Previously, we discussed what Customer Experience (CX) means at a high level and concluded that modelling the customer journey into distinct phases is key.

But how does improving CX work in practice? What practical steps can marketers take to improve their brands’ CX?

The digital view

Well, there are many excellent resources which answer this question, but most of the info out there covers very broad topics and includes product design, physical stores, and call centres.

But as Econsultancy is primarily concerned with helping marketers achieve digital excellence I’d like to answer that question with digital in mind.

So here we will address CX with regards to digital marketing, website design, and ecommerce.

But, before we start

Econsultancy is holding a two-day Customer Experience (CX) Workshop Training Course in Singapore on Thursday, November 26th and Friday, November 27th

Our aim is to provide attendees with the background and tools they need to review the CX of their digital products and websites and chart a course for improving their customers’ experience.

So where do we start with CX?

First, as we mentioned before, a CX strategy starts by thinking about your product or service from the viewpoint of the customer.

But before you can take any action, there are three questions you need to be able to answer:

  • What are the journeys your customers take? 
  • How do you analyse these journeys?
  • And in what ways can you improve them?

Below I address all three questions with a simple methodology intended to give you a practical way to answer them, and start on your own CX program.

1. Segment your audience

The first step to improving customer digital experience is to segment your customers into logical groups. We do this frequently with our email marketing and digital advertising, but how is it different for CX?

Well, segmenting for digital marketing is typically done using data points, but for CX you segment using personas, or a profile of an imaginary, typically customer.

And if you work for a large company with a very wide variety of customers, then you may want to choose a business unit to start with and then identify its customers first.

Where to start

There are whole books written about personas, but to get started you really just need to identify a few typical customers.

And to make your personas more like real customers, there are a number of questions that you need to be able to answer about them.

Questions to build your persona 

  • Demographics – Who, broadly speaking is this person? Male or female? Age?
  • Location – Are they at work or at home? What device are they using?
  • Information preferences – How do they like to find out about things?  How did they find out about you?
  • Problems – Why are they interested in your product? What problems are they trying solve?
  • Buying phase – Are they ready to buy? Or is there some other goal? 
  • Constraints – Is there some constraint they have, like price?
  • Expectations - And once they are a customer, what level of service will they expect?

And do note that a ‘persona’ is very different from a ‘user’. That is, when you think of a ‘user’, you think of someone who is determined to use your product in the most efficient way. 

A persona, however, has goals, pain points, media preferences and other human characters which may not be efficient or even rational.

Coming up with many personas is not an easy exercise, granted, so it is probably best to limit your scope at first to just a few of your most active, typical customers.

An example

If you want to fast-forward and see the results of a persona exercise in action, then have a look at the FRANK by OCBC website.  

FRANK is an OCBC program created for the youth and young working adults customer segment.

There are a lot of examples of personas on the site, but here’s a snapshot of the web page for working professionals.

There you can see that its marketers have thought a lot about personas: first job-holder, globe-trotter, MBA-seeker, etc. and the follow-on web pages provide information and services specifically for those personas.

And it doesn’t stop there. Besides tailor-made banking products, they also offer credit cards graphics which specifically appeal to their target personas.

2. Look at touch points

The visible part of the customer journey

Once you have a few personas, then start to think about their goals on each phase of the customer journey. 

(If you haven’t yet, have a look at my previous post where I cover the customer journey in detail.)

And, on that customer journey, we need to match each step with the visible parts of our product and marketing strategy. These are commonly called ‘touchpoints’.

Touchpoints are particularly important for digital because on your website or app, your customer does not have a user manual to guide them through their journey. Each touchpoint must make sense on its own.

Touchpoints, illustrated

It’s difficult to generalize across industries when matching touchpoints with the customer journey.

A car buyer may only use digital in the very early phases of the journey, whereas the experience of booking travel is almost entirely digital.

But here is a diagram which can give you some idea of which touchpoints correspond with each phase of the customer journey.

