The pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders forced nearly all in-person interactions to go digital, which has created mountains of new customer data. This has also presented a new challenge – how do you meet customers on their buying experience and digitally give them the experience they’ve become accustomed to?
The shift to digital doesn’t seem like it’s lifting any time soon – nearly three quarters of buyers and sellers say they prefer doing business digitally over older face-to-face meetings. There are several steps organizations must follow if they want to comprehensively tackle this challenge head-on. These steps include building out comprehensive buyer personas, gleaning insights about customers and prospects, mining other datasets that can be used for analysis, and pairing it with external data to paint the fullest possible picture.
If you want to keep customers happy during uncertain times, you need to know where they lie at any given time in their buying journey. Here are the steps to ensure you can do so:
1. Establish the parameters
It sounds simple, but understanding your customers is key to success. You need to be customer-obsessed, knowing every single aspect of what drives your customer. This starts with clearly establishing the scope of any project by defining the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ and ‘when.’
The ‘who’ is the persona or customer. Create one journey map per persona, and then establish the ‘what’ — the goal, action, or task you want to improve.
After identifying the ‘who’ and the ‘what’, knowing the ‘where’ is next. This is the channel in which the journey happens. Finally, the ‘when’ is the time period in the customer journey when the customer will achieve the outcome. What is the ‘before,’ ‘during,’ and ‘after’ of the journey you’re hoping to map?
2. Conduct internal research and map the ‘current state’ customer journey
Once parameters have been set, it’s time to gather existing data around the customer’s current journey. This type of insight often includes website data, call center logs, social media posts or operational data. This data provides businesses with an essential snapshot of their customer’s publicly-available habits and buying trends, and is the lifeblood of how to paint buyer personas.
After the initial datapoints have been collected and buyer personas are established, business leaders must identify the teams that interact with this type of persona and buying experience you’re trying to map. Engaging with teams that touch on the journey you’re mapping helps inform how their journey routes back up to your business processes, KPIs and goals.
3. Develop your hypothesis
Identifying the “moments of truth” – the make-or-break touchpoints in a customer’s journey – is a critical piece of journey mapping. This is where you start asking the questions that will inform your opinion and viewpoint on where the customers are. Questions like “What’s working well?” and “Where do things break down?” provide the type of insight that determines how accurate your map is and will help to form the hypothesis that you approach the map with.
Leveraging process mining here helps businesses identify these moments of truth by providing analytic insights into the processes that are best connecting with customers and those that aren’t. By tapping into IT data that already exists within an enterprise, businesses can learn how these systems have actually performed versus how they were supposed to, revealing areas that need attention.
4. Conduct customer research
Research among customers opens up the next level of insights into what’s working and what’s not within the customer journey. Ask your customers to tell you about their specific buying journeys in their own words, and give them the space to be honest. The language customers use matters, and it may offer clues into how they feel about a part of the journey they’re currently on, or have experienced in the past.
Going through customer research allows you to assess potential gaps between current strategy and customer expectations. Their responses are the direct test of how accurate your hypothesis was. From here, you can discuss gaps between journeys, and use those touch points to train customer-facing teams on navigating pain points.
5. Improve the journey
Finally, the map has been assembled, and you can begin improving the lives of your customers by fixing the issues you’ve set out to identify and solve – which should all tie directly back into the what’s driving their purchase from the start. The last step is to effectively communicate whenever future change take place to teams that touch the customer journey, and then have metrics in place set to gauge attitudes and behaviors to those changes.
Following these steps are a surefire way for any business right now to identify the true pain points within their customer base and help them adapt to a post-pandemic world and economy. Building this trust and rapport with your customers helps establish you as a trusted voice during instability and uncertain times.