A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating a Meaningful Customer Experience

Is your customer engagement a walk in the park, or a difficult labyrinth? Find out how to create an easy and meaningful customer engagement. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Creating a meaningful customer experience is like navigating an emotional labyrinth. But here's a guide to get you through. 

When Robert Frost wrote about two roads diverging in a yellowed woods, he most likely didn’t have customer experience on his mind. He probably didn’t think it was poetic enough. But that’s ok, because the truth is that if you are thinking about the customer experience journey as just being about two paths—good and bad—then you are under-thinking it. The truth is that the journey is more like a garden of forking paths, and at every turn, your potential customer could become lost forever.

That’s not an exaggeration. The customer experience is about making any contact feel happy, taken care of, and most importantly, moved to take further action. At any step in their journey, they can decide that the trip is no longer worth the trouble, and turn back home. They can get lost in customer service gaps or incompatibility between devices. They can never reach the end stage, which is when they make a purchase and promote it to their friends, family, and followers.

It’s a real problem. 44% of consumers in the US take their business elsewhere when faced with customer service obstacles. And it’s more than just losing that one customer. Word of mouth, whether that is actual water cooler gabbing or social media venting, can make or break a business. After all:

Losing a customer is bad enough. But by not maintaining a coherent and cohesive customer experience, you can also turn a potential promoter into a vehement detractor. Making sure that your entire team is focused on the customer, and their safe journey toward purchase, should be the driving goal of your operation.

The Buyer Persona: Creating Your Ideal Customer

Customer Personas

This isn't exactly how you create a customer persona, but it is pretty close 

Figuring out how to create this customer experience starts with creating the right buyer persona. This is a composite of a potential customer, or many different kinds of potential customers. You work to understand the needs, concerns, and even the broad personality of anyone who may be interested in your service. By creating this, you form a connection with a customer before they are even a prospect—maybe before they even know they might be.

This persona carries you and your team throughout the entire process. Everyone on your team can tailor their approach to his or her needs.  Your buyer persona is created by doing surveys of as many current customer as you can, focusing on:

  • Identifying Pain Points: What problem is your customer trying to solve? If you are a plumbing company, this is more than just “plumbing problems.” Get specific with each persona, so one can be (broadly) people with leaking pipes.
  • Identifying Demographics: Who are your customers? Are they middle-aged homeowners? Millennials in their first jobs? Businesses with less than 50 employees? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing or sales. When you do it that way, no one will be fit.
  • Identifying Platforms: How do your customers interact with you? Through Twitter, or solely through your website? This not only teaches you about them, demographically, but shows you how to best engage future prospects by hitting them where they live.

By knowing who all your customers are, you make sure that your team treats them as the individuals they are, with individual needs. Think of it as like being a guide. If you know your prospective client is an adventurer eager to climb Alaskan mountains, you won’t send them a brochure detailing the benefits of heading south.

The Right Map Keeps the Customer on the Right Track

In old maps, the empty corners used to be marked with the phrase hic sunt dracones, translated as “here be dragons”.  No one wants to go there. These are unexplored areas where customers could get lost, and never to be heard from again. In turns out that there are all sorts of these dangerous areas in your operation, and it is up to you to make sure they are fixed.

You don't want your customers to end up here. 

You want to use the buyer persona to create a meaningful and cohesive journey from beginning to end. One of the most important things is identify areas where the customer could get lost. These include:

  • Gaps. What happens when the marketing team brings in a prospect and then hands them off to sales? Is there proper communication to let the latter know about this prospect’s needs? Is there follow-up so that the prospect knows exactly what the next step is? Do they have to climb on their own, or are they helped up? Is there a problem transferring information if a customer starts on your mobile site, and then calls? Or do they lost everything they’ve already entered? If there are gaps in these processes, frustration can set in, and turn to apathy or hostility.
  • Logjams. Even worse than gaps are logjams. Is every customer funneled through the same path, with the same overwhelmed gatekeepers? Is there a segment of your process that just slows down for no reason? Customers are overwhelmed with options only a few keystrokes away. The speed of the internet has made us less patient. Don’t lose a sale because you make someone wait.
  • Poorly-Marked Paths. This is the most frustrating thing for any customer: when they don’t know how to proceed, and have to hack their way on their own. If they are clicking around looking for a contact button, or trying to find the form to submit credit card information, they’ll be lost to you. Demographics help here: if your business caters to retirees but you’ve focused only on making your mobile site accessible, to the detriment of everything else, you’ve failed your target.

Remember to share this path with everyone in your organization. Use infographics, training, and modeling to go through every stage. Make sure that one end of your organization knows what it is like to go through the whole process. Not only will this build inter-departmental empathy, it will allow them to effortlessly guide the customer to the next step.

There’s No “I” In KPI: Creating Outward-Focused Goals

The problem that a lot of companies have with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is that they are inward-focused, looking at issues like revenue and efficiency and emails per day. Those are all important, but they are actually a dodge around the real goal: a better customer experience strategy.

Customer-centric expert Rik Vera tells us that companies who focus on measuring customer behavior are the most innovative and inventive ones, and the most successful. Focusing on this filters down to employees, inflects everything they do, and in the end improves the old metrics by default. Making sure you have a better customer experience means better workers, better outcomes, and better revenue.

Always Be Cartographic: The Importance of Constant Evaluation

"Oh, there's probably nothing out there." -The Past

I have an old map of the Great Lakes, from the 1600s, in which Lake Superior just sort of opens out to the endless west. The explorers knew it was pretty huge, which was helpful, but hadn’t been able to map its farthest shores, which wasn’t. But that’s fine: it was later filled in, and now you don’t have to worry that there are dragons near Duluth.

It’s the same way with your company. You want to constantly test your customer experience process, making sure that it is keeping up with evolving technologies, communication methods, and your customer base. You want to make sure that you aren’t missing anything. Check different times customers check in to see if you can tailor to those needs. Check what platforms they are using and if those are changing (if you’re still being aggressive on College Friend Finder, you may be behind the times). See if your demographics are changing at all. Always test every process to see if it fits the current needs of your customers. That’s the only way to make sure the journey doesn’t end badly.

Focusing on a meaningful experience along every step of the way is how prospects turn into customers, and customers circle around turn into promoters. By focusing on them and their needs, you can keep them on the right path all the way around the globe.

Every customer, ultimately, has their own journey. At RDI-Connect, we focus on making sure every prospect and customer is treated to the most meaningful experience across all channels so that your business attracts sales and retains positive promoters. For more information, please download our white paper The Customer Experience Playbook: Providing Unmatched Service in Today’s Multichannel Landscape. Connect with us today to learn more about the services we can provide your business.

 

Share this post...

Share your thoughts about this post.