No matter the size of your business, there’s a customer experience journey to be had. You might not think about it that way, or talk about it, but even a lemonade stand has the opportunity to deliver good and bad customer experiences. What separates two businesses with good products often comes down to which one gives their buyer a better time.
The Journey Often Has the Same Touchpoints
A customer experience almost always follows this path:
*Event* - Something happens that makes someone a prospective buyer. And then:
- Awareness - customer finds out your product/service exists
- Evaluation - they decide if you’re the right fit for the job
- Purchase - the actual mechanics of acquiring your product or service
- Onboarding - the process of getting started with your product or service
- Retention/Referral - what you do to keep them or earn more customers
I mentioned a lemonade stand above. Let’s use that to map one of these:
*Event* - You’re thirsty OR you see a stand on the side of the road.
- Awareness - You see the stand.
- Evaluation - Is this what you want to drink?
- Purchase - The price might matter (Do they take cards?)
- Onboarding - Not a lot here for this example. They hand you the cup.
- Retention/Referral - Maybe you tell someone else about the stand.
Apply This to Your Business
Even with that super simple business, you can see a customer experience journey. I suspect your business is a bit more complex than a lemonade stand, but you can apply the same map to it in order to develop great customer experience. Let’s use the little plan again:
*Event* - What happens that prompts someone to decide to work with you? Are you even sure you know?
- Awareness - Are you marketing your business? How do people see what you sell? WHERE do they see it? How often?
- Evaluation - What do you do to help people see the difference between what you sell versus a competitor?
- Purchase - Is it easy to buy what you sell? Do you make the experience enjoyable? How fast does your buyer get what they paid for?
- Onboarding - What do you do once they’ve paid? How do you make them feel welcome? What gives your customer the sense that you’re in this together and there to serve them?
- Retention/Referral - It’s so much easier to get a referral or keep an earned customer than it is to acquire new ones. What can you do to help that process?
Completing Your Map
A lot of times, people have one or two of these touchpoints figured out. Often times, however, there are parts that are very unclear. For instance, I find that many companies aren’t really clear on what *Event* might trigger someone needing what they sell. For some businesses, that’s easy. If you replace auto glass, it’s clear that a piece of glass had to break. If you sell life insurance, there are much more complex triggers to be considered.
The “awareness” and “evaluation” points of the map are about marketing. If you’re not putting your business out there to be seen, people will be less aware. If you’re not helping show people the difference between what you do and what someone else does, they will pick on cost or convenience. Knowing how better to position what you sell (the evaluation point) helps you justify a higher price point, for instance.
My buddy Joe opened a barbecue restaurant in Milwaukee, but he used only top-quality cuts of meat (BBQ is usually about saucing up cheap meat). The difference was there, but it cost more, so he had to really sell the story of high-quality cuts and an elevated dining experience.
The “purchase” map point sometimes yields an advantage for customer experience. If you can make it easier to buy from you or easier to pay you or easier to hand over what you’ve sold than another company, this can win you more business.
Not every product or service requires “onboarding.” If I buy a hot dog from your stand, I don’t need much in the way of direction. Or do I? What if you set out the condiments with little suggestions about flavor combinations to build? Show me how to dress my own Chicago dog (veggies all over it - don’t forget the sport pepper) or a Sonoran dog (bacon and beans and salsa).
“Retention/Referral” points to the area of marketing I find most companies do the least work to secure. You’ve bought. Now leave. Sure, sometimes, someone will say “come back again” or something similar, but that’s the extent of it. Work in this one category can definitely land you more business and improved revenue. How will you keep them coming back for more?
- RELATED CONTENT: Get 5 Simple Steps to Increase Business Referrals from Carol Roth.
Work Your Map
As you sit with these ideas, try jotting it out for yourself. Don’t just read this and move on to something else in your day. Give yourself five minutes to map whether you’ve considered your customer experience journey for what you sell. I can bet you’ll learn something that might yield more results and revenue.
About Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.
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