Access is power, and customers have never had more access than they do today. The Internet brings products and services worldwide right to a customer’s fingertips — and simultaneously brings the customer’s experience to the world. With an abundance of choice, dissatisfied (or bored) customers can brand-hop with ease. And with a tweet or a Facebook Live post, customers can make or break a company’s carefully crafted image.
But knowledge is also power, and startups can take advantage of it. If you truly know your customer and understand what it takes to transform new customers into loyal fans, you can restore the balance of power, ensuring revenue is headed in the right direction.
A 2016 study by Forrester looking at companies across five industries found that exceptional customer service “drives superior revenue growth in industries where customers are free to switch business and competitors deliver a differentiated customer experience.” Customer experience is where companies are now competing.
So how can startups compete? Gaining the knowledge you need to craft superior customer experiences requires examining your customer journey. You’ll want to learn where the weak points are (where you’re most likely to lose customers) and gather the insights you need to make your customer experience exceptional (from the perspective of your specific target market).
Too often, startups slide off the rails when they rush through the customer journey evaluation stage. They make assumptions and fall prey to confirmation bias, leading them to conclusions about their customers that aren’t accurate.
Including three essential steps in your customer journey research will ensure that you don’t end up crafting customer experiences that don’t resonate and produce results you don’t intend.
Many customer journey maps fail because they neglect to evaluate all the touchpoints. What seems like a minor interaction could have significant emotional energy attached to it on the part of the customer.
Make sure your map includes all major and minor touchpoints — from demos, to follow-up emails, to onboarding, to support requests, to conversations with team members.
Once you’ve identified each touchpoint, you can then begin to evaluate how you could improve each interaction.
You need the valuable insight that your team members can provide.
The sales team can relay knowledge they’re gaining as they speak with potential customers.
Your support team can convey feedback from both happy and unhappy customers.
Designers can contribute ideas for solutions that the leadership team may not have considered.
The IT folks can suggest new ways of solving technical problems.
It’s smart to bring all of these brains together when trying to understand the customers’ pain points and desires and craft solutions that will raise satisfaction levels to delight.
There’s no substitute for asking customers directly for their perspectives and recommendations. Without learning from the people you’re serving if they like the direction you’re headed with a new idea, you could end up wasting both time and resources.
There are several ways to gather this essential input, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to do so.
Email marketing and surveys are a low-cost method to reach a quantity of individuals — but you’re not likely to get a large response.
Short phone interviews are an effective alternative, and many people are willing to give a few minutes of their time if asked at the end of a support call or by a salesperson after a demo.
Automation software can also assist with the task, with unintrusive popups at the corner of the window, asking a question for feedback.
The better you know your customers and the more thoroughly you understand each touchpoint, the more accurate your customer journey maps will be.
Knowledge is power — the power to craft experiences that customers love and love sharing.
Also worth a read: Have You Done A Customer Journey Map For Your Startup Yet?