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'College Bites Mini Series' : Part 1

Hands sticking post it notes to a whiteboard © Unsplash.com

It is important to maximise the value of your customer journey. A positive customer journey can result in you building a trusting bond between you and your customer, leading to a good reputation, excellent customer reviews and repeat customers – especially when working in an era where customers rely so heavily on their networks. This could be reviews on your company website, to a friend or colleagues' experience on visiting a business. Word of mouth can spread fast so giving your customers a positive journey will inevitably lead to successfully selling your product or service.

How can you map out your customer journey effectively?

We will be following Stephen Spencer’s STARS Model along with his Positive Customer Journey mapping tool. To do this effectively, start by following the STARS Model:

S – Story, communicate with your customers, addressing their changing needs.

T – Team, the delivery of your brand needs to be effective and successful.

A - Ambience, cater to all your customer senses to create a blended experience.

R – Recipients, have a clear customer plan in place and engage with them.

S – Systems, safety of your staff and customers, maintenance of machinery, websites etc., looking after your team and respecting them.

It is important to create a detailed plan outlining your company values and adapting to current circumstances and trends. If you are unable to use your current business plan to the present conditions, then pivot your company values (keep the same values but change your tactic). For instance, hotels offering day rates for NHS staff/ work from home employees to help support them and their families during the pandemic as well as keeping their business running. This will also help them to gain a good reputation once the pandemic is over and more people are likely to book a hotel room with them.

After creating your STARS Model plan, it is important to then deliver a successful and positive customer journey. By mapping out your customers' journey, you can pin-point the areas of your strategy that really make or break your customers’ experience. Not only should you think about how you interact with the customer during the product/ service exchange, but it is also about how you communicate with your customers before and after this exchange has happened. Customers are most likely to remember their peak experience and their last experience with your business more than others. Nevertheless, it is critical to think about the whole journey from beginning to end when communicating with your customers.

Stephen Spencer’s Positive Customer Journey mapping tool shows you how to maximise the positive aspects in your customers journey.

  1. The journey starts off with your company’s advertisements (signage, banners, online ads etc.) and your customer sees these. A potential customer will see your company being advertised up to 7 times before they will consider buying the product. This includes word of mouth which can be one of the most powerful methods of advertising as we live in such a networked age.
  2. Once your company has stuck in your potential customers mind, they will undergo their own research via their computer, mobile or other methods to see what reviews you have, what products are available and if your values match theirs. (Such as selling economical/ environmentally friendly manufactured products).
  3. You can even make your customers' queueing experience memorable. An example of how to do this is to make the experience easier for them, or to try and reduce the feeling of the time that they are waiting. An effective way in which the doctor’s surgeries have done this is by offering a queue system when you call, so your mobile number is put into a queue automatically if the line is long. Then the receptionist will call you back once they are available, so you do not have to wait on hold for several hours.
  4. Positively welcome your customer with your friendly and approachable employees. This is the customers first impression of your company, brand, product, or service that you are offering so it should be a warm welcoming. This can involve your Team, the Ambience and the Systems you have in place that you have authored in your STARS Model.
  5. The peak experience will happen when your customer reaches the height of their excitement. This could be buying the product, viewing the item, experiencing your service, or doing the activity they have been waiting to do. This will be one of the most memorable moments of your customers' experience.
  6. End experience – the feelings and memories from your customers peak experience will still be fresh, so it is important to make the customers final experience just as positive so they leave with a clear, encouraging mindset about your franchise that they will want to share with their network.
  7. The aftercare gives you the chance to show that you care for the customer and can cater for their needs; It offers you the chance to further build on your customer relationships. For instance, asking for their email so you can add them to a mailing list. You can make the email more personable by emailing them yourself asking them how they are enjoying their experience.This will ensure the customer feels valued and they will continue to shop at or use your service.

Remember to use the STARS Model as a guide to ensure brand authenticity and that you are delivering consistency.

How does this relate to Clinical Trials?

  • Communicating effectively with site staff and ensuring that they are feeling positive about their experience with SITU. This involves the whole experience (before, during and after). From setting up the site, to training them, making sure that you are offering them support throughout recruitment, and all the way through until the close out of the trial. To help improve these services, SITU have set up an online resources training group. The purpose of this group is to improve our communication between trials units and sites, our resources to help us to support the research nurses on site visits and with online training resources such as training videos. 
  • Follow-up patient questionnaire/ phone call experiences. E.g. by adding a personal handwritten note, this can result in the WOW factor effect and make your customers experience truly transformative. The SITU team are doing this by running a SWAT analysis for the ACL SNNAP trial to try and boost follow-up response rate. The ACL SNNAP team are hand writing patient names on cover letters of the patient follow-up questionnaires and signing them off with handwritten names to make their experience much more of a personal one. 
  • The ALLIKAT study are writing a personal message on a post-it note which is included in the questionnaire mail-out to patients; this method is being used to hopefully encourage patients to complete their questionnaire.
  • WOT Websites for trials.

Overall...

Overall, the Positive Customer Journey framework enables you to create a clear customer experience vision that you can consistently stick by, enables you to understand who your customers are and create an emotional connection with them.

You can also use this framework to help develop and train your team effectively, so they know what your plan of action is. You could create an employee guide that all new staff take away to read so that their customer service skills are consistent. Also, ensuring your employees feel valued too can lead to them performing better in the workplace, ‘putting the customer first.’ This can be done by offering a reward scheme for sales, encouraging good customer feedback under their name, or offering them exclusive company benefits.

By using these methods, both you and your team can convey the whole customer experience efficiently: before, during and after.