How do I detect Customer Experience Problems?

When something in your business is not going right, the symptoms are very obvious: 

It all starts with the problem of customers not converting on your website, and the ones that do convert, don’t repeat or don’t use your service (or at least not as often as you would like to). And the ones that do sign up for your free trial and use it, are nowhere to be found when the trial period ends… but it doesn’t end there. The worst part is when customers that do sign up for the paid version of your product or service are quick to hit that “Unsubscribe” button right when your next billing cycle is about to start. 

It feels like a never ending vicious circle of convincing customers to stay with you, to give you another chance, for one more month. The sad reality is that most companies are in this cycle and can’t figure out how to end it and move to the other side where customers could not get through the month without your product or service. A world where they would gladly give you their money, month after month, no questions asked.

The secret sauce is no longer secret. It is all about the EXPERIENCE that customers go through while using your product or service.The easier and faster, the better to get the job done. The job they came to you for. The need they are trying to satisfy. 

But before you can find the cure to the symptoms when they start manifesting, you have to find the right illness to tackle. Here are 3 ways to detect customer experience issues:

1.- Ask your Customer Support Team: The best source of information when trying to understand what your customers are struggling with is your Customer Support team or person. These people spend the entirety of their time talking to customers and helping them navigate through their struggles. They are in the best position to point you to the issues that cause the most frustration / questions / confusions. Even the simplest copy changes can highly improve the customer’s perception and experience, which in turn will result in a reduction of the number of calls or emails your team might receive when tackled appropriately.

2.- Look at your site metrics: Another great source of information is your web analytics. Understanding how customers are behaving on your site or application is essential to detect opportunities for improvements. How much time are visitors spending in certain pages? How do they interact with them? Where are losing the highest amount of potential customers? How often are they deviating from the flow you intended for them to follow? How often are they being blocked by error messages? What is the Made it Rate (MIR) of every page or section? All of these answers will provide valuable insights on where to focus your attention as you embark in this journey of understand what is happening on your site.

3.- Watch someone use your website/service: Schedule a video call with your customers (or potential customers that match your target audience) and ask them to share their screen and their thoughts out loud while they use your website or product. Make sure you make a recording for further analysis later. Before the call, prepare very specific tasks like “Find [X] info on the website” or “Choose a program and sign up for it” and watch carefully as they perform each task to see how they think, what they need and how your product or service meets that very specific need. 

The worst mistake you can make as a business is to focus on A when the real problem is at B. Before you make any investment in improving your customer experience, make sure you have gathered enough data to understand where the biggest opportunities lie. 

My Startup is failing. What should I do?

Well, of course the answer to that question is not that simple, but the harsh reality is that many startups fail. If your startup is beginning to end, there are some last resources you can turn to before it is too late.

The main question to ask yourself is WHY your startup is failing. Chances are there are more than a couple of factors contributing to it, but you need to be able to clearly articulate which specific problems your business is experiencing in order to invest in the right solutions. Isolating the problems will help you and your team focus efforts on what matters the most. 

These are some of the most common struggles that startups face. There are many ways to fix them, but I have included the one most relevant piece of advice on what do about them.

1.- Fact: I can’t drive enough traffic to my website.

Potential Problems:  Your Main headache is Marketing, either

* Your ads are not relevant enough 

* You ads are not reaching the right audience

* You might be overlooking the power of SEO

What to do: Focus on 1 (and only 1!) marketing channel until you make it as effective as possible. Suggestion: Start with SEO

2.- Fact: I can’t get people to convert once they get to my website

Potential Problems: This is a hard one. Your problems here might be one or a combination of these: 

* You are not getting the right audience to your site

* You are not merchandising your product correctly

* Your product does not satisfy the market needs 

* Your website or checkout process is too complex and not self-intuitive

What to do: Look at your site metrics to pinpoint the issue and then focus on the end to end customer journey. Assess how your website, product or service serves the needs of the customer at the different steps of their journey. 

3.- Fact: I have a lot of sales, yet I am still not profitable

Potential Problems: You probably have a business model issue

What to do: Revise your costs and then your pricing. Think about changes you could make to the way you operate. You clearly have validated that the product you are offering is valuable so you are in the right path.

4.- Fact: I have too many sales and I can’t keep up with the demand

Potential Problems: You clearly have operational issues to take care of. 

What to do: Review your end to end Value Stream Map, which is the chain of tasks that you or your team perform to create value to your customers and see how long each task takes and identify where you could drive improvements before considering expanding your team. Scalability is essential for the longer term survival of your startup. 

5.- Fact: Customers complain a lot or Unsubscribe

Potential Problems: 

* Your product or service does not meet the high level of quality that customers are expecting

* You have a customer experience problem

What to do: Do a focus group. Meet with your customers to understand what is it about your product that needs improvement and work on that feature. Listen carefully to their struggles to derive valuable insights on things you can change for your benefit and theirs.

6.- Fact: ran out of money

Potential Problems: 

* You are not selling enough

* You are not making the right investments

What to do: Similar to the previous case, you need to start focusing on your customer and how you provide value to them. In the end, customers are the reason for your existence as a business. As long as you focus on them, on what they need and on how you can improve your product or service to better serve those needs, you will never run out of money again. 

The danger of over-investing in a WOW Customer Experience

It is no surprise that the term WOW Customer Experience has gained a lot of traction in today’s ultra competitive world. It stands for going that extra mile to not only meet your customers expectations but to exceed them to the extent that you give them a pleasant surprise that WOWs them. 

When businesses think about ways to improve their customer experiences, they often make a big mistake of overinvesting in the add ons and overlooking their core competencies. Here is a good story to portrait the danger of falling in this trap…

Imagine you went to try out a new barber shop to get a haircut. You arrive 15 min before your appointment, and the lady at the entrance greets you with a mojito while you wait. “Welcome!!”. That for sure is a pleasant surprise. Then she introduces you to another customer that is also waiting so that you can get to know him and mingle. After having an awesome conversation, you realize the waiting area has a massage chair so you can relax while you finish drinking your mojito, and right when things couldn’t get any better, you see an iphone dock, where you can plug your phone and listen to your favorite song while you get your haircut. This is IT you think, you will be coming to this barber shop religiously every 3 weeks to get your haircut. Your turn comes up and you specify the style you would like, but the hairstylist tells you that he is an artist and that you should trust him, and does his own thing. The end result = you look like a soccer player and you start thinking how you are going to just shave it all off the minute you get home. 

Despite the fact that the barber shop spend a lot of time and effort in thinking and creating that WOW experience, let’s face it: you are never going back there. 

The learning here is that before you start thinking about how to exceed customer’s expectations and surprise them with a WOW experience, you have to focus on meeting their expectations first. Plain and simple. Do what you promised and make sure that is what they want. And only after you have done that, then you can start thinking about how to differentiate the entire experience in innovative ways without forgetting about what your customers came to you for in the first place.