There is a secret behind any successful product or service. Their designers spent countless hours to fully understand their customers and target market, then steadily and interactively went on to design the product or service that pleases and satisfies these customers.
The main tool to achieve a high level of customer understanding, and design a product with a high probability of success is the “customer touchpoint framework”.
It’s a 3 steps design process: first you try to holistically understand the customer through a timeline of his journey; second you identify the customer’s main behaviors, attitude, feelings, and encountered “painpoints” during his journey; and finally you identify the main touchpoints where your business or company needs improvement.
1. Mapping the customer journey
A customer journey looks at things entirely from the customers’ point of view: their actions, goals, questions, and barriers over time. You put your feet in your target customer shoes. Here is an example of a customer journey map.
Here is another example of customer journey map by Rail Europe
You can get advanced in depth guidance from the following articles:
- Anatomy of customer experience map: http://adaptivepath.com/ideas/the-anatomy-of-an-experience-map
- Touchpoints Bring the Customer Experience to Life: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/12/touchpoints_bring_the_customer.html
- Understanding Customer Experience: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/10/understanding_customer_experie.html
- Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/11/using_customer_journey_maps_to.html
- Mastering the Apple Game of Customer Perception: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/10/mastering_the_apple_game_of_cu.html
- Evaluating Your Customer Touchpoints: No Pain(point), No Gain: http://www.touchpointdashboard.com/2012/05/2162/
- Customer Journey Mapping Resources On The Web: http://experiencinginformation.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/customer-journey-mapping-resources-on-the-web/
- 10 mistakes people make when mapping customers experience: http://experiencematters.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/mistake-10-mapping-your-internal-touchpoints/
3. Mapping and prioritizing Touchpoints
During the third steps, you make sure you identify all main touchpoints. A touchpoint is any interaction point between the customer and your business or organization. It’s the moment a customers with a need or a desire interact with your organization, whatever the channel.
It’s also called the “moment of truth”, which any instance where the customer and your organization come into contact with one another in a manner that gives the customer an opportunity to either form or change an impression about the firm.
Identifying and focusing on the interactions that are important to customers is the purpose of the exercise.
Here is a sample inventory of touchpoints by Rail Europe
According to Adam Richardson touchpoints fall into four general categories (you may need some modified categories of course, feel free to experiment):
- Products: Using the term “product” loosely here, this includes the hardware, software, and services themselves. In the case of Progressive, this includes its vans and website. (I’m classifying the website as a product as it’s central to every aspect of Progressive’s business, from acquiring to servicing customers. Frei examines how the website’s feature of quoting competitive prices, for example, also has positive business benefits for Progressive. But for company’s where the website is a straightforward marketing tool, it may be better to classify it in Messages, which we’ll see below.)
- Interactions: Two-way interactions that can be in-person (such as in a store), on the phone, or virtual (web sites, blogs, social network and user forum presences, and so on). Progressive minimizes in-person interactions to reduce costs and tries to have customers self-serve on the website, but when an accident does occur, the interaction with the agent in the white van is crucial. An interesting contrast is online shoe retailer Zappos, which wants customers to call, as the company sees that as a loyalty-builder for the brand, even if it’s relatively expensive. CEO Tony Hsieh says, “We believe that forming personal, emotional connections with our customers is the best way to provide great service.”
- Messages: One-way communications that include brand, collateral, manuals, advertising, packaging, and the like. Progressive advertises heavily, with its minor-celebrity spokesperson Flo who works in the Progressive “store” in the TV commercials. In the previous article I mentioned the importance of the out-of-box-experience stage of the customer journey, and that typically falls into the Messages category as it focuses on establishing the brand voice and explaining a complex product to first-time users.
- Settings: Anywhere that the product is seen or used: a retail store, a friend’s house, TV product placement, events, or shows. Especially in Big Box retail, we have seen that manufacturers and vendors have less and less influence over how their products are presented, making this a tricky touchpoint to manage.
Touchpoints invetory could be used for a product design as well as for sales roadmap. Here is an example of sales Roadmap using customer touchoints
As the renown design expert Adam Richardson put it
“It’s Not Magic. Customer experience often seems ethereal, something which appears as if by magic, and only certain companies (the usual suspects — Zappos, Apple, Google, Southwest) are able to conjure it on a regular basis. So here’s the the good news: Creating a great customer experience does not require knowledge of magical incantations. Instead, customer experiences spring from concrete, controllable elements — the touchpoints. Most of these touchpoints are directly under the control of a company.
Also, according to Jennifer Kramp, one needs to keep in mind that customer journey mapping should be an ongoing discipline, for 2 reasons
1) Business Isn’t Static, so Maps Shouldn’t Be Either. We work in an ever-changing ecosystem. Customer segmentation changes, channels come and go, new products are introduced, acquisitions occur. Attempting to map the customer journey in a one-off fashion is like an artist attempting to paint a still portrait of a subject that is perpetually moving — it doesn’t work well. By the time you’re done with the initial map, changes in the business could have already occurred, making parts of the map irrelevant. This may be a bit extreme, but it’s not too much of a stretch. If a company doesn’t have a method and plan in place for keeping the map up to date with real-time business data, it will be more difficult to get a clear and ongoing understanding of the overall customer experience and how performance in specific areas adds or detratcs from value.
2) Time, Money & Metrics. The process of mapping takes time. Depending on which method you use to design a map, it can take A LOT of time and be quite complex. If a company invests the time and resources into mapping and goes through the effort of collecting all the quantitative and qualitative business and customer data required to create a good map, why wouldn’t it want to build upon that foundational work and continue adding to the map as new data comes available and business changes occur?
And, if a business doesn’t continuously rate or score itself in terms of touchpoint performance and map its progress towards eliminating painpoints and improving customer experience, how then can it consistently measure improvement over time? To not map in an ongoing fashion to me seems like a waste of time, money and effort.
The Moment of truth
You can download the “Zero moment of Truth” kit here: http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com/toolbox
Get for free the book “Winning the Zero moment of Truth” by Google here: http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com/download
Get started with Zero moment of truth resources here: http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/featured/zero-moment-of-truth/