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Can you think like your customer?

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘customer experience’? If you ask me, my mind goes from how Coca-Cola cracked their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, to how Ralph Lauren made garment trial experiences with intelligent mirrors, to how Swedish giant IKEA is evolving every day to meet changing customer expectations.

Now, if I were to visualise the customer experience that these iconic brands extend, I would think of thousands of customer journey maps. A customer journey map puts a customer in the centre of the story – prioritising what benefits the users over how the business wants to project itself. That’s exactly how these iconic brands wrote their success stories. Mapping your customers’ journey is the first step to designing and delivering a seamlessly integrated experience to your target audience.

Though I would say it is not rocket science, however, it is easier said than done. The challenge that businesses face is they misunderstand the fact that mapping a customer journey is representative of an experience and not the experience itself. Depending on who your customer is, over time, the map is going to change and evolve.

We can already start seeing the shapes of our future job market, and some of the scenarios technology will generate, as follows:

So, where do you begin? Before identifying the key steps that your customer takes while interacting with your organisation, start by knowing your customer. Today, it is easy to know your customer by online following their browsing habits, purchase history, social profiles etc. Once you have their information, create buyer personas. Personas will help you create experiences for the right people, on the right touch point, at the right time. Now, let us come back to the key stages your persona goes through when and while interacting with your brand.

Awareness → Consideration → Purchase → Service → Loyalty

It is crucial to identify touch-points at each stage of the customer journey. Touch-points could vary depending on the nature of your business. A typical stage and touch-point model would look like:

Mapping Your Customer Journey


Awareness

The awareness stage is the stepping-stone for you to start understanding your customers’ emotions. It is when you see that your customers have a need or a problem. The customer experiences and expresses symptoms of a problem or opportunity, in this stage. Successful brands are those, which empathise with the customer and gets a better understanding of their emotion.

  • Volvo car group is a classic example. Four years ago, this automobile organisation initiated explorative customer research to understand their needs. This research translated into a product definition incorporating the emotions that people experience while driving a car.

Consideration

Your potential customers are looking for all the probable and possible solutions for their problems/needs, in the consideration stage. They research and start understanding the solution better and also start comparing what you offer with your competition. Therefore, they are looking for relatable use cases that could solve their problems.

  • Sales-force created varied digital assets to tell their story of how they are the leaders in the highly competitive CRM market. It developed messages targeting the solution their potential customers are looking for.

Purchase

This is what I call the ‘strike the iron rod when it is hot’ stage. Here, your prospect is convinced by your product and is one step closer to buying what you are offering. Your future customer is looking for that final assurance that what you offer can meet his/her unique needs.

  • Here, I have a personal experience that almost made me go “how did they know?” I was looking for content platforms to buy a subscription and Amazon was on my list. I was torn between it and its competitor until I got this:

Amazon

They not only knew me but also nailed what could make me take that final step!


Service

My friend and I had an hour-long debate over Android Vs. I-Phone. While I thought I was winning the debate, there came the crucial point – but do you have a community where smartphone owners can post their query/issue and get it resolved by the community? I had no answer. I thought maybe there is, I did not know about it.

  • I found out about Apple’s support community I immediately had the touch-point journey in front of me and realised that purchase indeed is not the last step to delivering excellent customer service. Your customers are looking for ways where they can get the most of what they have, on time, quickly, and in an efficient manner.

Loyalty

It is unimaginable now that traditionally we did not have this stage as a part of a customers’ journey. But today, it is one of the most important stages. Once you have your customers, how do you retain them and make them your advocates? Here, your precious customers are looking for what consistent value adds in terms of tailored and customised services. Making your customers feel special with exclusive user-only offerings can make you have your customers for life.

You need to be mindful that mapping your customer journey is not a linear process and it's vital to have qualitative and quantitative feedback across all the segments incorporated. This will help you identify opportunities to enhance the customer experience. Mapping your customer journey is like having the foundation laid for all your sales and marketing campaigns to drive growth by delivering delightful customer experiences.

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