How to Understand Your Customers’ Journey

Your Customers’ Journey Determines A lot

The customer journey can be defined as the total sum of experiences that the customer goes through when interacting with your brand; from the moment he/she becomes aware of your brand, to their post-purchase experience, and ultimately advocacy (or detraction).

All customers will go through a series of steps and have varying experiences at each step before they make the decision to use your product or service. The customers’ experience during this journey determines whether or not the customer buys from a particular brand or its competitor.

To improve customer experience significantly, your customer journey must be well understood by the entire organization. If this isn’t happening already, then you’re missing out on opportunities you can leverage on to increase loyalty and profit.

A lot of businesses still believe the customer journey ends at the point where he/she buys a product (or service). This is completely wrong – A customer buying your product is only at one step of a long journey, made possible by all the moments leading up to the purchase.

The customer journey continues well after the point of purchase, and a negative experience at any stage could lead to a lost customer. This makes it important to pay attention to how customers experience your brand every step of the way. 

One of the most popular and effective tools for understanding the customer journey is the Customer Journey Map. A Customer journey map is a strategic tool that follows the journey customers have with an organization and describes all the experiences they have at every touch-point. 

Here are the key steps for creating journey maps that unlock valuable insights on your customers journey with your brand. 

#1. Profile Your Personas

Knowing your ideal customer is important, hence the need to build personas of your key customer segments. Customer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.

The best customer personas are born from market research (surveys and interviews of your target audience) and insights from actual customers. Some examples of good questions to ask during such research include:

  • How did you first hear about us?
  • What are the goals you want to achieve with us?
  • What was the deciding factor that made you make your first purchase with us? 

#2. Identify Potential Obstacles

After you have identified the various touch-points, try to identify what roadblocks could prevent customers from achieving their desired goal.

You might be surprised to discover seemingly trivial things like a lack of detailed product information, slow website, return policy or car park space are pushing your customers and prospects to competition.

Knowing what these obstacles are, is the first step toward eliminating them or mitigating their impact on the customers’ experience during their journey with your brand.

#3. Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes

Put yourself on the customer’s journey, go through it and consider all the touch-points at each stage; from viewing ads to searching online, to filling out registration forms.

Compliment your findings with feedback from customers, ask them to walk you through their experience with your brand to ensure the scenario you’re building aligns with customers’ actual experiences.

Walking yourself through the customer’s journey stage-by-stage will give you a new perspective and help you see areas where you can improve the customer’s experience at the various touch-points. 

#4. Visualize The Customer Journey

The customer journey map should capture all the insights you gathered from your customer research – the steps customers take, their emotional states at each touch-point and areas where you identify opportunities to improve the experience. 

#5. Implement Changes

By now you have uncovered a lot of insights and opportunities to improve the customer experience during the course of your typical customer journey.

Now is the time to take action and implement any changes (no matter how big or small) that would make the customer journey faster, easier or more pleasant.

Understanding your customer journey helps you identify those areas where you can make improvements that ensure your business is offering customers the best possible experience at each stage of their relationship with your brand.

Kelechi Okeke

Five ways to eliminate customer service friction

The biggest friction point of all with customers is making them wait and disrespecting their time. So the basic ways to eliminate frictions are as follows: 

  1. Duration: How long do we make customers wait? It could be on hold for customer support or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Waiting is friction. Wasting our customer’s time is friction. That little recording you hear when you’re on hold should say, “Your call is NOT really that important to us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t make you wait!”
  2. Memory: I’m always frustrated when I call a customer support number that I’ve called in the past and have to retell my story. Same goes for when I’m transferred to another person. There is no reason for this. Employees should be armed with information about the customer’s past calls, purchases, and any other interaction they have had with the company. Making a customer repeat their story is a waste of time. It’s friction!
  3. Consistency: Consistency isn’t the problem. It’s lack of consistency. Specifically, I’m referring to inconsistent information. One day I called my cellular provider with a question about an international calling plan. I didn’t like the answer I got, so I called back and a different agent gave me a different answer. My assistant asked me which plan I thought was correct. I jokingly said, “the one with the lower price.” Inconsistent information derails confidence and trust.
  4. Empowerment: When we talk about empowerment, we’re usually referring to empowering employees to take care of the customer. In this case, it’s empowering the customer to take control of their situation. Self-service tools are a powerful way to take care of the customer’s questions and problems quickly and efficiently. Customers like a good self-service solution.
  5. Proactiveness: With today’s technological capabilities, why should a customer have to reach out for help to begin with? In many instances, companies can know a customer is having problems before the customer does. Predictive support will soon become a customer expectation.

