How to Understand Your Customer | Maximize Every Touchpoint

Each year, businesses spend a tremendous amount of time and money to optimize each and every customer touch point. After all, what customers want and need (should!) drive everything from price, to product development, to the technologies that trend. The question is: how do businesses discover these wants and needs?

There are a few methods and tools to choose from that can help you observe the behavior of your customer, analyze these observations, and then translate your observations into actions that will benefit your customer and encourage them to continue to patronize your business.

Take the hospitality industry, for example: in a space where the customer experience is essentially the product, companies need to look for touch points with the customer not just when they book their stay and when they check out, but also at every interaction in between.

It’s important to create low-friction touch points to check in on the experience you are providing your customer. Hilton Grand Vacations asked WillowTree (formerly Dynamit) to build their mobile app and include a functionality that sends a simple thumbs up or down call-to-action mid-way through their stay. This quick touch point gets pushed to the front desk so they can follow up on any issues immediately.

The Walt Disney Company leads the hospitality industry with innovative technology such as MagicBand wristbands—which not only make their customers’ experiences hassle-free, it also provides Disney with a huge database of information on their customers’ amusement, food & dining, and hotel activities and preferences while they are visiting their parks. The technology provides more data that allows Disney to create a loop of information and make each experience more personal and tailored, which is the real “Disney Magic.”

Prior to choosing and implementing a new digital solution like the above examples, a crucial first step to take in understanding your customer is to suspend assumptions and evaluate your customers’ needs with great care and intentionality, placing the emphasis on external validity, rather than internal presumption. It is all too easy to get caught in feedback loops with internal individuals at your organization, and then communicate with your customers as though they have been in on all of these conversations.

An optimal digital tool should service the customer as much as it does your brand—in the above examples, the companies are amassing information and details about their customers, while simultaneously providing a better experience for each individual. A digital solution that only accomplishes one of these two goals is not a solution at all.

To extract yourself from internal feedback loops and step into your customers’ shoes, personas and journey maps are a great place to start. Personas paint a picture of the priorities, needs, and even personalities of the individuals who engage with your business, while journey maps illuminate the typical steps someone takes to engage with your business. These tools will help you identify the problems that your customers face and the feelings they experience that lead them to buy (or not buy) your offering.

To get more information about personas and journey maps, and even view detailed examples of both, check out our insights report: Choosing the Right Digital Solution.