Customers enjoy doing business with companies that are easy to work with. The Ubers and Amazons of the world are constantly setting the gold standard in terms of what customers should expect from businesses, making consumers very aware of what great customer experiences should look like.
Ease of business is everything. Your strategy should aim to make it simple and easy for your customers to get to you, find what they’re looking for, make a purchase, and get the best onboarding and support possible.
Customer experience expert Shep Hyken hit the nail on the head when he said, “The experience businesses bring should be frictionless and it should be all about convenience.”
CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, practically shares his secret to success with, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
The customer experience you offer is influenced by almost everything your business does, from the advertisements and social campaigns you run to the UI and UX offered on your website and in your products. Everything needs to gel together well, and connect to tell a story that the customer can understand and appreciate.
Why mapping the Customer journey is important for stellar Customer Experiences
The customer journey is the sum of all the touchpoints and experiences your customer has when interacting with your business. This can start from the first marketing touch, such as an advertisement, all the way through to post-sales support and retention.
Customer experience expert, Jeanne Bliss recommends keeping it simple – “…start by mapping a single customer journey, naming the stages of the journey in simple language from the customer’s point of view, and building consensus on the stages across your company’s leadership.”
The best way to map your customer journey is to imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes and walk the path they’re taking to fully understand what they’re experiencing.
But how can a customer understand the story you’re trying to tell?
The customer journey is an insightful ride made up of many touch-points and interactions. There are at least 5 different stages that make up this journey. In this piece we will be focusing on identifying what the customer is looking for and how and when to serve relevant information about your product as well as helpful content. The resulting experience you provide will be personal and connected, and one that will help you win and retain customers.
- Needs vs Wants
- Evaluation and Trial
- Terms and conditions
- Ease to purchase
- Customer Success & Support
- Human engagement/training material/guides
- 24/7 Support, knowledge base, FAQ’s
This is where understanding your customer is critical. You need to know why your customer is shopping for a solution, i.e what are the challenges and pain points that pushed them to find a solution? There could be a need or an identified opportunity, or it could be an outstanding issue the customer wants to address. Developing a clear understanding of what the customer requires will help you address their challenges and deliver a journey that’s tailored to their needs.
Here we break down the customer journey from the customer’s perspective, since knowing a customer’s expectations is a prerequisite to addressing any requirements they have.
When a customer realizes they require a solution for their business, it’s usually a need or a want that drives that realization. Typically, a customer’s need is something that will solve a problem, whereas a want is simply something that would be nice to have.
Based on this understanding of the customer, you will be able to better address their requirements. For instance, by showing how your product best addresses a functional need, or by tempting a customer with emotional appeal as to how a product satisfies the ‘want’ are some ways you can play to what a customer is coming with (i.e a need or a want).
A prospect may have arrived at your website because of a need that stemmed from growth, where their growing customer base made them realize they needed a platform to help improve the customer experience they deliver.
Better customer experiences drive sales, and for businesses to regularly achieve this, certain technologies need to be adopted. Platforms that allow customers to get in touch with sales and support teams in real-time have a major impact on the experience you provide throughout the customer journey.
Many times prospects are looking to reduce customer complaints and improve satisfaction scores by providing their clients with better experiences through improved customer service. This drives businesses to look for solutions that can help lower response times and manage customer complaints better. Typically help desks, knowledge bases and live chat solutions address these needs perfectly.
Another driver for customers is the desire for something they want but aren’t really sure why they need. In such cases a help desk platform may have been recommended by a friend, or mentioned in an article that a customer read. They may have also heard of a competitor using a platform that helped retain more customers and grow their business.
Once a customer knows a solution is required, they set out to research viable products. This portion of the customer journey sees customers search through product reviews, feedback, and comparison sites. Sites like G2, Capterra and Finances Online are just a few of the review and comparison sites people shopping will come across.
When searching for the perfect solution, prospects will more than likely stumble across product sites with competing solution comparisons. This is a great place to find the best of what a particular solution provider brings to the table. Anyone shopping for a solution will come across these pages at some point in their journey as customers will be researching and comparing solutions.
Pages highlighting your unique selling points will also help save potential customers the time it takes to conduct a lot of research.
