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Dig Into the Customer Experience Before Launching New Products

By: Elaine Fogel

 

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I’ll bet that most smaller businesses and nonprofits launch products, services, and programs without ever digging into the expected customer or user experience. They may or may not do the due diligence by researching their market’s reactions to names, descriptions, and visuals.

 
But, I truly doubt that a large number consider the customer’s journey—in making a purchase decision, and subsequently using the product, service, or program. What they discover could save a ton of money and aggravation.
 
Some marketers call this “Experience Mapping,” while others call it “Customer Journey Mapping.” Either way, here’s a good definition from Her Majesty’s Government and Oxford Strategic Marketing, found in Customer Journey Mapping – Guide for Practitioners:
 
“Customer journey mapping is the process of tracking and describing all the experiences that customers have as they encounter a service or set of services, taking into account not only what happens to them, but also their responses to their experiences. Used well, it can reveal opportunities for improvement and innovation in that experience, acting as a strategic tool to ensure every interaction with the customer is as positive as it can be.”
 
The guide lists the benefits of journey mapping as helping you:
 
  • See and approach things from the customer’s point of view
  • Identify where customers are being confused by different touchpoints, some of which you may not even be aware of
  • Meet expectations. Recognize people’s time is valuable, and be flexible about how and when they can access your organization.
  • Deliver a seamless, streamlined experience that cuts across silos by recognizing where and when it makes sense to join things up for the customer.
  • Understand how much you can expect people to do, and recognize where you might be imposing undue stress.
  • Get it right when it really matters, e.g. when emotions are highest or need greatest.
  • Look at the current situation and the ‘ideal’ side-by-side, giving a chance to genuinely redraw the customer journey.
  • Deliver information, messages and services at the most appropriate time.
 
Why the sudden interest in this topic?
 
Because I had such poor customer experiences this week with two online technology suppliers that I couldn’t understand how they stayed in business. I subscribed to two digital magazine sites, one of which is located in Europe, the other in California.
 
The European one was free for a trial period, so I gave it a shot. When I ran into snags, I tried to contact the company directly, but could only find a ticket request form. I completed a form on three separate occasions for each of three problems I uncovered. And, since I was on deadline for an upcoming newsletter, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting two days for a reply! Cross that one off the list.
 
The second one appeared more professional. I subscribed and actually paid for an annual plan. During my first experience in uploading a PDF, I discovered that my embedded links did not appear in the published document. So, I contacted the company’s 24/7 online chat support.
 
What the tech support rep told me was very disappointing. In order to have active links, I had to download the guide: “3 Ways to Hyperlink a PDF.” Wish I knew that before I subscribed.
 
The only software the company has tested to convert PDFs is Word, Google Docs, and InDesign. So, if customers use other programs to create PDFs, they’re out of luck.
 
Now, after spending three days designing a new PDF newsletter for a digital flip book, I was exasperated. Surely, this company would offer some guidance on embedding my links directly into my PDF, no matter how I created it. Right? Wrong!
 
Check out this chat transcript excerpt:
 
Elaine: BTW, I tested it before using the embedded links in the file and when I published it, the links weren’t there.
Rep: links need to be formatted as links specifically, I know PDF viewers such as Adobe Reader will recognize them just by writing them
Rep: but does not
Rep: for it must be formatted as a hyperlink specifically
Elaine: They are definitely formatted as hyperlinks.
Rep: if they are then they will work
Rep: if they’re not then they won’t
Rep: please know that some software will not export the link formatting in the PDF files
Elaine: Would you like to try? I am getting very frustrated because it took a long time and I need to get this out today.
Elaine: Tell me, here’s what it says on the link you sent to me: ” I will present you 3 options, but there are more than 3 ways to do this, of course.” So, what are those other ways?
Elaine: Certainly, someone in the company must be able to advise customers?
Rep: there are literally hundreds of softwares that provide ways to format links as hyperlinks, we only show 3 because those are the 3 ways we 100% know they work
Rep: they are just tutorials we provide, we do not help any of our customers with formatting or creating their PDF files, we provide this just to show that you CAN do it if you want to do it
Elaine: Is there someone else you can ask what those other ways are? If it’s mentioned, then I’d want to know. Surely, someone has done some testing?
Rep: that it is possible
Rep: no I am sorry, there is no-one else currently available… you will have to either use one of the 3 ways we can vouch for or you will have to go via trial & error and test it via alternative solutions
Rep: if the links do not appear it means they are not properly formatted… and no we do not support creation of the PDF files themselves
 
Elaine: …I would, however, like to speak to the principal of the company. How can I reach him/her?
Rep: unfortunately reaching the CEO of the company will be literally impossible, however you can send your feedback on our email
Elaine: Impossible? Not a very positive brand experience, Rep. Sending an email to a generic address doesn’t cut it for me. Thanks for your help anyway.
Rep: yes unfortunately impossible, it’s like trying to reach Bill Gates, or any other software CEOs
Elaine: You’re putting YOUR CEO in the same category as Bill Gates? Most companies like yours are small, no matter how many customers have signed up.
Rep: well unfortunately our company isn’t that small we’re a multinational company… Elaine if you really want to make a suggestion / proposal then please write to the contact our email, I assure you that the project managers will read them
Rep: we do care about what our customers have to say
 
I didn’t make this up! The company supposedly cares about its customers, yet has no concept of the customer experience in creating the PDF files necessary to use the site’s software! I have requested a full refund.
 
One interesting observation: neither company posted an “About Us” page on their sites. That’s not a good sign. Who are these people and why won’t they show their faces?
 
It pays to dig a bit and anticipate customers’ needs and challenges in using your products, services, or programs.
 
Have you ever had a similar customer experience? Don’t you wish more organizations developed customer journey maps so when we are the customers, we wouldn’t have to go through this?
 
This article was originally published by Elaine Fogel
Published: October 4, 2013
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