The year was 2012 and like many young working professionals, I caught the startup itch. Rather than just talking about ideas, I decided to actually execute on one of them. Together with a couple of friends, I launched a men’s sock brand called Barnaby.
At the peak of the business, we were stocked in over 30 retail stores including Australia’s leading online retailer, The Iconic. We had customers from all around the world buying our socks and I personally interacted with customers on a daily basis. As someone that has spent the last 10 years advising organisations on how to improve the journeys for their customers, the most exciting aspect about having my own business was that I could deliver the ultimate customer experience.
Here is an example of a simple email exchange with a customer:
Customer: “It has been two weeks and I have not received my order!!!”
Me: “So sorry that this has happened! We will express post your order again with one free pair of socks!”
I felt like a customer experience superhero — replying to messages quickly and turning angry customers into brand advocates.
The superman of customer experience.
Why was it so important for us to quickly manage these not-so-happy customers? Thanks to the internet, customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing providers of goods and services. Customers have access to numerous online and offline channels, and they are not afraid to let the world know if experiences do not live up to expectations.
When trying to produce a memorable customer experience, organisations traditionally focus on elements such as speed, ease and convenience.
We live in an era of instant gratification. Ten years ago, an individual would be happy to:
Fast forward to 2020.
Nowadays, 66% of consumers expect a response to their query on the same day, and over 40% expect a reply within the hour. As these expectations continue to change, it has become harder than ever to ‘wow’ customers. What may have been a ‘wow’ moment a few years ago is actually just meeting expectations today.
To better understand your customers and their expectations, start developing customer personas. A customer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of your key customer. For each of your key customer types capture information such as:
By building personas for your key customer segments, it will allow your organization to not only understand your customers better, but personas are also vital input when designing and developing customer journeys.
Your persona will be something that lives within the company. Many successful organizations review every key decision that will impact customers against their personas.
If you already have customer personas at your organisation (great), ensure that you revisit them at least once every 3 months to capture changes.
Once you know who your key customers are, map out their journeys. Customer journey mapping is universally seen as an ideal starting point to understand your business from your customer’s perspective. The customer persona is used to bring the journey map to life and journey maps are written in the customer’s tone of voice.
When used well, journey maps can reveal opportunities for improvement at specific customer touchpoints, acting as a strategic tool to ensure every interaction with the customer is as positive as it can be.
No matter what type of journey map you build, it is important that each of the following is captured at every customer touchpoint:
The year was 1999 and Jeff Bezos was getting hammered with questions during an interview.
How is Amazon going to survive?
What makes you different from the other companies out there?
Bezos would always revert to the same point with his responses. Bezos explained that Amazon “will survive and be successful because we focus on our customers. If you focus on your customers the rest will follow”.
20 years later and Amazon is one of the most customer-centric organisations in the world and recently recorded a market cap of above $1 trillion!
Companies tend to be blinded by flashy technology such as blockchain and AI, rather than focusing on the customer and solving their problems.
Start and end with the customer.
Humans crave moments of joy throughout their day, given life sometimes becomes monotonous (for the average person). Moments of joy tend to be magnified. Mapping out the customer journey allows you to identify ‘the little things’ that will have a lasting impact on your customers.
Let your customers know that you appreciate them. Something as simple as a handwritten thank you note or proactively offering a discount (why do we always have to complain to get a discount?).
What are the little things that you can do across your journey?
What will provide the level of personalisation that your customers crave?
When a customer has a negative or a positive experience they tend to share it. 95% of customers tell others about a bad experience, while 87% share good experiences. Customers don’t remember those moments when their expectations are met.
Given that customer expectations are constantly changing (and will continue to do so), regularly revisit your personas and journeys to identify moments that will actually ‘wow’ today……not just meet expectations.
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