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7 Techniques That Will Allow You to Improve Customer Journey

19 February 2018 | Weronika Masternak | martech lean

Customer Journey is a concept that involves organisation of contact with the customer and building a positive relationship with them. Brands should be aware that it affects the level of consumer satisfaction, hence the increasing popularity of MarTech tools.

From the article you will learn:

  • what a customer journey is,
  • about the stages of the purchasing process,
  • about the sense of creating customers' personas,
  • why is it worth to design a customer journey map,
  • what A/B tests and multivariate tests are,
  • how to optimise customer traffic,
  • about the validity of customer satisfaction surveys,
  • why usability tests are so important.

The customer journey is a concept that involves the organisation of contact with the customer and building a positive relationship with them. Brands should be aware that, regardless of whether they have officially planned a customer journey or not, they perform it and it affects the level of consumer satisfaction; meeting their expectations, as well as their interest in the brand and offered products/services.

Why is the customer journey so important?

Regardless of where the potential customer appears (in the offline or online channel), it is necessary to ensure the same "experience". It is therefore worth to examine their needs on a regular basis; evaluate the obtained data; set, uphold and refute hypotheses about consumers (you can read more about the processes and technologies in marketing in our section dedicated to MarTech). As a part of the purchase process of each customer, the following steps can be noted:

  • identifying the manufacturer's offer and initial interest,
  • subjecting the presented offer to the examination and evaluation (objectively and subjectively),
  • considering the purchase and a formal request for quotation from the customer,
  • making the purchase by the consumer,
  • using the product and its possible servicing or gaining benefits as a result of the service,
  • (if the customer is satisfied/dissatisfied) change in the level of loyalty in relation to the brand; sharing information about the brand with others, both in physical and digital space (word-of-mouth).

Identifying the priority issues for the consumer during the purchase process allows for its optimisation by martech tools or marketing mix technologies; thanks to this, the brand is able to act in a conscious (not accidental) way.

Increased customer journey efficiency

There are many techniques for introducing or increasing the efficiency of the Customer Journey concept and you should consider testing each one of them in your organisation.

1. Users' personas

It is a very popular method for identifying customers and learning about their openly communicated and hidden needs. Thanks to this, you can get a "real character", taking into account a number of features and behaviours of the brand's user. Thus, you can easily generate demographic, psychographic or socio-economic data for such a persona and use them in promotional activities in the area of marketing mix technologies. In short, the whole process of creating these characters is based on an in-depth analysis of the data left by customers. As a result, you obtain the information about the preferences and shopping attitudes of people regularly/sporadically purchasing products of the organisation. Then, after drawing conclusions, additional qualitative and quantitative tests should be carried out, to make sure that the target group is right (Can you expand target group with another segment? Is it worth to modify it?). In this way, you finally obtain the profiles of your customers. Meeting their needs should take precedence.

2. Customer journey map

When you are traveling, it's best to have a map with you. Ordinary shopping can turn into an exciting trip when you take care of your customer. Customer Journey Map is a symbolic representation of the pattern of building customer relationships at the points of contact with the brand (so-called touchpoints). The basic objective of the map is to generate a positive experience in the whole process of purchasing and using a product/service, starting with the appearance of online/offline space; available content; presence of specialists, marketing tools used. Thanks to the knowledge of customer behaviour (through the creation of personas), organisations should analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the elements included in the journey and consider their location at the various stages of shopping. A properly created map is a starting point for designing effective customer service strategies and using the potential hidden in your touchpoints.

3. A/B Tests

When you introduce new elements to the customer journey (e.g. in the form of a virtual reality application, another functionality on an e-commerce platform, a digital signage screen in a stationary store, a recommendation system or a system for collecting opinions) and you are convinced of their effectiveness, their recipients' reaction may surprise you. Introduction of modifications doesn't always ensure the customer satisfaction – quite the opposite. Customers openly talk about their attachment to everyday solutions or the inappropriate form of the newly proposed ones. A/B tests are a very valuable method of increasing conversions. Thanks to testing (usually) two different versions of the planned solution – comparing them with each other, examining their effectiveness, and thus obtaining data – you can quickly and easily make new design and business decisions. The tests should be carried out on a small scale (e.g. in the case of a new product, it is better to initially offer it to a small group of recipients, so-called early adopters, collect the feedback and draw conclusions). By inviting target users (who can be found after conducting empirical research and creating personas) to A/B tests, you increase the probability of market success. Through the iterative approach in design, the risk of time-financial overheads disappears, because only by making small (but well-considered) steps you can go in the right direction.

