In the second installment of our Spotlight Series, we'll be speaking to John Mitchell, President and Managing Principal at Applied Marketing Science. John has over 20 years’ experience in marketing strategy, market research, and innovation and specializes in research to support new product development and customer experience design.
What first piqued your interest in journey mapping? How did you get into the field?
For me the journey began, so to speak, almost ten years ago at McKinsey, where I was part of a Firm-wide initiative studying the Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ). At that time, we were evaluating the impact of different touchpoints in advancing consumers from initial consideration, through active evaluation, into the moment of purchase, and then into loyalty. Digital marketing was really hitting its stride then, and social media marketing was just starting. Companies were keenly interested in measuring how these channels impacted the different stages of the journey, and we developed an entirely new framework and measurement tool to help.
While working on this early study of the customer journey, it dawned on me that this kind of analysis could prove highly valuable to innovators in new products and services. Innovators have always been interested in what customers need. A journey map adds an understanding of when and where customers need it. It also helps innovators think beyond the features of a product and service, instead taking a wider view that considers their product or service one component in a larger customer experience.
What kind of companies can benefit from journey mapping?
Ultimately, a journey map is a guide to creating customer value, and since most companies are in the business of creating customer value, they can benefit from journey mapping. Consumer service firms are the most obvious candidates because it is easy to envision delivery of a consumer service as a journey. Consumer product firms are another obvious choice because companies benefit from understanding how their customers consider, evaluate, purchase, and use products. Yet we have seen equally compelling cases outside of consumer industries. Most B2B products have a complicated journey that involves many different roles within any “customer.” In B2B, the relationship with a supplier is as important as the technical performance of a product. Journey mapping can help a B2B company figure out how to be a better supplier, which is especially important for manufacturers of near-commodity products, where technical differentiation is hard to achieve. Likewise, healthcare companies—medical device makers, healthcare providers, and insurance companies, for instance—can benefit immensely from understanding the patient journey. Care involves multiple steps from diagnosis through treatment and into recovery, and patient needs vary greatly as they move through the care path. Journey mapping can help individuals and companies improve the care the provide, leading to better clinical outcomes and more successful products.
What do you enjoy most about working on journey mapping projects?
One of the benefits of a career spent in consulting is the chance to work on similar problems across vastly different industries and finding opportunities to bring in knowledge and experience from a seemingly unrelated case. Most companies believe that their customer’s journey is unique, but in my experience, customer journeys are unique in some ways and similar in others; it is always a question of degree. Whether a customer is buying a new family car, negotiating the purchase of a major piece of capital equipment at work, or contemplating knee replacement surgery, there are common customer needs at work in all cases, and parallels that exist which.
Second, customer journeys are inherently interesting. We read books and watch movies because we like to hear other peoples’ stories. Quantitative research is vitally important to making business decisions, but statistics and data can be flat and faceless. Customer journey maps, by contrast, are multi-dimensional and colorful. Sometimes they are fun, and sometimes they are painful—I learned this last year studying the journey of cancer patients—but always they bring customers to life in a way that survey data never can. Ultimately, we are in the business of innovating for people, not data points. Customer journey mapping keeps people front and center.
Learn more about journey mapping at our recent webinar, "Using Journey Maps to Transform the Customer Experience".