In truth, there are lots of ways we can eliminate friction for our customers. The above list is a reminder of the most painful points of friction, meant to give you an idea of where to start. So, take a look at your business. Listen to your employees and, most importantly, your customers. Where do they encounter friction? And what can you do to eliminate that? Give your customers the experience they expect and deserve—one that is easy, convenient, and friction-free.

Is Your Focus on You or Your Customers?

Having a customer focus is usually a strong contributor to the overall success of a business and involves ensuring that all aspects of the company put its customers’ satisfaction first. Customer service is a series of activities designed to deliver customer satisfaction. The process of providing customer satisfaction is based on an understanding of what customers want and need. Effective businesses aim to anticipate and meet or exceed these needs.

Complete focus on customer simply means the orientation of an organization toward serving its clients’ needs. Having a customer focus is usually a strong contributor to the overall success of a business and involves ensuring that all aspects of the company put its customers‘ satisfaction first.
So to maintain customers focus on your customer and not necessarily you, you will need to do the following: 

  1. Get aligned with your customers’ wants and needs. A customer focus should go beyond product, to the way a customer prefers to do business with you.
  2. Work with your customers to fully understand their business model.
  3. Provide value-added services to establish a direct relationship with customers.
  4. Make the Effort to Follow-up: Some customer service situations require a follow-up contact. The big question is who should take responsibility?Let’s say a customer calls to check the status of an item she ordered. The customer service rep verifies the order is in production and is scheduled to ship the following day for a Friday delivery. A transactional customer service rep might say, “Give me a call if it doesn’t arrive by Friday and I’ll track it down for you.” While a customer-focused rep might say, “I’ll monitor the status of your order and follow-up with you on Friday to make sure it arrived in good condition. All you need to do is, make sure you follow-up. 

Customer-focus is a powerful skill. It helps you better understand your customers, which in turn makes it easier to meet and often exceed their expectations. I encourage you to try at least one of these exercises right now and see how they can make a difference!

Misconceptions About Customer Feedback and Complain

The feedback you get from customers is of utmost importance to you. A lot of companies consider market research and customer interaction at the start of their developmental process, they often fail to incorporate feedbacks and complains at later stages mainly because they see both as the same thing.

No! They are not the same thing. We will define the two for you to truly understand the difference. 
Customer Feedback describes the process of obtaining a customer’s opinion about a business, product or service. It could be either praise or criticism.

Customer Complaint can be described as a report from a consumer providing documentation about a problem with a product or service, or “an expression of dissatisfaction on a consumer’s behalf to a responsible party”.
Feedback is great for your company and you might even find negative and frustrated remarks or complaints in your feedback.

However, when a customer has a complaint, it is as a result of dissatisfaction with your company, product or service. With customer complaint, your primary aim is to resolve the complaints as soon as possible.

Nevertheless, customer feedback is equally important and every bit of feedback must be accounted for and acted upon. Always thank customers for their feedback and inform them about any changes implemented as a result of their feedback.

Think about it: if a customer’s feedback has helped you make a change and they aren’t receiving a response, they’d believe that you are ignoring their opinion and not giving them any credit at all. 

This would only result in customers who don’t want to give you their feedback: not something you want, is it? One method of interacting with customers that is underused is a personal ‘thank you’ or follow up note. Whether you’re a small or a large company, this opportunity must be used! After all, your customers are the ones taking time out of their day to give you feedback on why they do business with you.

