Customer journeys lay the foundations for success
As the Covid-19 pandemic intensified, it was no surprise that consumer confidence plummeted throughout Europe to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2009. With the closure of all non-essential stores in March, consumers were left with little alternative other than to switch to online shopping.
The challenge for many stores that offer online services will now be how to retain these customers once social distancing measures are relaxed and people start gradually returning to the high street in the next few weeks.
The successful brands will be the ones which create the right experiences, using the right channels, in the right context. Brands failing to deliver this will struggle to regain the trust of consumers.
Fragile and complex
Current customer journeys are complex, multi-touchpoint, multichannel, and surprisingly fragile. Online commerce has been the cause of that increase in complexity.
We know that around 7 out of 10 shoppers will abandon their online cart even when they’ve clicked on ‘buy’ which reveals an inherent fragility in the consumer buying journey. One reason for this is due to the time it takes for a site to load. Google has shown that 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load - beyond this point conversion rate halves for every two seconds the consumer is asked to wait.
Once on a site, the most important factor that needs to be considered across the user experience is ensuring the journey is easy and intuitive at every stage. Striking a balance between user experience and safe security measures is important. Many brands will place innovation at the heart of user experience, but this is where the balance falls down in terms of security. Unless it is going to offer enhanced levels of security, innovation should be approached cautiously and always retaining customer focus
Vulnerability in uncertain times
Now more than ever, brands need to understand exactly what customers are experiencing, specifically the emotions they’re feeling. The last few months have stirred some very intense emotions, feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty, all by-products of the stresses that the pandemic has caused.
Applying learnings from behavioural science, we know that customers will form lasting memories about brands based on how they’ve acted during lockdown, with heightened emotions triggering greater memory activation.
Brands need to step into the shoes of the customer and consider: how are they anticipating the journey experience? Where are the emotions most intense along the journey? How to effectively apply peak-end rule theory within these journeys. Brands need to show empathy, leveraging the human touch in a digital-first world. How brands treat customers during these times will go a long way towards either building brand loyalty or, more worryingly, completely undermining it.
As we enter the recovery phase of pandemic, with customers adapting to the new normal, there are some key tools and techniques customer experience professionals should be exploring within current CX programmes:
- Identifying ‘signature’ journey moments
Build memorable ‘signature’ experiences for your brand by mapping out customer ‘hero’ and ‘zero’ moments for each journey stage. Consumer intelligence has never been so important in ensuring an organisation is resilient to the changing environment and evolving consumer needs. Ensure your customer experience strategy is meeting both short and long-term needs. This also helps brands establish where to focus customer experience efforts to achieve the greatest impact, and where the biggest potential to create emotionally powerful experiences for your brand lies.
2. Understanding critical interactions
Deliver what now matters the most to your customers through understanding the critical interactions with empathy. It’s never been more vital to understand the critical needs, expectations and behaviours of your different audiences, and how they’re shifting during these changing times.
- Employee pulse checks
Employees are an organisation’s most valuable asset - They are the greatest source of knowledge when thinking about what the customer expects in terms of a seamless experience. By carrying out an employee pulse check, not only can you stay close to your employees during this period of uncertainty, but also find out what customers have been communicating about the existing omnichannel experience.