In the first part of this article I explored the importance of a consistent, and consistently excellent, customer experience that delivers appropriate, well-considered solutions to your users’ needs.
There are myriad ways that this could manifest itself through how your organisation interacts with its audiences (both on- and off-line) and it probably isn’t helpful if I try to articulate a single solution that’s going to work for everyone. Because it doesn’t exist.
However in all of the most successful projects we have worked on there are undoubtedly some behaviours and ways of thinking which I think anyone, at any organisation, could benefit from adopting.
Where to start?
- Understand the current user experience - often it may have been months, or even years, since you last tested (and/or personally experienced) the most common e-commerce user journeys on your own site. User testing should form a regular part of your discussions about any digital experiences, it doesn’t need to be onerous or resource-intensive, and the more regularly you engage with it the better, cheaper (in terms of both time and money) and easier it will be. In addition to testing these experiences it is also important to understand how the component parts can fit together, User (or Customer) Journey Mapping is a valuable process to being able to really understand the entire customer experience. Example one, example two, example three.
- Identify the friction - there will be some obvious areas for improvement, it is helpful to articulate all of these. Saying ‘we need to make it easier to buy a ticket’ isn’t actionable but saying ‘we need to make it easier for people to build flex packages on mobile’ or ‘we need to make it easier for VIPs and Patrons to register to the Gala via the email invitations’ is.
- Understand the cause of the friction - it’s important to identify why the issues exist, is it because of the language or design choices you have made? Or is it related to system, device or connectivity restrictions? Is it related to your users’ cognitive models and expectations? Some of these will be easier to address than others.
- Discuss potential solutions - there will always be a spectrum of potential solutions to the problems you have identified, inevitably the more complex solutions are usually more expensive. This does not necessarily mean that the more complex solutions are better. It’s worth mapping out all your options, in discussion with people like your ticketing and/or web partners. Often it will be far more efficient, manageable and insightful to work on a more straight-forward solution, get that released and test its impact, and then - if appropriate - work up to the ‘bells and whistles’ option, rather than chucking the everything at it from the get-go. Too often we see an aspiration for perfect being the enemy of good.
- Prototype and iterate - related to the above, an iterative approach - releasing something early and then building on that based on actual user observations and feedback is almost always going to result in a better, more effective result than beavering away in the dark for months and then launching something with your fingers crossed. Although I appreciate that this approach may require a shift in mindset, prototypes can help alleviate any potential institutional anxiety (and also helps you test even earlier and gather more valuable insights).
By working closely with expert partners (your web agency and Spektrix) you will be able to identify problems that can be solved through targeted and efficient changes to the way you do things.
This may result in custom development, making better use of existing tools, or rethinking the internal processes that underpin your customer experience.
Regardless of the solution, as long as the end goal is on improving that customer experience then you can’t go far wrong.
And the potential benefits are huge.
Ash is the Managing Director at Substrakt, a digital agency whose clients include Bridge Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Court Theatre, The Lowry, American Repertory Theater, Sage Gateshead, MCC Theater and Opera North among others.