There’s no such thing as a company that has never lost a customer. If it happens repeatedly, though, it can harm your business - and nobody wants that. Attracting and retaining customers is a complex challenge. Surprisingly enough, in recent years this has become less about price or quality, and more about providing a superior experience. According to research by PWC, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a good customer experience. So if you want your business to stay relevant to your customers, you should be investing in that customer experience.
“If I had asked people what they wanted,
they would have said faster horses.”
Customers have more power than ever and are expressing their opinions more emphatically. As a customer-oriented organization, you must listen to your customers. However, this does not mean you should accept their opinions without question. They also need to fit your company’s vision, mission and strategy. You could see Ford’s statement as a reason not to listen to customers – but in the end, Ford did listen while continuing to consider his own views as an entrepreneur. He gave his customers what they actually wanted by interpreting their underlying need correctly: faster transportation.
As Harvard professor and marketing guru Theodore Levitt puts it, “People aren’t looking to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” The drill’s true value isn’t in its specifications, no matter how great they are, but in its result for the user. In the end, it’s not about the drill or even the hole, but about the satisfaction and pleasure of seeing a painting hanging on your wall.
That may seem a bit simplistic, but this added value – the experience – is what customers are looking for and what your business must be able to identify. If you know your customers’ true wants and needs, your business has a much greater chance of success, along with a competitive advantage in developing solutions that meet those wants and needs.
Today’s businesses and marketers need to realize that now, more than ever, there are multiple moments of truth requiring continuous attention during the customer journey, from end to end. Whether you focus mainly on attracting customers or on retaining customers is often a tactical decision due to financial constraints. Ideally, it is a both/and solution.
“A moment of truth is any interaction with your brand, product or service in which a customer may form or change an impression about that brand, product or service.” <Jan Carlzon, former CEO at SAS >
These are the touch points when your organization can make a difference, either positive or negative, through interaction with a customer. In other words, when you can win or lose a customer. They also include minor moments such as birthdays, weddings, births, etc. Every touch point in a customer journey can strengthen or weaken your bond with your customer, but some are true ‘make or break’ moments.
These ‘makes or breaks’ may occur at any point in the customer journey: before, during or after a sale, online or offline. Perhaps your website isn’t working right or doesn’t work on mobile devices, your online store doesn’t list its prices or inventory accurately, your after-sales service is weak, or emails are going unanswered – or maybe there’s not enough accessible parking.
Today’s customer journey is a non-linear process and encompasses countless moments of truth. Customers may jump between moments of truth. At some moments they choose to interact, while skipping others. No matter the journey, the sum of all of the customer’s experiences during these moments is the total customer experience.
IKEA invests heavily in customer experience and is one of the world’s most beloved companies. Coolblue is another company with a solid understanding of the importance of a consistent total experience. Their success comes from considering the entire customer journey and prioritizing customer needs, end-to-end and outside-in. Every interaction, big or small, should put a smile on the customer’s face. All lessons learned from failed attempts are systematically incorporated into their operations.
Focusing on a consistent total experience and collecting smileys sounds good and even makes sense. But are you also paying attention to when and why customers are dropping out and giving you frowneys instead?
Losing customers is never a good thing. All businesses need customers to be able to grow and make a profit. Knowing how to avoid such losses, or at least limit them, starts with understanding where your customers are abandoning their customer journey. If you’re not sure where this is happening, the customer journey canvas can be a useful tool.
By mapping your customers’ journey, you can gain insight into their perception of a product or service, which touch points are going well and which experiences need improvement. The canvas helps you explore, understand and improve the customer experience outside-in, from the customer’s perspective. By making things more real, it enables you to make informed decisions and take action.
You can start with short-term solutions, the so-called low-hanging fruit: small, simple solutions that create a big impact with little effort or are a quick fix for a problem. You may also be inspired to think in the long(er) term and introduce innovations such as a chatbot to improve the online customer experience or sensors for more sustainable retail operations. Alternatively, your company may decide to ignore a specific pain point for the time being, for example, because it fits your vision or business model. Besides, customer journeys don’t always have to be perfect; different customers may have different responses. The important thing is the customer’s total experience and impression at the end of the journey.
Do this exercise regularly and don’t treat the customer journey as something that speaks for itself. Avoid making assumptions like “we know what our customers want and how they want to interact.” It’s vital to listen carefully to your customers and to use a data-driven approach. You can start with your own data about your customers or external data, but be sure to actively involve customers as well. You can add data from customer surveys, interviews and feedback.
And remember: engaged and motivated employees also contribute to a better customer experience. Give your employees the tools they need to create that better experience. Involve them in your mapping exercise, too. Understanding the customer journey is useful and instructive for everyone.
To help you on your way, we provide both a blank customer journey canvas and one based on a real case. Is anything unclear or are you still feeling a bit lost? Let us know! Our experts are happy to help you work things out.