Customer Experience Maps

Business graphic depicting customers at the center of the interaction and an upward arrowEvaluating customer experience is the cornerstone to providing value to your target audience.  Many companies investigate the usefulness and popularity of their products and services with surveys, interviews and focus groups … but they are missing the point.  If you ask your customer to evaluate your product or service you are going at it backwards!  The customer experience is an after-thought.

You are invested in the product, the customer is not.  Instead, why not ask your customers what their needs are?  What wants or issues do they need to address?  After-all, you are in the business of creating products and services to address your customers’ unique needs, right?

Changing the way you think about evaluating your customer experience will help you keep customers in the long-run.

EVALUATING YOUR CUSTOMERS’ EXPERIENCE

A great first step is to begin mapping out “touch points” (places where the customer has direct or indirect contact with you).  Understanding the whole process helps build greater understanding of your customers’ point of view.  A typical online process might look like this:

View message — Customer seeks information from you and competitors– Customer evaluates price and terms — Customer selects merchant or provider — Customer sets up account or purchases as a guest — Order is placed for merchandise or service — Account data is exchanged — Delivery is arranged — Payment is made — Confirmation is made — Customer tracks order — Customer receives and inspects order — Customer accepts or returns items —  Customer notifies company if there is a problem or return — Customer service handles the return or exchange — The payment is edited — Electronic messages are sent — Re-shipment is made if necessary — The customer maintains his/her profile — The company manages on-going marketing materials and support.  

POST SALE CARE

One of the key touch points that some businesses miss is the last one — managing the relationship post-sale.  Marketing is important, but post-care is not just about promotions.  Providing support can determine whether a customer will remain loyal to your business.  Engaging with your customer from their perspective will help maintain the relationship and keep your customers confiding in you, looking to you for solutions, and co-creating new solutions and products with you.

FOCUS ON QUALITY

Are there points along the way that you can manage better? Might you be able to make the process easier or collaborate with the customer?  Or could you design offers around one of these processes? Customers rate promptness of service, prompt reply, professional staff, adaption to customer’s special needs, and distinctive branding as the most important dimensions in “total quality” for service businesses.

Sources: “Business Marketing Management” and “Winning by Understanding the Full Customer Experience”

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Author:Robin Yerian.  Robin studies Marketing and Business Administration at California State University, Northridge.  She has received an honorable mention for her secondary research regarding the millennial generation in association with the national American Marketing Association case competition for eBay in which she provided consumer insights.  Robin is the student assistant responsible for managing client relationships, communications, and social media for the Wells Fargo Center for Small Business & Entrepreneurship at CSUN.

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