By Darcy Bevelacqua
Today’s customers expect companies to provide innovative seamless experiences like Burberry, Amazon, American Express, and Nike. Companies are expected to be proactive vs. responsive and to anticipate customers desires/needs. To effectively (and profitably) engage with the new Omni-channel customer, we need to ‘see’ and act on the behaviors and insights provided by the customer at every channel.
American consumers do not feel that their relationships with businesses are improving and many consumers are disturbed by overbearing and irrelevant communications (Thunderhead study). This lost of trust encourages them to switch providers. Similar results were found by the Janrain study which indicates almost all respondents claimed to have received information or promotions not relevant to them, with 90% developing an unfavorable attitude to the company or taking some kind of action to limit messaging.
As marketers, we all plan to provide a seamless customer experience, but executing against this is harder than it looks. We need to understand our customer’s problems from their point of view and then create a great customer experience through:
- Customer Experience Mapping to ‘see’ your customers – both their rational and emotional mindsets.
- CRM/technology infrastructure to communicate, manage and track customer engagement across channels.
- Organizational alignment and employee engagement to empower employees to bring the brand to life.
- Continuous innovation to support the whole branded experience.
- Metrics and Dashboards to prove ROI and share successes.
Our focus today is on the first step, Customer Experience Mapping. This step is focused on understanding what your customer is thinking, feeling and doing as they interact and share while you deliver your brand promise. It requires you get to “know” your customer and understand from their perspective what problem they are trying to solve.
Customer Experience Mapping is a 4-step process:
The Experience often begins with looking at their path to purchase or journey starting with the “research” or pre-shop phase where customers are learning about your products/services through research, word of mouth, social media, etc. Did you know that 60-70% of your customers already know what they want BEFORE they get to your site or store? This requires that you create and understand the psychology/personae of your customer segments. Each segment has different behaviors, emotions and objectives, so we begin the process by mapping each group.
The second step is the shop and compare phase where the customer is actively comparing products, product features and prices before making a decision.
The third step is purchase where the customer buys your product or service. In the final step the customer experiences your product or service and needs help with some type of questions or service for the product. . Both good and bad experiences are now widely shared via social media.
The actual experience mapping process starts with doing an ‘inventory’ of touches to determine who is actually touching the customers. It can be quite a surprise!
Generally the process also includes gathering customer surveys, observational data documenting customers interacting with the brand on line and in store. In addition, it is important to capture the interactions and input of customer facing employees to get their point of view. This, along with an analysis of the company operations, processes and policies provides us with a 3600 view of the environment.
Once completed, a detailed map visually presents the emotional and rational elements in the customer’s lifecycle. It should highlight what delights them or is causing pain points, as well as pivotal decision making moments of ‘truth’
An example customer experience story line shows you the high and low points in the experience as customer moved through the lifecycle.
Customer experience ‘storyline’ detail
This, along with the supporting facts and images, is used to by the organization to ‘see’ at a detailed level, what needs to be changed and how it affects the customer experience. It becomes the benchmark to moving to an improved process.
Many organizations convert the maps into a short video where they can continue to visualize the current customer Experience as well as what the Experience looks like once gaps are filled and improvements made.
The new Experience is not just about fixing the broken links in the customer Experience, it’s about fully understanding the customer’s emotions, behaviors and motivations to design a new experience that creates a shorter, more profitable path to purchase and ongoing engagement.
Next Steps – How does the mapping process drive improvement?
The map aids you in prioritizing your actions and driving initiatives to:
- Improve the customer experience across the organization –everywhere you touch the customer.
- Get the organization aligned across all media and departments to deliver a better experience. This is your most crucial objective!
- Focus: A great customer experience needs to be the goal of all your interactions– not just at the point of purchase or the point of repurchase.
- Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: Customer experience needs to be driven by customer segments/personae and individual preferences, which include interests, media mix, frequency of contact, cadence, timing, etc.
- Test and Learn: It supports a continuous learning process that changes over time. It requires a test and learns culture with analytics and metrics.
The “right” customer experience will vary from segment to segment. Getting it right means overcoming the lack of connectedness that consumers feel about your brand (Edelman study). That way you can avoid the complaint that only 41% of consumers feel they have a relationship with their suppliers (Thunderhead) and only 15% would like to have one.
Understanding how to communicate with customers in the channel of their preference and offering more value will help you drive more positive relationships and ultimately drive bottom line results. When companies show their customers they understand and value them through consistent personalized interactions, they perform better financially.
Darcy Bevelacqua is the CEO of Success-Works based in New York. Success-Works is a team of experienced consultants with client, agency and large consulting firm experience. Success-Works helps companies grow their business by understanding their customers and driving relevant interactions. Clients include Cisco, Accenture Interactive, Dell, AARP, Staples, GNC, American Express, Experian, Corning, Luxottica, Limited Brands, and Staples among others.
For more information about Customer Experience Mapping go to http://www.slideshare.net/darcybev/successworks-customer-audit-v5-generic-pptx or contact us directly at www.linkedin.com/in/darcybev.