In early August, I had the pleasure of hosting Autumn Schultz in the dscout studio for a conversation about the how, when, and why of journey mapping, and how contextual research makes all the difference.

Autumn, ShopRunner’s design research lead, shared advice on the importance of collecting new data that focuses on the human experience, and how to translate those moments shared by real people into a customer journey narrative that gets buy-in from stakeholders. If you haven’t seen the webinar yet, you can stream the recording here.

Anyone who watched could see video insights from scout participants in a ShopRunner project with dscout. Autumn also provided a glimpse into creating parts and analyzing responses in a dscout mission.

Among questions we fielded from attendees, the most common request was for more examples and tactical advice about building a project for journey mapping in the dscout platform, and getting the most out of that project. If that's top of mind for you, I created an in-depth walkthrough video focused specifically on using dscout for journey mapping, which shows an example project about brand loyalty that we’ve completed and a template for getting started.

Below we’ll share a few key takeaways from our discussion with Autumn that will prime you for journey mapping research in dscout.

Start broad and iterate

One of the strengths of the dscout platform is the richness of contextual data collected throughout a “mission.” Each mission has “parts,” which can be shaped to progressively delve deeper into an experience or get closer to how scouts experience your products or services. You’re even able to launch one part at a time, which allows you to calibrate later parts based on the moments you’re capturing in the early ones.

Resourceful researchers can even begin learning from responses before a study actually starts—a strategy Autumn regularly takes advantage of.

“The screener is a great dscout hack,” Autumn said. “Use the screener as another way to collect data!”

Screeners often get hundreds of demographically-varied responses in a matter of days. An open-ended question that’s relevant to the screener’s topic can provide consumer perspective before beginning your contextual research—and highlight thoughtful scouts whom you want to hear more from.

After you’ve started your project and selected your scouts, you can leverage parts to continually probe deeper and learn about the customer experience in ways that other research approaches may never surface.

For example, during our webinar Autumn played two scout videos. Demographically different, these scouts shared almost the same experience in how they stay up-to-date on style trends. Later, those same scouts had a chance to showcase their steps while going through ShopRunner’s journey. Their recorded answers, alongside other scouts’, gave Autumn and her team perspective into similarities and differences at every phase of the journey.

For many considering journey mapping, I’d recommend setting an appropriate altitude for your team and organizational needs. Are you aware of the journey and need specific moments around each step? Or is the journey very large and amorphous, like Autumn's "omni-channel shopping" journey?

Starting with your altitude informs your mission and part design.

Turn emotion into engagement

Our customers love how candid scouts are, but sometimes wonder how they’ll be able to process all the qualitative data.

Designing your mission with a simple framework will make analysis easier. Try a closed-ended question like "Is this moment a Hit, Miss, or Wish?" Then, program questions you'd like scouts to answer regardless of the kind of moment they're sharing. This way, scouts basically tag the data for you as they’re creating their entries—and you’re seeing a variety of affect in the responses.

Autumn made use of a variant of this approach, which she called "Pains and Gains." In the short video below, Autumn explains how analyzing with the Pains and Gains strategy revealed friction points in the journey—and how the insights she collected could engage (and prompt important “what if” business questions from) her coworkers.

 

 

I love how Autumn involves her coworkers on the front end, by asking teams for their perspective on customers and about what they’d love to know, and on the backend by immersing them in the analysis. That approach positions research to deliver answers and also prompt more questions, which is an excellent way to gain organizational buy-in on future projects.

Our study on brand loyalty is designed for engagement from both scouts and stakeholders. It digs into brands that are revered and reviled, surfacing strong opinions, and offers researchers a lens into how their companies are actually perceived by real people.

Make the most of participant insights

Journey mapping research with dscout is about getting the voice of the customer to challenge and illuminate your assumptions—and there’s no better way to find these unfiltered, honest voices than by using a pool of scout participants that speak directly into their smartphones.

“Using dscout made folks more open about their feedback and frustrations, which I wasn’t able to get when I was in people’s houses while they unboxed things,” Autumn said.

These authentic experiences transcend the focus group, the researcher embed, the quantitative survey, and the hypotheses of your stakeholders. And there’s so much you can do to keep these moments feeling human.

As Autumn mentioned to me, it’s not just about saying, “Here’s your journey map” and delivering a static report on a desk. She’s taking steps to make her maps prominent and public, to share individual videos or collages that literally bring the voice of the customer to leadership, and she’s using the journey map as a way to explore potential findings and breakthroughs across departments, which can lead to a culture of customer-centricity.


With eye-opening contextual insights, your journey maps come to life for your stakeholders. If you’re a researcher who wants to see what dscout can deliver from the inside, or anyone at a company that’d enjoy having a few more evangelists, check out my walkthrough.