How often do you use a product or service and think to yourself, “Does this company think about their customers at all?” or “Has this company been doing the same old way for 40-plus years?” There has to be a better way.” Probably a lot if you’re anything like me. In this day and age, all industries are moving incredibly quickly and some companies just can’t or don’t know how to keep up… Sonus is not one of those companies.
We recently finished the second day of our extensive Customer Journey mapping process and still have more to go. We have spent over 20 hours in one room, and working separately, with the sole focus of trying to figure out how to make our customers’ lives easier. But I’m not here to brag. I am here to talk about customer journeys: a little about what they are, how horrible our industry treats Specifiers and contractors, and what we have discovered to make your lives better when working with us.
On the surface, customer journeys appear straightforward: you provide a product or service and customers buy it. However, a closer examination reveals that the client journey is getting increasingly complicated.
Every day, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is evolving customer expectations, with the average consumer now communicating with enterprises on over ten channels. All of these connections contribute to more complicated client journeys, making it more difficult to provide a positive customer experience consistently. However, according to recent studies, customer experience is more crucial than ever.
When I first started working at Sonus, I was struck by just how far behind the architectural materials industry is. From day one I heard about manufacturers taking weeks to return a call or email, that it was like pulling teeth to get estimates (even ballpark figures), and the amount of people specifiers have to track at the manufacturer throughout the process is far too confusing.
A customer journey map depicts the customer journey visually. It enables you to communicate the story of your consumers' interactions with your brand at all touchpoints. To ask all the right questions, a customer persona is needed. A customer persona is a theoretical customer that you create that matches your ideal customer.
For each customer persona, customer journeys are then constructed across these numerous touchpoints. One architect may become aware of a product on LinkedIn, investigate it on the mobile version of our site later that week, and then have their PM order samples a month later. While another may discover a Sonus in their library, reach out to their sales rep, and turn it over to their contractor as soon as possible. We mapped journeys for three people: architects, trusted advisors (sales folks), and contractors.
Customer journey mapping is critical for optimizing the consumer experience since it is a strategic method to better understand customer expectations.
While we were very aware of all the traditional pain points and pride ourselves on being the best in the industry, this year we set out to document them as it relates to the Sonus process, and more importantly, make your life easier at every step. We don’t want to be the best of the worst, we want to change the game.
Personalization is a key component of the consumer experience. According to a recent study, 84% of customers believe that being treated like a person rather than a number is critical to earning their business. Customer journey mapping enabled us to build personalized experiences at all touchpoints - for each individual, across all media.
At Sonus, we started by making our ideal partners’ (architect, sales person, contractor) personas. We had many paths crossing throughout the journey that most people will never see — for example, a Sonus customer service manager may request shop drawings from the product team lead, who would work with the 3D designer to get drawings and renders, which are uploaded to Trello and downloaded by the CSM, who would forward them to the salesperson, and so on. This made things more complicated, but at the end of the day was necessary. Mapping and processing made it so that you can request a drawing and have it in your inbox in less than 2 business days, without a hint of doubt.
After we had all touchpoints mapped out, we went through and mapped the customer’s emotions at each stage of the journey. We call it the empathy journey. This allows us to understand where the customer is feeling the best and the worst during the process. Understanding how you are feeling allows us to focus on improving the experience in the areas you are feeling the least comfortable. We want to improve all areas but we start at the low points. After all this, we came away with insights, realizations, and potential changes that we never would have thought of without these processes. The knowledge we attained was invaluable and will lead to major improvements to our process.
We are constantly reflecting, innovating, and implementing new features to improve our customer’s experience. We are proud of our products and our customer service experience but we never assume it is perfect. The currently accepted way to get products in your spaces is broken and it feels like most people have just normalized it. We believe we are the best of the best but it shouldn’t take six people 10 hours to map it all out! Let’s stop “dealing with it.” Let’s demand more of each other. We ask you, to demand more of us!