A well-managed customer journey can lead to reduced churn, increased revenue and greater employee satisfaction, according to research by McKinsey published in the Harvard Business Review. Companies with highly functioning customer journeys also discover more effective ways to collaborate across functions and levels. Sounds like sales and marketing alignment!
While creating a well-managed customer journey is extremely important for the benefits it yields, unfortunately, other, more demanding daily tasks often get in the way. It’s critical, however, to take the time to analyze your knowledge of and influence on your customer journey. Here are six key questions to help you get started.
1. Have you done your research?
Nothing sabotages a powerfully positive customer experience as much as failing to understand your customer in the first place. This may seem elementary, but many marketers jump into campaigns and salespeople launch into pitches based on their thoughts, giving little regard to what the customer truly needs. It’s monumentally crucial to study current clients, how they engage, their pain points and how they utilize your product or service. Surveys, feedback and consistent monitoring of the materials your customers digest and questions they ask all paint a picture of your customer that you can leverage to improve their journey.
2. Do you connect with your customers from their point of view?
“To be customer-centric, everyone inside a company should gain a thorough understanding of customer expectations, monitor customer data relevant to their role, and use it to make a difference on a continuous basis.”
– Lynn Hunsaker, Founder of ClearAction and Customer Experience Expert
Being involved in and influencing the customer journey takes “walking a mile in the customer’s shoes.” Never lose sight of what your product or service accomplishes for them. Is it improved efficiency? Decreased cost? Increased revenue? Using the language that speaks to your customers’ pain points allows each team member a deeper connection with the customer, and maximizes your ability to influence their behaviors and decisions.
3. Have you identified every touch point?
Instead of only thinking of the sales process as a funnel, think of it as a constellation made up of stars, connecting to make a whole. Is your team strong at every point of contact, from top-of-funnel content to calls-to-action, to presentation, to close? How about follow up after the sale? Weakness at any of these points can cause a less than ideal experience. Pinpoint each area of communication and help each team member make active efforts to own the situation.
4. Does your branding hold up to scrutiny?
Review your mission statement, your branding claims, and make certain they hold water. Are you really the fastest, most accurate, best fill-in-the-blank service? If your branding is writing checks your processes can’t cash customers will feel deceived. Integrate your branding message into everyday actions from marketing, to sales, to customer service. Renew the focus on engaging prospects and clients within your branding perimeter to increase recognition and connection.
5. Are you requesting frequent feedback?
Asking for and adequately responding to feedback from your customers are essential steps to improving and strengthening the experience. Even when it’s not what you want to hear. According to Jay Reilly, “20% of the customers who reported their bad experiences said they did not receive a response from the company, which ultimately led to over 50% of them deciding to take their business elsewhere.” Uh, terrible.
Have a system to communicate with customers who provide feedback and resolve any issues that arise. Timely follow-up builds trust, giving you more control over the customer journey.
6. Do you maximize your automation processes to feed the experience?
The personal touch is a fantastic way to keep customer relationships positive and growing, but it doesn’t have to be every single point of contact. Automation can fill the gaps between one-on-one interactions. Utilizing automated processes can keep your company’s name, branding and purpose in front of the customer. Emails, alerts and behavioral triggers that offer high value, problem-solving information are small touches that can bring home big rewards.
Automation can also provide valuable metrics to measure your customer’s interaction or lack thereof. Do they read every piece of content and respond to every bit of communication? Low engagement levels can indicate larger potential problems while customers who are involved with your message are more likely to be satisfied and less inclined to drop you for one of your competitors.
Take the time to ponder these questions. Commit to answering them to gain awareness of the current state of affairs and use what you find as a roadmap to become a stronger influence on creating healthy, long-term relationships with prospects and customers through evolving communications.