Earlier this year, I was honored to be a speaker at Alt Summit. It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by an impressive roster of creative entrepreneurs and design thought leaders. Great things happen when there’s so much openness and sharing of knowledge that I was inspired to share my road map for creating delightful journeys, as illustrated below. If you’d like to download the entire presentation, click here.
What is the customer experience and why is it important? In a nutshell, it’s the perception the customer has of your brand. When it’s well done, the brand and the customer experience should be aligned. Even if you think your brand and the customer experience is one thing, if your customer perceives it as something different, then something is broken.
Define the Problem. Design with Empathy
Most people think the start of the customer experience happens when a brand makes contact with a potential customer. On the contrary, it actually begins even before we start talking to the customer. In fact, it begins even before we have a product. And by product, I mean that it could be a tangible product, like a bag, or a digital product like a blog, an e-book, or a course.
Before you even begin to think of creating a product, ask the question “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” "What is the customer’s pain point?” This is called designing with empathy—putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and trying to understand their needs.
The solution could be something revolutionary, like the iPhone. Or it could evolutionary, which basically means taking an existing idea and elevating or evolving it. But whatever solution ends up being, we need to first of all, pinpoint the problem.
Now that you’ve identified your problem, the next step is to build a product specifically to solve it. A key point to remember is, customers care where their product come from, even more so now than ever. So think about how you can add value in this phase. How can you be good to the earth, and your customers?
Here are some areas of focus to think through as you design your product.
What are your options for sustainable sourcing? For instance, all of MAIKA products are made from recycled cotton canvas.
Can your goods be produced with maximum efficiency and minimal resources? Can you utilize technology in your supply chain that require less water, or energy? How do you reduce your carbon foot print?
Think about the resources and partners you will work with to produce your product. Can you work with a fair trade certified organization? Maybe you partner up with an organization that provides jobs to the local community?
These are all big challenges, and you don’t have to solve all of them right away. One step at a time. It’s a long-term process. Every step, no matter how small, is still a step forward.
If your product is a digital one… you want to be thinking about the tools you’re using? What’s important to your customer? For instance, do you have a reliable platform for your blog? Is download speed important? Is it providing relevant links? Again, the idea of solving with empathy. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think of how the customer is navigating through your site, and what tools can you provide to make it easier for them
The Brand Promise
So now, you have a product. It’s time to step back and think of the bigger picture for long term success. What is the brand about? What is your promise to your customer? What is unique about your brand that makes your customer choose it over another brand? The goal is to make your brand evocative. Ultimately, when your customer feels something, they will buy.
At this stage, you have a product. You have a brand story. How do you now communicate all of this information to your customer? All of the ways your customer comes in touch with your brand are called “customer touch points."
From your website, email marketing, social media to in-store, all of these touch points collectively shapes your brand’s image in your customer’s eyes. Think of each one as an opportunity to help them fall in love with your brand.
A useful exercise is to examine how a customer experiences each touch point, then step back and think holistically how each touch point can work together and serve as a multiplier. What I mean is, how do you use each media platform to amplify your volume? Taking one of our products as an example: we ran an email campaign promoting our lunch totes. Concurrently, we teamed up with food blogger to develop a lunch recipe. By sharing similar content on our blogs, we have effectively introduced both companies’ audiences to each other. Next, we ran a giveaway on Instagram, where we partnered up with a few other brands in the food and kitchen tools categories. Now our customer not only gets the chance to win some wonderfully made products, he/she has been introduced to a whole range of relevant resources that is helpful for her future lunch-prepping tasks. At the end of the day, it’s really about creating value for your customer.
Delivering the Delight.
Let’s say your multiplier campaign was a raging success, hooray. Customers are buying your products. Now it’s time to deliver the delight. First of all, ship on time. If you can’t, make sure you communicate with the customer. This is the bare minimum you can do for them. But let’s take it one step further. How do you exceed their expectations?
Think about how your product presented. Is it in a box? A sleeve? Think of this step as another branding opportunity, but also a way to do it in an elevated way so receiving your package becomes a “wow” experience for your customer.
If you have a digital product: how do you make it easy for download? Do you include a free product? Perhaps an invitation to a private Facebook page Be sure to make the unboxing experience a delightful one.
Beyond packaging, how do you add further value for your customer? A brand collaboration here is often a win-win opportunity. Going back to the example of the lunch tote campaign, perhaps you could insert a special offer from the lunch box company you’ve partnered up with. Or present an offer of your own. Maybe you could include a beautifully designed lunch recipe, courtesy of the food blogger. Make it fun for the customer! From a brand perspective, it’s also a great way to be aligned with like-minded brands.
Just because you’ve “acquired” the customer doesn’t mean you call it a day. This is often the missed opportunity for brands to continue cultivating the customer. Just think about it. You’ve just spent value dollars and time to bring the customer to your site, and more resources to persuade them to purchase. All of this is called the acquisition cost. The best way to bring that cost down is to get the customer to buy more, and repeatedly.
So once they’ve made their first purchase, think of how you can continue to make their journey with your brand more delightful. Is it a follow up email to thank them, and offer a special discount code? Depending on your product, a membership program might make sense as a way to keep your customer engaged. Don’t be afraid to share your story. Does your brand give back? How about a sneak peek of your behind-the-scenes story?
In a nutshell, the focus is the customer, and how they experience your brand and product. it’s never about selling. I hope this presentation has sparked some ideas for you to implement for your customer journey experience. If so, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or send us an email.