When people tell a story, they don’t just start with “Once upon a time…” and end with “…and they all lived happily ever after” – there’s a lot of stuff that happens in between! That information in the middle is what makes everything so much more exciting, relevant, and memorable.
When you think about user experience, the people who are interacting with your website and app and not just there for the beginning or end – but the whole story. The whole story encompasses how customers reach you, how they think about you, what they need to do in order to make a purchase, and what they go through when waiting for their items to arrive. It is within these moments that companies can use their smarts in order to insert themselves to create a bigger, more meaningful connection.
Let’s talk about a couple of examples so you get a better idea of what I’m saying. One of the most prominent examples was when Starbucks created an app. You might be thinking what does a coffee franchise have anything to do with this? What Starbucks did was turned something that was both ritualistic and spur of the moment and made it insanely simple. When you want a cup of coffee you, A. Know that you want one because it is a part of your morning routine or B. Know that you have a craving to satisfy. Either way, getting from “I want a coffee” to “I’m drinking coffee” gets messy. With the creation of their app, Starbucks cut out the need for people to stand on long lines – which was a major pain point, according to customer feedback. By gamifying the app and allowing users to rack up points, rewards, and spoiling them with freebies on their birthdays, Starbucks created a major win. This all was because they were able to identify the main point of angst in their customer journey and use technology to reverse it.
“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
Another great example of a company using customer journeys to enhance their user’s experience was Apple. Think about how seamlessly their products all work together. Did this happen by accident? Absolutely not! As an innovative company, Apple foresaw how users might want to use their devices in tandem with one another. When my iPhone rings, and I’m on my MacBook, I can easily answer the call without having to use my phone and divert my attention. When sharing files, I can use the AirDrop to any device I please. I’ve been extremely hard pressed to find any situation in which Apple hasn’t been able to identify an area of opportunity that needs addressing along their customer journey.
What is exciting about customer journey mapping is that you can lay out a customer’s entire interaction with your brand. If they have a bad experience at one point of the process, you risk them having a negative experience throughout the transaction or having them bounce the moment something goes less than smoothly. For this week’s project, I decided to map out how my partner might go through purchasing a new phone. As cell phones are extremely important personal pieces today, having a moment where you go without one or need a new one is very stressful. By using what I know from the phone purchasing process, I mapped out the six major areas along the journey and broke those down into thoughts, actions, and emotions.
What I found from this customer journey map was that buying a new phone caused a lot of anxiety. “What if it’s too expensive?”, “What if my plan doesn’t cover it?”, “How long is it going to take to get here?” These are just some of the multitudes of questions that come up along the way. The areas that caused the most frustration were those marked with other people. Customer service and interacting with friends and family made the whole process worse. In these kinds of situations, customers just want to be able to choose what they want (or think what they need) and get out. The longer they stayed in the no man’s land of decisionmaking, the worse their mood became.
“Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.”
– Ken Blanchard
Through this customer journey map and persona, I also noticed that the process of buying a phone just needed to be more fluid. The more fluid and connected the pieces of the purchasing puzzle were, the more secure users felt. An example of this would be their package’s tracking information. If there were a solution to cut out the back and forth between customer service representative and customer, I’m sure that sales would improve due to the increased timeliness and more confident, independent user.
After completing this exercise, I feel like I can better understand how companies make their business and marketing decisions. By prioritizing the tiny moments, and looking for an opportunity to improve, drastic changes can happen to the customer journey, satisfaction, and confidence. No matter what the journey is a company is mapping, they all want to finish with the same “happily ever after” ending.