How to Design the Perfect Customer Experience using COM-B

Written by David Somerville - 24 Aug 2018

Wouldn’t it be great if you could design the exact experience your customers want? If you could understand their motivations and intent, their feelings and frustrations, to create an experience that is easy and feels natural, flowing freely on the path to purchase and onto long term brand loyalty?

The Fresh Egg approach to Customer Experience Journey Mapping (CXJM) as a whole considers 10 distinct stages of experience that your customers will move through:

The 10 stages of Customer Experience.

Which came first, the touchpoint or experience?

When it comes to improving Customer Experience (CX), the age-old conundrum of the chicken and the egg springs to mind. Which came first: the touchpoint within the customer journey – that is, the app download, the Google search, the social share – or the experience that led the user there in the first place?

As a business, when mapping out your CX, which do you focus on first? You may have fallen into the trap that many brands do – to focus first on the touchpoints, giving customers lots of different ways to interact with you in the hope that they do, without really understanding the wider context of their journey.

However, focusing solely on touchpoints misdirects the marketer. Look at the growth of the Internet of Things (IOT): a few years ago, it was unknown that touchpoints such as Alexa would be so widely used today – but the increased use of voice search or at least desire to use voice search might’ve signalled this early on and given the brand the foresight to make that experience available to the user.

Building a behavioural map of experience

At Fresh Egg, our Customer Experience Journey Mapping (CXJM) approach looks beyond the physical touchpoints and has at its heart the need to build a behavioural map of experience. To do this, we use a four-step approach, with empathy mapping, audience interviews, experience mapping, and extracting the moments of truth.

We help our clients design the experiences their customers want at each stage of their journey, by first understanding the experience of the user. Doing it this way means the touchpoints reveal themselves as a result of the insight you glean from mapping the experiences. So we can explore how the customer is forced to adapt to the touchpoints available and how this affects their experience, as well as understanding if the appropriate touchpoints are even available at all.

Our aim with CXJM is to build a complete picture of what they want to do at each stage, how they approached the stage in their journey and identify what they find difficult and what they love the most, along the way.

At each stage of the customer experience, we try to understand:

  • What is the customer is trying to do?
  • What are their intentions and needs?
  • What is their state of mind (e.g. are they excited, eager or reluctant)?
  • What touchpoints are used and encountered (e.g. other people, websites, TV or magazines)?
  • What are their frustrations (e.g. lack of understanding, inability to find time or trouble with apps, websites or helplines)?

Using COM-B behavioural model to enrich your CX mapping

To understand what type of intervention is appropriate – that is, how a customer can be moved from one experiential state to the next – we apply the COM-B behavioural model to every stage.

COM-B is a simple framework for understanding behaviour. It works on the notion that behaviour is part of an interacting system involving three components – capability, opportunity and motivation.

Applying this model to each stage in our CXJM helps us to understand whether the customer has the capability, opportunity and motivation to move onto the next stage in their journey. It makes us aware of what is necessary to move a customer from one experiential state to the next.

Let’s break it down:

  • Capability - Do they have the knowledge, ability or skill required? Is there more information they need to know at this stage? What additional resources might be needed?
  • Opportunity - Do they get a chance to find out, to move to the next stage. What options do they have available? Is there a ‘best time’ to reach them?
  • Motivation - What motivates them? Can they be persuaded to move to the next step? How might they be influenced?

To help illustrate how this approach works, let’s look at just two of the 10 stages of experience:

The Consideration stage: the customer is trying to find all the possible options and widening the possibilities.

The Selection stage: the customer is narrowing the search based on chosen criteria, limiting or restricting options.

As a business, it’s easy to get fixated on pushing customers into the selection phase. Many businesses will send emails asking if customers are ‘ready to buy?’ based on them having viewed a product only once online. This type of email confuses two stages of experience: consideration and selection.

At the consideration stage, people are looking for help, guidance and suggestions. They’re exploring the various options and don’t yet know exactly what they want. This stage is poorly catered for by many websites, where the emphasis is on selection and reducing the options happens far too soon.

Think about the last time you shopped online. How often do you feel yourself being funnelled down a path, with each piece of information given to a website only helping to reduce the available options instead of growing them? In the future, AI may help to improve the experience at this stage by allowing a more natural interaction at the consideration stage - uploading photos, discussing requirements and explaining our preferences to allow machine analysis of our attitudes and beliefs before suggestions are presented. We’ve explored this in great detail in our blog on what AI means for digital marketers. 

Let’s look at choosing a holiday, in the Consideration stage

Finding suggestions is particularly frustrating when booking a holiday, as most sites will ask you where you want to go before you even begin a search. Ideally, in the consideration stage, you want the website to listen to your needs, then present all the possible options, helping to widen your search horizons and provide inspiration. Few holiday websites provide this option, most insist you select a destination before allowing very limited consideration.

If we are flexible about our holiday destination during the consideration stage, our capability to choose is low while we search for knowledge of possible destinations in magazines or online. The opportunity to find information depends upon many factors (access to friends, website, website functionality, CRM programmes, testimonials) and our motivation may be high initially as we are excited by the prospect of a holiday somewhere, but could quickly drop if the consideration experience is poor.

If we know exactly where we want to go during the consideration stage and just want to see accommodation options available, then our capability to choose a destination is high. The experience, however, may have been let down by poorly executed opportunities to show us the range of accommodation available at that destination.

Are all the channels showing accommodation options being used effectively? E.g. are email, website personalisation and targeted advertising set up to provide an opportunity for the customer who knows where they want to go to consider all the options and move them closer to selection? Or does the email programme try to force selection of both accommodation and destination while the customer is still at the consideration stage? Are we asking the customer to explain their accommodation preferences so we can make better suggestions? Our motivation may still be strong, but it could be greatly reduced by a poorly executed targeted email trying to sell us something we’ve only looked at once and discounted.

What this means for websites, personalisation and remarketing

The customer’s overall experience and behaviour at the consideration stage is often neglected. This stage is a gold mine for data used in personalisation and could provide a business with a reason to provide a better ‘consideration’ experience, as they will learn more about customer preferences when learning about experiences in the interviews.

By actively guiding exploration during the consideration stage (and not attempting to funnel the customer too soon) we can learn more about a customer and their preferences, presenting different offers, making alternative suggestions, and facilitating greater exploration of all the options. If using AI, we can ask customers to upload preferences and use analysis to inform suggestions. It is then possible to build a personal profile that can be used for targeted behavioural marketing.

If personalisation and AI sounds too complicated, then provide better functionality: dynamic menu options and filters to help keep exploration wide. See how OnTheBeach modifies the filters available during a search to keep as many options open as possible.

Dynamic 'filters' redirect the search, bringing alternative and similar search suggestions into the consideration process. For example, if you consider a specific destination the menu might change to reflect all the possible departure airports, or, if you change the departure airport, then all the possible destinations can be shown to reflect the change.

This process helps the customer find a set of preferences and the best option for them. In other words, they are provided with both the capability and the opportunity to select a holiday, as well as the motivation.

Applying the COM-B model to your CX mapping process provides a simple framework to determine whether your customers have everything they need to move onto the next stage in their journey.

Need help mapping out your Customer Experience or would like to understand more about our approach?  Get in touch and I will be more than happy to chat. 

How to get the most from a client-agency relationship