Creating Customer Journey Maps is Akin to Charting a Treasure Map

Creating Customer Journey Maps is Akin to Charting a Treasure Map

Mike Wittenstein, from exchange student to global consultant, seamlessly blends storytelling with deep CX insights as a virtual speaker.

Mike Wittenstein’s journey is a captivating mosaic woven from a tapestry of diverse experiences. Imagine a young man driven by a profound curiosity, embarking on a global adventure as an exchange student, navigating the academic landscape as an MBA student at Thunderbird, and later owning a digital agency while consulting in the vibrant streets of over two dozen countries. Wittenstein is a distinguished Virtual Speaker, Coach, Consultant, and the Founder of Storyminers. 

At the heart of Wittenstein’s journey lies a commitment to learning and connecting, delving into the intricacies of different cultures, market dynamics, and customer behaviors. His evolution into a virtual speaker and consultant is more than a mere transition; it’s a fusion of his entrepreneurial ventures, overseas experiences, and an innate love for storytelling. Through virtual presentations, he has not only amplified his ability to connect but has also shared invaluable insights on a global scale.

Join us as we delve into Wittenstein’s extraordinary journey, exploring the unique blend of experiences that has shaped his profound understanding of customer experience and storytelling, making him a trailblazer in the realms of virtual speaking and consultancy.

Excerpts from the interview;

How have your experiences shaped your approach to helping organizations with their storytelling and customer experience strategies?

My experiences have been like a kaleidoscope, each twist revealing new patterns in how businesses connect with customers. I’ve seen firsthand that a story isn’t just a story; it’s an experience. I bring a global perspective, blending lessons from my international travels and relationships with a deep understanding of market dynamics. For my clients who want something different and better in the future, I guide them to envision the future state as a story and then transform it into an experience. It’s a fast way to get from idea to reality, one that resonates authentically across cultures and borders.

As the founder of Storyminers, what is the mission and vision of the company in the context of storytelling and customer experience?

Our mission is to guide companies in discovering their unique story and embedding it into every facet of their customer and employee experiences. In 2024, we’re introducing a new twist: helping leaders and their teams make their trailblazing (first-of-a-kind) ideas real with compelling narratives that become the requirements for new employee and customer journeys. Our vision? To transform businesses into strategic storytellers, where every customer interaction becomes a chapter in a mutually rewarding story.

How have you observed the evolution of customer experience strategies over the years, and what emerging trends do you believe will shape the future of CX?

Over the years, I’ve witnessed a fascinating evolution in customer experience strategies. It’s like watching a black-and-white movie transform into a vivid 3D hologram. Initially, businesses focused on transactions. To be successful, it’s all about relationships and personalized experiences. The future is shaping into an era where AI and data analytics blend with human empathy to create hyper-personalized experiences. Consider it a high-tech, high-touch meeting where technology enables a more profound understanding and connection with customers.

How do you help organizations measure the impact of their storytelling initiatives on customer experience?

In guiding organizations to assess their storytelling’s effectiveness, the focus is on how stories enhance the value customers receive in tangible ways. Remember that customers use multiple currencies, not just money. The stories that drive experience designs can give customers their time back, a sense of accomplishment, deeper connections with others, learning that empowers them, and confidence in decision-making. Most clients don’t track this, so we recommend a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. One of my favorites juxtaposes what value the company gets with the value customers receive. Interestingly, each often comes from a different source. Another is how many generations can a customer-shared story survive intact.

How do you create effective customer journey maps, and what role do they play in optimizing the overall customer experience within CX strategy?

Creating customer journey maps is akin to charting a treasure map. It’s not just plotting points; it’s about uncovering hidden gems of customer delight. My approach involves immersive empathy—when I step into the customers’ or employees’ shoes and walk their paths, I can see what troubles them and what might delight them. I can imagine novel ways to improve processes, promises, language, interactions, etc. The latest journey map technical offerings are game-changing; they let you tie real-time insights into business-improving sprints so organizations can act on what they learn in record time. 

Are there common pitfalls organizations should avoid when starting customer experience transformations based on your experience?

#1 Remember to do this work for the customer, then the company. When you put the company’s need for efficiency and profit first, you can miss the least expensive and potentially most positive opportunities to deliver more value to customers. #2 Customer experience transformation is an ongoing journey, not a one-off project. It requires a learning curve and some infrastructure, which you can reuse. #3 Internal culture is more powerful than you or your boss. Learn about it and work with it, never against it. 

Technology is accelerating. What would you like to see next in journey mapping?

I envision AI actively participating in journey mapping and CX, transforming maps from static images into dynamic, conversational tools. Imagine interacting with your journey maps, completed and in progress, through AI. For instance, you could instruct the AI to address a specific challenge like ‘wrong size ordered’ issues: ‘Integrate Amazon’s new fit tech into our mobile ordering flow. Update our Figma board, revise the support page copy, and create targeted Instagram ads for customer education.’ The AI would execute these tasks, schedule development sprints, and adjust budgets accordingly. This level of interactivity would elevate journey maps to be strategic tools deeply integrated into decision-making and operational planning, reinforcing their role as key drivers of customer experience strategy. NOTE: Contact me if you want a thinking partner to create or shape ideas for this space.