Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Customer journey mapping for the BoP, or Amadou Hates his Pump

In my last post, I explained how to develop the customer experience lifecycle, the touch points inside of each lifecycle, and the need for clearly assigned responsibilities. In this post, I will explain how to explore each touchpoint from a customer’s perspective.  We do this through journey mapping. Ideally, you should have a workshop made up of a mix of customers and employees. You also want the functional areas that will be responsible for a given touchpoint to be represented so you can insure you have buy-in during the design process.
If you do not have much customer feedback you can also use personas. I won’t go into detail on how to build a persona, but they are based on your main customer segments.  Each persona should have a personality, and should have some background designed so that participants in customer mapping can identify them as a customer, moving participants away from thinking of them as customer segments. As you consider how a customer experiences a touchpoint, it is helpful to think of multiple personas, so you can consider alternative ways they might perceive that interaction.

For this example, assume you represent a water pump company selling to BoP farmers. You have created a persona you named Amadou to identify issues connected to the “Seek Help” lifecycle stage. In this case, let’s assume Amadou’s pump’s output has been dropping, and he takes it to the distributor in the nearby town to get help repairing it.
Give your workshop group decks of post-it notes, and have them use those post-its to identify all the ways your company interacts with the persona. There are three levels to this approach:
  1. Identify the actions taken by the customer from their perspective to reach completion of the interaction at the touchpoint. In this case, what does Amadou do to  to repair his pump? (shown in yellow)
  2. Map out the customer’s interactions with your company during the process, including areas where things could go right or wrong. For example, we include Amadou taking his bicycle, because he sees that as part of the process, and the distributor’s store, because that location may also impact the customer journey. (this level shown in tan)
  3. The third level contains all the back end influences the customer does not see that impact his experience (shown in red). That’s why on my graphic below, I have included the line of visibility to separate these levels.  

Amadou takes his pump in, but it takes a long time for him to get it back. It is the height of the growing season, and had he known that it would be gone for 3 weeks, he would have preferred using the pump at low output instead of not having it at all. But the distributor incorrectly tells him that it should be ready in 1 week, because the distributor had not understood the repair process. As a result, Amadou loses some of his crops, blames the pump for the loss, and complains to his neighbors about it, making the town think that your company makes bad pumps.Next, identify where Amadou is content, unhappy, and very unhappy. The workshop can look at what causes it behind the line of visibility, and that will help identify where you can improve the experience.


The issues in black are areas where the experience needs to be improved. You prioritize those issues by how easy they are to solve, and how important they are to the customer. Some issues that may really annoy a customer, but if they don’t tie back into what they expect from your organization, they are not a priority, because they won’t impact the customer’s expectations. 

Think of a well-respected restaurant. If you go to that restaurant expecting there will be a long wait to eat, you may not enjoy the long wait, but it won’t affect your expectations of the restaurant. If that restaurant works hard to improve the wait, they will be misdirecting their resources, when they should be focusing on improving the cleanliness of the kitchen.

Once you have issues prioritized, review the issues with the responsible functional areas that had been identified during the lifecycle development process.

In the long term, you company needs to have goals for what the customer experiences at each touchpoint, and metrics to make that a reality. But if you are just starting this process, journey mapping can help you begin to think of where improvements to your experience are most needed, and where you can find quick wins to prove the value of a customer experience approach. 


  1. Nice blog... The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.

  2. One question that I would like to know is how can customer touchpoints help forecast the future of traffic or in the case of sales, purchases?