THE CUSTOMER DNA MAP AND DASHBOARD: How to Deeply Know and Emotionally Connect with People and Customers in No Time


The late Steve Jobs was a genius at many things. For me, Jobs most enviable quality was his gift of deeply knowing people especially prospective customers. I believe that this quality of deeply knowing and emotionally connecting with people is at the heart of the phenomenal success of Jobs’s product portfolio at Apple. Just consider the Blue Ocean success of the following products: Apple II; Macintosh; iPod; iTunes; Apple Store; iPhone; App Store; iPad. But, how can the rest of us systematically develop the ability to deeply know and connect with people especially in this age of virtual anonymity on the Internet?

The ideal approach involves deeply knowing and connecting with people without having face-to-face contact. The Internet is a driver of this trend. Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, and other social/business networks contain profile pages so that we can provide information about ourselves and better know each other. However, traditional profile pages are full of text and work-related information. Traditional profile pages lack personality. Personally, I find many traditional profile pages boring and not memorable. I look at many profile pages and hardly know new contacts and ‘friends’ at a deeper level. Consequently, many relationships are superficial, for there is little or no emotional connection between new virtual friends and contacts. But, as Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a-changin’.”

In our Ning group that focuses on collaboratively building a Global Business DNA Network, we have introduced a new format for our textual profile page so that members can better know as well as more deeply connect with each other. The new profile page, which is designed to foster a greater sense of community and facilitate tighter connections, is based on answering the fundamental question on identity: “Who am I?” We believe that this question is best answered by focusing on a person’s DNA: Design; Needs; Aspirations. Consequently, our profile pages are based on the structure of a DNA Map.

Some people may ask, “Is the Customer DNA Map only relevant for profile pages in business/social networking sites?” Well, the answer is no. But, who else may need a Customer DNA Map?

The Customer DNA Map is actually a synthesis of ideas from many sources on deeply knowing and connecting with people. The chief source of information, however, is work on Customer Persona in the field of Design Thinking. The Customer DNA Map takes a simple visual approach to collecting, organizing, and presenting information on customer personae.

As in the case of customer personae, professionals whose jobs depend on a deep knowledge of people would most benefit from using the approach of Customer DNA Mapping. People who may find Customer DNA Maps as useful include Team Builders, Marketers, Strategists, HR Personnel, Product/Service/Business Designers; Software Developers, Writers, and Managers/Leaders. Everybody tacitly constructs Customer DNA Maps in order to better understand people. What we are doing is to make Customer DNA Maps explicit and better develop a shared understanding of individual and group DNAs.

In the document which has the weblink below and can freely be downloaded, I’ve provided templates and examples on use of the Customer DNA Map. You could experiment with preparing a Customer DNA Map with yourself as the focus, just as in the presented example. For the more ambitious, the Customer DNA Map could be used for sessions on 360 degree-feedback. It’s a real fun and insightful exercise.

Have fun in using the Customer DNA Map.



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