I had never heard of a Liger until Napoleon Dynamite professed his fascination. “It’s pretty much my favorite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic.” –Napoleon Dynamite
So I did some reading. And it’s real. Well, it’s not real in nature, but we can argue values and ethics in another post. A liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. (A Tigon is the opposite, a cross between a lioness and male tiger.) Ligers are massive cats – usually larger than a male lion – standing 12 feet tall, and weighing half a ton. Some myths even suggest they never stop growing!
What does this hybrid animal have to do with UX? Everything. Not only do we find ourselves surrounded by hybrids in this digital jungle (designers turned UX gurus, print peeps converted to interactive leaders, IT turned into marketers) but the way customers interact with the brand is also a hybrid of online, in-store and word of mouth. We are trying to understand this hybrid creature and what they need.
The omnichannel customer
For so long we have focused on an online user’s needs as something different from an in-store customer’s needs. The line between these two species is being blurred. We have to consider what an online + brick-and-mortar customer needs. Inspired by Ligers, I’ll call them eComortar customers (otherwise known as omnichannel). Disney teamed up with Foresee to get a feel for these eComortar beasts. They found a sizable overlap of their online and in-store customers. When asked, these customers want to be able to purchase online while in the store. Crazy!
The omnichannel experience
eComortar customers want to be omni-delighted. The Container Store has an amazing click-and-pick-up model that does just that. The customer orders online and picks up at a store. But it doesn’t stop there. The Container Store has an option for you to call ahead and they’ll bring it to your car when you park in the assigned space. Or come in, ring the bell and have an expedited pick-up at a clearly designated register. eComortar customers eat this up. We’ve seen it work for ages in the takeout food industry.
The omnichannel dilemma
Companies are catching on to their customers’ new identities and the journeys they have with the brand. We can’t ignore this species. But how do we track their paths to better anticipate their behaviors? Journey mapping my friends, journey mapping. It helps tell the story of the customer’s experience from initial discovery to evangelism throughout their journey across channels.
- Walk a mile: By plotting actions, feelings and thoughts, you form a better holistic view of the steps your customers take to make decisions and can anticipate their behaviors and needs.
- Feel their pain: You can pinpoint motivations and moments of truth, as well as understand where friction gets in the way, to better message to them and solve their needs.
- Mind the gap: You see where your organization is failing and pinpoint areas of opportunity to close gaps, from devices and channels to organizational structure and departments.
- Manage up: It helps tell a more effective story to executives, highlighting the issues and opportunities around customers’ interactions and expectations of the brand.
- Keep it close. Journey maps should be living documents – don’t just file away. Keep them in sight and check back with customers a couple times a year to monitor progress and spot trends.
After you have a brilliant map to display, your teams can work to identify the lists of challenges and opportunities. Then brainstorm on solutions that can help transform the customer experience across channels. From there, implementation and testing can further refine if you’re on the right track.
The other day, I was conducting a usability test and a participant – who had been typing on the keyboard – suddenly reached up and tapped the laptop screen as if it were an iPad. That told me his behaviors in the wild were to shop more so on his iPad. His interaction with technology triggers hybrid signals creating friction. But I’ll create another post about Tigons the next time around.
Let me know your awesome eComortar…ehmm, omnichannel experiences. #Ligers #UX