Everyone knows that keeping the consumer happy is the first priority. The importance of considering the customer’s experience in all areas of engaging with your business, not just customer service is becoming even more clear. I’m seeing an increasing number of my peers in the marketing world take ownership of the customer experience with their brands. As a result, we’re all learning how to borrow and blend tools to help us find ways to gain deeper customer understanding.
Three approaches I’ve been exploring the most are:
- Design Thinking
- Journey Mapping
When practicing design thinking, you flex your empathy muscle and work on immersing yourself in your customer’s life. The practice of customer engagement here is different than polling or interviewing customers about what they receive today. It’s about understanding what they’re trying to do, what they want and what they don’t have.
Design Thinking also brings an iterative approach to your work by creating prototypes that map out how to deliver the new solutions to your customer’s world while allowing for feedback on what’s working and what’s not. I like this approach because you can fail fast, make adjustments and then find the winner to bring to life. The whole practice here is to try a variety of tactics out and nail down the frontrunners. You may think you don’t have time for this type of practice, but getting it right earlier through prototypes helps you move fast in your next steps.
Personas focus entirely on gaining an understanding of the customer by using qualitative and quantitative methods. There’s nothing better (and in my opinion, every marketer should be doing this) than engaging and talking to your customers about their experience with you. Spending time with your clients helps you have a foundational knowledge of why they’re coming to your company and how that experience has been so far.
This information is valuable – not only can you gather themes around how to improve your processes and their experience but you can also learn what friction points exist and how to remove them. Gathering the feedback is only one half of the equation, using it effectively is crucial to your success.
Now let’s throw Journey Mapping into the mix. A combination of tactics helps put the end-to-end experience together, whether that’s to examine a current state experience or to get more creative and explore a future state vision. Having that visual will help everyone in your company understand how your buyers interact with your brand. This is powerful for supporting your work as a customer-first team.
Smart companies have learned that competing on price doesn’t last long and may even backfire. They also have concluded that marketing on the merits of their product doesn’t always pan out to their desired expectations, especially when competitors easily close the gap on product advantages. What is resonating against the competition is how your audience experiences your brand. That experience can be closely tied to increasing revenue, driving loyalty and increasing opportunities for word of mouth recommendations.
When it comes down to it, customer experience is everyone’s responsibility. From a marketing standpoint, doing your part could be spending more time hearing from your customers and learning who they really are, ensuring a positive experience at every interaction with your brand or a combination of both. While choosing an approach should be based on your customers pain points and your business needs, it’s important that you get started and consistently help deliver on the best experience possible.
Raquel Richardson is a practice lead with Centric Consulting.