In conclusion, listen to customer feedback with such care that customers truly see the changes that they suggested and want to keep coming back and aim to gather customer feedback throughout the life-cycle of the company.

Working too much can cause heart disease and diabetes – Janine Morgan

Steps companies can take to avoid employee burnout

A survey presented on Pulse shows that companies are facing an employee burnout crisis. In a hyper-connected world, it’s very easy for employees to work longer hours. The rise of instant messaging makes work-life balance increasingly rare. If not managed properly, employee burnout can lead to unproductive workers and even the loss of talent. It can also cause numerous health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and gastrointestinal issues.

1. Get Regular Feedback

It’s important for managers to regularly get feedback from their employees. We suggested that through feedback sessions management will learn what their workers need to stay engaged and productive.

At the same time, it’s a way of saying that you value your employees enough to listen to them and adjust office policies to meet their needs. Studies have proven that getting honest feedback can do wonderful things, such as reduce turnover rates, create higher sales, and improve customer relations.

2. Encourage Teamwork & Connections

Employees are less likely to burn out when they are able to lean on their officemates for support, and it is recommended that managers set collective team goals. When an office is working towards something together, it’s more likely to foster collaboration and strong employee relations.

Another way to encourage teamwork is to set out-of-office bonding sessions where employees are able to get to know their team members outside of a working environment.

3. Support Employee Vacation Leaves

Encouraging your employees to take days off is important in keeping up good office morale. Holiday leaves help employees get the rest they need to come back to the office refreshed and ready to work. Some companies are apprehensive about encouraging employees to go on leave because of the pending work that gets left behind.

This is especially important if your employees are managing valuable clients who require regular coordination. Temporary workers ensure that operations continue while your employees are getting the proper time off to avoid burning out.

4. Set Realistic Goals

Computer World reminds office managers about the significance of setting realistic goals. This allows employees to work at a reasonable pace while still meeting the necessary deadlines. Unnecessary pressure will not do anything for your employees, and could actually be detrimental to them.

Remember that missed deadlines can be very stressful for employees. During times when management does need to push in order to get something accomplished, be transparent with your staff. Help them understand that the extra work is not normal, nor will it be an ongoing demand.

Workers who know that the intense grind won’t last forever will take on the task more efficiently than those who think the daily grind is never-ending.

Consumer Responsibilities

Consumer responsibilities help ensure customers make informed purchases and use products the way they were intended, both safely and lawfully.

  • Holistic consumer protection is a collective effort. Its actualisation requires input, not just from manufacturers, service providers and government, but also the consumer.The consumer has the responsibility to:
  • 1. Be Aware: Gather all the information and facts available about a product or service, as well as, keep abreast of changes and innovations in the market.
  • 2. Beware: Be alert to the quality and safety of products and services before you purchase.
  • 3. Think Independently: Make decisions about well-considered needs and wants.
  • 4. Speak Out: The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said, you are expected to Inform manufacturers and government of your needs and expectations.
  • 5. Be an Ethical Consumer: Be fair and never engage in dishonest practices which affect other consumers negatively.
  • 6. Complain: Inform businesses and appropriate regulatory authorities about your dissatisfaction with a product or service, in a fair and honest manner
  • 7. Share Experience: Inform other consumers about your experience with a product or service.
  • 8. Respect the Environment: Avoid waste, littering and contributing to pollution. Promote sustainable consumption by ensuring that what you consume does not impact on the environment negatively.

Build Consumer Trust Naturally

To establish trust, you need to Improve your security and make sure your customers feel safe when they shop with you We live in an era where everyone wants to do things at their convenience. Hence, ordering for things online, making complaints online or placing a call through to customer service, instead of taking a trip to the office of the service provider.