Review sites like G2 and Capterra are built and optimized for shoppers to easily compare and review software products. They provide customers with a place to view product pricing, features and functionality, reviews, ratings and user feedback. This provides a starting point in terms of which solutions to seriously consider. Based on this consideration a user will trial and evaluate a solution.
It is important to build your profiles on each of these sites to ensure the best of what you offer is presented to potential customers during their journey. If you don’t take the time and effort to build out solid profiles on review sites, you risk customers never finding you.
3) Evaluation and Trial
It is extremely important that you put the right information out there for prospects to consider signing up to trial your solution.
It is during this step that a user comes up with a shortlist of 3 to 5 platforms they believe meet their requirement. This is mostly based on the insight they’ve gained through the previous steps in their journey. They are most likely convinced by your product features, pricing and user reviews.
Part of the evaluation process includes assessing products based on the following Three factors:
- Ease of use
These aspects of a solution are only fully appreciated once a user has tried and tested a platform. The length of the trial is very important as it should provide users with sufficient time to understand the product and its ability to address their use case. It’s only then that a user is able to realize the value a product can provide their business.
Once a user signs up for a trial they expect to be guided through the setup and configuration steps of the app. In-app prompts, tool tips and guides will help provide a user with the information they need to easily set up the platform and immediately begin gaining value from it.
In addition to in-app prompts, a trial drip campaign is perfect to engage and nudge trial users to carry out steps within the app. To ensure that your prospects get everything they need for an effortless experience, you can share useful resources such as how-to videos, setup guides and case studies.
Your goal should be to minimize the amount of time it takes for a user to understand how to start benefiting from your platform.
This makes it critical for solution providers to have an intuitive and easy-to-use platform with proactive and engaging onboarding that allows a customer to effortlessly reach their Aha! moment.
Before a user commits to purchasing a solution, there are a few concerns they need addressed. A product’s payment terms are one of the most important. Whether a product requires monthly or annual payments can make or break a deal depending on a customer’s preferences. Either way, your pricing page should make this clear from the very start so no one is misled.
Also, when a prospect realizes a bareboned version of the product won’t cut it and that they’d have to pay over and above standard pricing, they’re never happy. This point in the journey is critical as you’ve sold a prospect more than your base product but are at risk of annoying them with an inflated price tag that’s more than what they were planning on spending. This is where you need to play smart and win a customer back – make the experience memorable and super special by offering the customer a discount or added benefits. This exclusive offer should be planned and worked out with your team for anyone purchasing add-ons or premium support. Customers will be thrilled they’re getting more for their money with you. Happy customers will share positive word-of-mouth to their networks of the amazing deal they got. This will in turn help improve your referral marketing and resulting sales.
At Kayako we happen to offer a unique Prime Program that provides customers with all the software in our expanding portfolio for free — forever. We give all paying customers access to a growing portfolio of best in class software designed to help support and grow their business.
We currently offer the following products:
- FogBugz (Project management and issue tracking software)
- Engine Yard (A platform as a service for your web-apps)
- Bizness Apps (A mobile app builder for non-technical folks)
This approach helps win customers and encourages them to promote the offer to their network.
Customer Success & Support
Customers always compare the experience they’ve had working with other businesses to the experience that you provide.
“Today’s customers know what great customer service looks like. The companies and individuals who deliver amazing service set the benchmark for everyone”. – Shep Hyken
Once a purchase has been made, your customer requires guidance and support to help get the most out of your product. They expect a human touch; someone who is assigned to their account and is aware of their progress with the product.
Customers today expect someone from your business to help them succeed with your product and expect to be educated on how to use it to its full potential. Instead of the customer asking all the questions, they want a proactive approach from your company, where someone cares whether or not they understand the product and checks in from time to time to ensure the customer is gaining value from your software.
In addition, customers expect around-the-clock support, access to an easy to navigate knowledge base and the ability to get in touch with you through live chat. Keeping this in mind, one must be open to embracing new technologies that help minimize friction for customers looking to do business with you.
“The experience businesses bring should be frictionless and it should be all about convenience.” – Shep Hyken
In this post we’ve focused on identifying customer expectations during their journey with your business. As the second installment of this two part post we will talk about the steps you must take in order to deliver on these expectations.