“Your website isn’t the center of your universe. Your Facebook page isn’t the center of your universe. Your mobile app isn’t the center of your universe. The customer is the center of your universe.”
~ Bruce Ernst, Vice President – Product Management at Monetate
I think we can all agree with Ernst that the customer is the center of our universe, which is why customer centricity is such a hot topic for businesses today. So how does a company make sure everything they do revolves around the customer? It requires knowing customers inside and out in order to provide them with the personalized and relevant experience they want. Here are four ways to help achieve this all-important customer centricity:
1. Know your customer’s work
It is critical to know what customers do, and not just their overall work, but also their specific responsibilities and tasks. The concept is called “work empathy” and it’s the idea of putting yourself in the shoes of your customers and understanding a day in their life. Learn where the inefficiencies are, where the bottlenecks are happening. Feel the frustration that they feel on a daily basis. When this is achieved, you will have a true understanding of what your customer does. More importantly, thought can go into helping them via your new web storefronts and other digital
touchpoints to make their work easier and more efficient.
2. Understand user roles
Once the customer’s work is determined, take the next logical step and understand what each user does by performing user role mapping. Businesses serve a large constituency of users within a single customer, and each user has a role to play. Some are buyers, some are approvers, some are controllers, some are merchants and some are sales people. Each one of them has a unique set of expectations and a unique set of requirements. Here is a sample graphic of what role mapping looks like:
Try creating similar user role maps for all your constituent users. They can usually be grouped together fairly easily. Once the various users and the work they do are identified, their profile will help provide a better understanding what makes your customer tick.
3. Create content by user profile
One of the more overlooked components of any eCommerce implementation is content, both product content and marketing content (e.g. landing pages and corporate “About Us” pages). Much like one shoe doesn’t fit all, the same piece of content may not appeal to all users. In order to deliver a truly customized experience for customers, try to deliver personalized content whenever possible. And while this is an arduous task for product data and content, it is quite easily achievable with marketing content. In other words, deliver different and unique content (case studies,
supporting literature, banners, hero images, etc.) to each user type. This is usually done based on what we know from points 1 and 2 above. For example, if a company has great engineering content about breakdown risks of a particular piece of equipment, that is the exact content that a plant manager or a line engineer would like, but may not be very useful to a procurement executive.
The challenge with creating unique content and serving it up to different user types is significant. Investments are needed in order to curate, and often create, this content. When it comes to product content, there is a lot of data to show the ROI on enrichment. It has been proven in many case studies that the amount of rich product content directly translates to higher revenue per visit. The figure below shows the correlation between good content and revenue per visitor (RPV):
With compelling statistics like these, it is no surprise that a lot of industry initiatives such as the Affiliated Distributors (AD) eContent Program are underway. Fully leveraging these services and augmenting them with your own investments in content will yield great results. Guaranteed.
4. Map site functionality to customer efficiency
Next, focus next on the actual design and development of your site functionality. Remember that form follows function, so focus on work efficiency and allow your website design to serve the functional requirement, not the other way around. Many times I have seen marketing teams distracted by their focus on design and create sites that, while look nice, do not provide for work efficiency.
But, there are businesses out there that get the importance of site functionality. Take the example of one of our customers, Fairmont Supply. The people at this materials management distributor had a deep understanding of their customer base and had analyzed the work effort on their site. They wanted to make it easy for their customers to convert buying lists in Excel into shopping carts and came to us for help. Implementing the idea of form following function and striving to make things simple, we figured what would be simpler than being able to copy – alt:tab – paste between Excel and the website. The solution was simple, elegant and powerful.
Fairmont Supply and other Unilog customers tell us this is a very useful functionality, one that we call CIMM2 Speed Entry®.
Remember, before implementing a new eCommerce site:
- Keep the customer as the center of your project; involve them at every step
- Understand the importance of content and how it can have a positive impact on your customer
- Allow form to follow function, and have a laser focus on delivering work efficiency to your customers
I wish you the very best in your journey! Good luck and Godspeed!
President – North America, Unilog Content Solutions LLC