Know your customers: how to improve the user journey

February 17, 2020
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“The user journey you create for your customers when buying your product should be the first thing you consider when developing your strategy.”
—Ian Henderson, Global Content Quest: In Search of Better Translations
While product design, advertising, and speed-to-market are all critical to your company’s success, it’s the user journey that will make or break your business – especially if you’re looking to go global. In a mature market where customers have no shortage of providers to choose from, product quality is often not enough to secure a competitive edge. Instead, brand loyalty, repeat sales, and recommendations are all driven by positive user journeys.
To deliver the best possible customer experience and provide relevant content at key moments, you need to understand your users’ expectations and design their journeys accordingly – but that’s easier said than done when catering to multiple user groups across multiple countries. In this blog, we’ll explore how to identify customer personas and tailor the user experience for your different target markets.

Identifying customer personas

The first step is to determine who your users are. The age, gender, location, and income of your customers will all factor into how you should design the user journey. Additionally, in today’s landscape it is critical to consider what devices your customers will use to access your content, and which channels they will interact with.
For instance, a younger audience will make extensive use of smartphones and social media, so optimizing their experience will require responsive web design and active social channels. On the other end of the spectrum, an older audience might eschew digital channels altogether in favor of printed content. Note that while content will naturally vary across these contact points, messaging should still be aligned to ensure a consistent user experience and a stronger brand.

Don’t assume you know your customers

It’s all well and good to say that you need to understand user expectations, but how do you achieve that understanding? It can be tempting to assume that you already know what your customers want, but in our experience, assumptions rarely line up exactly with reality. A good starting point is to seek insight from employees based in the markets you are targeting, since they will have a better understanding of local customer expectations than head office. But for the best results, you’ll need to go to the source and speak with actual users.
Interviewing customers might seem like a daunting prospect, but research from Nielsen Norman Group has found that you only need to test with 5 people per distinct user group for optimal insights.
You can also take advantage of user data from your existing products and content to drive your decision-making. Metrics around how your products are used, which content is most viewed, and how it is accessed are all invaluable.

Different language, different journey

Operating on a global scale introduces another layer of complexity. Firstly, you’ll need to establish what level of localization users expect in each region. Do they speak English? Would they respond better to translated content? Do they expect translated video voiceovers, or would subtitles be sufficient? Taking the time to answer these questions will not only enable you to deliver a better experience to global customers, it could also help you save resources by ensuring that you are only localizing content that will deliver value.
Additionally, bear in mind that user expectations will change from market to market. What works with your home audience might not be so effective – or even legal – in another country, and your product might appeal to an entirely different demographic in a different region. Our client manufactures cleaning technology equipment, and while their products sit in the middle-to-upper range in the United States, they retail at the top end of the luxury market in India.
Similarly, the same demographics in different countries won’t necessarily share the same shopping behaviors and channel preferences. For instance, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are all blocked in China; and the vast majority of German customers prefer not to make online payments using credit or debit cards. Learning these differences and adjusting the user journey accordingly is key to winning over global customers and driving action.

Putting it into practice

The user journey spans every contact point where a customer will interact with your business. Typically, that means product documentation, websites, and apps – but it can sometimes be more glamorous. We recently helped one of our clients deliver its annual, high-profile convention. The function was attended by guests from all over the world, and it was crucial that each of them enjoyed a seamless experience.
By reaching out to the attendees in advance, our client was able to gather information on what languages would be required for the signage and information materials; it was able to offer different menus to cater to the diets of different national groups; it created a multi-language app to help users navigate the rich program of activities; and it even provided illustrated guides to explain exactly what the dress codes meant. Without taking the time to understand user needs, the company could never have delivered such a successful event, and the user journeys of its VIP guests would have been compromised.
At Rubric, we love working with our clients to deliver the best user journeys for localized content. Get in touch with one of our experts to discuss how we can help you optimize your company’s global content strategy. And to learn more about enhancing the global customer experience, check out our new book. Global Content Quest – it has an entire chapter dedicated to user journeys!

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