And, as you can see here, identifying touchpoints is made more complex by the fragmented media landscape we, and our customers, experience every day.

An example

One company that has clearly examined its touchpoints with customer personas in mind is Singapore fashion retailer Zalora.

I have covered Zalora’s multichannel strategy before, but here is an example of how it uses a variety of touchpoints to help customers through their buying journey.

Most ecommerce sites operate under a single delivery model.  That is, you get what you buy through the post.

But in Singapore, this model can cause a problem for some of Zalora’s customers. Many Singaporeans live in flats and if they aren’t home when the package arrives, they get a pick-up slip instead.  

Then, they have to wait in line at a post office to get what they ordered.

To address this agonizing post-purchase experience, Zalora has teamed up with 7-11 to offer in-store pick-up of items ordered online. 

And it’s this type of touchpoint/persona analysis which helps improve overall customer experience.  

Specifically, Zalora looked at the delivery touchpoints, identified a problem for a customer segment (package delivery) and made great efforts to create a better touchpoint for them, the 7-11 drop-off.

As a result, the Zalora digital experience now connects to a new physical touchpoint which has less friction for one of its personas, the person who lives in a flat.

3. Evaluate customer impressions

Finally, you need to consider each touchpoint of the customer journey with the priorities of each persona in mind.

That is, you need to think about how your customer perceives each step and then, like Zalora, see what you can do to improve it.

The three aspects of customer impressions

To help you do this, here are three aspects of how your customers will evaluate each touchpoint:

  • Functionality – Does it do what I expect it to do?
  • Performance – Does it do it in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Appeal – Do I feel satisfied after using it?

And for each touchpoint and each persona you can evaluate it using these criteria with data, surveys, or even intuition (to get started).

Now, I know that we are building up a huge list of things that need to be looked at.  That is, if you have three personas and six touchpoints, and three aspects there are now a whopping 54 items to analyze.

But fear not. When doing this sort of analysis there will be obvious painful points which emerge and then it’s just a matter of prioritising them with the most commonly-used touchpoints at the top.

And by resolving the items at the top of the list, you will start to make an impact on the experience of your most frequent customers.

An example

One company who has clearly conducted impression analysis with its customer personas and touchpoints in mind is Australian telecom provider, Telstra.

The front page of its mobile site is a great example of how improving CX can differentiate your offering in a highly-competitive market.

Instead of starting with a home page organized into business units like most other telecom sites, Telstra’s has big buttons which let customers dive right in to what they care about.  

That is, instead of requiring us to peck through menus to find a help screen which tells us about moving house, Telstra’s site has a ‘Moving Home’ icon front and centre.

And instead of having to explicitly say whether we are pre-paid or a subscriber the site surfaces things that both types of customers care about straight away.

How Telstra did CX improvements

I’m guessing that Telstra’s persona-touchpoint analysis would have revealed things like:

  • Its customers’ journeys often include mobile.
  • And there are, at least, two distinct personas: pre-paid and subscribers.
  • And both like to manage their usage on mobile, but neither particularly likes to buy new products on their mobiles.

And from this analysis, Telstra put the functions people cared about on the front and relegated buying additional products to the second screen.  

Small business owners and enterprise customers are even further down in a sub-menu, signs of an even less-popular mobile customer journey. 

So…

It’s funny. Customer experience improvements for FRANK, Zalora, and especially Telstra seem so obvious in hindsight. Of course most customers/personas prefer to use touchpoints to accomplish things they care about quickly and pleasantly.

But what’s not so obvious is the customer journey maps, personas, touchpoints, and impression analyses which have to happen before these improvements become ‘obvious’.

And if you’re not convinced, go and have a look at other telecom providers – are their sites really customer-focused?

Or your bank, do you think it really understands your financial situation? Or are they constantly offering you irrelevant products?

So, yes, we all have a long way to go with improving our various customer experiences, but hopefully with this post you can start to see how to approach CX analysis and now have some practical ways to get started.