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The Customer Experience: Know your customers, what they want and the journeys they take

04/01/2019

The customer experience is essentially the impression your brand leaves on your customers, from every touch point in the customer journey.

There are many touch points throughout the customer journey which contribute to the overall customer experience, and it’s the customer experience that’s paramount. Working to develop a brilliant customer experience is where you’ll attract more customers and retain the existing ones.

Before we dive in, it’s worth bearing in mind the differences between customer journey in CX and user journey in UX. It’s very easy to confuse both, but it’s essential the key differences are understood.

CX: The customer journey is where we begin to plot the exact involvement a customer would have with our brand – before, during and after. Aspects we would look at within the customer journey are things like device type, potential drivers that would make someone complete a task, interactions with the brand and the milestones, and of course, after sales care - how they’re served once they complete the main goal, which in this case is usually a purchase.

 UX: The user journey is where we plot the exact way in which we want a customer to complete a task in a specific situation. So, with the user journey, you will detail the objectives of each page or step, key features and functionality to aid completion of a given task.

Knowing your customers

Knowing your customer segments inside out is key. If you’re not sure who you’re talking to, or their desires, lifestyle, pain points and budgets, then it’s difficult to communicate effectively and create demand for your product or service.

For example, if you’re communicating with a 3-year-old toddler, you would communicate differently to how you would in a corporate meeting – your choice of language would be completely different… Although, it’s fair to say ELI5 is often necessary in some meetings.

ELI5 = Explain Like I’m Five…

Anyway…

The same goes for your target market. By understanding them, you are able to develop a tone of voice that resonates with them and speak in their language.

There are a few exercises you can carry out in order to gain understanding of your target audience(s)…

Keyword Research 

Thorough keyword research is an absolute must. This is where you’ll figure out exactly what your ideal customers are asking, and how best you can answer them. Not only will thorough keyword research uncover trends, but it will help your website rank higher in the SERP, therefore giving your brand much more exposure online.

Google Analytics

It’s surprising that a lot of businesses still don’t have a data and analytics strategy. With everything going down the digital path, data and analytics are super important to knowing your customers. As customer behaviour changes with most shopping now being done online, to know your customers, you need to be looking at your data and analytics.

  • What are users doing on your website?
  • How are they getting to your website?
  • What content do they like the most?
  • What are they searching for within your website?

The list of questions goes on, and for most of it, the answers are in the data and analytics.

User personas

User personas are fictional characters that represent the different needs, goals, motivations, and behaviours of your target market. Most companies have a vague idea of their target market but creating good user personas really helps you understand customer interactions. By defining these, your customer experience will improve significantly, and customers will feel like the brands they’re interested in, understand them.

Get on social media

Social media is a powerful tool. It’s not only a place for you to spread your brand messages – it’s an opportunity to see how your customers express themselves and what exactly they want and like.

Dedicating time to this is important in knowing your customers. To begin, you should read all the comments on your social media platforms – whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or the lot. Keep an eye on a few keywords and hashtags and you’ll begin to understand what people are saying about you, the industry you’re in, ​and your competition. 

The customer journeys

Now you understand your customers, their needs, desires, pain points, how they express themselves and so on, mapping out different customer journeys, across different touchpoints, channels and devices, both online and offline, will help you implement a smooth, consistent customer journey, leading to happy, happy customers.

With smartphones, tablets and smartwatches in the market, customers are no longer constrained to sending an email or picking up the phone. And for this reason, the customer journey is dynamic and interconnected – more so than ever before.

There are many different ways a customer can contact a brand. Some examples of these are:

  • Email – channel
    • Transactional Email – touchpoint
    • Marketing Email - touchpoint
  • Social media – channel
    • Social profile - touchpoint
  • Live chat – channel
    • Website live chat ‘Pop-up’ – touchpoint
    • Customer enquiry - touchpoint
  • Native apps – channel
    • App Store Interaction – touchpoint
    • App Interaction - touchpoint
    • Smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets - devices
  • Mobile web – channel
    • Web search – touchpoint
    • Website interaction - touchpoint
  • Physical locations – channel 
    • Kiosks - touchpoint 

Take a look at our work on a personalised in-store experience for Aldi here.

  • SMS - channel
    • Post-sale survey message – touchpoint
    • Marketing message - touchpoint
  • Direct mail – channel
    • Circulars - touchpoint

Channels, touchpoints and devices

Channels, touchpoints and devices are the next key elements that impact the customer journey, which then of course impact the overall customer experience.

Mapping out the journey based on channel, touchpoints and devices, coupled with the new knowledge you have on your customers, will help you create a seamless journey and an exemplary customer experience.

So, using a cinema as an example, mapped customer journeys may look a little something like this:

Existing customer persona (James, Age 20) >> uses cinema mobile app on his smartphone >> browses cinema listings >> purchases cinema tickets >> downloads tickets >> visits cinema to watch film >> buys popcorn and a drink from the front desk >> hands ticket to clerk >> enters cinema >> watches film >> leaves.

In this sequence, there’s the user (James), the device (mobile), the channel (app) and the touchpoints (browse, download, visit, buy a drink and popcorn, watch film) within this one journey.

Or

Prospective customer persona (Alice, 23) >> Sees social media advert on Instagram promoting the cinema’s app >> clicks through and downloads app >> browses movies >> exits app.

Or 

Prospective customer persona (Jenny, 32) >> Uses voice search to find cinemas nearby >> chooses cinema from the search results >> Browses films >> buys tickets online.

So, once the journeys are mapped out, you know which customer you’re talking to, how they interact with your brand, and what device they use, you can begin to implement the right communications on the right channels to effectively acquire and retain customers.

With the customer journeys mapped out in this way, you can work to keep the cycle going. For example, after the film, you may then send James an email offering 10% off the next film as a thank you, or use this as an opportunity to ask for his feedback on his cinema experience.

So, by truly understanding your customers, where they come into contact with your brand and the potential journeys they go on, you can adopt a holistic marketing strategy and your customer experience will be smooth and consistent. The result? Happy, happy customers.