How to Thrive When Others Struggle: Step Into Your Customer’s Shoes

How to Thrive When Others Struggle: Step Into Your Customer’s Shoes

Thriving where others struggle

In 2017, over 8,000 brick-and-mortar stores closed in the United States. Undoubtedly an alarming number, this trend has caught the attention of the world.

But in the midst of this “retail apocalypse”, some companies are thriving in physical retail.

Take Warby Parker, for example, a company that started out selling its own glasses exclusively online. It has grown rapidly since, opening up a number of physical stores.

In explaining how successful the online and offline merger has been (see our omnichannel retail approach article), Warby Parker co-founder/co-CEO Dave Gilboa mentioned that 75% of all customers walking into Warby Parker’s retail locations visited the website first.

It’s easy to talk benefits with the clarity of hindsight, but these decisions were definitely made after a thorough, careful assessment of the opportunity costs. What was considered, and what went into making those decisions?

The answer is simple - they stepped into their customer’s shoes.


Do what makes sense

Realizing how complex customer shopping habits have become over the years, Dave Gilboa stressed the importance of flexibility and providing customers more options to interact with the company.
In another example, Everlane CEO Michael Preysman described his consideration to sell apparel at a physical location was due to customers wanting to touch and feel products before buying. He also noted how some shoppers preferred buying online but wanted to return things in person.

Warby Parker, Everlane and other companies adopted the omnichannel approach because it made sense to do so. They noticed a shift in customer behaviours when shopping (due to rising smartphone usage ratesand social media) and they tailored their services to meet that shift.

The modern customer desires a positive, seamless experience from start to finish - from when they first find out about a business to when they decide to make a transaction.

This means every possible interaction someone can have with your business (these points of interaction are called touchpoints) needs to be evaluated carefully to discover and address existing barriers between your business and your customer. The best way of doing this is by drawing a customer journey map.


What’s a customer journey map?

Also known as a customer experience map, it’s a step-by-step visualization of how customers are interacting with your business, taking into account the obstacles they might encounter and emotions they may feel as they look to fulfill their needs (hopefully with your brand).

When done right, a customer journey map will help us understand what needs to be done, where, and why. It gives us the clarity to make better decisions, ensures our resources are being allocated effectively, and improves customer satisfaction.


How do I make it?

Before anything, it’s important to determine your end goal. What do you want them to do? Buy an ebook? Subscribe to a blog? Buy handmade crafts? Try to be as specific as possible.

Then you can start building the profile, or buyer persona of your ideal customer. A persona is a generalized version of the segmented customer base you’re appealing to. The more detailed and accurate a persona, the better you will be able to target the customer, understand their needs, and figure out how to meet those needs. Here are Some factors to consider when building a buyer persona:

  • Demographics - age, gender, marital status, location, education level

  • Personal Values - opinion regarding personal fitness, healthy eating, the environment

  • Pain Points - daily frustrations, issues at home and work

  • Priorities - importance of sticking to a budget, working efficiently

A better, accurate buyer persona can be built if you have access to your customer data. Another way to get real information is sending out surveys to existing customers, or assessing public reviews of businesses in a similar field. Be sure add an incentive for surveys to achieve a higher response rate.

Then, write the three phases of discovery, consideration and decision. These correspond to the stages of a buyer journey:

  1. How will this person discover you?

  2. What will make them consider investing in your business?

  3. What will make them decide to spend money?

Below the three stages, write down how the buyer persona will feel and behave at every touchpoint. This requires an understanding of their:

  • Communication preferences - email, phone, social media, in person

  • Research habits - web search, blogger/influencer reviews, coupons and offers via app, email

  • Tendencies - risk taking impulse, introvert or extrovert

When the customer journey map is completed, you should have a better understanding of where the main customer pain points are. For example, if your products are geared towards a demographic of 22 year old female and male college students but you aren’t using social media, it might be time to consider opening up an Instagram account.
Or if people are browsing your online shop, clicking on the product descriptions but aren’t putting them into the shopping cart, it could be due to low product image quality (which makes a huge difference).


Business is about people

Though the Entrepreneur lifestyle may seem appealing, make no mistake - this career path is not for the faint of heart. Business owners live in a constant state of fear, not knowing which decisions (or indecisions) could lead to ruin.

But at the end of the day, business is about people.

So long as the customer perspective is always considered and steps are taken to alleviate their frustrations, everything should be just fine. Just look at Warby Parker and Everlane.

Tags: Customer Journey

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