It’s how you make me feel baby!
Identifying those personalised moments of truth that create a unique customer experience.
Our regular business journalists’ monitor recently found a near consensus (87%) agreeing that retailers need to be more than just the cheapest and most convenient if they are to achieve customer loyalty. Never has this been more relevant than in the technology sector where competition is fierce, with many markets using loss leaders to entice new customers (the profits may actually be made from print cartridges not the printers or from mobile contracts not the handset). Like any limbo dancer, there’s only so low that a company (or price) can go before its back breaks... and this is where putting the customer at the heart of all a business does, and identifying those personalised moments of truth that create a unique customer experience, is so important.
Customer Journey research develops a framework that spans the entire end-to-end experience and allows
the business to understand, deliver and monitor what consumers really want from them. In the language of love, Customer Journey research helps a business to become desirable. We want your customers to say ‘I want you because of who you are and because you make me feel like no one else can make me feel’. Virgin Atlantic could be an example of a business with loved-up customers. They do the small things well, and in so doing ensure that they own the ‘flight as entertainment experience’ space: when Virgin screens in-flight movies it dims the light and creates a retro-cinema environment, with cabin crew making their way through the aisles of the aircraft wearing custom-designed usherette trays, serving passengers with choc ices and popcorn.
Customer Journey - Mapping & Research
Ipsos’s latest R & D has centred on helping companies shape their own “love story” with their customers. Our Ideal Customer Experience (ICE) Journey mapping studies help our clients to map the paths through the customer experience, understanding the individual needs, emotions and influences that inform and shape
these customer experiences. It helps us understand decisions and responses as the relevant touchpoints.
Many of the experiences consumers have are very important to the business, but ‘tiny and forgettable’
details in the overall context of everyday life for the customer. So our approach needs to get very close
to the actual individual experience when unravelling the consumer journey. The research involves depth
interviews rather than groups, and recruiting people who are just about to have an experience and who have
recently had those xperiences. We then create (or recreate) the real experience, not just talk in the abstract,
using stimulus such as real websites, real shops, real calls etc. We’ve even sat in vans experiencing the
Customer Journey from the cab as white goods were delivered, installed and repaired.
Another core element of our Customer Journey methodology is the comparison between expected,
actual and ideal customer experience. The way this works is that prior to an interaction we ask: What do you
expect to happen? We then accompany the respondent during the experience: What did they feel about it?
We also ask what the ideal would be for that particular interaction. We compare the ideal, the expected, and the actual experience at each stage of the customer journey.
This framework helps to identify where the key problem areas/pain points are, and where there are opportunities to delight customers. They also provide a framework to visually illustrate the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in performance.
Emotion is the new black
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - MAYA Angelou
Any memory is a combination of the actual experience and the way that experience made us feel, so Customer Journey research covers both the actual experience as well as the emotional delivery: how did you feel after
your contact with the call centre/store/website? This allows us to add another emotional layer to the data to
help usinesses to understand not only what they need to do to improve the customer journey, but in what tone
of voice to do it. It identifies how a business can deliver experiences which resonate with their customers.
Our research has found that customers’ emotional needs change depending on the reason for contact and where they are on their customer journey: for example varying from wanting reassurance when they decide to buy (‘I
feel better knowing that Brand A means I can control the children’s phone bills and what they can access’)
to wanting to feel savvy when they do (‘look at me, Brand A gave me a deal!’). We also know that delivering
these emotional needs has an impact on KPIs such as the Net Promoter Score. Of course actual experiences
and fulfilment of emotional needs are inter-related, so understanding the exact impact of each is difficult to
untangle, but we can conclude that what matters most is delivering on the offer, but a better customer journey is
one that delivers emotionally too.
It’s not all about the customer, we have to map you too
Journey mapping has to be done from the organisational, as well as the customer point of view if the business is to be able to successfully re-engineer the customers’ journey. In this way the customer’s external view of the service or experience provided is mapped on to all the internal departments and processes which create the xperience. In doing so, we isolate the real moments that matter for customers; but we also understand how these can be influenced and improved by internal action. This requires a highly tailored and focused qualitative research process to ensure it is done correctly. In our experience this process in itself often leads to several quick wins, as well as a deeper customer understanding.
Helping you to change the world
The qualitative work generates a wealth of insights, points of view, and controversy. We use this to innovate
and redesign. The ICE Journey Mapping drives step changes and innovation within an organisation. We
also use ICE as an “upfront” piece, to drive on-going change and to ensure we are measuring what matters
most to customers. This means we can frequently inform businesses on their progress in terms of achieving their customers’ ideal experience, identifying improvements and priorities for future focus.
Keeping the love alive
Every relationship needs work and to check each partner is happy (‘are you sure you don’t mind me playing
hockey every Saturday?’ ‘I promise to go the doctor to sort it out if it’d make you happier’). Businesses and their customers are no different, so we regularly track how customers’ journeys change, thus keeping the voice of the customer alive within the business.
Since we know that people in the UK look at their mobile a few hundred times a day, we are now starting to use mobile to collect detailed customer feedback at key touchpoints on the customer journey. This means we can virtually” accompany customers on their journeys, giving us a window on what customers are actually experiencing and doing and thus leading to richer information and a more holistic view of the customer journey.
But whatever the methodology, as long as we’re accurately collecting the voice of the customer and getting under the skin of the ideal customer experience; then we will be better placed to win customers through love rather than as loss leaders.
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