An essential step in the product development process is customer journey mapping. This step typically occurs before any of the hands-on development work. The objective of customer journey mapping is to ensure that the product meet the needs of the target customer not only functionally, but emotionally as well. Customer Journey Mapping starts by determining your target audience. Once you’ve determined the target audience, you can create a set of personas based on real people that make up your target audience. UX Magazine defines a persona as “a representation of a cluster of users who exhibit similar behavioral patterns in their purchasing decisions, use of technology or products, customer service preferences, lifestyle choices, and the like.” The creation of the right personas is an integral part of getting the user experience just right. By knowing exactly who the target audience is and what their needs and behaviors are, you can tailor your customer journey maps and eventually the end product to them, thus granting them an overall better experience.
Generally the process of mapping a customer journey starts from the point of discovery and continues through the point of search, then through the point of transaction and finally arrives at the point of gathering feedback from the post-experience. For instance, if your product is a website dedicated to selling items, the process would start at the point where the customer found out about your business. The next step would be how the customer finds the item they wish to purchase, followed by the actual transaction. Lastly, the journey would end with gathering feedback from the customer after the transaction has been processed. It is very important to document every action that occurs for each of your personas, because it will give you the best idea of what the customer is thinking while going through the process thus giving you a better idea of what they like and don’t like, and what ways you can make the experience better.
Once the customer journey has been created, and the product prototype has been developed, a set of persona tests should be run. A tester will first read the persona, then continue to use the product and see if there is anything that is missing or needs changing from the emotional or functional perspective of the persona they are acting as.
Going through the process of mapping the customer journey for all segments of the target audience allows you to cater the experience to them. It also allows you to gather feedback that can be used in the long term analysis of your product. This feedback will allow you to monitor the growth of your product as well as monitor how the inevitable modification affects its growth. The customer journey map allows you to ensure the success of your product both in the short term by allowing you to make necessary changes in the early stages and in the long term by allowing you to analyze customer feedback over long periods of time to ensure that your product is growing and always providing the best possible experience to your customers.