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In the new digital age, days of linear conversion paths and funnels are long gone – and brands need to stop seeing the path to conversion as a journey. By definition a journey is ‘the act of travelling from one place to another’, the implication being that every journey has a beginning, middle and an end.

A customer is never on a predetermined course – they are unpredictable! By ‘understanding the customer journey’ brands run the risk of pigeon holing their customers and losing them, by trying to control the process.

Every customer is different and has their own set of needs, wants, preferences and behavioural patterns. Brands need to see customers as people and appreciate that each relationship will be different. In the modern age, the journey now has perpetual motion, with the course firmly in the customers’ hands. By making this change, a brand can start to make meaningful relationships and making itself more relevant in the modern, multi-channel world.

In 2013 Amazon took a big step and left the online world; offering click and collect locations across the UK and allowing the customer to ‘take delivery’ of goods on their own terms. In 2014 they went a step further and introduced click and collect to the London Underground network; enhancing the bond between online and offline even more. Marks & Spencer also blurred the traditional channel lines by introducing touch-screen units in their stores; allowing customers to walk in, look at the rails, and then order the items online and have them delivered to their stores.

So why aren’t all brands following this lead? I mean isn’t the old ecommerce dream ‘to be like Amazon’ since they do it so well? Fear factor. Not all brands have the resources that Amazon have at their disposal. Being multi-channel means spreading your customer service efforts across many platforms; and the thought of delivering a consistent, high level of customer experience is daunting. Other brands however are following this lead and see it as a challenge; an opportunity to emerge in their markets as innovators and leaders in customer service. How accessible and versatile a brand becomes can often say more about the brand than the content that it creates.

Infographic Courtesy Commanders Act.

Infographic Courtesy Commanders Act.

Brands who previously were able to define a customer journey, maybe even map it out on their websites like this now face a new reality. They no longer possess the means to dictate how a customer interacts with them. It’s 2016, customers know that if a brand doesn’t engage with them on their terms, another brand will. Brands are all on a level playing field, customers won’t discriminate between those that offer Twitter as a means of customer service and those that only use it as a ‘broadcast’ platform. If you have a presence on a channel, you’re on it and you put effort into it as a content distribution channel and a customer service channel.

So how do you build a multi-channel strategy when customer interaction could span departments and multiple channels, with the customer stopping and starting as and when they choose too?

The challenge facing most brands is they look in their Google Analytics and at their sales reports, and they see these scattered, random patterns that look costly to serve. This leads to a brand looking to goal conversions and metrics like cost-per-acquisition, leading to the brand designing the ‘optimal journey’, which ultimately leaves customers frustrated. Boilerplate templates are a symptom of this, while there will always be a need for them in the world, they should not and cannot ever replace real human engagement. If someone complains via Twitter and your first response is to issue a boilerplate telling them to follow a link to complain it’s dismissive and lacks empathy. Companies will have procedures and complaints channels in place, your job as a brand is to put their touch points in the correct place. The correct place as defined by the customer.

Chloë Constantinides from Dapper was nice enough to provide a full explanation of their customer journey mapping.  “The customer journey focuses on that of a typical startup or someone who comes up with an independent idea. Often corporates and enterprise clients need another stage at the beginning, which I would call ‘EDUCATION’. This is because often enterprise customers are yet to even understand the value of technology being implemented into their business. Image Courtesy Dapper.

Chloë Constantinides from Dapper was nice enough to provide a full explanation of their customer journey mapping. “The customer journey focuses on that of a typical startup or someone who comes up with an independent idea. Often corporates and enterprise clients need another stage at the beginning, which I would call ‘EDUCATION’. This is because often enterprise customers are yet to even understand the value of technology being implemented into their business. Image Courtesy Dapper.

Designing the experience is important and it’s necessary! Change is here and needs to be accepted. Being able to attribute cost to specific channels is becoming an archaic way of thinking and can lead to poor decision making and resources being allocated inefficiently.

The traditional paradigm has shifted and is continuously evolving. The pressure exerted from omni-channel advancements is leaving many brands behind. One example of this is how Facebook is enabling it’s users to communicate with brands on the platform via Facebook Messenger. This change will have not gone unnoticed by the customer, who will expect the same level of customer service through this as they would if they used traditional methods (such as telephone and email). Brands already well established on Facebook will need to embrace this change and alter their customer service methods to accommodate it, opting not to do it isn’t just opting out of this new feature, it’s opting out of meeting certain customer needs.

