Mariam Agyeman-Buahin

Customer Journey is the end-to-end set of activities and processes that a customer completes, while acquiring a company’s products or services.

It is from point A to B and everywhere in between, where the customer comes across or interacts with your brand.
The customer experience is their emotional subjective response to the end-to-end experience.

McKinsey insights found that, on average, brands that improve customer experience; increase revenue 10-15 per cent and lower costs 15-20 per cent. A seamless customer journey leads to a great customer experience.

I interviewed four people randomly to understand how their customer journeys influenced their purchasing decisions and overall customer experience.

Kweku, who was looking for an insurer approached a company in Accra. Despite a warm reception, the executive, who spoke to him was not very clear about their offerings. Rather than make a payment without being clear what he was paying for, he chose to go elsewhere.

Blessing, who was looking for a school for her daughter, approached one near her house. She had heard good things about the school and it was a walking distance to her house. When she got there, the receptionist was rude. It was as though Blessing was bothering her with her enquiries. Blessing left and told all her friends what a terrible school that was.

Kevin, had already settled for a health facility, where the Nurses and the Doctors knew him. He was happy, however, anytime he had to do tests, they had to send him elsewhere. Certain procedures, he needed, they also could not do in-house.

In the end, he had to move to the health facility, where he did all his tests and procedures in-house. It was easier for him, since the Doctors, the laboratory and the necessary procedures were all in one place.

Akosua, also wanted to have a special day at the spa. She went online and called one that she had seen advertised. The phone only rang once and a friendly voice was on the other end of the line. She received clear information on the services and recommendations for her special day based on her needs.

She immediately made a reservation. One day to her appointment, the same friendly voice called her to find out how she was and confirm her reservation – reminding her to come on time. When she got to the spa, her treatment specialist was at the reception. Welcomed her and effortlessly signed her in.

Akosua was taken to the treatment room and everything was as promised. Payment process was quick and she was even offered a quick cup of tea before she left. A week later, she received a call from her treatment specialist reminding her of the after-care routine they had emailed her.

These are all different phases of the customer journeys we faced. In some cases, the journey does not get past a phone call. Remember that time when you sought out a company online, called the number on the website only to hear “the number you have called, does not exist”! In other cases, the journey is so smooth that we inadvertently become brand ambassadors.

As a business, it is requisite to understand our customer journey with the intention of making it as smooth and as pleasant as possible.

Citizen M, a new concept in luxury hotels, has eliminated the pain points and increased the emotional value of the customer journey in the hotel industry.

Instead of waiting 15 to 20 minutes to check in at a regular hotel, it only takes one minute at Citizen M. You get an RFID key that you can charge all your expenses to, check-out with and use for another stay somewhere in the future.

No huge envelopes at check-out, all rooms are the same so no confusion about standard, deluxe, and all that other room description jargon. Their lobbies have been designed to feel at home – if bored in your room you can easily go downstairs to their living area, lay on the sofa, pick up the remote and choose a show.

No hidden or additional costs like with hotel mini bars, phone calls and business centers – everything is straight forward. As a result, more customers and therefore more sales.

If your customer journey could in some way be choking your sales funnel, you have to enhance it. A smart way to do this, is to develop a customer journey map.

This map is a visual interpretation of individuals’ relationship with your organization, service, product or brand at each touchpoint. Dive deep into each touch point and uncover the nuance and emotion of each touch point and the transitions in between.

Make all the necessary changes to eliminate nuances and painful interactions. The journey is the path customers take. Below are phases of the modern customer journey and tips on how to make them effortless and painless within your map.

Awareness

The customer will be interested in your company or brand by seeing it somewhere on a billboard, online advert, newspapers, magazines or just word of mouth. At the point where they see you, make sure your content is –engaging, speaks to customer’s needs and speaks their language. At this point, company driven marketing or information is most influential.

Findability
Now that you have the customer’s attention, you need to nurture it. At this phase the customer will go looking for more information about the specific product or service. They will go to your website and also try to find out things like where your offices or outlets are located.

This should be readily available. Your website should have as much relevant detail as possible. According to Cone consumer New Media, 53% of buyers stop engaging as soon as content becomes irrelevant.

To stay ahead of the consumer, understand previous consumer responses, analyze the specifics (for instance how many visitors, what products they click on/enquire about most) and using these analytics, make relevant offers. It will make this phase of the journey easy for the customer.

Reputation
At this phase of the journey the customer will do a background check. Who has used your products and services and what do they say? Glowing reviews giving five stars will invoke confidence but one or two stars might mean the end of the customer journey.

Have a comments or review section on your website. Ask your best customers to give you reviews on social media pages (yours included), if you have a YouTube Channel post videos of your product in use.

Always ask for reviews and make sure they are visible to potential customers. In the case of bad reviews respond appropriately and with a recourse. This will show the potential customer that you cared enough and actually remedied the situation.

Purchase

After satisfactory research, with confidence, the customer is now ready to give you their money. This usually means your first three phases have been good for the customer. Whether online or in-store, make the payment process smooth.

The salesperson or cashier should be customer-centric. Have several payment options and make sure they all work. Mobile money? Cash? Card? Do not ruin it by saying “we cannot give you the receipt” or “the machine is not working”.

Advocacy
Zendesk and Dimensional research found that 87 per cent of consumers will share their good experiences but 95 per cent share bad ones. At this phase customer feedback is critical. Create channels to receive feedback and keep communication lines open with the customer. Keep sharing high-value information with the customer.

Develop structures and mechanisms to measure the customer experience of your product or service and remain customer focused. This is the make-or break point that will lead to the great reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations and positive customer satisfaction surveys.

The customer journey map puts the customer at the center of everything you do. Instead of making assumptions about how to motivate customers to meet your goals, consider the customer first and how they will move through the sales funnel.

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