The Outstanding Characteristic of Successful Customer Experience Mapping

by Anne Reuss

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I’ve become a fan of live theater.

A year ago, I would have never uttered those words.

I didn’t think I could have an equally rich experience compared to people who could hear. Even to this day, it’s not everyday I see a place of business address the accessibility of their product or service.

Needless to say, I was amazed with the accessibility and the advocates I discovered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater. They are meticulous with details, going as far as to provide programs prior to performances with photos of the characters’ name signs the interpreters would be using, or providing “sight” tours for the blind.

They have expanded their universe of patrons by investing in this accessibility feature.


After my fifth time at the Steppenwolf this past Sunday, I was reminded of the one outstanding characteristic that makes customer experience mapping successful: Inclusiveness – and its ability to expand your audience by considering and empathizing with different possible customers.

A universal customer journey map template is a myth. Inspired by the Steppenwolf, I’d love to share four tips for what allows you to include different possible customers!

1) Don’t Get Caught Up in Demographics

When you’re developing customer profiles, it’s easy to tinker with the age, income level, job description, etc. But none of those things is a major driver in driving a purchase. Emotion is 50% of the experience. See our Slideshare to understand more about customer behavior and how the brain could be affecting your brand.

2) Empathize with the Variety of Struggles, Rationales & Point of Views

I’ll let this ridiculously clever and animated video explain. To sum it up, empathy drives connection and to sympathize is to create a disconnection and put yourself farther away from the other.

3) Customer Journey Maps are Not Designed for One Type of Customer

Going back to my example of the Steppenwolf Theater, it’s important to recognize your customers face different barriers. Visualizing your customer journey map with one set of eyes or walking in just one pair of customer’s shoes inhibits inclusion.

4) Ask Specific Questions to Get Specific Feedback

If you ask a canned question, you will get canned answers. Simple as that.

Rather, why don’t you customize, tweak and make your questions specific? You will generate customized feedback.  For example, after the play, I was asked by the Director of Audience Experience, Evan Hatfield, about my seating location versus another instead of hearing the usual “So how was it!?” The interpreters also volunteered their rationale behind two male interpreters with one female. (They said it was a conscious effort to emphasize the dominant male tension in the play). What a way to create inclusion in the creative experience of theatre.

I leave you with this: don’t be afraid to get specific and diverse with your customer journey maps the way Steppenwolf does. It’s not as paradoxical as it sounds: You actually can attract a larger customer base with your inclusiveness!

As much as you hate canned responses, customers hate a canned experience.

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