Ten ways to improve the customer journey

The manual as part of the customer journey

    Immediately after a product is purchased, its user consults the manual. This is usually the last time the consumer has contact with the company from whom the product was purchased. And after all the effort that you, as a company, have put into developing a good product and good marketing, you especially do not want the last time that you have contact to be a negative experience! In this blog, I discuss the main points on which at this time the customer journey can be improved.

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    Customer journey

    Customer journeys are hot! Organizations and marketers have a lot of interest in the journey of consumers before they buy a product and, increasingly, in the journey after the product was purchased. A customer journey is a representation of the interaction between a customer and an organization within sales and service processes. It makes clear to which extent you have successfully arranged the client process (Groen, 2012).

    According to the peak-end rule (Kahneman, 1993) you as a company need to ensure that the most recent experience in the customer journey is a good one. That most recent experience namely has a prominent place in the mind of the customer. The manual, or rather the overall user support, often is part of the last interaction between the user and the company from whom the product was purchased and should receive the highest priority! How can this interaction be improved?

    10 ways to improve the customer journey:
    1. Know who your customer is.
    2. Provide relevant information.
    3. Choose the media (print, online, video, etc.) based on the way of content consumption.
    4. Devote considerable attention to problem solving, malfunctions and FAQ’s.
    5. Write short instructional texts.
    6. Use clear illustrations (IKEA style).
    7. Manage the translations.
    8. Take the tone of voice and corporate identity into account.
    9. Put the customer journey in tune with the employee journey.
    10. Analyse and optimize.

    1. Know who your customer is

    Map out who your customer is and how they move around. Is your customer a ‘local digital’ who will be installing a new smart thermostat in the weekend? Or is it a senior who wants to start with Internet banking? Only with a clear customer profile, you can develop a complete experience and offer your customers optimal support. In this way, you provide the customer with VIP treatment.

    2. Provide relevant information

    Not all information is relevant for every user. A manual provides user support and should help the user when he encounters any problems or ambiguities. It is important to make a selection from all the product information that is relevant to the user, for example, installing, maintaining or repairing a product (safely).

    3. Choose the media based on the way of content consumption

    Think customer processes instead of media. A customer does not think in media: he wants to get something done and expects he can do so through any medium. Make sure that all media are provided with relevant information for the customer. Map out from a customer perspective what is a logical and consistent sequence of media and arrange the transitions well.

    4. Devote considerable attention to problem solving, malfunctions and FAQ’s

    Users of products make many mistakes. Error recovery can be very time consuming. Research into the use of software shows that users are engaged in correcting errors between 25% and 50% of their time. Therefore helping users by troubleshooting errors is important. The reduction of the chance of errors, and the support for error detection and error recovery saves time and reduces frustration. Helping the user with troubleshooting has to be the basis of the user support.

    5. Write short instructional texts

    No user is waiting for a lot of text. Therefore write as brief and concise as possible. Avoid the passive tense and unnecessary long constructions. Strive for a maximum of one verb per sentence and come quickly to the point, by putting the most important message at the beginning of the sentence. Controlled languages, such as Simplified Technical English (STE), help. The STE is compiled of a set of 66 rules for writing, an allowed vocabulary of 900 words, a list of excluded words with synonyms and guidelines for customer-specific terminology. Good phrases are ‘Press on the Start–button’ and ‘Turn the main switch in the 0 position’.

    6. Use clear illustrations

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Illustrations can replace the whole text or be a good addition to the text. A picture is most attractive to users if it enables them to understand the content easily and quickly. Simplicity must prevail and an image should be purposeful. Always look at it from the perspective of the user. What message should the user receive? Should he gain an overall view, localise a certain part, be warned about the threat of a risk, etc.?

    Some tips for making clear illustrations:

    • Leave out all unnecessary details.
    • Do not use any symbols the user is (still) unfamiliar with.
    • Use one style of drawing.
    • Do not use unnecessary changes of perspective and unnecessary differences in scale.
    • Illustrate processes and procedures in the natural reading direction: from left to right and from top to bottom.

    7. Manage the translations

    Who doesn’t know the examples of poor, often hilarious translations? It was only a few years ago, that a large batch of fireworks featured the following warning: “Do not keep in the dog.” Translations are often seen as a cost, which should be cut. More important is, that the translations are well managed, which will improve the quality and keep the costs under control. Build for example a translation memory with your translator. A translation memory reduces translation costs and promotes consistency. Also make a terminology list. This is a list of established words to be used, including their translations. Should you use the term manager or director? Do you call something a console or a keyboard? If a company can provide these lists, translators can do their job much easier and the desired end result will be achieved faster.

    8. Take the tone of voice and brand identity into account

    As a company you are building a brand. You want to offer customers a complete experience. The brand identity is of vital importance here. With the brand identity a company communicates what it stands for. A uniform appearance is necessary to provide a complete and positive overall picture. The tone of voice is an important part of this. The tone of voice of your content determines whether you connect with your customers, or leave them cold. It could be a choice to not use technical jargon in the user support, however to do use it in the internal documentation.

    9. Put the customer journey in tune with the employee journey

    The realization of a great customer experience is only possible if the customer journey is also translated to the employee journey. The employee journey is the internal translation of the customer journey and shows how employees can make the customer journey possible. For example, make sure that if the customer contacts the service desk, the wait is not long and the employee has sufficient knowledge to help the customer. The figure below shows an example of a customer journey that is not in tune with the employee journey.

    customer journey

    10. Analyse and optimize

    Does your company still have many incoming phone calls at the service desk? Then the processes should be optimized. Make sure that before going ‘live’ with the user support there is a plan to collect data, analyse data and formulate actions for optimization. If your organization does not take action in response to the feedback you get from customers, you are not taking your customer seriously. Continue to innovate your product and user support! This last step is called service design and ensures that the customer interaction is more meaningful and personal.