Expectation Maps Are A Smart Way To Visualize Customer Journey Emotion

Talking to clients, it’s interesting to see and hear how the topic of “customer needs” still comes up as frequently as the sun comes out in Singapore. In a day and age when customer “needs” such as food, clothing, and human interaction are largely met, it makes sense for CX professionals to shift focus toward dynamically changing and ever-evolving expectations of what a quality experience should feel like.

When making a purchase online, for example, the “need” is for the item to get to the address provided in the time stated — that’s a given. It gets emotional when there’s a disconnect between the picture of the product purchased and the actual item received. Wildly exceeding or failing to meet expectations elicits emotional reactions that shape customer perceptions of the quality of a given experience.

Culture and language also have a very powerful influence on customer expectations, and companies need to be mindful of this when going after customers outside of their home markets and localize those experiences appropriately.

My latest report, part two in a three-part series on tools CX pros can use to customize customer experiences in markets they operate in overseas, explores expectation mapping as a tool to capture diverse emotional elements to augment your existing customer journey work.

Empathy and expectation mapping exercises can help both B2C and B2B organizations improve their customer experiences by helping interpret the irrational buying behavior of customer decisions and better visualize emotional flashpoints.

As my report explains, going through a collaborative empathy exercise and then plugging those insights into an expectation map can help companies:

  • Interpret the irrationality of customer decisions. Humans are irrational creatures; according to a Harvard Business School study, we make 95% of our purchase decisions with no active consideration at all. My report examines how these tools can be applied to better understand buying behavior-linked emotions that underpin the expectations, influence decisions, and shape the overall perceptions of branded interactions.
  • Better visualize emotions in the journey map. Companies struggle to accurately capture customer emotions in conventional journey maps. Although standard customer journey maps are brilliant tools for deconstructing the sequence of interactions, they fail to accurately capture customer emotions at key inflections. Expectation maps can help cover these blind spots as companies make efforts to move toward a more ideal future state.
  • Frame the canvas for creative localization. Expectation mapping provides the framework to allow companies to begin ideating and creating thoughtfully crafted microinteractions within the customer journey that can be customized to resonate with local customers.

Empathy is not a new concept in CX design or strategy and was central to the first report in this series. Equipped with a robust understanding of your customers and empathy for their drivers, expectation mapping serves as the logical next step in translating and visualizing the emotional ingredients that lead to high-quality experiences — and, in turn, increased loyalty and revenue.