Checklist of 20 principles for the customer journey
When creating proposals and planning for big, multistaged, multiphased, mixed method style, authentic, and longitudinal market research customer journeys that involve in-context ethnographic observations that tap into in-the-moment decision making, I have a checklist to use as you work with fields, teams, and your process.
Note on the image accompanying this post: The usual, developed customer journey map after the stages of market research will look quite different than the legendary Hero’s Journey diagram shown here. But, it’s important to acknowledge that, behind every customer journey and the research journey of the observing team, there is a deeper inner and outer journey that resembles the psychological monomyth in key ways.
So, here’s what to keep in mind when planning the client brand or company’s customer journey:
- Define what the client and you mean by customer journey. It is a loose term and needs upfront definition. Determine the key reason for doing a journey vs. other non-journey methodologies as well as the key objectives for each stage and methodology of the journey
- Figure how many participants on the journey you want to end up with. Overrecruit because there is drop-off. For journey work, I seek 20 to 30 final journeyers who go the entire way through. If we achieve completions of 18 to 30, this allows us multiple segments, locations, ages, genders, and life stages to compare
- Longevity and multiple touch points should be built in. Groups, online diary over 4 weeks, a minimum of 2 in-person visits at least, and perhaps 2 Skype contextual visits
- Decide on which stages of the journey are most important. Where and what are all the stages that consumers connect with for the category? This lets us know the key points of the journey. We can also think Hero’s Journey as an inner construct for our depth psychological team.
- Authentic timing for participants. Schedule at their natural behavior, not our convenience. What is the real interval in between activities of the journey?
- Multiple methodologies should be used to gain understanding of personality sides. There are social collective experiences (groups) and there are more individual experiences (online diaries and ethnography
- )Two journey ethnographers/moderators/anthropologists are essential because each participant will be at a different touchpoint and at a different time and place. Two heads are better than one. In the beginning, we try for joint work to establish unified practices, but some groups and ethnographies will be separate and require each researcher do investigate on her own, then come back and report results. Also, add a good field manager to schedule and recontact participants, plus manage fieldsDecide on number of toplines by each stage. Is it by participant or by stage or both?
- Decide in advance so you know how much writing is involved, and whether the toplines are finished or rough
- Video? Plan upfront as to whether this is professional or informal or both. You might want to have participants upload their own video, add your own as an observer, and bring in a professional at key points. Keep a good video editor on hand even if you do some of the video editing and taking yourself. The team may end up wanting short and effective video presentations of key segments or moments that require a strong professional touch
- How many final presentations and reports does the client want at the end of the journey? Decide in advance as to who the stakeholders are who want to hear the results and whether these are separate presentations or all together? Build in time to develop and be sure the presentation does not fall on holidays. We want as many team to hear and be part of the results as possible so maximum action will be taken from the journey work
- Team involvement from clients will be critical. Help to design a core team and the peripheral team who will participate in reviewing upfront materials, toplines, and observing the research. There is the Rule of Two: Each team member should come to at least two or more groups and/or ethnographies in two regions and participate in the debriefs of the online digital ethnography
- Assume more time to conduct and to analyze because of difficulties that may appear along the course of the journey. Think again of the Hero’s Journey that you and the client team will experience. There are so many challenges even with the best of planning. Analysis of data is difficult because there is an observer effect. What some participants say in groups will change over time. Scheduling of people for in-context research is pesky. Recruiting the right people for multiple stages (and who don’t just want to do it for the money) must be discerned. Some participants may be enthusiastic at the outset but drop off later when life intervenes. The amount of data for later analysis is huge and needs analysis at each stage, or the amount of rich findings can be overwhelming. Be sure the anthropological partner is as excited about analysis as you are as lead researcher
- Build in personal, informal, or formal debrief time between the two anthropological professionals who go to different touch points as well as one or two client debriefs
- Locations should be planned. Go to bicoastal and middle of the country/central regions such as metro-NY or East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest if no other pressing criteria
- Psychographic segments by age, gender, life stage, and ethnicity are important. If there’s an algorithm, look at its benefits, limitations. Add in key demographics with the screener
- Negotiate the deliverables upfront carefully. Do you/they want aggregated toplines or by participant? I prefer aggregated for some projects but by participant for others. Some journey clients may want a report on each participant by each stage, then a final aggregated presentation. Think about the ramifications of detailed writing for each participant throughout months of a journey
- There is an observer effect that cannot be helped and that should be factored into the analysis and upfront proposal. As participants in a journey are observed over time, they change. Messy ones may become neater, enthusiastic people may become disinterested, introverted may shift to extroverted, kids and other family become more and less important as decision makers, true motivations will surface that may go against what they said in groups at the outset, and the 8 functions of the Jungian typologies will be in effect
- Figure a 1199 for participants because of large incentives and who is providing this, along with who is doing all the incentives for the diaries. 30 participants per week for four weeks is a lot of incentive checks to send out, so plan in advance
- Short clips of video will be its own journey, so plan for uber-organization if you are doing it yourself with a strong organizational style from the beginning
- Payment from client is ideally more flexible than usual. There will be massive incentives and field expenses, so the major client sponsor should participate in this privilege of observing the customer journey first hand and support your paying incentives upfront.