Have you mapped the experience touch points your prospects and clients engage in as they move through your marketing, sales, and service phases?

The starting point to mapping the client experience is answering the question: Who is your Right Client? In order to design the best experience, you have to know who you are designing it for. By articulating your Ideal Client Profile and examining the situation, motivations and values, and outcomes the profile expects, you can establish the right systems and processes to create the experience they are looking for and, more and more, expecting from you.

Next, you have to consider the phases your prospects and then clients move through as the engage in your product and/or service offerings. Looking at the experience lifecycle phases of buying a coffee can help you to consider the phases involved in your own product or service lifecycle(s) phases. 

First we want to be aware of the options available to us. We might use our phone to help us. Our phone will help us to explore what is available – what is close by or in a specific neighbourhood we want to visit. We can then compare – checking out menus, pictures online, reviews. Do they have seating? Do they serve food? Do they have the special kind of drink or milk you like? Based on the information presented, we can select the spot we want to go to. Next, we would physically enter the coffee shop. This would validate our assumptions of the space, ideally, exceed our expectations. Then, we choose from the menu – deciding what to drink and perhaps even eat. Is the menu clear? Easy to navigate? We then order, interacting with staff to make the purchase. We pay, and a financial transaction occurs. Then we pick-up, deciding to consume at the shop or on the go. Finally, we dispose – we have to get rid of the empty cup somewhere.

Once you map the phases, you then want to consider the client experience touch points that occur inside each phase. Touch points take place at a certain point in time, in a certain context, and with the intention of meeting a specific need. Touch points can be physical, intangible, digital and/or financial in nature. The experience touch points your prospects and clients engage with around your products and/or services can be numerous and diverse. Being clever and creative at the touch points you can control that comprise your lifecycle phases is how you will differentiate yourself from the competition.

If we think about how Starbucks continues to differentiate itself from the independent coffee shop, Starbucks decided to leverage their smartphone application to enhance the experience of getting a coffee for people on the go by reducing the number of touch points and making it easy to order, pay ahead, and skip the line in store. By understanding the tasks prospects and clients are looking to accomplish, like getting a coffee without having to line up, businesses can make more informed business decisions. There may be a number of opportunities for you to influence the micro-decisions taking place at each touch point and across the whole lifecycle of a purchase. Mapping the client experience can help you to identify where those opportunities lie.

It is important to remember that you also need to consider the client experience factors that may influence the decision making process. These factors can include the perceptions people have, the emotions they are experiencing, the barriers they may encounter, the resources they may require, the expectations they have, etc. You need to realize that there are a number of client experience factors that could slow or halt the level of engagement you are working to establish.

Without taking the time to breakdown the client experience lifecycle phases, the various touch points that occur at each one, and the factors that surround them, it may be hard to identify where you can focus your resources in dealing with clients and prospects to create value, build trust, and keep them engaged.