How To Improve Conversion By Designing Your Business Around What Your Customer Really Needs
I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) this week to get my driver’s license renewed. DMVs (at least in the US) are notorious for being the worst bureaucracy, and they uphold their reputation at every chance they get. I’ll give you just a taste. They had sent my license by mail, but it got lost during delivery. I had to call to follow up, and they told me I had to go in to the office to get a renewal. The first available appointment? A month and a half away. A couple of days before my appointment, I checked their online system to confirm, and my appointment wasn’t there. I called, and was put on hold for an hour and a half, only to be told that their system was down and they could not confirm any appointments. I showed up at my scheduled time, waited in line (and the poor folks without an appointment were lining up around the block), and was finally called. I was given paperwork, sent to a kiosk, used a computer to fill out a form, waited in line again to get a stamp, was sent to the other side of the building to wait in line again to meet someone else, and was finally finally free to go with a provisional license in hand. The real one will arrive in 6 to 8 weeks.
Sound frustrating? If the DMV was an eCommerce business, there’s no way it would survive a hot second with that kind of customer journey.
Customer journey mapping
A customer journey is a compilation of all of the different steps a customer takes when they do business with you over time. My customer journey with the DMV involved multiple channels (mail, phone, online system, in-person, on the computer while I was in the office) and a particular sequence of events that needed to happen for me to reach my goals.
A customer journey map is a visualisation of some sort that illustrates these steps and highlights where the company is meeting or exceeding my expectations, and where it could do better.
You can use customer journey mapping to identify important drop-off points, where a customer might get frustrated and not see the purchase through to the end. These could be, for example, when a user moves from one device to another and it’s not a smooth transition; or when a user is told one thing from one department, another from a different department, and gets confused.
Many companies build their website and business operations around what is easiest for the business - rather than what is best for the customer. Using a customer centered focus can help you boost conversion, improve your customer service, retain more customers, and increase loyalty.
Keeping in tune with the 1973 San Francisco hit rock band Journey, let’s figure out some of the basics of creating a customer journey map (sorry, I had to).
The Four Overarching Stages of Customer Interaction
Ooh doesn’t that sound fun.
Marketers will parse out customer stages differently, but here are four of the most basic things your customers will do with your brand.
How did a customer find out about you? How did they get directed to your website or store? What problems do they have that made them look for the solutions you offer? Why were they looking for the product that they bought on your website?
What happens when a user is on your website? How do they find out about what value you have as a company? How do they decide you are credible and trustworthy? How did they research the product itself?
How do customers know how to decide between your products? What criteria helped them make their purchase decision? Which of your competitors’ sites did they visit? How do you stack up against your competitors? What options do they have to personalise their experience?
How easy and intuitive is it to make a purchase from your store? Do the payment options work for the customer? Is it easy to make a purchase or save a cart on multiple types of devices?
These kinds of questions are just there to get you started. Brainstorm a list based on your own website, all the channels you have, and all of the ways you communicate with your customer to identify every touchpoint a generic customer would have.
Lay On The Special Sauce: Customer Data and Personas
Now you’ve written out each of the touch points unique to your business. Next it’s time to figure out how they score. The idea is pretty basic, but this stage is where you can go really deep and complex using as much or as little analytics data as you have.
The easiest way to start is to think in hypotheticals using a customer persona, and then start comparing with the data you already have or getting data you realise you need. Here’s our guide to making buyer personas. Basically, they’re a semi-fake, detailed ideal customer.
You can find more detailed customer data by looking through your Google Analytics information. One of the great ways to get started with in-depth customer data using goals and funnels.
Look for Roadblocks and Map it Out
Now that you’ve got your base (touchpoints) and the lens through which you’re analysing (customer data), you can start visualising how they interact - pinpointing where your competencies are and where you might need to improve. Remember, a customer journey is often not a straight line. People will hear about you, chat with their friend, consider it, add something to a cart and forget about it, come back around the holiday season, and many other diversions. There’s also no one way to make a customer journey visualisation. Here are a couple of examples of very different-looking customer journey maps that all do the trick.
A crucial part of succeeding in business is recognising your weaknesses. This customer journey mapping exercise is a starting point where you can better understand where you need to improve. Whether it’s changes to your content strategy, or an improved web design layout for your store, it’s important to think strategically about where changes are needed based on the customer.
And hey, that’s where we come in. Elkfox is a full-service company helping Shopify store owners get better. Just finished a customer journey mapping exercise and looking for ways to improve the customer experience? You’ve come to the right place.
And to finish, I’ll leave you with a classic journey we should all go on.