The ultimate goal of customer service is to deliver a positive experience every time consumers reach out to your product, brand, or service. Whether it’s a phone interaction, web– or social media-based communication, storefront encounter, or product experience, these “touchpoints” add up to what is known as the customer service journey.
Mapping The Journey: Before, During, And After The Sale
Do you know what path your customers take when they do business with you? Are there road blocks or is it clear sailing? Is there pleasant scenery or junk piled in the alleyways? Do people along the way provide helpful guidance or are they too busy to be bothered? Is signage up to date?
To get a clear understanding of the customer journey, you’ll need to map the process. Depending on the size and complexity of your company, it might include diagrams that take up a whole wall, or simply sketches on the back of a napkin! Just remember, anytime a customer comes in contact with your brand—before, during or after the purchase—it’s a touchpoint. And the goal is to deliver a positive experience every step of the way.
Before: New Awareness, Research, And Consideration. A first-time customer is learning about your company and product offerings. They may research and compare options before making a decision, utilizing ads, a retail outlet, online testimonials, your website, catalog, FAQs, social media, blogs, or interactions with a customer service agent.
During: Selection And Transaction. This is where the customer commits to and, if all goes well, follows through on the purchase. This could happen at a physical store, through your website, by phone consultation, or mail-in/fax form.
After: Satisfaction. Customers may interact with billing, product support, shipping, returns, etc. They may receive follow-up surveys, product newsletters, a thank you, and follow-up offers.
The Return Journey. This is where a customer is so satisfied that he or she decides to make future purchases with your company and share positive experiences with others, either face-to-face or through social media. Follow-up reminders and special offers nurture loyalty and help continue the relationship.
Evaluate The Itinerary
In addition to outlining each step in the journey, it’s important to understand the consumer’s emotional response at each touchpoint. Consider the following:
How do customers feel and react at each interaction?
Where do they get stuck? What are the obstacles? Does any part of the process lack information or get too complicated? Is there any point at which customers are discouraged from making a purchase or re-engaging your business?
What can be done remove the obstacles and make the customer journey a pleasure from start to finish?
When you understand the journey your customers are taking to engage with your brand and how they’re responding at each touchpoint, you can begin to address any necessary changes. Insights gained from mapping and evaluating the customer journey can improve your entire organization, including distribution, product development, marketing, branding, and shipping as well as customer service. You may discover, for example:
Customers are thrilled up to the point they receive their product, only to find that the set-up instructions are unclear and frustrating.
A lot of money is spent on small gift items to accompany each purchase, however they’re getting lost in the packaging.
A larger than expected older demographic is drifting away at the research phase because FAQs are directed at 20-somethings.
The shopping cart experience doesn’t translate well to mobile users.
There is no follow-up after a sale, and even customers with a positive experience are engaging other companies for their next purchase.
Seeing your business through your customers’ eyes will provide invaluable insight for improving their satisfaction and loyalty. And while this knowledge can benefit the entire organization, it’s primarily your customer service department that will guide the consumer through any stumbling blocks along the way. Therefore, understanding the customer journey is the foundation for creating a successful customer service strategy.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: The Customer Service Journey: Does It Lead Customers Back To You?
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