customer experience journeyToday is Customer Experience Day, which provides a great opportunity to take a fresh look at how companies are getting it done. Are you mastering your customer experience journey or leaving it up to your customers to do the job for you?

We are in the age of the customer* – a time where your money depends on their value more than ever. The customer expectation is increasing with instant social, mobile, cloud, and tailored around-the-clock services that they are willing to pay for one way or another. How does your expectation of the brands you regularly interact with change?

The type of business you want to be in the next few years is entirely up to you. After talking to customers and partners around the world and reviewing hundreds of customer surveys, I realized that being proactive in the design of your customer experience journey is not enough. You must thoroughly understand your customers’ needs, how they wish to interact with you, and how they value your brand. To design an effective customer journey, you must deliberately improve and fine-tune your customers’ touchpoints and communication channels — many of which are in silos today.

How do you get there?

Below are five questions that you should answer every day until you master your customer experience journey:

1. What does your brand mean to your customers?

Marketers usually do the studies and focus groups, but sometimes they miss what customers really value about your brand. Sometimes your service and support departments know more about your customers than your marketing department. Hence, bridging the silos between marketing and customer service is a crucial element in mastering your customer experience journey. You must close the gap between the way your customers actually perceive the organization and the way you want them to perceive the organization.

2. What customer segment(s) are you targeting?

Customer needs and market segmentation can be vague as they go hand-in-hand in crafting your customer experience. There are many sales and marketing departments in organizations that focus on developing their customer segmentation strategy purely based on financial models.  Sometimes potential buying propensities miscalculate customers’ needs, which can create a gap in value during product usage. In the end, support departments try to close that gap by applying temporary tactic and reactive strategies.

Understanding your customers’ needs and values is the most important element in designing a customer journey. In order to master the design, you must be able to retain an in-depth knowledge of your customers. Many companies are hiring ethnographers to achieve this goal

3. Are you listening to your customers and taking action?

Many organizations claim they have a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program but what are they really doing with the knowledge they uncover?  VoC is a hot topic and varies in definition depending on the organization’s objectives or agenda.  The real objective of Voice of the Customer is improving customer engagement – what are you measuring, how are you doing in the eyes of the customer, and what action can you take to improve.  Customers are uninterested in being excessively surveyed when they know they are not getting their needs met.  It is critical to understand your customers’ behaviors and values so you can deliver products and services that delight and speak to their senses.  If you keep them engaged throughout their journey, they will become loyal customers, regardless of any small hiccups along the way.

4. What are you doing to improve your weakest customer touchpoints? Which channels are you offering?

By getting in-depth answers to your first three questions, you’ll have a better understanding of which touchpoints you want to fix in order to design a consistent end-to-end customer journey.  Also, the channels you choose to offer should cross seamlessly with each other so that customers feel they are in a continuous journey, not a disconnected one. And it’s critical to carry context across this journey to stay productive and efficient, and avoid customers having to repeat themselves.

Crafting your customer experience journey is more than having awareness. It requires a deep understanding of every customer interaction in your organization (from marketing, sales, service, and support).

5. What type of culture exists in your organization’s silos?

Every organization has a culture that they claim is aligned with their values and objectives – but is your culture equipped to master your customer experience journey?

Mastering the experience requires the entire organization, not just one group or one person.  Your various departments must work in harmony and have one common set of objectives – putting the customer at the center of your business.

What questions are you asking yourself and your teams to master your customer experience journey?  I would love to hear from you.

* “Outside In” – Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine.

Musa Hanhan

Musa Hanhan

Musa is a driven experience designer and product strategist with a career spanning more than 20 years in the B2B technology industry. He has demonstrated leadership in the design and management of go-to market strategies of highly successful products. He...