By Wendy Eichenbaum
You have countless ways to interact with your clients. It’s not just the website or a sales associate. You have landing pages, emails, blogs, portals, marketing campaigns, print materials, press releases, products, technical support, and even your own website’s search results. Each time a customer interacts with you, that one interaction is a touch point.
How consistent is your brand and content for these touch points? Does it sound like a single voice? Or does it sound like a different group in your company designed each touch point so that there are multiple voices?
And these areas are not the only touch points. Let’s say that your customers are looking to purchase the next generation of telematics technology for their fleet. What do they do?
They might run a “Google” search to see what technology and products are on the market. They would read trade journals to get professional reviews and opinions. And they’d talk to colleagues for recommendations.
A B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group showed that 94% of business buyers do some form on online research:
- 77% use Google search
- 34% visit 3rd party websites
- 41% read user reviews
- 4% read blogs and social media sites (for companies)
The bottom line is that you control only a portion of the touch points your customers will have when interacting with you. Therefore, it is critical to assess all of your customers’ touch points, whether or not you control the content.
To do this, you should create a customer journey map. The map tells the story of your customers’ experiences: from initial contact, through the process of engagement, and into a long-term relationship. This map is a timeline of interactions.
You can start by creating a high level map to review all of the touch points. But then you should identify key customer tasks and review in detail all the steps to complete each of the tasks. Tasks should be targeted, such as a new customer ordering a product, an existing customer upgrading software, or a prospective customer learning about product X.
To create this map, you want to gather the employees who own or influence the touch points of the task. The goal is to brainstorm all the unique touch points during this journey. For each touch point (step in the process), you want to understand the following:
- Type of touch point
How is the customer interacting with you: a website, brochure, phone call, email, social network site, etc.? You want to note external touch points, even if you don’t control them.
- Current step
Does the customer know what to do at each step? Does the touch point provide all of the information and cues in order for the customer to complete this step? Is the voice consistent and clear? What are the customer’s emotions? You may have feedback from Sales, Tech Support, or even surveys.
- Next steps
Are there sufficient cues to clearly indicate the next step? Is the next step ideal or should the customer do something else? Is the customer asking any questions?
Once you have completed the brainstorm, create a high-level map to show a snapshot of the path. Then circulate this map to get feedback from other stakeholders and from the customers. You may revise the map, often finding additional touch points.
Once you complete the map, it’s time to refine the process and it’s supporting touch points to create the ideal journey. If you have a concern with a 3rd party touch point, reach out to that source. Talk with them about their perceptions and concerns. This will allow you understand their confusion or frustration, and then revise products, information, and services based on their feedback.
The Customer Journey Map is an ideal process to assess your branding and message. Then you can improve how you communicate with your customers.
Wendy Eichenbaum is a UX professional with 23 years in the business. She began her career as a technical writer. She then earned a Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Carnegie Mellon University, studying both writing and UI design. Over the years, she has worked across verticals, from start-ups to multi-national firms, in many areas of UX including research & strategy, Information Architecture, usability testing, and focus groups. She started her own UX consulting firm in 2008, Ucentric Design. And she is an adjunct professor at Cal State University, Fullerton. There she teaches a class that she created, User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.