By R.V. Baugus
Samir Bitar, Principal with The Art of Consulting in Los Angeles, will headline the Performing Arts Centers keynote at VenueConnect when he speaks on Guest Journey Mapping. The session is Thursday, July 21 from 11:00-11:45 am. A highly sought thought leader, Samir and his company serve as an authority on audience and service design strategies. But before we give you more on the company, let’s allow Samir to take it from here in an interview that we conducted with him to discuss customer journey maps and provide a glimpse of what this exciting presentation has in store for participants.
RV: Share with our readers something about your background and then bring us up to speed on your current role.
SB: I started my exploration of customer journey mapping (CJM) as a student at Carnegie Mellon University, where I focused my studies on novel techniques in the marketing and service design sectors to increase participation in the Arts. But I really got religious about CJM after assuming the directorship of the Smithsonian Institution’s central office of Visitor Experience. With over 30 million annual visits across 19 museums and the National Zoo, it fell to my team and I to research, develop, and advocate for improvements to a 21st-Century museum experience. After leaving the Smithsonian, I opened a consulting firm (The Art of Consulting) to assist nonprofit, public service, and mission-driven organizations improve their engagement with existing audiences and acquire new ones. I’ve helped the City of Riyad better understand stakeholders of their national museums, Brooklyn Navy Yard appeal to a broader base of DIY entrepreneurs, and several museums develop engaging exhibitions. In 2020, I began guest-lecturing on the techniques and use of customer journey mapping. In 2022, I co-developed and began co-teaching a graduate-level course on Customer Journey Mapping at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
RV: Give us some detail and insights about your PAC presentation. Without giving away the kitchen, what will be some of the things you will share with your audience?
SB: In this fun, interactive session participants will get a crash course in Customer Journey Mapping. I’ll pull from a case study of a digital product I developed at the Smithsonian, Trip Planner, a first-in-class content aggregator for arts and cultural organizations. We’ll explore both what a customer journey map is and how it can be used for managers of performing arts centers, theaters, arenas, convention centers, amphitheaters, stadiums, and the like. Next, I’ll coach participants through the key steps of mapping their own customers’ journey. We’ll conclude with an overview of how to use a finished CJM to advance business objectives. Participants will leave the session with a CJM outline for their business.
· Participants will understand what a customer journey map is and how it applies to their business setting.
· Participants will be able to identify the various component pieces of a customer journey map and outline one from end-to-end.
RV: How about a main takeaway you would like people to leave with and take back to the venue where they work?
SB: Why has mapping customers’ journey become a critical step in the development of successful products and services, across all sectors of the economy? Because doing so has proven to be a remarkably effective method of transforming organizations’ relationship to their customer vis-à-vis business objectives. From Apple to the federal government organizations use customer journey maps ultimately develop more responsive and more profitable products and services to current and future customers.
So, why journey map? For many reasons, but for brevity I’ve summarized into four reasons:
• CJMs works to develop a firm’s empathy for its customer. Analyzing customers’ needs and behaviors from the customer’s perspective is the first step in establishing a true customer-oriented business ethos. Further, the iterative process of constructing customer journeys works to ventilate teams’ thinking around the products/services they develop and the people who use them.
• CJMs provide a qualitative dimension to quantitative data. Most businesses today have reams of quantitative data like point of sale, and transaction, along with demographic, geographic and now web analytic data. This type of data is great, in fact critical. Keep it. Use it. But it’s not enough. Quantitative data presents a one-dimensional view of customers through the eyes of the firm. Customer journey maps offer a critical qualitative companion to quantitative customer data, like customer’s needs, expectations, behaviors, challenges, and sentiments, from the customer’s perspective.
• CJMs reveal opportunities for increased revenue. In revealing highlights (what’s working) and paint points (what’s not) of a firm’s product/service offering, constructing a customer journey map provides the time and space to identify opportunities for improvements to the customer experience, which often translates to new revenue opportunities.
• CJMs increase leadership buy-in. Customer journey maps presents critical business data as an accessible and compelling visual infographic that earns buy-in from key decision makers, far more so that typical written reports – Far more.