In the world of customer experience walking in someone’s shoes means understanding their language and behavior; what they do, what they talk about and what they feel and believe. It’s developing a form of empathy and it’s the next stage in evolving the customer experience through insight; understanding the customer journey.
There’s a lot of buzz around customer journeys these days. Forrester Research has gone so far as to call customer journey maps, “foundational tools that support companies’ efforts to improve customer experience.” In the Harvard Business Review, Alex Rawson of McKinsey wrote, “organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience (the customer’s end-to-end journey) reap enormous rewards; enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue and greater employee satisfaction.”
We’ve found that within the end-to-end customer journey, there are three subdivisions which best describe the mindset, the behavior and the commitment of the customer. They are the prospect, purchase and customer stage. For our purposes, someone becomes a customer as soon as they become aware of the brand or product. This can be the first time or the Nth time and the customer can be B2C or B2B.
Essentially it is the brand’s job, including marketing, sales, service and everyone else in the company, to move customers along their journey by delivering tangible results for the customer and producing measureable outcomes for the business.
Everyone’s journey starts in the same place. Not being aware of the brand, product or service and not being known, recognized or acknowledged by the business. This is what we call the unknown stage, for self-evident reasons. The individual continues in this unknown potentially long after they themselves are aware of the brand, product or service. They may have seen an advertisement, read a review or a post or heard about it from a friend. It is at this stage a company wants to capture the individual’s attention, draw them into the brand universe and engage them typically through media, whether owned, earned or paid. The ability to capture their attention is a matter of relevance. Is the brand, product or service relevant to the individual at the time they engage? If not, they ignore it and that’s that. If they respond, they are ready to move on to the next stage.
If the brand is successful and the customer responds and engages with the brand, the next stage is getting the customer to willingly exchange some data and information from which the business can deduce something about the customer prospective customer. While it will probably not be possible to identify the unknown as a distinct individual, the potential exists to predict the likelihood to belong to a pre-defined segment or share enough of the qualities of a given persona to prompt engagement though personalized relevant content. At this point, the customer moves from being unknown to being recognized.
With recognition comes engagement and with the right content and experience, engagement will lead to a degree of trust. The customer trusts the brand enough to be willing to see the value in exchanging information about themselves. Such information may aid identity, they may give you their email address, and they may “Like” you in exchange for a coupon or discount. And more valuably, they will give the business a means of tying the behavior exhibited by their visits, shares, and posts back to their identity enabling the business to personalize the experience on their actual behavior as opposed to the implicit behavior associated with a segment or persona.
And once they have shared sufficient explicit data about themselves, they move from the recognized to the known stage of the customer journey. They have now entered into a voluntary relationship with the brand and the company and are dramatically more likely to make a purchase and move into the customer category rather than a prospect.
In our first installment of understanding the role insight plays in customer experience, we said that relevant delivery came down to answering three basic questions; who are your customers, what are they interested in and how do you engage them. We answered the who question by showing how the development of data-driven personas enable the brand to understand who their natural audiences are and what they look like. In this installment, we focused on understanding the what, what customers are interested in as a function of where they are on their own customer journeys. And in the next post, we will begin to address the question of how customers want to engage. And the answer to that question centers on content archetypes, or the anatomy of the content for specific scenarios.
Learn more about customer experience. Register today for our webinar on Tuesday, October 7.