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Maps, maps, maps - why you can never have too many

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When I first started working as a business analyst back in 2013, there was less of requirement for me to produce the above tools for my team to help them in their understanding of the end users. As, more and more organisations embrace user centric design, there is need for business analysts to be able to produce artefacts that show how the user will be interacting with the service/product.

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Below I briefly describe different maps that you can use within a project to show how a user interacts with a service.

Isometric map

Isometric mapping is not the most popular tool that is used by the business analyst or service designer. In case you have not seen one, an isometric map is used to present three-dimensional objects within two dimensions. There is an example of one below.

Example of Isometric map

As it is not a commonly used tool, I often find it is under rated by business analysts. For me, it is one of the powerful tools that we have access to in our toolkit; it is a perfect tool to present complex information that the users may struggle to get their head around. It is a great alternative to using a tree structure diagram. The map uses a similar format of a geographic atlas. The structure of the information is shown in a similar manner to what you would expect to see from a tree diagram. Most of the user will be familiar with the concept of the tree diagram, so, therefore, the concept of an isometric map will not surprise them. Isometric maps are to ideal to use when you are looking at presenting how web-based/ mobile applications interact with users, databases and other applications. You can use them to show complex information to the user instead of relying on traditional UML/BPMN. You would not use Isometric map to show a simple user journey flow.

Customer Journey Map

Customer Journey map

You will be familiar with this tool, as it often used to show the user journey. Customer journey map graphically shows the steps that the customer has to experience when engaging with your business for a specific product/service. You can use Customer Journey map for wide range of services; retail experience, booking a hospital appointment or even making a complaint.

By using this tool, you will be able to draw out the frustrations that the customer will experience when dealing with your business for a specific product/service. The tool, also you to explore where the customer engagement is high for your product and gives you an understanding of which element of the journey you should not change. One of the benefits of this tool is that by mapping the user journey you get to experience your business service through the eye of the user. By doing this you will get a more rounded product as your team will want to avoid causing frustrations for your customer. Customer journey map is an ideal tool to use when you want to get an understanding of your user experience of the service that you provide. It is also ideal when you want to understand the pain points that your customer faces when they interact with your business. The tool itself does not require any tools apart from PostIt notes and Sharpies.

Empathy Map

Empathy map

As a business analyst, we must always make sure that the user needs are central to the product that is being built. In order to make sure user users remain at the heart of the product, we need to understand what drives them, what shapes their behaviour and what they feel when they interact with our service. Empathy maps are incredibly powerful tools to show the emotions that user may feel when interacting with your service. One, of the benefit of this tool, is that they are very easy to understand and digest.

Empathy maps are broken down into four quadrants; Says, Thinks, Does and Feels with the user persona in the middle of the quadrants. I have seen some maps that have expanded to include Hear, See- this allows you to build a richer picture of your user. The tool provides one-page view of a user as a whole, it does not show any interaction points that the user may have with the service. Empathy map gives you an understanding why the user chooses to do what they do. Empathy maps are the perfect tool to use at the start of a project when you are trying to understand your customer needs. They also a great tool to use, to understand why your customer behaves in the way that they do.

Experience Map

Experience Map

Customer journey map and experience map as tools are used often to mean the same thing. The key difference between the two is that; customer journey map shows how a user interacts with the service while experience map shows the experience that a user faces within a domain. Another difference is that customer journey map focuses on the product/service that a customer has a relationship with, while experience map can show user interacting with multiple products/services.

The experience that the user has with these products/service can shape their behaviour or even relationship with an organisation. Experience map will show the start to end journey that a customer goes through when they are trying to accomplish a goal. With, experience map you get to plot the emotion that a user feels at a particular moment within the journey. By plotting emotions against certain events within the journey, will give you an insight into what drives the user’s behaviour. An experience map is a great tool for when you want to understand user’s general behaviours- what drives, motivates and frustrates them. It is a good tool to baseline your user’s journey and from this then you can draw out the customer journey.

Service Blueprint

Service blueprints are not often seen as a user-centric mapping tool. However, it does provide key insight to when a user will interact with the service, any pain points or frustrations that they may feel. Service blueprint provides a graphical view of relationships between different actors; for examples users, documents and process that have a direct relationship to a particular customer journey.

Service blueprints are often seen as an extension of customer journey maps. With customer journey map which shows how the user interacts with a particular service, service blueprint take it a stage further as it will go into the lower details that support these interactions. It will depend on the service to how much detail is shown in a service blueprint. A service blueprint is a perfect tool for when you want to get full stack view on what is happening within a particular service. It gives you an understanding what is happening at the user level all the way down to the back office of the business. It is also a good tool for when you want to design a new service, as it will display where potential bottlenecks might take place within a service.

You will notice that we did not include user story mapping as one of the above tools that is due my view that every Business analyst should have experience or at least knowledge of this tool. So, next time you are asked the question of 'how are users interacting with our service' use one of the above tools to answer that question.

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