Storyboards Aren’t Just For Hollywood

by Colin Shaw on August 26, 2011
customer experience storyboard illustration

Attendees of our recent webinar, “See What Your Customers See: Mapping Your Real Customer Experience,” hosted by me and my colleague Kalina Janevska, were presented with creative new ways to effectively map their customer experiences. Given the level of interest and the number of questions submitted, the sizable crowd found our new methods valuable and intriguing.

If you weren’t able to attend, I’d like to invite you to view a recording of the webinar we presented. Here’s a brief synopsis of what you can expect to see:

Functional vs. emotional touch point mapping: A touch point is any interaction your customer has with your company, brand or staff. The functional view of touch point mapping could be told from the third person. Literally, any interaction a customer has with your company goes on a chronological list. The functional view is essentially the “theory of everything,” because it tracks the minutia of each and every single moment the company/customer interaction

By contrast, the emotional view of touch point mapping tells the story of the company/client interaction as the customer experiences it. In other words, emotional touch point mapping is the “theory of something,” because it narrows the set of touch points into something that directly plays into the desires, fears, and motivations of the customer.

Our clients typically struggle with the transition from a functional to emotional. More often than not, the issue is that our clients create the wrong definition of a touch point. Why? Because the internal culture of the company typically sets its own priorities for what should be important to the customer. Alternatively, whatever seems the easiest to measure fits the bill for a “touch point.” Compounding these challenges is the fact that whichever division of your company complaints the most vociferously gets funding to pick the touch points it considers the most pressing.

This is where “Brown Paper” exercises and storyboarding techniques come into play. Taken together, these practical and executable methods will allow you to define touch points according to the customer’s values. While our Brown Paper method employs third-person observation (like the functional view of touch point mapping), the chief difference is that it expands from a mere functional view to an emotional view by including things like ambience, memory (“affective residue”), feelings and coping.

By executing an Emotional Signature®, we go beyond identifying the interactions to quantifiably analyze and statistically prove which attributes of a customer experience drive or destroy value. The results are generally surprising. In one case, our client learned that the smell of their bakery was more important than its cleanliness–to the customer!

After creating the wall, we instruct our clients to map green routes (what works for the customer), red routes (what doesn’t work), and blue routes. The wall becomes a blueprint of the customer’s experience from start to finish. The blue routes, then, become the content for the storyboard.

The storyboard is effective on two counts: it gives your company the ability to conceptualize the customer experience and it lets you creatively rework the blue routes of the customer’s journey. The storyboard is essentially a drawing of the customer’s interaction. Specific pieces of it are malleable. The storyboard offers an unprecedented opportunity for your staff to open their minds to fresh creative possibilities – and it gives your customer experience an unexpected twist.

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Colin ShawStoryboards Aren’t Just For Hollywood