One of the most significant risks to digital experience we often encounter is disjointed journeys that fail to connect seamlessly. As a result, you lose customers to your competitors.
Usually, the first port of call is to improve the usual suspects. Navigation, usability, responsiveness, integrations, personalisation, and design. While yes, these are undeniably critical elements of your website, before you dive into any of those, there is an extra layer of work missing.
Beyond simply profiling users, understanding them on a deeper level is the distinction between a generic experience and a transformative, tailored one.
Defining ‘customer journey’
A customer journey is the entire engagement process, leading a user through an experience to fulfil their objective. This forms the bedrock of customer experience, with 88% of consumers deeming it as vital as the products or services they buy (Salesforce).
To meet these expectations, understanding the entire journey—from offline awareness to post-purchase engagement—is crucial. While all touchpoints matter, our focus is on transforming users' digital experiences.
In a perfect world, customers would land straight on your website, finding everything they need. However, the reality of a customer journey is more nuanced. The customer journey is never linear; it involves numerous touchpoints which ebb and flow around a customer's needs.
According to Salesforce, a minimum of nine digital touchpoints per customer is the norm. Regardless of how a customer arrives, ensuring a consistent experience is paramount. Seamless movement between channels is desired by 73% of consumers (Zendesk). Failure to deliver results in a 66% likelihood of customers abandoning a brand after a bad experience (Sitecore). The cost of not getting it right is directly impactful to your bottom line.
Transforming your process
With customer expectations of quality online experiences at an all-time high, avoiding broken journeys is crucial. Many digital projects stumble due to negligence of certain facets within the customer journey. To counter this challenge, we've formulated four pivotal questions you can explore to pinpoint and rectify any existing gaps.
1. What is your customer's end goal?
When users land on your website or open your app, their purpose varies—be it transactional, to make a booking, undertake product research, seek reassurance, or a desire to speak to someone.
The quality of their experience hinges on whether you meet their expectations. For instance, if someone arrives seeking answers to a query, 69% of consumers prefer resolving issues independently (Hubspot). Failing to provide accessible solutions results in losing a customer.
Understanding and preempting your customer's needs allows you to work backwards across touchpoints, mapping out intersections. Tools like GA4 help track where customers enter your site and the journey they take, illuminating their needs so you can assess whether or not you’re matching them with the right solution.
2. What is the proficiency of your users vs. intent?
A user’s experience transcends considerations of age, gender, or background. The level of digital proficiency plays a crucial role and the need for additional hand-holding to improve your service. Whether your audience is tech-savvy or a digital novice shapes their journey. Additionally, understanding the purpose of your site—whether it serves as a single-use resource or a regular destination—further influences their experience. Understanding these nuances helps tailor the journey for your diverse user profiles.
3. What is the mindset of your user?
The mental state of your customer as they enter your digital channels will influence their experience. Let us consider the mindset of a user of an airport website, for example.
The user is likely on the site amidst various stressors. Whether it is trying to herd excited kids while trying to concentrate on navigating an unfamiliar airport or trying to manage a fear of flying, they urgently need information. If, as is often the case, the site won’t load as it is laden with large images, and they can only get on 3G, it is not going to go very well. Their stress is only worsened, and they’re left feeling stranded and uninformed.
The touchpoints here are crucial, requiring seamlessness, educational content, and easy accessibility for a smooth customer experience.
When assessing your site, consider the offline circumstances and environmental elements your users encounter before reaching your digital touchpoints. Factoring these in is pivotal for a successful experience.
4. What are your business objectives?
Your user journey is pivotal, but commerciality holds significance as well. Achieving a delicate equilibrium between meeting your customers’ needs and aligning with your business objectives is an art.
While ensuring profitability and prioritising ROI are crucial for your business, customers become frustrated when bombarded with constant sales pitches or directed down the wrong path.
In our own personal experiences, most of us have encountered scenarios where attempts to cancel agreements led us to retention departments. This is a perfect example of a business prioritising its needs over the customers. While it makes commercial sense, it’s an easy way to lose a customer.
Striking this delicate balance becomes increasingly vital, as nearly 50% of customers abandoning a brand attribute their departure to poor customer experience (Emplifi). A successful customer journey hinges on navigating this balance adeptly, avoiding the perception that your brand is only interested in traffic, money, or custom without reciprocating value to your customers.
Putting these questions into action
We find many businesses guess their way through journey mapping through assumptions of how they would feel in their users' shoes. This can be an underpinning reason for the broken processes we mentioned earlier. The best way to better align your user journey with your customers' needs is to tap into insights.
You can do this in two ways: leverage existing data and simply, to ask.
Customer journey analysis tools, like GA4, serve as a valuable ally for understanding behaviour on your website. Surveys are useful to give your audience a voice. To consider your whole customer journey, expand interactions beyond your online platforms; engage your staff and customer services teams in offline conversations, as in-person relationships are incredibly valuable for customer satisfaction.
Every journey needs a map
When profiling your customers, these questions play a pivotal role in gauging your comprehension of your audience. They help you seamlessly align with the spectrum of your users at every digital touchpoint. By doing so, you pave the way for a tailored customer-centric journey map.
If you are unsure where to start, our Discovery Workshop is a brilliant next step. We will guide you through process mapping, refine your existing digital experience, and explore opportunities for transformation. Contact us today at 0114 279 7779 or use the provided contact form to explore the next steps.
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