A brand must make a conscious effort to be present on a multitude of channels, it shows the customer that the brand is forward thinking, looking beyond the previous paradigm of the ‘customer journey’. While many argue that technological advancements are driving this change, it’s a lot more than the fact we have hand held internet access at all times. Multi-channel is just the label given to the solution of meeting modern customer needs. Choosing to take this approach means putting customer-centric thinking at the heart of each channel’s strategy. But what if the brand doesn’t have the desire (or means) to be multi-channel, how does it go about meeting the needs of these customers? To put it simply, it can’t.

Modern customer service isn’t 9-til-5, it’s a perpetual engagement machine, where customer controlled erratic ‘journeys’ need to be met on the customers terms, with the end result being customer satisfaction with as little effort being exerted by the customer as possible. [1]

 

According to the peak-end rule (Kahneman, 1993), your business has to see to it that the most recent experience in the customer journey is a good one. This experience is the one that stays with the customer. And the manual, or rather the entire user-support apparatus, is often part of this experience. So then: what can you, as a business, do to improve this experience?

Ferry Vermeulen, founder of INSTRKTIV explain these 10 way to improve your customer journey. He has been works with his team with over 50 techcomm experts, based in Germany, the Netherlands, the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Latvia, India and the Philippines.

Ferry Vermeulen founder of INSTRKTIV (number 5 from left) with Mad Cap Software at the annual TEKOM/TCWorld16 Conference. Photo Courtesy Ferry Vermeulen Twitter Account @INSTRKTIV.

Ferry Vermeulen founder of INSTRKTIV (number 5 from left) with Mad Cap Software at the annual TEKOM/TCWorld16 Conference. Photo Courtesy Ferry Vermeulen Twitter Account @INSTRKTIV.

 

Tips; here are 10 ways to improve the customer journey:

1. Know your customer
2. Offer them relevant information
3. Choose your medium wisely (print, online, video, and so on) and according to how content is consumed
4. Pay full attention to problem resolution, to outages, and to frequently asked questions
5. Write short, instructive texts
6. Use clear illustrations (IKEA style)
7. Manage translations
8. Take the tone of voice and the corporate identity into account
9. Adjust the customer journey to the employee journey.
10. Keep analyzing, keep optimizing

 





1. Know your customer

Map who your customer is and how they move about. Is your customer the “local digital” type who’s going to install his whiz-bang new thermostat on the weekend? Or is it someone a bit older who wants to start doing Internet banking? Only if you have a clear picture of your customer can you develop a total experience and offer them full support. That’s how you give them the VIP treatment.

Image Courtesy BrightSpark Consulting.

Image Courtesy BrightSpark Consulting.

 

2. Offer them relevant information

Not all information is relevant to all users. A manual offers user support and must help the user right when they run into problems or when something’s not clear. It’s important to choose which information out of everything that’s available is relevant to which user, such as someone who wants to install, maintain, or repair a product safely. The User Manual Template can help in this process.

A women reading car manual - illustration.

A women reading car manual – illustration.

 

3. Choose your medium wisely (print, online, video, and so on) and according to how content is consumed

Think in terms of customer-focused procedures and not in terms of media. A customer doesn’t think, “media, media, media”: they want to get things done, and they’re expecting that to be possible over any medium. So make sure that all media carry information that’s relevant to the customer. Map out a sequence that from the client’s point of view will be logical and consistent, and set up transitions from one item to the next that will work well.

 

4. Pay full attention to problem resolution, to outages, and to frequently asked questions

Product users make a lot of mistakes. Correcting these can be really time-consuming. Research tells us that users spend between a quarter and half of the time correcting mistakes. Helping users correct mistakes is thus important. Reducing the chances that mistakes will be made in the first place, and supporting the user’s ability to recognise and correct mistakes, saves time and cuts down on frustration. Helping users resolve problems has to be the basis for user support. [2]

 

This Article Curated by Benang Merah Komunikasi’s Editorial team.

We consider to take journalism ethics and contents reposting etiquette seriously, that you can find here about media ethics. We do curation article for our audiences, not for search engine bots. By addressing this growing area of concern we hope reader can be smart to filter and understand between content plagiarism and content curation method.

References Sources:

[1] Taken from 10 thoughts on “Why The Customer Journey Is No Longer Linear And Brands Must Evolve” written by Daniel Taylor for DMWF.

[2] Taken from Customer journey by Ferry Vermeulen for INSTRKTIV.

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