In a previous column, we outlined the importance of touchpoints as a vital first dimension of Customer Experience. However, to be effective these touchpoints must seamlessly transition customers from one touchpoint to the next.
We call these transitions “pathways,” and they form the second dimension of Customer Experience.
Pathways, like touchpoints, can take many forms.
Some the most obvious examples of pathways are:
-Instructions of what to do next;
-Website or app navigation;
-Digital shopping cart instructions (step 1, step 2, etc.);
Some less obvious examples of pathways are:
-Labelling of navigation buttons, information or products;-Categorization of content;
-Customer journey maps;
-The first paragraph of this article.
Pathways are often the second-most overlooked dimension of Customer Experience. Businesses tend to focus their energy and resources exclusively on their touchpoints, but they rarely consider how to best transition their customers from one touchpoint to the next. Pathways are like the hand-off in a 4 x 100 metre relay race; they sustain momentum and keep the journey going smoothly. Executed properly, pathways connect one touchpoint to another effortlessly to contribute to victory in the customer’s journey.
Conversely, poorly transitioned pathways complicate the journey, turning the relay into a complicated, obstacle-filled steeplechase that decreases the likelihood of completing the sale, or can even result in disqualification and a lost customer. Well-designed pathways consider the expectations that the previous touchpoint(s) have created for the customer. Pathways must be careful not to contradict or undermine these expectations in any way, must be very clear and easy to navigate, and require little effort to follow.
If your pathways fail in any of these areas–if they contradict customer expectations, if they are difficult to understand, or if they require a lot of time and effort to follow–you lose your customers, no matter how good your touchpoints are.
To design pathways that are consistent and seamless, you must involve stakeholders from all areas of your business and from all levels. Together, you must understand how your touchpoints work together, ensure that the language and labelling of each touchpoint is consistent, and determine if directions are clear and easy to follow between each touchpoint.
When you design effective pathways, you will be rewarded with increased sales, less complaints, reduced stress on your employees, and more loyal customers. In sum, great rewards for paying attention to something most businesses overlook.
About the Author
James Grieve is a Certified Management Consultant and partner in Nucleus Strategies, a Kelowna-based consulting firm that specializes in working with businesses in a variety of industries to design great service experiences that delight customers and improve business performance. He can be reached at 778.214.6010, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this post was first published here.