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Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and go on a journey …

Empathy is a word that is very much relevant in today’s world, both personally and business wise. Therefore, the phrase putting yourself in your customer’s shoes is also very much relevant. As business owners it can be easy to sometimes think and feel and act in a way that only we have considered eg what suits us or our budget or our timelines and goals. More than often this way is the right way, but sometimes this way or our actions haven’t taken into account our customers. Customers as you all know are key as without them, we do not have a business, let alone a thriving business.

So what do I mean by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and with empathy? I am not saying don’t do what feels rights or put yourself/your business at the bottom of the list. I am saying and suggesting that perhaps you use this time or set aside another time in the future to review your customer journey or otherwise known as the user journey.

What is a user journey?

According to my dictionary, user means “easy to familiarise oneself with, understand, and use”.  And journey means “act or process of travelling from one place to another”.  So essentially a user journey is about taking someone who uses/may be intending to use your product or service from the place they are in, to the place they/you want them to be eg the place where they can make a purchase.

Why would you look at or review your user’s journey?

What experience does you user or customer have? Is the journey or the process easy for them or tricky? Are there lots of steps or unnecessary points of contact? Is the interaction complicated or too involved? Do they get the information they need to decide quickly and efficiently or is manual intervention needed from the business that slows things down? Is it easy for them to make a payment or book a slot/get a delivery or make an appointment?

How is it for you from the owner’s point of view? Is it clunky or automated and streamlined? Is it easy for you to miss steps or forget to do something?

How can you map out your journey?

There is no right or wrong way for your user journey to flow, but it is worth considering and reviewing if improvements can be made easily, that make a real difference to the customer. This mapping looks at the journey itself. The steps or the touch points.  For example, for a customer looking to buy a skincare product from a small business, may follow this route:

Step 1 – hearing of the product – social media, website or via a networking event or word of mouth referral

Step 2 – sample – can they request one by email or phone or a form online? Or, in the past and hopefully again, can they order one via an event or from a shop?

Step 3 – to buy – can they buy online if ecommerce is set up on your site or via links on your social media profiles? (a lot of people do expect online purchasing as an option these days) or do they come to the supplier and buy face to face? Or can they buy via an email or phone order? Or are all of the above options available?

Step 4 – payment and delivery – if face to face purchasing hasn’t happened, is there the option to pay safely online and arrange/book in a delivery?

Step 5 – after sales – do you follow up and check they received the item? And importantly, have you asked if they are happy/satisfied with the product?

It’s all about thinking things through eg making the process as simple as possible and involving as few steps as possible and automating as much as you can. It is also about minimising their frustrations or opportunities for them not to make the transaction. And a good and easy user journey is also about good customer service.

What next?

Test out your user’s journey. Get a big sheet of paper and some pens and mind map it out. Write out the steps and draw lines connecting them up. Once you write it out then it is easy to see the number of steps involved as well as how it flows or doesn’t. Or ask someone to test this journey out for you and feedback with their experiences, good or not so good.

Once you have done this, ask yourself how do the shoes fit now?