Customers are on a journey to find the brands they perceive really want their business. To guide them along this journey requires a thorough understanding of what that looks like within your own organization.
Truly understanding the customer experience with your brand requires creating a comprehensive map of touchpoints along the journey. These touchpoints highlight the key factors that impact the customer experience. It starts with the very first interaction, which could be a Google search, or navigating through your website, or a request for more information. Hopefully that turns into order placement and follows through to billing, placing a service call and even returning a product. However, what is most important is to understand how this interaction occurs from the customer perspective.
A key part of creating the map is to also include the portions the customer does not directly see, such as how an order is fulfilled. Each time a department inside your organization impacts a customer order, whether directly or indirectly, that interaction should be placed on this overall map.
From this information, it’s time to create a detailed touchpoint analysis that outlines every step a customer takes from the time he or she becomes aware of your product or service through the buying phase and into the post-purchase or re-purchase phases.
Challenge the Norm: The best way to ensure that customers select your brand over your competition and remain loyal to you is performing holistic customer research that creates a map of their journey. This map should outline every touchpoint and the dependencies between touchpoints. Look for redundant or overlapping steps and mark those as well.
This detailed map will identify key interactions that define transactional touchpoints and key customer decision points and/or moments of truth. Make sure you also consider the alternate paths a customer can take. For example, customers may be able to place orders in person, by phone or via the web or social media. Make sure to map each of these steps while ALSO capturing the internal process AND highlighting the differences.
Now the fun really begins! For each touchpoint and decision point, work with stakeholders and business/process owners to understand the customer interaction process. I know what you are thinking. That is a ton of work! Truly it is worth every moment you spend because you are uncovering critical information about the customer journey while building engagement and commitment within the team.
For each of these key points, be sure to identify the following:
- Performance criteria from an internal perspective.
- Pain points and insights (as determined from an internal audit).
- Up/down stream dependencies.
- Linkage to financial outcomes – up-selling, cross-selling, renewal
Feed all these new insights into the process of developing key performance indicators (KPIs) that track the customer experience. Make sure to include appropriate metrics so you can measure outcomes. Some metrics to consider include:
- Customer satisfaction
- Repeat purchases or renewal rates
- Order processing times (internal metrics are also important)
- Billing cycle times
Establish a baseline so you can track the improvements. To minimize challenges, consider a pilot program before implementing a full-scale rollout.
Now you are better prepared to set priorities for process improvements. Start with the most impactful and actionable aspects of the customer journey. Then act as the GPS. Guide the customer through the journey in a natural way, ensuring you continually stay in tune via the touchpoints you have built (pulse surveys, feedback loops, social listening, etc.).
This is not a once every-so-often exercise. Organizations that choose to understand and map the customer journey regularly will gain new insights about their customers, ensuring increased customer satisfaction and retention. Focusing on the customers as they interact with your organization not only ensures they are heard, but that your organization uses the outside-in approach for continued growth. This customer-centered focus fuels repeat purchases and increases customer lifetime value.
Want to know more? Check out our video about Customer Experience Mapping.