Map the customer experience

October 27, 2015 -  By

customer-experienceWhen hiring, many business owners say they value attitude and personality more than expertise and skill because the latter can be learned. If this claim is true, why are most green industry websites selling skill and expertise to buyers who are looking to hire companies with personality and a caring attitude?

Most industry websites are glorified menus of products and services, featuring projects that might have earned awards, a few anonymous testimonials and maybe a brief history of the company. That’s all useful, but it’s not nearly enough in a world where people make decisions based on meaningful human qualities. Every day, potential buyers are deciding if they should connect with your business. What they really want to know is who you are and what you care about. If that story is relatable and memorable, they’re more likely to engage with your business.

Buyers want answers to basic questions, and your online media should address those. They also want all employees with customer contact to be able to answer the following questions without hesitation:

  • Do you want our business?
  • Can you handle the work?
  • Will it be enjoyable working with your team?

They want an amazing customer experience from start to finish, with the understanding there’s no finish line if the experience is exceptional.

Mapping the customer experience

From the moment you walk into an Apple Store, you’re greeted by smiling, trained representatives, who make you feel at ease. They answer your questions and know exactly what to say and do next. For example, they’ve learned never to say, “You have a problem.” Instead, they simply comment, “It turns out that …” People intuitively recognize their attention to detail for creating a favorable experience, and it doesn’t depend on employees’ skills. Rather, the plan shapes the brand.

If you want to stand out and attract the right clients, then in addition to working on your equipment in the offseason, make breaking down and improving your customer experience an annual ritual. This concept is known as mapping the customer experience. It’s a comprehensive analysis of what buyers are seeing, thinking, feeling and doing at every single touchpoint with your business.

The customer experience used to start with a referral, and sometimes still does, but now more than half of those first touches are likely the result of digital and social media. Online is where you can have a significant impact on the future of your business. Here’s how to get started.

1. Map the customer experience.
Divide a page into four equal quadrants, and name them (in no particular order) seeing, thinking, feeling and doing. Use sticky notes to jot down ideas within each quadrant for all the major customer touchpoints with your business, such as when they visit your website, speak with the office, meet with a designer, receive a contract, start and finish a project and pay an invoice. This will sharpen your awareness of what’s important to your customers at every stage of the experience. You’ll be reminded of the many questions you answer repeatedly, including and especially after the final payment is made. Take the time now to address these questions for next year.

2. List and answer the most relevant questions.
After mapping the customer experience, you should have a list of 50 questions that, when properly addressed at the right time, will make your process for creating amazing customer experiences come to life. Customers want answers, but instead of boring FAQs, they prefer memorable stories. Curate a list of your best customer-success stories. Write them down and share them. This can be fun training for the entire staff. Most importantly, know when to use these stories throughout the buyer’s journey.

3. Personalize your business media.
Rewrite the About Us, Our Story and History pages on your website to make them more personal, relatable and memorable. People relate to where you went to school, as well as your hobbies, interests and family, first. Industry experience and expertise comes later.

4. Complete your personal social media profiles, especially LinkedIn, which is essentially Wikipedia for those who aren’t famous.
LinkedIn is an opportunity to tell your story on a safe and respected social media channel where many people conduct research about other people and companies. Include a friendly profile photo, and make your summary more about the benefits of working with you than job skills.

5. Brand the experience.
Choose a few words you want your business to own. Use them to describe your process and how it works to deliver exceptional customer experiences consistently. You might wish to name and brand your process formally as Fred Peratt of Environmental Enhancements in Sterling, Va., did. His company’s Enhanced Landscape Process distinguishes his business in a highly competitive region by highlighting its core values and collaborative approach for working with clients.

These are just a few ways to improve the experience customers have with your business. The key is seeing the world from their perspective and taking the necessary steps to know them well, remove typical buying obstacles and nurture relationships. Good luck!

 

Jeff Korhan, author of “Built-In Social” and host of “This Old New Business” podcast, helps companies adapt traditional business growth practices to a digital, social and global world. Connect with him on Twitter @jeffkorhan or reach him via JeffKorhan.com.

Comments are currently closed.