When I first started working as a business analyst in 2013, I had little need to create top tools for my team to help them understand end users. As more and more organizations embrace user-centric design, business analysts need to be able to create artifacts that show how users will interact with services / products.
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Below I describe briefly the various maps that you can use in a project to show how a user interacts with a service.
Isometric mapping is not the most popular tool used by business analysts or service designers. If you haven’t seen one, an isometric map is used to represent a three-dimensional object between two dimensions. Below is an example.
Since this is not a commonly used tool, I often rate it by business analysts. For me, this is one of the most powerful tools that our Toolkit has access to; It’s a perfect tool for presenting complex information that users can fight to get their heads around. This is a great alternative to using a tree structure figure.
The map uses a format similar to a geographic atlas. The structure of the information is similar to what you would like to see from a tree image. Most users will be familiar with the concept of tree images, therefore, the idea of an isometric map will not surprise them.
Isometric maps are ideal for use when you are looking to present how web-based / mobile applications interact with users, databases, and other applications. You can use it to show complex information to the user without relying on traditional UML / BPMN. You do not use isometric maps to show the journey flow of a normal user.
Customer Journey Map
You will be familiar with this tool, as it is often used to show the journey of the user. The customer’s travel map graphically shows the steps that the customer has to experience while engaging with your business for a particular product / service. You can use customer journey maps for a wide range of services; Retail experience, booking hospital appointments or even complaining.
Using this tool, you will be able to find out the frustration that the customer will feel when dealing with your business for a particular product / service. The tool also allows you to explore where the customer’s engagement is for your product and tells you which component of the ride you shouldn’t change. One of the advantages of this tool is that by mapping user journeys you will experience your business service through user’s eyes. By doing this you will get more round products because your team will want to avoid creating frustration for your customers.
Customer Journey Maps is an ideal tool to use when you want to understand the user experience of the services you provide. This is also ideal for the pain points you want to understand when your customers interact with your business. The tool itself does not require any tools other than postIT notes and sharpies.
As a business analyst, we must always make sure that user needs are central to the product being created. To ensure that users are at the center of the product, we need to understand what drives them, what shape their behavior, and how they feel when they interact with our services. Empathy Maps is an incredibly powerful tool for showing the user’s feelings when interacting with your service. One, the advantage of these tools is that they are very easy to understand and digest.
Sympathy maps are divided into four quadrilaterals; Say, think, do and feel with the personality of the user in the middle of the quadrant. I’ve seen some maps that have been expanded to include Hear, See – this allows you to create richer images of your users. The tool provides a one-page view of a user as a whole, without showing any interaction points that the user may have with the service. Empathy Maps lets you understand why users choose what they do.
Empathy maps are the perfect tool to use at the beginning of a project when you are trying to understand your customer’s needs. These are also great tools to use, to understand why your customers behave like them.
Customer journey maps and experience mapping tools are often used to refer to the same thing. The main difference between the two is that; Customer journey map shows how a user interacts with the service while the experience map shows the experience that a user experiences within a domain. Another difference is that the customer travel map focuses on the product / service with which a customer has a relationship, while the experience map allows the user to interact with multiple products / services.
The user experience with this product / service may shape their behavior or even their relationship with an organization. Experience maps will show you through the journey from start to finish when a customer is trying to achieve a goal. Experience maps allow you to plot user experiences at a given moment in the journey. By plotting emotions against certain events in the journey, it will give you an insight into what drives user behavior.
An experience map is a great tool when you want to understand the general behavior of users – which drives, inspires and discourages them. This is a great tool to baseline your user journey and from it you can draw customer journey.
Service blueprints are often not seen as a user-centric mapping tool. However, it does provide key insights into when a user may interact with the service, what pain points or frustrations they may experience. Service Blueprint provides a graphical view of the relationships between different actors; For example users, documents and processes that are directly related to a particular customer’s journey.
Service blueprints are often seen as an extension of the customer journey map. With the customer journey map showing how the user interacts with a particular service, the service blueprint takes it to the next level as it goes into the following details that support this interaction. It depends on the service how much detail is shown in a service blueprint.
A service blueprint is a perfect tool when you want to get a complete stack view of what’s happening in a particular service. It lets you see what’s happening at the user level in the back office of the business. This is a good tool when you want to design a new service, as it will show where potential interruptions to a service can occur.
You will notice that we did not include user story mapping as one of the above tools which is due to my view that every business analyst should have experience or at least knowledge of this tool.
So, the next time you are asked ‘How users are interacting with our services’, use one of the tools above.