“With the sales department, we recently analyzed the customer journey of closing a deal.”
With that first sentence, they entered my mailbox. “But we still have hard times with up and cross-selling and sales repetition.” The message continued.
In larger organizations, it happens that departments try to understand the customer a little better. The most commonly made mistake is that this exercise is limited to the touchpoints a customer has with that specific department. We are talking about the ‘customer’-journey, not the journey the department has with a customer.
When you try to understand the experience a customer has with your company, it only makes sense to analyze the whole journey. When you only analyze what’s of importance for your research, department, or innovative new product, you don’t understand the whole concept of a customer journey. The essence is looking at your service, product or company from an outside-in view. Not taking into account the peripheric interactions means that you exclude earlier experiences a customer has had, it means that you exclude external influences, it means that you exclude expectations.
Expectations created in the awareness-phase influence the experience of your customer. It is a known formula “customer satisfaction = customer experience — customer expectation.” Any experience is relative, and your customer’s is relative to their expectations. When an online shop promises you that any order before 11 pm will be delivered the next morning, you won’t be satisfied with anything less. When they deliver only a day later, you will be frustrated. When they deliver at the same moment but promise to deliver not before five days after ordering, you would be delighted.
The equation tells us that you have to overdeliver to create customer satisfaction. Many times companies underdeliver as a result of overpromising to attract new customers.
Everyone gets influenced by their friends, colleagues, and family. The experience you have heard from them or the expectations they create will also affect your satisfaction. As a company, it is essential to understand and take into account the environmental context of prospective customers. Knowing who and what is influencing them, what is important to them, what is the language they speak, and what are the channels they reach helps to understand the customer journey. Knowing that the customer journey starts before a customer buys your service or product.
Going back to the beginning of this article. The company I am talking about is a well-respected technology company that delivers high-end products and services in their field. However, as a lack of proper policy design, well-integrated information systems, and excellent communication, the customer support department is not informed about the promises and deals the sales department has made. As a result of that, customers get frustrated about the support they receive after buying state of the art solutions.
The support department is not informed about discounts, warranties, and more. For that reason, they cannot support their customers accordingly. And of course, frustrated customers are not willing to buy next time.
To have an accurate picture of the customer journey you will need to cover the whole journey, from awareness and considerations to buy, use and advocacy. For that matter, it is important to engage all stakeholders in the design of the customer journey.
In painting the picture of the customer journey, you should consider well these three things:
- The voice of Customer;
- The voice of Employee;
- Future-state customer journey mapping
Being customer-centric without engaging the customer in analyzing her experiences and expectations is ridiculous. The Voice of Customer is of first importance. As a company, you should learn from their experiences and expectations. Expectations that are influenced by much more than your service, product or company. Expectations are a result of who they are, what they are used to and what they think your offering will look like. Their knowledge of your product and the context in which they will make use of it are also factors.
Understanding your customer requires a good understanding of all the above.
The second best informed about your customers’ experience is your employees. They create the interactions, witness the moments of truth, and often undergo the responses of your customers. Employees make use of systems and policies that enables them or withholds them to support their customers accurately.
They do not consume your product or service and do not have the expectations, but much better than the customers they understand the systems behind the service and can connect the dots.
You can fix what is broken, but even better is to design the future. When analyzing the customer journey, your goal should lay beyond meeting the expectations. Creating more value for your customers and a competitive advantage for your company should be the real goal. Coming to that, you need to research future trends, best performing competitors, best practices in other industries, and, depending on your offering, innovative technologies that will enable you to deliver better experiences in the future.