So to gain their trust, try to convince them without forcing them into anything. Give the customer the choice of decision by trying to understand the need of the customer and then make them understand how your product or services can help them out. Give the customer a choice

A staggering majority of consumers now expect businesses to proffer solution and support within few minutes of a complaint or inquiry—24 hours a day. And our smartphones and other internet-enabled mobile devices come into play. We see so many businesses now with websites, chat bots, customer care lines & social media handles. Most consumers reach out with the expectation that they can get an immediate response at the press or click of a button or at the sending of a message online.

But what happens when a consumer has a question, faces an issue with your service or product and you can’t provide an immediate response, solution or assurance of solution? You stand the risk of losing your customers and fail ultimately at providing a compelling customer experience.

A phone call or chat from a customer is an opportunity to establish trust with a customer. Use every connection – whether voice, sms, or online – as an opportunity to wow your customers and communicate your value.

Establishing trust can make a customer use your service or buy your products again. Every time a customer interacts with your company, it is a chance for you to exceed expectations. Therefore, it is only right that you inculcate the right attitude and empower your customer service staff with the right skills.
Unfortunately, even the best customer trust strategies require time and patience to cultivate. So, start now.

Consequences for not training your employee

Failure to train your employees properly doesn’t just impact individual employees, it can also create risks for your entire company. Mistakes made by your employees can result in lawsuits, fines and, in some cases, charges of criminal negligence.

Companies that don’t offer quality training to new and current employees harm not only the development of individual workers but also the evolution of the business itself. Business owners who invest in employee education reap the benefits of a competent, motivated workforce that can help increase company sales, strengthen a brand, and transform a small business into a growing enterprise.

Poor and Worsening Performance

Employees who don’t receive adequate training may have difficulty meeting performance standards. While some of your workers may be self-motivated and take it upon themselves to learn how to do their jobs better, others may not have this kind of initiative. As a result, they may end up learning by trial and error or by imitating co-workers of varying levels of competency. Mediocre performance not only takes its toll on employee morale but negatively impacts your entire business.

Lack of Employee Development

The process of hiring a new employee can be expensive, and there is no guarantee that a new hire is going to be a good fit for your company. For this reason, many businesses offer education and training opportunities to better improve chances of being able to promote employees from within. A writer from Chron ones said, If you don’t invest in employee development, your current employees may never develop the skills necessary to take on supervisory positions, executive roles or highly technical tasks. You’ll end up spending more money trying to attract outside talent, while your current workforce stagnates.

Internal Communication

Know exactly how much money you need to afford your life, before you quit your job

Unless living in your parents’ basement is your idea of a good financial backup plan, failing to figure out how you’ll make ends meet after you quit your bad job could make you even more miserable than staying there. So before taking that leap, be sure to have a solid plan for paying your bills after you ride off into the sunset.

Do you truly know how much money you spend each month? Tracking your spending behavior can be an eye opener. What’s more, knowing exactly where your money goes each month is the best way to understand if you have the financial means to quit your job and where you should make cuts if necessary.

To help you get ready before your big day of freedom, we have highlighted some things you should do before quitting your job and starting your own company.

1. Leave on a good note.

Quitting your job without working your notice period, gossiping across the office, not completing your final assignments, and not training your replacement could be the worst decision of your life.

Of course, you are leaving to start your own venture, but you cannot be sure that it will be a success or that your old company won’t come in handy one day. Leave without burning any bridges so you can be able to cash in a favor one day. Your old employer may even send clients your way knowing that you are a trustworthy businessperson.

2. Don’t forget the smaller planning details.

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to become the type of person that can see the big picture. Unfortunately, if you don’t focus on the small details, you won’t be able to mold the perfect company. Planning is key, and little things such as choosing the right social media channels, keeping up to date with emails, or even remembering to file your taxes are vital to your success.

3. Choose your new office space.

When planning the day when you quit your job, many assume that they will work from home until their company is off the ground and they have a team backing them up. Although this could work in the short term, it’s not a feasible option in the long run.If you choose to work from home, you need to find a balance between your personal space and work space. Working in bed, on your computer, all day, every day will lead you towards an unhealthy lifestyle that could have a domino effect on the progress your startup makes.

