Mind the Map

Written on 23 February 2017 by Dorota Boisdron

How Tobias and Tobias goes above and beyond pain points and opportunities when creating experience maps


The UX research and design landscape is changing quickly nowadays and we no longer have to explain to organisations how important it is to avoid operating in isolated silos but instead to have an overall view of the company as a whole. We don’t need to make a case about the importance of user research. We all agree when Peter F. Drucker says, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” Companies not only respond to customers’ needs, they create new needs, products and services that people desire, love and identify with. Companies know that to gain customers’ loyalty, they need to create unforgettable experiences. They need to serve customers across all channels, digital and non-digital, and continuously improve their service. They need to have a ‘the service can always be better’ approach.

Experience maps have become an indispensable tool to identify the customer touch-points with the service and the channels in which those touch-points occur. However, experience maps shouldn’t be limited to identifying opportunities for the business and pain points for the customers. Transitioning from one phase to another on the user journey should be natural and imperceptible for the user and switching between different channels seamless. The current journey is a start point to inform businesses of where they stand but there is so much more to an experience map. Quantitative research can be used to highlight key touch-points encountered by most of the users, qualitative research will highlight what users feel and think.

For Chris Risdon, Head of Design at Capital One Labs, “a good experience map feels like a catalyst, not a conclusion.” It should be actionable, and need no explanation. It’s understandable at a glance, it’s thought-provoking and, most of all, it tells a story.

As an external UX agency, we need to make sure we go above and beyond collecting, interpreting and presenting findings. We need to make sure that we engage with everyone within our client’s organisation, from customer service staff to key influencers. We need to ensure that they are all familiar with the entire experience of being a customer.

We are no longer creating a B2C experience, we push it forward and create a H2H (human to human) experience. We point out where the business misses the point, where industry jargon annoys and discourages customers. We focus on customers’ emotions, we try to understand them, we emphasize the importance of belongingness. We connect the hard-hearted world of business with the world of real people, who think, feel, fail, have expectations and emotions. We introduce empathy.

Expectations are high. Even for short, low budget projects, it is important to squeeze in research and learn about our client’s audience. When time and access to customers are limited, we need to be creative. We dig deep, we use call centre logs, surveys, previous user research, reviews, and customer comments. We try to make impossible possible by making sure our experience map is thought-provoking. We create a powerful story for our clients to talk about and guide them to the next stage. An experience map is a tool to design something special.

About the Author


Dorota Boisdron

Dorota Boisdron

User Experience Researcher at Tobias and Tobias

Dorota works as a user experience researcher at the Tobias & Tobias office in London. She is passionate about insight-led experience innovation and studying people’s behaviours, thinking patterns and underlying needs. Dorota has been trained by the Nielsen Norman Group in various research methods.

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