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Hassle Mapping The Customer Experience

A benefit of working at Journyx is our CEO, Curt Finch, has an uncanny knack for having wonderful conversations with some of the smartest business thinkers out there. A few weeks ago, Curt talked with Adrian Slywotzky who wrote The Art of Profitability and just penned the upcoming Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It. I’d highly recommend you add it to your reading list (or just go ahead and preorder it now).

One of the key points in their conversation – which can be found in Curt’s Inc blogpost – centers around generating greater market demand and improving a customer’s experience through the creation of hassle maps. Slywotsky defines a hassle map:

Whether you’re talking about a consumer or a corporation, a hassle map defines all of the actual steps that characterize the negative experiences of the customer. Think about these questions: Where are the emotional hot spots, the irritations, the frustrations, the time wasted, the delay? Where are the economic hot spots? And then think about this: What are the ways that businesses can radically improve the hassle map for both the customer and themselves?

Many companies face a problem when it comes to the user or customer experience. It’s rarely one huge catastrophe that sinks them. Rather, it’s more akin to death by a thousand cuts. Our customers or users experience a hassle here, another hassle there…eventually, the hassles build up to a point where the negatives outweigh any positives. And another otherwise satisfied customer leaves for something better.

Let’s get a better handle on these hassles – understand what they are and ruthlessly rip them from our customers’ lives. At Journyx, we’ve started developing a Hassle Map Program to collect and catalog how customers interact with our software. I thought I’d share a bit of how we’ve set it up.

Step One: Collect feedback through conversations and observation.
We’ve piloted the program using local customers, which gives us the advantage of getting some face time with them. It’s always a benefit when you can put names with faces…and let the customer do the same.

For these in-person sessions, I record use a Kodak Zi8 video camera and tripod. I love this camera because it’s unobtrusive and still provides pretty good picture and sound quality. And since I also want to ensure I’m capturing every move and mouse click, I set up a recordable GoToMeeting session. I find the combination of video camera and G2M give me several angles in which to understand the hassles our customers experience when using our software.

Step Two: Build the Hassle Map
When it comes to developing the hassle map, I’m a big fan of the mind mapping technique. While it can be done on paper, I much prefer electronic because we’re going to want to build a database of hassle maps. Of all the mind mapping software out there, I highly recommend Mindjet MindManager. It’s pricy but it does something that few others will do: it allows me to conduct searches across maps. So if I want to look for patterns of frustrations across customers, I type a keyword and let the program perform its magic.

Step Three: Put the Maps into Action
It’s not enough to gather the data, right? For the whole Hassle Mapping program to be productive, the data needs to be put to use in your market strategy and product planning. Factor it into your roadmap. Start sharing the outcomes throughout your organization. More than likely, you’ll uncover some hassles not just around your products and services…you’ll learn about hassles with support and sales. If so, make sure that gets to the right folks in your organization.

If you want to know more about our Hassle Mapping program, come to ProductCamp Austin this weekend. I’m proposing a session called Hassle Mapping Your Way to a Better Product Experience. If you can’t make it and would like to know more (or if my session isn’t chosen), reach out to me and I’ll make sure you get the PowerPoint and session collateral I’m preparing for the event.

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