Creating a customer journey with a sense of discovery and connection
The concept of customer journeys has been around for a few decades now, and most CX professionals have a clear sense of the customer journey for their brand or organization. Customer journeys and mindsets are constantly evolving, and companies need to keep up in order to continuously provide great experiences that deepen the relationship with their customers.
This piece dives into “the thrill of the hunt” of shopping and the sense of discovery it creates. With digital innovation, organizations are looking to offer convenience, personalization and efficiency for shoppers. However, has that removed a sense of discovery and connection from the shopping experience? We explore how organizations can balance the need for efficient and personalized journeys with moments that drive this brand discovery through connection and community.
Aleena Mazhar - VP, Managing Director, FUSE Create
Sue Donaldson - Sr Director, Customer Research and Voice, Loblaw Companies Ltd.
John Chan - Managing Director, Pearl Strategy & Innovation Design
Have we lost the joy of shopping for a good treasure hunt?
John Chan: Yes. COVID-19 has shifted the consumers’ mindset towards more mission-driven trips, whether it be bricks and mortar or digital channels. There is greater focus on customer service and order fulfillment. However, there are signs that consumers are returning to bricks and mortar establishments for shopping days and window-shopping trips, signalling an opportunity for some retailers to enhance the treasure hunt experience within their digital channels.
Aleena Mazhar: I agree with John. The thrill of the hunt is why shoppers show up to places like HomeSense on specific days because they know exactly when new stock is being released and are inspired in that environment to buy decor they didn’t think they needed. Digital channels make the shopping experience more efficient but are missing that tactile feeling of joy and fulfillment.
Sue Donaldson: Digital channels and technology allow companies to provide increasingly efficient and personalized experiences, which is critical in our current environment, but consumers are also craving discovery and a sense of community. Companies will need to find the right balance of these elements in order to be successful.
What are some examples of organizations that are effectively creating a sense of excitement and discovery?
John Chan: In its 2020 WOW Digital study, Leger ranked Simons as the best online customer experience in Canada. Their key to success is twofold. First, Simons’ online shopping experience is efficient and enjoyable. Customers find it extremely easy to navigate, filter and sort. There is a variety of unique and hard to find items and brand options across multiple price points. Products are well presented with high quality images and detailed descriptions. Making it quick for customers to find what they are looking for allows more time for discovery.
Secondly, Simons earns the trust of its customers by consistently delivering on expectations. What they see is what they get. They also find Simons’ product recommendations highly relevant. This feeling of trust removes a customer’s barriers to browsing and unplanned purchases. Overall, Simons illustrates how to execute a brand promise consistently across physical and online channels.
Aleena Mazhar: Like John, my example is a retailer - Sephora - and the way they’ve brought to life an omnichannel experience for shoppers. Like Simons, they do the basics well with a great product selection, quick delivery, easy returns, and great service. Sephora is a brand built for discovery and exploration with an experience that encourages trial and play. They’ve built a loyal community of shoppers around the world, who are highly engaged. Sephora has translated this sense of discovery and community onto their app, which is personalized to the shopper and includes augmented reality experiences that allow for play and trial right from the app. Shoppers can filter by preferences, by skin colour, by eye colour, and more, in order to see how products might fit for them as well as recommendations by community members that look like them. This creates a sense of trust and community, and in turn a sense of confidence in purchasing impromptu and newly discovered products.
Sue Donaldson: For me, creating excitement, discovery, and ultimately emotional connection with customers is not just about personalizing the experience, but also about humanizing it. Today, 59% of consumers globally feel that companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience. The experiences that create the most excitement are those in which there is a personal connection made, which could be discovering locally sourced products, connecting with others in their community, or even something as simple as a staff member greeting them by name. As John and Aleena mention, when customers trust a brand or retailer, and feel connected to its community, it can not only remove barriers to discovery and exploration, but actually enhance them.
When it comes to creating a personalized experience, how much personal information is too much?
Sue Donaldson: Customers want and expect seamless, personalized experiences, and these types of experiences can help solidify emotional connections with customers. Consumers also expect companies to respect their data and privacy. Most customers are willing to share personal information if it enhances their experiences, but it starts to feel “too personal” when data is used in a way that isn’t designed with the customer in mind and doesn’t truly deliver on customer needs. At the end of the day, how customers feel about the level of personalization they get from companies will differ from individual to individual. However, businesses that approach personalization with transparency and purpose will provide better customer experiences and deeper emotional connections with customers.
John Chan: Customers don’t just want to be served but also want to be part of the service. They want to engage with brands that enable them to participate in a larger cause and be part of a community. Apple invited their Apple Watch Series 5 customers to share their health data to support life-saving research, making them partners in generating value for society. Linking a customers’ personal data to a greater purpose beyond themselves is an example of how an organization can demonstrate the value of sharing personal data.
Aleena Mazhar: Personalization has become table stakes to a certain degree. People have less time to consume content that isn’t relevant to them, and if it doesn’t add value, they will ignore the message. That said, customers are looking for a two-way relationship with brands, and to become a part of that brand experience. One of the key factors here is consent. Instead of assuming what a customer wants, involve them in the decision by asking them what kind of products, information, and service they are looking for. This allows a brand to go from personalization to individualization, and understanding that customer not as a group, but as an individual.