By Kathryn Stevens, Client Services Director, Hansa GCR.
As far as you know, your customers use the processes you provide for communication, in-person transactions, online purchasing, or order placement successfully. When you take the customer pulse with satisfaction polls, you generally don’t see any completely unhappy customers. The limitation here rests with "as far as you know."
If you listen to the undercurrents, you may have some nagging suspicions that all is not well. Customer service reps may tell you that your customers can be anywhere from mildly upset to completely hostile after a transaction. The flow of online orders, such as for takeout lunches or tickets to your events, has been going steadily downward in recent months. Customers indicate they are not willing to recommend your services to friends or relatives.
How do you figure out how well your customers progress through your processes and what they really feel after interacting with your company? The answer: Customer Experience Mapping.
Talk to Multiple Customers
First, you need to talk to a good cross section of customers. For example, if you only talk to the customers who completed a brief online survey after a purchase, you’ll know what goes into completing a transaction. But what about the customers who leave without making a selection? Or those that abandon their selected items before completing the transaction? You need a complete picture of customers who started into the process, whether they completed it or not.
To dig a little deeper, here's another set of customers you may want to investiate … What about customers who appear to be using your processes regularly—like online orders for takeout meals—who suddently disappear or start ordering less frequently? You need to know whether they found a better alternative elsewhere, of course. However, you also need to find out the specific touchpoint in your process that stopped working for them. Your website may be too slow or too difficult to access. Pinpointing a source of disenchantment and looking at multiple customers who encounter the same problem will tell you a lot about retaining customers.
Look at the Flip Side
Much of what I’ve mentioned here is rational: something works—or it doesn’t; you have merchandise that people like—or you don’t. But you don’t have the full picture until you’ve looked at the flip side of the coin. Here are some hypothetical questions to consider:
How do people feel about doing business with you? Did the 20-minute wait on the phone to reach tech support or customer service upset your customer enough that they’re looking for alternatives? Or even if they reached someone quickly, did that someone seem disinterested and unwilling to help? Or did the phone connection suddenly drop out in the middle of the conversation, necessitating another call? In the store, did the customer find the perfect gift for Mothers’ Day, stand in line and get waved off because the computers went down and store personnel couldn’t complete the transaction?
You need to ask yourself questions at every point in the process. Any of these situations, and the way they are handled, can elicit an emotional reaction that may make or break your relationship.
Map the Customer Experience
Customer Experience Mapping allows you to look at a real cross-section of customers and walk a mile or two in their shoes. You'll be able to answer key questions, such as:
- Where did things go well?
- Where did the customer see a breakdown?
- And how did each aspect of the interaction make them feel?
You’ll be looking at your processes from the outside in - where the customer lives - not just from the inside out - where you might think you have done all you can to make a customer's experience positive and conducive to continuing the relationship.
If you're questioning your customer experience or noticing increasing drop-offs at various touchpoints within your processes, take time to map your customer experience.
To learn more about Experience Mapping, watch this exclusive, hour-long webinar and download a copy of the 30-page PPT slides. Fill out our form to watch the webinar, now or later, and receive your free download instantly.
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About the Author: Kathryn Stevens is the Client Services Director at Hansa GCR. If you would like to discuss this article with Kathryn, please feel free to contact her by email at email@example.com.
Hansa GCR is a full-service market research agency that prides itself on understanding the customer voice and translating that voice into winning strategies. It offers best-in-class, qualitative and quantitative research in areas relating to Customer Relationship Equity, Brand Strategy, Market Assessment, Sustainability and "Green" Insights, Product/Process Innovation, and Emerging Market Entry. For further information about Hansa GCR, please visit www.hansagcr.com, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +1 503.241.8036.
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