The industry term is ‘customer journey’. As a consumer, we don’t consciously think of it like that, but it’s how we behave. The sentiment of the journey is inherent in our actions and expectations. We have a destination (intention) in mind; whether it is shopping for an item or seeking information. This process begs the question, what makes a good customer journey? Customers want it to be quick, easy and fulfilling. Signposts should lead to the destination, and the path of least resistance clear and reassuring.
In fact, customers care so much about their journey that 86% will pay more for a better customer experience. So why do so many companies seem to interrupt rather than guide with a well timed, but near-invisible helping hand of relevant support? There is a fine line between assisting a customer and annoying a customer. Most companies simply don’t have the information they need to offer the right assistance at the right time. It is possible if you use real-time customer data that forecasts the customer’s intentions. If I, as the customer am doing just fine on my journey, then I won’t be opposed to a surreptitious nudge or wave of a hand in the background – I know you’re there if I need you to lend support. However, there is nothing worse for a customer who is doing just fine on their journey have a ‘can I help you’ box disrupt the flow of purchase. To add insult to injury, if the box is clicked in error rather than on its closing ‘x’ the customer is taken out of their journey to a place they never intended to go. Even worse than the unrequired help box can be the untimely ‘Rate our Website’ box. Although these may be helpful for the vendor, these types of distractions can quickly change the attitude and confidence level of a goal-oriented customer. An estimated $83 Billion are lost by U.S. enterprises each year thanks to site desertion and abandoned purchases caused by these untimely interruptions.
Developing this customer experience is a work in progress and one-to-one perfection can be hard to land. It is worth keeping the customer journey in mind when designing tactics that lead to conversions. These tactics may just interrupt the customer at a loss to the business. If you push me off my path, I might just change my destination!