Understanding customers’ experience

Conversion / 7 min read

Turn to any marketing blog and it will undoubtedly have some section devoted to user experience or customer accessibility. Logically, catering to customers should be a top priority for companies. However, studies consistently show that it is not. A study done early this year by NewVoiceMedia showed that in the United States alone, companies were losing an estimated $75 billion to market competition as a result of poor user experience. The key to good customer service and the key to company growth are often the same, but untangling the intricacies that support growth and expansion can be difficult.

The Problem

Success in this way comes from mapping the customer experience. According to a recent study done by Oracle, however, only 37% of businesses who aspired to expand their growth had an actionable customer journey map or understanding of how customers would fuel that expansion. The reason? It can be hard to gauge exactly what customers want when releasing new products or introducing new business initiatives onto the playing field.

As an example, consumers need only to look at Apple. In 2016, they released the long-anticipated iPhone 7 – which came with an onslaught of software and hardware releases that broke the mold when it came to phones on the market. However, it was also in line to be released with Google’s first-ever phone, which promised to do many things that iPhones didn’t do. Apple had to think fast, and opted for a move that their CEO called “courageous” – it ditched the headphone jack. Apple customers were furious, and after the initial release at least 300,000 customers signed a petition protesting the change. Apple cited valid reasons for the removal – from the need to downsize their phone thickness to the ineffectiveness of charging a battery while listening to music.

The moral of this story? Apple listened to their customers. They didn’t bring back the headphone jack, per se, but they made adjustments to concurrent releases that made amends to their consumer base. And companies followed suit – like Google with its Pixel 2. Listening, as it turns out for corporations, involves a lot more than customer satisfaction surveys.

Start With Data, Then Get Personal

Business growth campaigns depend upon the personal, but they also depend upon mass data analysis on all ends of the sales journey. Through the very act of creating and maintaining a group of loyal customers, businesses are gathering valuable information. Often, this data is mismanaged by outdated processing systems and technology platforms. Other common reasons for data mismanagement include:

  • Failing to leave room in your budget for continued data analysis or new trends in analytical techniques
  • Noticing trends but not understanding the “why” behind them
  • Not understanding the difference between marketing research and customer-oriented usability.

The common failure, in all of these places, is comprehensive planning. And while UX engineers and departments might beat themselves up about missing something, it’s a lot more common than not. Using insights as well as mistakes is critical to understanding customer experience.

Tracking metrics starts with a behavior map — a powerful tool that can track both the largest trends and the smallest micro-conversions over a range of audiences. At CXMap, we have come to the conclusion that behavior maps must be specific to an audience, must map user experience over an indefinite period of time, and must work from both known and unknown insights based on gathered data.

However, we know that this is just the bare minimum amount of work that must be put into a customer journey map. For this map to be successful, it must also include:

  1. Actionability based on customer needs and expectations rather than the needs and expectations of the company alone. In the instance of the iPhone 7, customer response was met with subsequent releases that met both customer, company, and future tech expectations.
  2. Performance indicators are necessary but also are only part of the puzzle. A lot of this goes into programming AI to recognize the difference between performance indicators like service support and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). While both play a part in company growth, they are not always interrelated.
  3. Plan for flaws, accept them, and move forward. Luckily, UX software algorithms are consistently being updated to look for and anticipate flaws so that they can be avoided or quickly remedied.

Once the basics of a customer map are laid out, then comes the guesswork. But for companies with adequate UX software and enough collected data, hypotheses can be made, and insights deferred. CXMap recommends that data collected be stored securely but indefinitely. Why? Because customer experience maps should be thought of in the same way that retirement plans are thought about. Retirement plans change, are sometimes pushed forward or backward, but are completed with the foundation of a basic plan. While retirements are definite, with a set end goal, UX maps are not, which makes data irrelevant at a point. But until that point hits, all data is relevant and useful, and a proper data management and analysis program can get companies to where they need to be.

CXMap does all this from one simple platform. By simply connecting the app to your website, you can track visitor behavioral data, categorize audiences by key characteristics, create audience-specific customer journey maps, utilize gathered data, and work on retaining customers. For more information on how we do this, check out our blog on How to Map Customer Experience.

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