customer journey mapping in a post-pandemic world

For a Customer Experience Leader, the number one goal is putting the customer at the centre of everything that the organisation does, through decision making, policy making and product design, to sales, and through to service. Customer journey maps and personas are some of the most effective tools for truly understanding customer needs, preferences and pain points, to create a more customised and engaging experience. 

This article discusses how to conduct research to provide insights for creating effective customer journey maps and personas that can help you become a more customer-centric organisation.

Ethnography and contextual enquiry are the methods that are typically used to provide deep insights into how customers interact with a product or service at each stage of their journey.

Ethnography is a research method that involves observing and analysing social interactions, cultural practices, and behaviour patterns of a particular group of people in their natural setting. Contextual enquiry is a research method that involves observing and interviewing users in their actual environment while they are performing specific tasks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to conduct traditional ethnographic research and contextual inquiries due to the restrictions on travel and social distancing measures. As a result, researchers have had to adapt their methods to continue gathering insights into customer behaviours and experiences.

One way Fifth Quadrant has adapted to the new reality is the use of digital ethnography, which involves deploying online platforms set up in a social media environment to observe and interact with customers remotely. A recent example of this was a customer experience project for a local council, in which an online discussion forum was used to walk customers through their recent interactions with the council. Each set of questions probed participants about aspects of their interaction(s), and we were then able to weave this qualitative data together to form a set of cohesive customer journey maps.

We have also experimented with self-report methods such as video, asking customers to record themselves using a product or service, or reporting back on their experiences. These videos are analysed to identify pain points and areas for improvement in the customer journey. Raw video footage can be analysed for nonverbal communication and tone of voice to provide another layer for understanding customer emotion and sentiment.

Customer videos are also useful for testing and gathering feedback on product and service prototypes. By showing customers a prototype and observing their reactions on video, we can identify areas for improvement.

Customer videos are also a powerful tool for communicating insights to stakeholders within an organisation. Videos help to bring the customer persona to life and see the world through the lens of the customer’s perspective. Thus, they are valuable in allowing your stakeholders to walk in the shoes of your customers and in building empathy.

Digital ethnography presents challenges to overcome for the analysis and interpretation of the data that is collected. Given the richness and detail of the data collected, it can take some time and effort to condense this down into concise personas and journey maps; however, this process is invaluable for gaining a true understanding of the customer experience and understanding how to best respond to customer concerns and pain points.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a rethink about how to conduct research to create customer journey maps and personas. With restrictions lifted, conventional in-person ethnography and contextual enquiries are still relevant approaches, but the range of tools available has been broadened, leading to innovation and richer insights.

Fifth Quadrant uses design thinking methods and tools to understand and diagnose current state customer experience to create new and relevant future state customer experiences which drive differentiation, loyalty, and advocacy.

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Written by Steve Nuttall

Steve is the Head of CX Research and has expertise across a variety of industries including; automotive, finance, banking, retail… Contact our team for details on workshops and roundtables delivered by Dr. Steve Nuttall