For many years, I’ve been aware of the value locked up in the design patterns that have emerged as business and consumer customers have co-designed their ideal approaches to everything from how they’d like to invest for retirement, to how they’d like software to install, to how they’d like to make a purchasing decision in our Customer Scenario mapping sessions. We published our first Customer Scenario pattern in 2004 (B2B Select & Buy: Part 1 and Part 2). Nobody seemed particularly interested. But I believe the time has come to put these out into the world. It may be that nobody will notice (Christopher Alexander’s work, which is very profound, is still under-acknowledged 30 years later, even among professional architects).
- Customer Lifecycle Customer Scenarios. These are closely connected to customers’ discovery, acquisition, and use of your products to fulfill a need they have. How do customers ideally want to interact with your brand and your ecosystem through their product lifecycle?
- Event-Triggered Customer Scenarios. These relate to life events or business events that customers need to deal with. For consumers, these might include buying a new home, retiring, welcoming a new baby into the family, sending a child off to college. For business people, these scenarios may include things like launching a new product, opening a new branch, or downsizing the business.
- Outcome-Based Customer Scenarios. Some scenarios are focused on a specific outcome, such as losing 20 pounds, getting a promotion, or increasing your revenues by 20 percent while retaining or improving your current profit margins.
What IS a Customer Scenario Pattern? These design patterns have emerged from groups of customers’ own designs of how they’d ideally like to accomplish each of a variety of tasks. They are NOT Web site usability flows. They are cross-touchpoint, and they appear to be reasonably cross-cultural (that still needs a lot more testing).
Where’s the Most Value in a Customer Scenario Pattern? Moments of Truth and Customer Metrics. We’ve decided that the most valuable aspects of each pattern are not the sequence of steps or activities that customers choose to take, but, rather, the “moments of truth” that they identify—the showstoppers—and the way that customers choose to measure success when they can either avoid entirely and/or quickly deal with any of these classic difficulties. Customer metrics are customers’ own codification of: “This is what works for me when I’m trying to do X;” “I need the answer to these 3 questions in the first 5 minutes.” Of course, customers’ expectations will change over time. The bar gets raised.
Moments of Truth Are Business Opportunities. I suspect that you won’t be surprised by the Moments of Truth in each Customer Scenario pattern. They will seem obvious. Yet, it never fails to amaze us that very few companies design their internal business processes and customer experiences with these moments of truth as their design center. That’s probably because we tend to optimize business processes to be efficient and effective for us; not for our customers. Yet, we all know that the most dramatic business innovations and best possible brand experiences occur when they’ve been designed to thrill and delight customers at the precise moments that they’ve been disappointed or unable to do something in the past. Not only is each moment of truth an opportunity to delight; it’s also an opportunity to make money or to save money. So our patterns include examples of operational metrics and business benefits for each moment of truth and metric.
Ronni Marshak is the co-creator of our Customer Scenario Mapping methodology (which we’ve been evolving since 1989). She has chosen to begin our Customer Scenario patterns series with an important customer lifecycle scenario: the one we call “Break/Fix.”