To be customer-centric you have to speak to and gather feedback from your customers. It is pretty simple. User interviews are at the core of design thinking, UX design and customer experiences. Interviews are one of the best ways to give you insights into your customer’s journey. You can gather information about their feelings, motivations and daily routines or how they use your services, but also what they expect out of your service.
There are technologies that allow you to gather ample amounts of data on your customers and they can be a measure if you are meeting online expectations. Technologies such as Qualtric Vocalize (VOC) which uses machine learning with natural language through open text to discover trends from your customers by measuring how a customer feels about a services experience. Chatbots and feedback loops are essential to easily gathering information. However, you shouldn’t assume that customers will take the time to tell you that they don’t like something, especially online. Feedback portals online often take too much time in the mind of your customers.
Interviewing customers expands your understanding of their customer journey and the opportunities and challenges it presents. Interacting directly with your customers gives insight into the story behind the data, metrics and trends reported on by your technologies.
Imagine you’re a publisher. Data and analytics indicates most people read your daily digital newsletter in the morning. One of the customers you interview is a working mother of two young children. She receives your newsletter but may drop out because she’s too busy to read it during her hectic mornings. Using that insight, your team creates an audio newsletter that she can listen to on her commute. You’ve created a new product, a better customer experience and a customer for life.
Many strategists focus on the external users of a service and forget to give equal weight to the considerations of internal stakeholders. Stakeholder interviews give insight to internal needs, technologies and process issues that could be hindering your customer’s experience without your knowledge.
Empathy for internal stakeholders is just as important to good CX because it enables an organization to eliminate or mitigate their internal obstacles that derail a good customer experience. When internal opportunities and pain points are uncovered and alleviated with new processes or technology, it allows employees to focus more on key aspects of their role and servicing the needs of the customer.
In the hospitality industry, like most industries, the best companies strive for the holy grail of the “360 degree view” of their customers. Hotels have tons of information and data points on their guests through loyalty programs, CRM systems, reservation systems, satisfaction surveys and other databases. How that information is shared, who has access to it during the customer journey, and what authority they have to act on it under what circumstances all factor into how effective employees in different departments can be in influencing a guest’s experiences.
Reservation agents, loyalty marketers, front desk staff, concierges and operations staff all may have different views on how best to influence a guest’s off-site and onsite experience – and what information and authority they need to directly impact that experience for the better. Information gleaned from stakeholder interviews can also inform CX training and processes for front-line and back-office staff. Without a deep understanding of each of their perspectives through stakeholder interviews, an CX strategy cannot be optimally designed nor implemented.
When done correctly by experts, interviews can illuminate details in the journey that can be difference makers in the overall customer and digital experience.
Customer Journeys & User Journeys
Customer Journeys and User Journeys sound like the same thing. Customer or user, they are both descriptive maps of a person’s experience, so does it matter that they are different? In terms of the customer experience, yes.
We can simplify this. Customer journeys are used in CX; User journeys are used in UX. Easy to remember. But, UX and CX are related so it is important to understand the impact each has on the other.
A user journey details how you want people to complete specific tasks for a specific situation, such as purchasing a train ticket. User journey maps are typically created early in the design process and focus on the objectives of every interaction, every step, every page, key functions and features in the process and technical considerations.
Customer journeys are more fascinating. To start, the customer journey doesn’t begin when a customer first interacts with your product, service, or organization - it actually starts way before that. Something triggered your customer to engage or reach out. You need to know why - and what the initial catalyst was - so you can understand how to keep them engaged over time.
Mapping their customer journey by plotting their actions and emotions across entry points, all stages and key interactions of their journey, across all devices and channels, gives a high level understanding of how customers use and experience your service or product before, during and after they actively interact and transact with your company.
The strategic CX goals of customer journey mapping include the “Four Es”:
- Eliminate Bad Experiences turn them into Neutral Experiences
- Enhance Neutral Experiences - do what you can to make them Good Experiences
- Energize Good Experiences - go from Good to Great!
- Effectively Amplify Great Experiences – lean into your strengths and use Great Experiences to communicate and reinforce your customer centricity
How should you use customer journey mapping to accomplish those CX goals?
- Internal Focus - align all employees and departments in your company to focus on CX
- Identify and Invest – use tools and tech that drive effective and efficient CX
- Increase CSAT – follow the “Four Es” method
- Insights – A Simple Journey. Show Them that You Know Them. Do it for Them.
- Inspire & Incent – empower your teams through Design Thinking/Sprints to make CX paramount
To create a truly customer-centric experience, your organization must develop a strategy that leverages the benefits of both User and Customer journeys.
Let’s suppose that a healthcare organization is developing an app that allows users to monitor their vital signs, food intake, exercise and prescriptions. There are specific tasks and connections between those tasks that can be outlined in multiple user maps to make the process and the use of the app smoother and more efficient.
That’s a good first step, but how best to address why a customer would want to use this product?
In mapping out a customer journey for a young female potential customer, it’s discovered that she had a recent doctor’s visit where the doctor set some goals to manage her health. Even though she is intrinsically motivated by those goals and the app could be a useful tool, she feels needs some motivation, and maybe additional information to feel successful. Understanding this need and emotion, the company adds access to interactive learning and technology to connect to an online community with others that have the same goals. The customer journey mapping helped make the app experience more effective by understanding why it would be best utilized to meet the customer’s goals.
User journey mapping helped make it more efficient. Customer journey mapping helped make it more effective. Done together, they lead to a better customer experience.