An exercise in Experience Mapping
TL;DR: I bought a Tesla, and I recorded my experience here.
Like many other fellow EV enthusiasts, I had been thinking about it for a while, but I finally took the plunge and got myself a spanking new Tesla Model 3. When I first started exploring the option, I knew it was going to be a different experience than buying a regular car from a regular dealership. Hence, I decided to record the experience. No, not as a video for my Youtube channel, but as an Experience Map.
As a UX professional, I have produced multiple Experience Maps at work, but this time around my hunch was that perhaps, I would gain some unique or different insights after having gone through the actual experience myself and doing the exercise. I started with a persona, of course, from my personal lense, and then built out the map stage by stage, as I experienced it. I ended up using the awesome UXPressia since my focus was expediency.
Experience Map vs. Journey Map
A quick note about the difference between the two because it usually comes up. What I am sharing here is an Experience Map, not a Customer Journey Map. I have attended many expert talks on this. I have spoken on this as well in product conferences and agile gatherings. And surprisingly, there is still a bit of confusion in some circles on what is what. To me, the visceral different between Experience Maps and Journey Maps is that the former is meant to generalize multiple journeys about different types of users across different products and services. Journey Maps are best used for mapping out one scenario for one type of user. Jim Kalbach describes it very cogently in his book Mapping Experiences¹
…experience maps tend to be even more freeform, with facets of information included or not depending on the story being told.
While I did not introduce a non-typical element in my map, I wanted to keep the door open for that. But the fact that I wanted to capture the Tesla’s service along with the product offering was a given that it needed to be Experience Map.
What did I learn?
I learned about a bunch of small aspects, but the three that you may find useful are as follows:
Not every experience is the same or a straight line
Contrary to how a typical car buying experience is, I ordered the car before test driving it! This was because I wanted to make sure I got the delivery before July 1′ 2019 so that I could take advantage of the $3750 Federal EV Tax Credit. One can argue that my procrastination in deciding to buy a Tesla and not taking advantage of the original $7500 tax credit is at fault in a suboptimal experience².
Nevertheless, it is a “trigger” into the experience and needs to be recorded that way. It behooves us to take note of all such alternative and off-the-reservation paths as they might reveal unique opportunities. In fact, this alternate path can be a Journey Map of its own.
Empathize, like really!
I learned that when you go through the experience of a product or service yourself, you focus on your feelings lot when describing the ordeal on paper. I was gravitating towards wanting to jot down my feelings first, before anything else. My takeaways here was that when I am researching for and building maps for work, I should try harder to empathize with the users and get in their head. Perhaps even sharpen my interview questions or observational aspects. When I had so many feelings and strong ones at that, it is safe to assume that other average customers/users would have them as well. And as UXers, we must extract all of those out.
Cover those touchpoints
Subconsciously, I was doing multiple touchpoints with more than one place, thing, and person for a given stage. I had to make sure I captured it all, and on more than one occasion, I had to really think hard and go back and add the touchpoint and the mode therein. The takeaway here is that do not take touchpoints here for granted. Usually, users will tell us about the touchpoint they most consciously interact with. But we need to again get into Sherlock Holmes mode and interview them in such a way that they reveal details about more touchpoints. For instance, a simple sentence such as “I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription” has three touchpoints as dead giveaways, that are instrumental in delivering the product aka “prescription” and service “delivering medication to a patient,” viz:
- the pharmacy building — a place
- the pharmacy assistance — a person
- payment machine or point of sale — a thing
But if a novice researcher were to ask an average pharmacy customer, the most crucial touchpoint to them would be the medicine, which is not even a touchpoint but the product itself.
Having done this exercise, I suggest you try it. Sometime self-indulgence is okay as long as the context is appropriate. Next time you are going for a substantive experience, say “moving residence,” “looking for a nanny” or a “job search,” try and jot it down the way you would as if it were a work deliverable. In doing the practice on yourself, you might learn things similar to what I learned. Perhaps even more.
And finally, are you contemplating buying an EV? Or did you buy one already? I would love to hear about your experience. My goal is to strengthen this experience map and generalize it even more. I am looking to solidifying the persona as well. So, please do reach out to me!
- Kalbach, James. Mapping Experiences: A Guide to Creating Value through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams, 2016.
- “Electric Vehicles: Tax Credits and Other Incentives | Department of Energy.” Accessed July 1, 2019. https://www.energy.gov/eere/electricvehicles/electric-vehicles-tax-credits-and-other-incentives.