Talking about Customer Experience Journey Mapping and beyond

Why is Customer Journey Mapping Important for UAE’s Multicultural Consumers

Developing a customer journey experience map is an essential tool helping identify each step of consumers’ experiences.

From initial contact, their engagement behaviour and patterns in the lead up to ‘conversion’, (purchase, sign-up – the end goal of the journey), as well as post-conversion activity such as revisits, repeat purchases, referrals and loyalty. A well thought out customer journey map pinpoints these activities across relevant consumer groups to identify positive and negative patterns, and to act upon these in improving the consumers’ experience.

UAE’s Multicultural Consumer Landscape

Experience mapping in the UAE is an essential tool – since 2004 the UAE population has boomed from approximately four million, to around 9.5 million by 2015, with expats making up almost 90% of this figure.

In essence, the UAE represents a truly multicultural landscape, a diverse society where regional values and culture mix with those from all corners of the globe. Expats in the UAE could be called ‘ambicultural’ – being familiar with ‘how things work’ in their home country, and getting to grips with the local culture and processes in the UAE.

This ‘ambiculturalism’ represents both a challenge, and an opportunity for commercial organisations and service providers – both online and offline – which are operating in the UAE, or targeting the region’s consumers. A strategic approach is required to not only identify these consumers, but to truly understand their needs, expectations and motivations, and develop profiles or personas as the foundation of a successful experience mapping exercise.

Persona Development

Development of personas adds to the storytelling aspect of mapping, allowing insights into consumers’ ideals, needs, methods, perceptions, behaviour and goals to build a picture and ultimately experience being in the customers’ shoes.

Let’s take an example of an (imaginary) healthcare institute, it offers inpatient and outpatient services across multiple disciplines, and has been operating in Dubai for six years. A number of hospitals and clinics have been built and opened within a 20km radius, and so this hospital needs to reassert its position in the medical landscape.

We can create two fictional personas and their health-related goals at a very top level: Persona A is a gentleman from the GCC region in his 50’s, he wants to book and appointment for a comprehensive health check-up at a reputable hospital. Persona B is a female British expat in her 30’s; she suffers from frequent headaches and wants to seek medical advice, but has never been to a GP or to a hospital in Dubai.

Our hospital can further explore these two characters’ traits and consider their factors in their decision-making processes prior to their first point of contact through whichever touchpoint. Being as realistic and prescriptive (carrying out user focus groups is really useful here), the personas’ journeys may be built up from their points of view, and start building the story from pre-, during, and post-engagement.

Below are some example considerations in fleshing out the two consumer personas:

  • How do they choose which hospital to visit – do they ask family, friends or colleagues?
  • Which hospitals offer which specialties/services?
  • Do they search online, or have they seen advertising collateral?
  • Does their insurance cover them? They may never have had to use health insurance before.
  • Will the doctor speak their native language?
  • Credibility and expertise – there’s so many hospitals and clinics, which is best?
  • Is the doctor US/UK/European board accredited?

Touchpoint Consumer Behaviour

Taking these more robust personas, these may be used as guidance for tracking and exploring real users’ consumer patterns and behaviours at relevant touchpoints. The example questions below show the types of information which could be gleaned from the consumer’s initial contact via the hospital’s website as a touchpoint:

  • Have they arrived at the site from online referral, paid media/social media, or organic search?
  • Which device are they accessing from – is there a difference in patterns and goal completions between the desktop and mobile?
  • Onsite engagement and content consumption: Are they clicking for an appointment immediately from the homepage?
  • Do they look for a specific doctor by name, or by specialty?
  • Do they search by surname or first name?
  • Do they look for a certain nationality of doctor?
  • Do they spend time on doctor profile pages?
  • Do they look for/read testimonials?
  • Are they seeking information regarding pricing or insurance coverage?
  • Do they complete forms or dropout before submission?
  • If they dropout – at which point? Asking too much personal/sensitive information? The form is too long? It’s not available in their language?

Customer journey mapping is an ever-evolving process, just as people’s needs and motivations change, and is an important long term tool in decoding and anticipating consumer behaviour to ensure organisations are equipped to improve and enhance their products, services and processes to encourage uptake and customer satisfaction, as well as promote loyalty.

Within the UAE especially, journey experience mapping is an extremely useful and relevant tool in any organisation’s arsenal, helping to keep in touch with the complexity of the UAE’s growing multi- and ambicultural society.

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