Events as Experiences: An Illustrated Guide to Customer Journey Mapping

The Customer Experience Curve is an incredibly useful framework which can help you identify critical moments that make or break the brand experience. This framework, also known as the Customer Journey Map, is essentially a timeline which illustrates the highlights and obstacles your customers encounter while “consuming” your event.
A well-executed Customer Journey Map will help you uncover problematic areas by visualising the entire end-to-end journey of your event participants.

Here are a few guidelines on how to map the customer experience and why it is important to do so:


Identifying the touchpoints

Touchpoints, also called moments of truth, are the points of interaction between the customer and the business offering. In the context of events, it is any point of interaction with your company, your staff and other attendees, from hearing about the event, getting registered, attending, to filling out the satisfaction survey and receiving photos from the event.

Here are some important touchpoints you may want to consider:

  • Promotional activities
  • Website navigation
  • Ticket purchase
  • Price
  • Hotel facilities
  • Shuttle / Transfers
  • Registration & Seating
  • Freebies
  • Signage
  • Setting
  • Networking
  • Sessions/Presentations
  • Simultaneous translation
  • Content
  • AV
  • Wi-fi
  • Entertainment
  • Facilities
  • Staff
  • Attendees
  • Activities
  • F&B
  • Coffee breaks
  • Cocktail / Gala
  • Post-event communication

Tip: When identifying the touchpoints, it is a good idea to consult with actual attendees. Otherwise you risk to emphasise points of lesser importance to your guests and as a result, your curve will not correspond to the real participant experience. The data can be collected after the event, along with the satisfaction survey or better yet, during the event, by designated attendees under cover – something like mystery shoppers – who would have the freedom to choose their own touchpoints according to their unique experiences.


Creating the Experience Grid

The Experience Grid pinpoints the moments of truth before, during and after the event as well as the relevant importance of each touchpoint. This grid allows you to draw the curve and ultimately visualise the participant’s journey.

The grid consists of two axes – the horizontal contains the chosen touchpoints in chronological order and the vertical represents the level of satisfaction. The touchpoints also vary in size which represents their relative importance. The example below is for a typical two-day conference with educational sessions and a gala dinner.

Obviously, the length of your curve will depend on the number of touchpoints and the duration of the event as well as on the relative importance you have assigned to each touchpoint.

Tip: Knowing your customer base is very important when drawing the Experience Grid. Recognising that your customers are not created equal and using segmentation will go a long way once you collect the data and attempt to interpret the results.


Drawing the Experience Curve

The Experience Curve is formed by pinpointing the guest’s satisfaction level at each touchpoint and then linking the points to form a continuum. This provides a visual representation of the journey. In our example below, the Experience Curve shows a pretty satisfied attendee overall, even though there are a couple of low points along the journey.

It is important to note that almost every attendee would be dissatisfied at one point or another before, during or after the event. Naturally, the registration fee is often a source of complaints. However, high-quality content and services tend to make up for the perceived high price. Another challenging area is the catering. More often than not, people tend to remember if the food was bad and to forget if it was really good.

Tip: Keeping in mind that it is virtually impossible to have a flat curve at the highest satisfaction level, it is preferable to maintain high scores overall and to conclude on a positive note. If the last impression of your event was a good one, you are more likely to have a satisfied attendee and vice versa.


Going Mobile

You can document the customer journey in many different ways – through sketching, online or with a mobile app.

Mobile ethnography is used in service design when the experience of people in real time is of great importance. In tourism, for example, mobile ethnography is gaining in importance allowing travellers to evaluate different tourist services. One obvious advantage of using an app to evaluate the customer journey is to record direct user feedback and genuine reactions instead of asking people to recall their experiences and giving feedback afterwards. These apps also allow users to document their experiences through comments, photos, audio and video footage.
ExamplesExperienceFellow, Indeemo, Touchstone Research, ethos, Over The Shoulder

Introduction to Customer Experience Research with ExperienceFellow from More than Metrics on Vimeo

Whatever medium you choose, the Customer Journey framework is a great way to visually represent how people perceive your event products and services. This will help you to see the experience through the participants’ eyes and craft truly user-centric events.


Featured imageFlorian Pircher licensed under CC0 1.0