As we enter the unofficial start of summer, more vaccines are getting in arms, and in the United States, there is a general feeling that we are “turning a corner” heading towards some type of normalcy. After spending the last year and a half reacting and pivoting at a non-stop pace, we’re all ready for that. 

But what will “normal” mean for brands and their consumers? It is too early to know, but we can be confident that it won’t be a return to life as we knew it before 2020. The pandemic has changed everything. For most, their lives are dramatically different than they were 18 months ago. And, as a result, their needs, motivations and habits have changed -- and many of those changes will be permanent. 75% of consumers report that they have tried a new shopping behavior and plan to continue it.

Consider some of the overt examples of behavior change that most of us have already noticed and experienced: 

  • Health care. At the beginning of 2020, most people received their healthcare in an in-person environment. At that point, only 20% of Americans had experienced virtual care and 65% felt doubtful about the quality of virtual care. Today, over 60% of Americans have experienced virtual care and 88% want to continue using virtual care after COVID-19 has passed. 
  • Dining. Even before the pandemic, restaurants were in the midst of transitions as a result of the emergence of 3rd party delivery apps like DoorDash and Postmates. And as indoor dining closed in many areas, the use of delivery apps only accelerated. And that use will not likely go away. About 8 in 10 consumers say they will continue their current dining habits beyond COVID-19. And just 23% of consumers say they will go back to their pre-COVID dining habits altogether. 
  • B2B Sales. Pre-pandemic, a large portion of the B2B sales experience took place in-person with “road warrior” sales people earning frequent flier points traveling all over the country and world. However, as the pandemic quickly put a halt to travel, organizations had to pivot and the sales experience quickly became virtual. As a result, business buyers started to recognize that they could accomplish their objectives quite well without the in-person experience. 75% of B2B decision makers report that the mostly virtual sales model is as effective or more so than the sales models used prior to Covid-19. 

In each of these examples, behaviors have shifted based on evolving needs. The businesses that recognize how those needs and behaviors will continue to evolve are the ones who will survive.

The reality is that changes big and small are everywhere and will affect every industry. And, as a result, leaders will look for the right tools to help them design new experiences that meet the evolving needs of their customers.

For many, journey mapping is a long trusted tool that they may turn to. However, while journey mapping provides important context, in today’s unique circumstances past journeys will only provide a portion of the insights an organization needs to succeed. While journey mapping is an effective tool to determine what happened in the past, Jobs-to-be-Done is a tool that can provide the insights you need to define what should happen in the future.

Jobs-to-be-Done theory is a research method used to understand consumer behavior and decision-making. Jobs-to-be-Done posits that customers “hire” products and services to get a job done. It turns out that the “job” someone hires a product or service to do is also the primary driving motivation for purchasing that product or service. And importantly, Jobs-to-be-Done provides a framework for defining and capturing all of your customers’ functional, emotional and social needs. 

Once you truly understand your customers’ needs, and the associated motivations and decision-making drivers, you can begin to reimagine your experiences to better meet those needs. Combining the insights from journey mapping with an understanding of your customers’ Jobs-to-be-Done and their functional, emotional and social needs will best position organizations as they design the most appropriate experiences for those they serve.

The power of Jobs-to-be-Done goes beyond experience design. Once you understand your customers’ true needs, it can pave the way for a human-centered approach to many aspects of your organization. For example:

  • Product Strategy. Understand why and how your products are differentiated from competitors and what your true value is to key audiences.
  • Innovation. Understand how your products can be used in new and innovative ways or how your products can evolve to meet the needs of those you serve.
  • Marketing. Market and speak to your audiences based on their deeper needs. Move beyond features and benefits and into appeals to the functional, emotional and social needs that drive decision-making for your audiences. 

As a long-time journey mapping advocate, I’m not sure I ever thought that I would one day be writing an article about how journey mapping is not enough - but, as we have heard over and over, these are unprecedented times. So, as you look forward towards designing your organizations’ post-pandemic experience, ensure you have the right tools for success. And that starts with understanding your customers' Jobs-to-be-Done. 

What steps are you taking to redesign experiences for the post-pandemic era? How are you learning more about how your customer’s needs have evolved? What questions do you have about Jobs-to-be-Done? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments!

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