Our day-to-day shopping experience is becoming much more removed from any human contact. Even “Live Chat” on many commerce sites are driven by artificial intelligence rather than an actual person on the other end. For this reason, it’s critical that business owners evaluate their “customer experience” to make sure it’s still a pleasing and easy one. Even if customers never actually engage with a human during their purchase experience, it’s important to remember that human emotion is what will make the final purchase decisions.
According to Wikipedia, the “customer experience” in commerce is “the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.” So, as business owners we should evaluate the interaction we have with our customers as it pertains to three key elements: Customer Journey, Touchpoints, and Ecosystems.
This is the complete story customers will take away from their experience: from initial contact, through the process and into the future relationship. Almost like laying out a map of before, during and after the purchase took place and identifying the flow of the customer behavior.
To analyze the customer journey is to understand their motivations and interactions from beginning to end. For example, if you own a car dealership, you may map out a customer’s journey by understanding their motivation to buy a car, find out what influenced them to contact you (e.g. commercial, billboard, website), learn about the interactions you had with them (e.g. phone, email, social media) and how long the process took. Mapping out your customers’ journey can help you understand what you’re doing right and where you need improvement.
These are the points in which you present your business to potential customers, and even interact with them throughout the customer journey. It is the varying ways your company displays information to a prospective customer. For example, a retail store window display will be a touchpoint where your brand is represented. A TV commercial for a car dealership, an interaction with a sales person, or a simple e-newsletter you send out to your subscribers are all touchpoints where you are interacting with your customers.
Some call this the ecosystem for the customer experience; it’s the space where the customer ends up and he or she can be highly influenced by things like design, features the user-friendliness of a website. Or how about the lighting and ambiance, music and signage within a store or office space. What kind of emotional response will the customer have to these things? Will it be a pleasurable experience for them?
You might think you don’t need these “corporate” lessons because you are running a smaller business, but that is simply not true. Regardless of the size of your business, or type of business, understanding your customer experience, especially if there is very little human contact, is a necessary way to evaluate how well the engine is running.