- ….Be Systemic and Systematic in birthing and installing the change for business growth
Designing and executing an ‘out of the world’ experience is not a walk in the park. It has to be carefully planned with great empathy for the customer you are serving. As we have learned time and again, you need to be deliberate about the process.
Failing that, your focus as a business could be one that hardly resonates with your most important stakeholder – the customer. It requires great detail and a good listening mechanism – more importantly, developing a response mechanism – which only comes from an attitude of ‘stick-to-itism’, as my dad often shared with me during my schooldays.
To get this right, a few things are worth noting. These are how you track your journey, define the scope of your journey, establish measuring criteria, deal with pain points and communicate effectively.
Tracking your journey
Be deliberate about developing an end-to-end journey that addresses customer needs. This means a thorough understanding of the customer-first principle across the organisation. This is hard work; however, it is rewarding and therefore worth pursuing. Note that the departure point for your journey-mapping work is to go right back to the first principles. According to Ian Golding, your starting point is to ask the key question: ‘What is your brand purpose and how does it enable you to create and keep customers?’
As a business, your understanding of your customer journey and how the touchpoints affect customers is key to configuring a journey with a clear outside-in understanding. The customer journey is the path followed by customers through the stages of their relationship with the company, which includes all the interactions between the customer and the business over a variety of channels. Touching on a visit to a restaurant in Tema the other day with my daughter, we observed that not too many people were seated in there having a meal like us.
However, while we were there, we saw a few people trickle in and buy takeaway meals. From that experience, we worked out and discovered that the touchpoints were much more than we were seeing. My daughter discovered later that they were part of a courier pool, which meant that a good many of the orders were made virtually. So, the touchpoints played up as we discovered a few; such as an ad on a public website, a physical entry to the eatery, a courier drop-off and a social media page.
The truth is anything could happen on this journey. A customer could use the phone to book a delivery – very common and easy to respond to. However, should there be a situation where the restaurant decides to set up a website, disaster may strike as they attempt to roll it out for the first time? What seemed like an easy run could become a nightmare as patrons struggle to come to terms with the ‘new normal’.
Define the scope
Blogger Jim Tincher’s CustomerThink recommends starting a journey-mapping project by answering the following five questions: What is the business problem or opportunity behind mapping? What is the right journey to map? Who is the right customer to map? What is the right approach to gathering the voice of your customer? Who are the right people to be on your journey-mapping team? The key is to be clear about which journey you are mapping. There are a few points to think through as you make this decision.
First of all, note that the customer starts and ends the journey. The journey ends when the customer says it ends. The customer is the focus of the journey, don’t try to drive it yourself; allow the customer to be your focus and you will discover that your map addresses their sentiments more concisely. When the customer is your focus, the resulting map will depict how your customers move through Awareness, Consideration, Purchasing and Post-Purchase activities, helping you discover where your customers experience delight (speculatively) and friction (points of frustration or pain) along the way.
Additionally, it serves as an overall diagnostic, identifying where the action is most needed. Consider this example: when mapping an equipment implementation journey, your client may think implementation ends when the equipment is in place and running. However, an average customer will tell you implementation does not end until about 2 months later, after the customer can troubleshoot any run-errors. Another example is a customer complaint call – while the company may define the journey started, when their phone rings the customer defines; the journey starts when they encounter a problem.
Establish measuring criteria
If the first touchpoint in your journey is your website, understand that the second a customer lands on your page it is their first interaction with you. Therefore, as a brand, you wish to influence every interaction and make it a positive experience so that the customer remembers and is happy to come back. Hence the need to measure the customer journey touchpoint right from the get-go. This is when measuring the customer journey touchpoints comes into play. Touchpoints are the moments when a client interacts with your product or services.
A report by McKinsey states that customers prefer to do business with brands which have multiple digital touchpoints. Hence, the chances of your service or product being referred or purchased also increase with this. These digital capabilities can convert sales at 2.5x times faster. Further, they tend to see a larger multi-channel footprint as well. This is a sales chart pictorial representation that seconds this point. Though these may not be top-of-mind facts in our ecosystem, it is worth giving them a thought as we process where the world is going.
In measuring your customer journey, a few things you need to consider crucially are: first, Identify Every Customer – Know your customer and realise exactly what they need; Second, Identify the Touchpoints – make your clients aware of the ins and outs of your products and services; Third, revamp every touchpoint – Customise in-store messaging to welcome customers, utilize your social media feeds to share vital updates about your products or features; Fourth, solicit Feedback and Review – Operational processes and marketing channels evolve with time and do not stay constant. Hence, taking feedback from your customers and then using it for reviewing or correcting your process is deemed wise. Also, revise your customer touchpoints at regular intervals.
Dealing with pain points
A pain point is an identified problem that prospective customers of your business are experiencing. The root cause of these pain points can be as diverse as your clientele. Hence the need for regular qualitative research is a fundamental requirement in identifying customer pain points. Qualitative research focuses on detailed, individualised responses to open-ended questions as opposed to quantitative research (which favours standardised questions and representative, statistically significant sample sizes). This is because your customers’ pain points are highly subjective.
One way to address pain points is to organise Ideation and Design Workshops. This is usually a collaborative, hands-on session in which customer issues are identified. It allows your team to focus on solving problems that are within your control. A caveat to note here is: it is crucial to separate operational challenges from genuine customer pain points. A case in point is when sales targets have been missed and your sales reps attribute this to a lack of qualified leads. While this may be a legitimate complaint, it has nothing at all to do with your customers’ pain – so you must filter out the noise to reach the actual problem.
A typical pain point could be time management. As your business is under severe pressure to compete in today’s ecosystem, the need to balance operational requirements with customer expectations, make critical decisions quickly and act decisively becomes paramount. Even the most skilled professionals have to spend time doing routine work and working in their clients’ accounts, making time management more crucial. The need to speak to this pain point is therefore imperative and must receive due attention so that things don’t get out of hand.
The main objective of your communication strategy is to ensure that you communicate effectively across the organisation, so that your team understands their roles and align with your customer agenda. As communication is important to any relationship, it is no less important in the relationships that your business has with customers. Communicating, your company’s accessibility, availability, responsiveness, courtesy and professionalism, consistent voice, and consistent messaging go a long way toward building strong relationships and delivering a great experience for your customers.
Customer experience is not customer service. The two are not the same. While customer service is just one of the interactions a customer has with your brand, customer experience encompasses all interactions the customer has with your brand. So, customer service is what happens when the customer experience breaks down. To ensure that your customer experience strategy and design are well executed, you need a journey-map that walks you through the customers’ shoes and captures their needs, perceptions for interactions they have with your business.
One of the main goals of journey-mapping is to identify key moments of truth: i.e., those make-or-break moments along the customer journey which need to be executed flawlessly to deliver a great customer experience. Oftentimes, communications are those moments of truth. And, all too often, they are the reason the experience goes poorly. A great tip here is to fix what is broken behind the scenes. Redesign the experience and communicate the changes to your customers. According to renowned American author, coach, speaker and philanthropist Tony Robbins: “To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others”.
|The Writer is a Management Consultant. He can be reached on 059 175 7205, [email protected],|