Why do customers choose products or services? How do you buy and use deals? Those who understand the customer journey and successfully integrate it into their own business processes have a competitive advantage. […]
Whether customers feel comfortable or not, whether they feel well or badly treated – that’s what companies can do. We give eight tips for a better customer experience.
Almost every company today considers itself customer-oriented. However, there is rarely a group-wide uniform understanding of customer orientation, let alone a common definition. Even the term “customer” is often used differently in organizations. For a marketing manager, customer orientation is equated with lead management. If a sales representative deals with the concept of customers, he thinks in terms of “opportunities” and commissions. The service employee is more likely to have service level agreements (SLAs) in mind.
In order to truly understand the customer, a change of perspective is required. And that should take place in every business area. Sectoral interests must not play a role in this. The customer is not interested in this, nor in the processes, systems or organizational structures of the product or service supplier.
The customer perspective is the external view of the company, its product or service. Just as a customer should perceive the brand as a whole, the individual service components must also be perceived as a consistent experience. Agile methods or new ways of working approaches are suitable for making progress here. They must always be developed consistently from the customer’s point of view.
Customer journeys work independently of industries or company sizes in both B2C and B2B areas. What products or services are sold doesn’t matter as long as customers end up having a positive experience.
However, it is important to understand the different decision-making processes: While end customers reach the purchase decision either alone or with related persons, many employees are often involved in the B2B segment. Those who plan their measures and define their touchpoints should keep this in mind. Especially in the area of B2B, personal contact can be the decisive factor for a successful deal. This can be targeted by analyzing and optimizing the previous communication.
If a product is practical, inexpensive or safe, this is by no means a guarantee that it will sell. Just because it meets expectations and does what it was purchased for, it does not have to be bought and used again. The customer will therefore not necessarily remain loyal to the company.
However, the chances increase if expectations are exceeded and social and emotional aspects such as prestige, joy and feeling are addressed – in the product itself, but also in the interaction of the manufacturer. That is why it is so important to deal with what a customer consciously or unconsciously perceives and how he feels about it.
It is essential to avoid theoretical discussions about the needs, goals and behaviors of the customer. They do not help to understand why a customer breaks off a business relationship and toying with the competition. Instead, it depends on real customer data, which must be brought together and evaluated from different sources.
Unfortunately, this data is usually not very sorted in the different areas, for example in CRM or ticketing systems, in reports or in a flood of free texts. Anyone who has a customer data analyst in the team for this task has a clear advantage.
In addition, customers can of course also be interviewed directly, although in times of AI this method can only be described as a transitional technique. Nevertheless, customers should be given the opportunity to express their concerns unsupported. Properly recorded and evaluated in a structured manner, these findings are worth their weight in gold: they make the customer journey authentic, allow conclusions to be drawn about the quality of the underlying processes and can cause a rethink in terms of customer orientation.
Regardless of industry or business model, the processes of a company are shaped by a variety of influences. Therefore, it helps every company that deals with customer journeys to also deal with its process map and the associated responsibilities.
When the ideal customer journey is created, your own structures and processes must also be clearly defined and aligned with it. Then it is easy to operationalize creativity, emotions or needs and to react quickly and comprehensively to changing customer needs. This is why process management accelerates a company because its cross-divisional approach leaves no chance for silo thinking.
Customer contact usually takes place before a purchase decision. Even here, the course can be set so that the customer remains a customer. While decision-making processes are always the same for people, the touchpoints that a customer uses are changing rapidly. Digitization adds new customer contact points every day, old ones become unimportant or obsolete.
A smartphone now combines countless contact options and has thus become a “touchpoint consolidator”. The task of a company is to accompany customers along the customer journey in order to keep in touch with them. It is always relevant: what information is required and how is it provided? Once the need has been determined, the touchpoints can be easily orchestrated around it.
Every step of a customer journey is the part of a company process that is visible to the customer. Therefore, companies must question themselves critically and muster the courage to redesign their process map. Core processes must be checked for their customer orientation in order to identify so-called magic moments.
Each of these magical moments leads to an underlying process with optimization potential. If the customer’s needs change in one step of the journey, it quickly becomes clear where the relevant process step or touchpoint must be adapted.
Every beginning is difficult, so it is important not to want too much at once when creating a customer journey. To get started, it is advisable to focus on a relevant business transaction and analyze the magic moments. Particularly suitable are all areas in which the interaction of customer needs and service provision can be influenced. Only with an excellent customer experience can the full market potential of a company be exploited and its competitiveness be guaranteed in the long term.
*Fabian Schwarz is a management consultant at BPM&O GmbH in Cologne.