Text by Jan Küster
Customer Journey: What It Is and Why It Matters for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs often wonder what customer journey mapping is and why it matters. Simply put, customer journey mapping is documenting the envisioned process of a customer's experience with your product or service. It can help entrepreneurs understand the importance of individual features and how they fit into the big picture. In this blog post, we'll discuss why customer journey mapping is important for entrepreneurs and offer tips on how to create a successful customer journey map for your business.
What customer journey mapping is and why it's important
The customer journey describes the process, from the customer's awareness of your offering to their decision to buy your product or service. While all phases of the customer journey are important, the experience the customer has with your product or service matters most in the entrepreneurial ideation context. This is because their experience informs your development of features. You should gain a clear understanding of how to build features that enrich the customer experience and link your product to their needs.
I advise venture designers to think about the flow of the user experience in connection to the customer journey. The customer usually gains awareness of your product or service through a specific feature that piques their interest. From there, they move through phases of consideration and evaluation before deciding. Once they become a customer, you then need to focus on retention and advocacy. By understanding the customer journey, you can develop features that meet customer needs and gain a larger share of your targeted market.
When designing a new product, it is important to consider how the user will interact with it. What features are essential for the product to function? These features, known as "must-haves" in Kano's model, are vital for the product to be usable. For example, a cellphone needs a microphone, speaker, and keyboard to function.
Once the must-haves have been determined, it is important to identify features that will differentiate the product from its competitors. These features, known as "performers," help the product stand out in the marketplace. For example, a product may be faster, cheaper, or more efficient than its competitors. Examples include petrol usage per mileage, internet up- and down-load speed, or even brand recognition scores as sportier, more luxurious or en vogue, or more sustainable. All these features can be scored and stacked against the competition.
Finally, delighters are features that provide uniqueness to your product and make it stand out from the competition. These features are often difficult to conceptualize, but they can make a big impact on the customer experience. Delighters can drive the joy of use or make a product easy to use. They can also create awareness and attract attention to your product. When defining a category, delighters are the staunch champions. They can make a big difference in the overall experience of using your product.
Once you have built a solid feature framework, think about them in your customer's journey and place each feature along the relevant phases.
What that means for startups and product builders
=> First, collect all the features you may think about when ideating your venture. From there, on categorize the features into the categories according to Kano. Now place the features along your customer journey, where they make the most sense and drive your offering's value to the customer. Finally, make sure you include all relevant must haves, some performers and at least one delighting feature to develop your MVP, or rather Minimum Awesome Product.
The benefits of customer journey mapping for entrepreneurs
A customer journey map is a tool that entrepreneurs can use to conceptualize the customer experience and visualize the user flow. By mapping out the customer journey, entrepreneurs gain a sophisticated understanding of the customer experience and identify areas for improvement.
Customer journey mapping can help to improve UX by identifying potential pain points and friction points. By understanding the customer journey, startups can create a more seamless and enjoyable customer experience, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
You gather feedback at any point of the customer journey and gain insights and data informing ongoing development of your product. This informs your ongoing product roadmap and business strategy.
By understanding how people use your product and designing features around their interactions, you can build a better product. We've seen that social media's "like" and "comment" features are major drivers of retention, because they encourage users to come back, generate more content, and post more often. But it isn't just about having the right features in place, it's also important to make them easy to use. That's why swipe gestures are so popular on dating apps–they solve the date selection process effortlessly, making it a delight to adopt the product. So, if you want to keep your customers coming back for more, think about developing features that align with their journey.
Jan Küster coaches lean startup techniques and go-to-market-strategies in established corporations, university programs and various incubators. He co-founded the Founders Fight Club, hosts events and learning formats to promote the visibility of startups and the associated startup scene. Previously, Jan successfully established and subsequently led business development for technology projects in the areas of Chip Design, Software as a Service and Natural User Interface applications for both startups and early stage ventures of established corporations.