Do you want your business to succeed and get ahead of the competition by providing a memorable customer experience? Spending a little time mapping out the customer journey could present opportunities which increase customer acquisition, retention and increase turnover.
Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at a company that has nailed the customer experience.
I tweeted about it when I popped in for a tall chai tea latte last week! Here’s what I mean:
The store layout is a whole touchpoint in itself as it includes all types of atmospherics that help influence consumers. Such atmospherics involve using the senses to relate to consumers on a more personal level through the use of store scents, visual appearance, music and the ability to touch products. (Wikipedia)
Starbucks have cleverly integrated digital into the store experience too introducing payment via their mobile app (rather than Apple Pay for example) and increasing personalised interactions. Although a few years old, the experience map below illustrates the importance that Starbucks place on customer experience. Look at the detail!
Who knew there were four emotional steps involved in drinking a cup of coffee?
So, how do you create a customer experience map?
Customers have contact (or touchpoints) with companies and brands over three time periods:
Let’s look at some examples of ‘touchpoints’ under each time peiod.
- Word of mouth: 61% of customers will tell their friends/colleagues about a great experience using a website or purchasing a product. Did you know that for every one person who leaves a bad review there are 26 others feeling exactly the same? If you’re unsure about how to plan for a great experience then employing the services of a user experience designer would be worth every penny!
- Social media: this covers a couple of points. Firstly, think before you post. You may have heard of a recent tweet involving a train company and a well known discount store’s chocolate bar, for example?! Secondly, you may not think that potential buyers are watching how you respond to and engage with the public on your social channels. They are!
- Browser search: a potential customer hears about your business and what do they do? Most likely, ‘Google’ you! How easy your business is to find and how it appears on search? Are there any reviews? Remember that 90% of people will base their decision to purchase on reviews. Scary stuff eh?
- Advertising: from roundabout signage to Piccadilly Circus, your advertisements will stick. Viewers may not be ready to buy now but when they are, how you portray your company on and offline could be the pre-service touchpoint that makes all the difference.
- Community involvement: Many businesses have a social and corporate responsibility charter supporting local charities, running training events or offering ‘pro bono’ services, for example. Estate agents, banks and law firms are typically good at this (usually because they have the resources to do so) but even small businesses can get involved by volunteering a little time in the local community.
- Browsing: According to AdWeek, 81% of potential customers browse before buying. Consider how you can improve your website or app so when a customer visits they have a better experience than on your competitor’s website! Find out more from this previous blog post.
- Purchase process: how can you make the purchase process of your product or service as seamless, innovative and memorable as possible? The purchase process isn’t confined to completion of credit card fields either. From placing a product in the basket, to checking out and delivery or pick-up, this is all part of the customer journey and the experience should be well planned. Nordstrum have spent years perfecting this.
- Phone calls/chatbots: let’s face it, we want answers now! In many cases, chatbots, when used, are the best option for answering quick and simple queries although there is a limit to the complexity that can be handled by automation. Providing a seamless way of being able to speak to a person when necessary will minimise frustration and increase the likelihood of conversion.
- Premises or website: chatbots are now commonplace on many websites (admittedly, some better than others) to improve the customer experience and answer any queries or issues during the website session. As for premises, well we’ve all been into stores where the availability and/or attitude of staff, surroundings and ease of finding products has been questionable. There’s a reason that in a study from Which? on high street stores, Lush came out top and WHSmith, bottom.
- After-sales service: how does your company handle post-service queries and complaints? No matter how seamless a website and purchasing journey, if the aftercare/support isn’t there then this could be the point where you lose customers and they go and tell others about their experience. I’ve had a particularly bad experience recently after buying a set of ink cartridges from Amazon. The black ink failed after less than 20 pages and I’m yet to receive an appropriate response from the seller. Will I buy from them again? Most definitely not!
- Marketing emails: marketing emails are still one of the best ways to communicate with both those who have signed up to receive your emails (as long as they’re GDPR compliant of course!) Keep them relevant and beneficial to your customers. Remember, they can opt out as quickly as they opted in!
- Loyalty programmes: we all know that loyalty programmes are hugely valuable to retailers. They provide insightful data into our spending habits informing market research and growth opportunities. For customers, however, the benefits could include the following: a free product, money off vouchers or extra points on a minimum spend (think Boots!) Loyalty programmes aren’t necessarily difficult to set up but the rewards for your company could be huge.
When creating your customer map ask yourself three questions:
- Have you created an experience that our customers want to tell others about ie. will they recommend us or leave a positive review?
- Did you meet their expectations as a brand? ie. did they enjoy using the product or service, is there a defined benefit to buying and using your product over a competitor’s?
- Did you provide a good quality service throughout? ie. were the touchpoints customers have with you from pre to post service consistent and memorable?
Mapping out the customer journey is an activity that should be undertaken by a cross-department team. Why? Because as a company dedicated to growth, getting the customer journey and their experience right requires a combined effort in order to reach a clearly defined goal.
Look out for my next post on Nordstrum and how they are revolutionising the customer experience with some ground-breaking ideas!
Do you need help mapping out a customer journey for your organisation to increase profit? I can help. Get in touch to find out more.