4. Create a portfolio or resume.

You may think that owning your own company means you’ll never have to create another resume in your life. Wrong! Bulking up your resume and/or portfolio is a key driver when building your new business because you will need to prove to your investors, teams, and even clients that you are worth their money.

5. Finally…

Remember that starting a new business is going to be more challenging than you imagined. You’re going to have to make the planning process your full-time job before you even see an income. That said, with the tips outlined above, you could make it the best, most profitable adventure you’ve ever embarked on from both a professional and emotional point of view.

I want to quit my job to start a business

Things You Must Do Before Quitting Your Job…

 So you’ve decided you’re ready to take the plunge, quit your job, and get your own company up and running. You have an amazing business idea you are ready to launch. You’re probably excited and nervous at the same time, which is perfectly understandable. If this is the case, you need to take a step back and remember that you simply can’t walk into work tomorrow with your resignation letter.

Being impulsive could be a huge mistake so you need to create a list of the advantages and disadvantages you will face when quitting your job. If you decide it’s still what you want to do, there are a few things you must put in place before you quit. 

To help you get ready before your big day of freedom, I’ve highlighted some things you should do before quitting your job and starting your own company.

1. Do research.

Quitting your current job before getting your company off the ground may seem like the best option, but trust me, it’s not. The best way for you to get the wheels rolling in a safe and profitable way is to grow your business while you are still employed. This will make your transition from an employee to an entrepreneur a little smoother.

You can’t jump head first into building your new office block or warehouse if you haven’t done your research. You need to know that you have a product or service that you know the ins and outs of, that is unique, and above all, that will sell.

Background research you need to do includes, but is not limited to:

  • Learning everything about your product or service
  • Knowing your audience and buyer personas
  • Researching your competitors
  • Finding the right teams
  • Knowing what your most profitable sales and marketing channels will be.

2. Create a business plan.

Once you’ve done your research, you need to put it on paper. Laying out a business plan before taking the plunge will be a key success driver. Your business plan will be something you will show to potential investors, partners, and other company stakeholders. It typically includes:

  • An overview
  • An executive summary
  • A company description
  • Your objectives, vision, and mission statement
  • Information about the market and industry into which you are entering
  • The strategy you are going to follow to enter the market
  • The team you will have
  • A marketing plan
  • An operational plan
  • A financial plan
  • An appendix with more detailed information

3. Outline your funding options.

Before looking at funding for your company, you need to have your own personal finances in check. If you quit with just a couple of hundred dollars in your pocket, with rent, insurance, and your phone bill to pay, you may find it difficult to focus your efforts on your new company.

In addition to planning your personal finances, you will need to have a plan for your startup. You’ll typically have three options:

  • One or multiple investors
  • Your personal savings
  • A grant or award for your project

Either way, you need to plan in advance because if you can’t get the capital to get started, your business will stagnate and you will be faced with very few options.

4. Create the structure for your business.

You need to have the structure for your startup in place before you can quit your job, specifically, your legal structure. There are various types of businesses entities you could become:

  • A corporation
  • A limited liability company
  • A partnership
  • Sole proprietorship

You need to consider:

  • The operational complexity
  • Liability
  • Taxes
  • Control
  • Capital
  • Licenses, permits and regulations

5. Leverage your resources.

Of course, you do not want to spend money if you can avoid it. You need to look at the resources that are currently available to you. For example, you may have a friend who is a web developer; they might be able to give you special rates and work for you on a need-to-know basis.

You should contact friends who have started their own business and ask them if they know a good accountant, marketing expert, and so on. Lastly, contracting all your experts could become expensive. Consider investing in online education for your team that will teach them skills, such as SEO, email marketing, and much more.

Remember that starting a new business is going to be more challenging than you imagined. You’re going to have to make the planning process your full-time job before you even see an income. That said, with the tips outlined above, you could make it the best, most profitable adventure you’ve ever embarked on from both a professional and emotional point of view.