Sensemaking journeys or customer journeys: which is best?
Several people have asked me lately about the difference between our sensemaking journeys and customer journeys. A great question! Both are really useful, in different ways.
Customer journeys come into their own when the purpose of the research is to understand the interaction between the user or customer and the product or service the organisation offers. When ordering or buying something there is a definite start point and a definite end point and various interaction points in between. Good example: taking out a new credit card; reporting a crime; buying a house. Other than this, one of the best ways to use customer journey research is to uncover how well discrete customer interactions integrate with the overall customer experience that the organisation intends for its customers.
Sensemaking journeys encompass the whole customer experience which might include customer journeys but is not limited to pain points and data points.
Sensemaking research explores what is happening to people in their hearts, minds and lives before they even think about interacting with you.
It is best for situations when people are feeling uncertain about what to do or are feeling overwhelmed, or going round in circles.
This is because our brains have the ability to kick start the sensemaking process when we feel that we are in an ambiguous or chaotic situation. This could be Covid. This could be becoming a new parent, making a major dietary change, or indeed the lead up to any change in life stage.
Sensemaking research also explores those situations when 'journey' is the wrong metaphor
For example, people who have to retire early (through ill health, loss of work or ageism in the workplace) can take 12 to 18 months to identify as a retiree. As one person said to us "my head isn't there yet because i didn't plan it." They feel catapulted into retirement; they didn't take a journey.
Sensemaking research is qualitative research and incorporates cultural analysis (for example, the media discourse)b