The “customer journey” is the entire process that occurs when a prospect or lead is converted into a client or customer. Technically, the journey begins when the prospective customer initiates their search for information that will lead to a solution to their problem or fulfill a need that they have, usually resulting in the selection of a provider or website. However, in a corporate and eCommerce context, customer journey maps are essentially outlines of the main actions and processes that the customer experiences from the time they initially encounter the brand up until the point the desired action (i.e. – making a purchase) is committed.
Streamlining the customer journey via customer journey mapping (CJM) is important because it helps optimise conversions, improve customer satisfaction, increase referral rates, and facilitate positive public feedback that will further strengthen your brand’s reputation. Adversely, a complicated customer journey can cause a percentage of would-be customers to look elsewhere due to a loss of interest or the inability to find what they’re looking for.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what the customer journey is and how important it is for achieving optimal results in business, here are 10 of the best ways you can improve your company’s CJM at all stages of the customer experience:
1. Use an Effective ePOS
An electronic Point-of-Sale (ePOS) system is a software-based alternative to the conventional POS solutions of the past. These newer options offer superior performance in terms of redundancy, workflow, user experience, analytics, processing, accounting, and many other aspects of sales execution and management. An efficient ePOS makes it easy for companies to vend products and services on an almost automated basis. Thus, it makes sense that one of the most popular ePOS systems is called Vend from VendHQ.com, as streamlined vending (accepting payment and providing the product/service) is the core objective of every sales process.
2. Provide a User-Friendly Shopping Cart
If your company has an online headquarters or eCommerce shop that it uses to conduct sales, then examining the efficiency and usability of your site’s shopping cart is a good next step to take after handling the POS and payment processing side of the coin. Try to avoid shopping carts that load slowly, cause frequent errors, or don’t contain enough features, as a less-than-ideal cart system could make the customer experience more difficult than it has to be.
3. Offer Live Chat on the Home Page
Inevitably, a certain percentage of your potential customers will run into stumbling blocks or curiosities that will stop them from converting until they’ve found a solution. When this happens, some customers will lose interest or halt the shopping process because they don’t feel like contacting support to inquire via phone or email. A live chat support window that floats along the right side of the screen can offer a number of benefits, including serving as a prominent reminder to the customer that they can easily obtain assistance at any time by chatting with a representative.
4. Ensure Expeditious Site Navigation
Nobody likes shopping on a site that takes forever to load or is difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, many eCommerce companies focus more on the strength of their catalogue and product description than the on-site search engine and navigational structure. Although this aspect of site optimisation may take some trial & error, along with a bit of research into site design, it’s a worthwhile investment of time and/or funds because it can drastically improve the overall customer experience.
5. Use Responsive Navigation Menus
One particularly important aspect of optimising navigation is ensuring that your menus are easy to use and reliably responsive. When a customer clicks on a menu, it should appear immediately and provide quick access to all relevant sections of the site. Try to minimise layering with an excessive number of sub-menus because doing so will only make navigation more challenging. It’s also a good idea to keep up with the latest site navigation trends to ensure that your online store is up to par with the leading competition.
6. Practice Customer Experience Management (CEM)
Customer experience management is a term used to describe the common practice of managing the way customers interact with your brand to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. The optimal outcome is to exceed the expectations of most customers, in order to leave a lasting positive impression that ensures they will return and refer others. Leading market research firms estimate that roughly 50% of companies will eventually direct their investments towards innovations in customer experience within the near future.
7. Provide Kiosks, Vending Machines, or Online FAQs as Self-Help Resources
Giving the customer the ability to easily help themselves is the best way to not only reduce unnecessary burdens on your staff but also to make their experience more enjoyable. Physical shops can benefit from installing kiosks and/or vending machines to more conveniently vend products and relevant information on an unattended basis. Likewise, Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sections, detailed knowledge bases, and user forums provide similar self-help resources or online customers.
8. Optimise Phone Support
There will always be a percentage of customers that prefer to do business and make inquiries over the phone. To ensure a portion of your customer base doesn’t become disinterested or dissatisfied, it’s best to provide quality phone support instead of outsourced call centres. If you do decide to outsource the phone support, it would be wise to choose a provider that is based in a fluent English-speaking country like the US, UK, Canada, or Australia.
9. Issue Customer Opinion Surveys
Perhaps the best way to find out what your customers want is to simply ask them. Issuing customer opinion surveys at the end of the customer journey gives you the opportunity to collect constructive feedback that will contribute to the ongoing improvement and optimisation of your customer experience. You can also offer some sort of incentive in exchange for completes surveys, such as discounts or exclusive content delivered via email.
10. Send Follow Up Emails
Finally, after the customer has checked out is now counted as a successful conversion, it’s best to make the most out of the newly established relationship. Try sending out a quick follow-up email and/or routine updates on upcoming sales and specials and you’ll probably notice an improvement in the number of return customers you’re getting. Email marketing is an art and a science, but once mastered it can have a measurable impact on conversions rates and overall campaign success.
Using Infographics to Visually Illustrate CJM
Finally, once you’ve made an effort to incorporate all of the above tips into your CJM strategy, it’s a good idea to add the finishing touches by creating a visual representation of the customer journey map. Outsourcing this task to a graphic design specialist will ensure that the finished product looks professional and is easy to digest. On the other hand, learning how to create these maps yourself will add a useful skill to your arsenal of business capabilities.
With a well-organized map in hand, you’ll be in a better position to visualise the steps that the customer goes through from start to finish. Ultimately, an ideal CJM strategy involves making ongoing adjustments to the map to further optimise customer experience at all levels of interaction and engagement.
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