How to Map an Omnichannel Experience

As I prepare for the OmnichannelX Conference, I’m giving a lot of thought to how to map an omnichannel experience. Specifically, how do omnichannel experiences differ from just… experiences? For most people, mapping an experience means identifying a single channel, such as a website, and mapping out a person’s experience on that website. But most people don’t spend all of their time on a single website. In fact, there was a time before digital, when experiences couldn’t be relegated to a website.

An omnichannel experience is a journey that crosses a variety of channels, and isn’t confined to a mere few. To understand an omnichannel experience, it helps to think about the time before the Internet.

Offline and Digital Experiences

Let’s envision a typical customer experience for someone purchasing a coat from Nordstrom in 1990.

  1. You drive to the store to see the coats
  2. In the store you can’t find the coat in the right color, so the person at the desk orders it for you
  3. You wait for the coat to arrive
  4. After a week you call the company, to be certain the coat has shipped
  5. The coat arrives, you try it on
  6. If you need to return it, you bring it back to the store

Now let’s envision a customer experience for purchasing a coat from Nordstrom in 2018.

  1. You go to nordstrom.com to browse the coats
  2. Then, still on nordstrom.com, you order the coat online
  3. You receive a notification (on the site) letting you know that the coat has shipped
  4. The coat arrives, you try it on
  5. If you need to return it, you send an online chat message (through the site) to get information and then mail it back

It’s a single channel experience. But it doesn’t have to be! Maybe instead…

  1. You go to nordstrom.com to browse the coats
  2. You go into the store to try on the coat you like, and order it from the store
  3. After you order the coat, you receive an email letting you know that the coat has shipped
  4. The coat arrives, you try it on
  5. If you need to return it, you bring it to the store

In 1990, a person’s experience with a company involved in-person and on-the-phone conversations. Today the experience can be entirely digital. But it doesn’t have to be – and that’s where omnichannel comes in.

Digital is exciting. Even today, when the Internet can hardly be called “new” people ask for “an app” or “a website” for no reason other than “people have them.” When you create an omnichannel experience, you’re remembering that digital is exciting, but it’s not a silo.

So how do you map an omnichannel experience?

Map an Omnichannel Experience

A journey map can take many different forms. For some organizations, a journey map shows the process through a single channel, or how a consumer interacts with a single line of business. But an experience journey map should always be omnichannel.

The best way to map an omnichannel experience is to identify a scenario for a specific audience segment, or persona. Map out the steps the persona would take to complete a task, as we did with purchasing a coat – and don’t worry about where each action happens. It will almost always involve multiple channels, since our lives are naturally omnichannel. Then, as you create a visual map, identify each unique channel that is included in the experience.

Voilà! Your journey map is now omnichannel! Simply by following the natural experience of a person, regardless of where they take each action, your experience is omnichannel.

Want to learn more? Join me at OmnichannelX in February!

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