So where should you start?

First, Identify (all) the Touch Points

The first step is to understand the myriad touch points that end-users have with your digital brand. Customers often interact with companies in a variety of ways - including the website, mobile apps, phone calls, live chat, etc. Each and every channel is effectively a touch point but has different demands from an interaction standpoint. What an experience map ultimately provides is some structure to assess and compare the standards of service across these various touch points - identifying the good (or valuable) interactions and those which may reveal a deeper problem (like poor training in a customer service department).

Next, Simply (and Actually) Map Out The Experience

To assess the quality of the experience and the broader experience itself, there are numerous areas of potential interest important to mapping initiatives, but it is mostly about the activities they may engage in on your websites (pre- and post sale) that matter most. When you actually visualize the stages of the customer journey (e.g. arrive on the website, review the features, complete the checkout), the barriers to conversion become clear (or clearer). While you can ask customers for feeback directly on their experience, one of the very best waysis to leverage mapping (or mind mapping) software - some of Website Magazine's favorites including MindJet, MindMeister and XMind to name a few. It's also wise to ask customers directly to rate the quality of the experience (at each stage of the buying journey) they received from your company. Consider putting a survey form on your website or setting up a forum where customers can share their experience. Gathering this type of information will enable your brand to accurately analyze the customer experience and use the results to identify satisfaction levels at each touch point (and from each source).

Finally, Measure for Optimal Management

Only when you apply the right measures to each and every touch point will you be able to get an accurate indication of a customers' actual experience. To assess website experience, consider measuring the length of time visitors stay on a site (or more specifically, within a particular phase of the buyin gprocess) and inquire as to if they found the navigation - and experience - clear, understandable and easy to follow. Measure the number of conversions (be it actuall sales or form fills) as well as abandoned visits. Measure every phase and every potential path a user might take and you'll be able to manage not only the expectations of future users, but push those future clients further and faster down the conversion funnel

Get Started with Experience Mapping Now

The aim here is really just to use the findings of an experience map to prioritize resources and improve performance. Prioritization is important if customers follow a complex series of interactions with your company - and with today's increasingly sophisticated digital demands that's pretty significant. Experience mapping emphasizes the touch points that are the most important to customers and where your brands must allocate its resources. Experience maps help brands obtain a clear view of the touch points a customer has with a brand or its products and puts design and development teams in the front seat in terms of empathizing with the path users take through their experience.