4. Customer path in analytics

When a customer enters your store or opens your mobile application, you are able to track their every move by using martech tools and analytical devices. It's all aimed at increasing the level of intuitiveness and improving the shopping path of the consumer. Monitoring and analysing the paths enables instant finding and eliminating difficulties in customer traffic within the space created by the brand. You can easily see at which point the customer gives up on shopping/browsing and decides to leave the store. At this point the most important matter is the detection of causes for such a behaviour and the implementation of traffic optimisation actions – this is done by employing the techniques used in customer journey. The most popular path, which can be easily subjected to the survey, is user traffic in a web/mobile application. The order in which each tab is opened during one session, the number of visits in a particular time period, the average usage of data, the way of registering or making purchases is being determined. The aim is to rank and then create a sequence of pages which leads to a convenience of use and a sum of positive experiences within the Customer Experience.

5. Surveys testing the customer satisfaction

When a consumer have visited us, let them express the opinion about their feelings, what are their impressions, what were their (pleasant or unpleasant) experiences. By obtaining the information on fulfilling, exceeding or lowering the customer expectations, the brand is able to react accordingly (continue its activities, introduce corrective or modifying actions). Surveys are a very powerful tool that, when properly designed and implemented, can provide answers to important questions. You can ask brand users about their age, gender, profession, income, shopping preferences, social affiliation and lifestyle. Then, using a scale created to obtain such indicators as Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Index, European Performance Satisfaction Index, etc., you can ask additional questions focused on consumer activities, e.g.:

  • Which element is most important to you?
  • How likely is that you will recommend shopping at the XYZ store to your family?
  • How much effort did it take for you to do the shopping?

In addition to identifying the actual customer segment, the organisation may obtain their basic personal data and consent for processing (obligatory, due to the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR). Surveys can also be used to evaluate the channel used by the user. The recipient has a chance to indicate which part of the web/mobile application is unintuitive, causes discomfort or causes hesitation during the shopping process. By gathering data about your consumers and their opinions, in both online and offline space, you can discover their true intentions, improve the conversion rates, and reduce the bounce rate.

6. Usability tests and digital experience

Organisation of the customer path and all events that may happen during the purchase process is a part of the CX (Customer Experience) concept. It usually concerns a number of situations in the offline world. What about the digital space, that is getting more and more popular with the customers? Here's where the UX (User Experience) occurs, containing all kinds of activities aimed at increasing the convenience, intuitiveness and usability in the interactive space. The application/platform should be created primarily for the final recipient and taking into account the way they move. Any kind of interaction on the application-user line should be understandable and logical.

Therefore, in order not to have to guess how the recipient behaves when using the application, it is worth giving them its prototype (Minimum Viable Product, MVP) and conduct a usability test. The user is asked to perform a number of tasks (within the research scenario) related to the functionalities of the proposed solution. After gathering the right amount of feedback, you simply apply adequate changes that bring designers/developers closer to the solution desired by the market. It should be kept in mind that the web/mobile solution must provide an identical or similar level of experience that the brand offers in the physical world. The purpose is ensuring that the recipient does not feel the difference when passing between the worlds (the Omnichannel strategy) and feels free wherever the brand will "invite" them.

7. Multivariate tests

The article presents the idea of A/B tests. There's one additional kind of tests to improve the customer paths – the multivariate tests. They are based on creating many versions of, e.g. the same website, and then highlighting in it those elements that have a significant impact on increasing the conversion rate. During such tests, the layout of the page (navigation, functionalities) may be preserved, and the icons, graphics, banners, colours, texts, font types and their sizes may be subject to change. You can experiment by combining them to finally get the "winning look" of the page, that can be subject to further A/B testing of different elements.

At the end, the question arises whether it is worth applying the presented techniques to design and implement the "customer journey" in your organisation? It should be emphasized that the implementation of activities in this field is manifested not only by the emergence of customer attachment to the brand (brand attachment) and their loyalty (brand loyalty), but above all – by an increase in the conversion rate and obtaining a significant income.

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