The brand and customer experience has grown increasingly important over the last year, placing the emphasis on CX design for companies. Brand communications have changed greatly in the digital realm. Communicating with customers used to be a systematic process that took the form of a linear marketing funnel, but now in a digital world, customers interact with brands in a multitude of ways. Getting to the root of who your customer truly is and the process of how they interact with your brand is a great initiative for businesses, especially in times of change like these.
With COVID-19 and the ongoing fallout from it, businesses are being judged even more by customers for their digital presence, but regardless of where they are digitally, an empathetic, customer-centric mindset is a helpful one to adopt. That awareness can inspire organizational action to create better experiences that lead to actual business results.
STAT: In a Progress study from last summer, 74% of respondents said that their company increased efforts to support and improve their digital experiences (DX) due to COVID-19.
The goal of customer experience design (CX) is to build strong brands that fit customer’s needs. Knowing your customer is the foundation of a customer experience strategy and any successful business model. But this is easier said than done, right? Below, we will explore some helpful tools and thinking to understand how our own organizations can exceed our customers’ needs across all touchpoints, with an effective CX strategy.
Never Forget the Design Thinking Process
At the root of a customer experience strategy is design thinking. There are five main phases to the design thinking process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Within each of these phases, there must be constant iteration; it’s a fluid process.
Research has shown that design-led companies outperform those who don’t incorporate design thinking into their business strategy. Organizations that regularly follow design thinking practices see 56% higher returns and 33% higher revenues. Additionally, Adobe found that design-led companies reported a 41% greater market share as a reflection of design thinking practices, and 50% said that design thinking results in more satisfied and loyal customers.
If the above statistics aren’t reason enough to make you rethink your organizational problem-solving foundations, design thinking has also been found to improve corporate culture. 71% of companies say that design thinking has improved the working culture at their organizations.
Design thinking can apply to any kind of problem solving, but this problem-solving technique is extremely helpful when identifying customer pain points and business solutions to meet their needs. This thinking, grounded first in empathy, is critical for success with the following tools.
Tool #1: Customer Persona
Personas, fictionalized customer profiles, help teams relate to customers. The more a business can define their customer persona, the better they can empathetically engage and vice versa. Personas help teams step into their customer’s shoes to think about their concerns, hobbies, confusions, major pain points and more. So, if your team has not mapped out a persona, this is your encouragement to create one today. Personas are a great launching point for your organization to also create our next tool: a journey map.
Tool #2: Journey Map
One of the most useful tools for a successful customer experience strategy is a journey map. Journey maps help businesses understand their customer’s actual journey, not the one that they think is happening. A journey map can be incredibly valuable in defining goals for your organization.
Journey maps can be organized into five stages (awareness, consideration, acquisition, service, and loyalty). However, it is the steps, touchpoints, and departments that fall under these stages that makes the difference between a customer gained, retained, or lost. Every organization has a different approach but needs to spend time breaking down a specific set of steps that is tailored to their customers and their own business goals. Knowing which departments should be part of each stage and which touchpoints will be most effective in meeting a customer where they are, will pay off in the long run. A journey map is never “complete.” It’s a rapidly evolving tool.
Though each organization’s customer journey map is unique; generally, some helpful steps to incorporate in any customer journey are to add an element of personalization, to create an automated/ form of contact, and to answer as many concerns in advance. The goal is to add elements of ease for customers, so that we can find people in their journey at the right time. All of these things will help to optimize a customer experience – hopefully solving their problems more effectively.
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Contributions by Darby Davis