I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but over here in my neck of the woods autumn is definitely here. That means slippers, hot cups of tea, candles… but also some pretty hefty wind and rain at times. This is a heads-up that you might be able to hear our wonderful weather in the background at times. But I hope that you won’t let that distract you too much from today’s conversation.

Because today, I have a gem of an episode for you. I know I say that every time, but that’s because all my guests are so awesome. My guest today is  Jana Krizanova; a Customer Journey Strategist. She predominantly works with coaches, consultants and mentors, helping them to clean up their customer journeys to ensure a world-class experience for their group programme participants, so they get transformed from one-time customers into repeat clients and brand ambassadors. 

I’m so excited for this conversation, as the customer experience is an often overlooked, but oh so important part of branding. How your clients and customers feel before, during and after interacting with your brand – whether it’s when they buy one of your products or their user experience as part of your group programme – has everything to do with how they perceive your brand, and whether or not they will come back for more. And maybe even more importantly: whether they will recommend you to their friends, or tell them to steer the heck away.

So let’s dive into the conversation with Jana, to find out more about how to create experiences that turn one-off customers into loyal fans!

​TL;DR – here’s how to connect with Jana if you want to learn more from her:

Website / Raving Fans Formula Power Hour / Free guide: Four Foolproof Ways To Turn Your New Group Members Into Raving Fans

Disclaimer: The following transcript has been auto-generated and then cleaned up by my wonderful VA – and while the general flow of the conversation is there, it’s probably not 100% accurate.

P: Jana. Hello. I am so excited to welcome you on as a guest. Thank you so much for agreeing to come on to my podcast and share your expertise with me and with the listeners. 

J: Hi, Petchy. Yes, thank you so much for inviting me. I’m so glad to be here and looking forward to this,

P: It’s going to be fun. So yeah, like I’ve already said for the people who are listening in the intro, I said that you’re a customer journey strategist. Well, I’m a brand strategist, as people probably know by now.

And as it turns out, our respective fields of expertise definitely have an overlap, don’t they? Which I’m eager to explore in the conversation that we’re about to have today. So before we get totally carried away, geeking out and all that, I would like to invite you just to tell us a little bit about you and about what it is that you do for your clients and also what our listeners can expect to take away from listening to this episode. 

J: Yeah, I am a customer journey strategist, and it’s been quite a journey, actually, for me, to get to do what I am doing. That’s because when I started my business eight years ago now, I went into the online space to almost help everyone with everything that was in my capabilities. And I see you nodding. So that’s a journey for many people, right? 

P: It is. And it has been for me, too. I was also a generalist when I started out. 

J: Yeah, and so I started helping business owners with various tasks as a virtual assistant, which then developed into me, helping them with project management, online business management, that sort of things.

And I started realising that I’m actually helping my clients to improve their experiences of running their own businesses, and they started giving me or asking me to help them with things like looking into the experiences they are providing for their clients. And so that’s what I started doing for some of my clients- looking at the communication that they were sending out, looking at the whole pre-launch campaign and how they are guiding their potential clients through it. That sort of a thing. Up until I started looking at customer journeys as such for online programmes and that’s what really stuck with me.

Actually, prior to how the world changed, I was going to do this to look into customer journeys and improving experiences for the live event attendees. But then I’ve changed that completely to stay in the online world and to do it for the online programme attendees, which really suits me much better because the whole point of me going or starting my own business was about being a location independent and working remotely. So going into life events, even if it’s my background or some of my background, it really doesn’t make sense with the lifestyle I am leading.

P: That sounds really great, though, that you’ve been able to adapt. I mean, we all had to adapt a couple of years ago when… we all know what happened. Tiny little global pandemic and all that. But what I find so interesting is that this whole customer journey and, and experience- it can be used for all kinds of industries. All kinds of products and service based businesses are like everything. So even though you’re specialised now in helping people in the online sphere, anybody who’s listening today who has a business should be able to take something away from this and relate it to their business, because we are all providing experiences to our clients, whether we like it or not. You know whether we’ve planned these experiences and there are conscious choice or whether we’re just winging it. People have experiences when they interact with brands, so I think it’s kind of up to us as business owners to take control over that experience so that we can make it a good one. 

J: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, I hope you don’t mind me sharing, but the reason I was even invited on this podcast was because I watched one of your instagram stories where you were really talking about the less than satisfactory experience that you were having with your- was it you making a doctor’s appointment or trying to?

P: Yes, that was my rant about my rather crappy medical centre. It’s like it wasn’t just that one time. There’s been a lot of separate episodes that lead to that kind of build up of frustration. So yes, I remember that very clearly, and I guess now it’s not such a bad thing because it led to us having this conversation. 

J: Absolutely. And it led to me actually realising that those customer experiences are really part of branding, which I don’t know, it just dawned on me as I was listening to you because all those experiences we have are part of the brand.

And that’s what I realised when I was listening to your rant.  Actually, it’s very interesting because I believe it’s all about experiences.  Experiences we have, and experiences we provide. So, for example, if someone has asked you, ‘would you like to have an extraordinary experience or a mediocre one?’  Which one would you go for? 

P: I’ll go for the extraordinary one. Thank you. Please. 

J: Yeah, yeah, and most of the people would go for that one. But it’s interesting to see how when you change that, to ask business owners about what experiences do you provide- extraordinary ones or mediocre ones? Then sometimes that answer is different. 

P: Yeah, and sometimes I think business owners don’t really put enough thought into the experience at all, or they haven’t actually thought about it until someone comes along and nudges them into having a good old think about it. Then it becomes so obvious. Once you’ve been made aware that this is an integral part of how your brand is perceived or how your business or product is perceived, then you’re like, ‘Well, why haven’t I thought of this before?’

J: Yeah, good point. Good point, like quite often it’s about the quality of service we provide or the quality of content we teach. That sort of a thing. You know, like not often we look at it as a wholesome experience that we provide for our clients. But actually it’s all the touch points that our customers come to contact with that are parts of that experience. Whether it’s them calling into your office and not being able to get a hold of you, or whether it’s checking your opening hours online and then finding out that they haven’t been updated. You know, it all kind of adds to that experience of doubting. Doubting what you’re about, and also not knowing what to expect. What’s true, what’s not true,, It’s the experience is better. They are good or bad ones that we remember. So you know, if you are frustrated with that conduct, that’s what you remember. That’s what we talk about other people. If they ask us about what is it like to be working with you? Then I’m going to share my experience 

P: Exactly. I can bring forward an experience that I had from years back, probably about 12 or 13 years back that is still with me. So I went to buy flowers for my mom for Mother’s Day at a local florist. I bought the flowers and they looked really nice and all that. But when I actually gave them to my mum and she opened them, she saw that inside the wrapper, what I couldn’t see when they were in the store, they were all mouldy and starting to rot. So, ew, you don’t want that and you know it’s fine. They probably didn’t even know about it. But it’s what happened next, when I took them back to the shop to say, ‘Look at these, please, Can I have some new ones?’ That is what stuck with me because that is when they told me, ‘ Oh, you must have stored them wrong’ or ‘I didn’t know about this. This has got nothing to do with us. This must have happened after you bought them.’ And I was like, ‘Well, no.’ And to this date, I still talk to people about that negative experience.

I don’t know how many people I told not to buy flowers from that shop. That one seemingly small, seemingly insignificant detail of how I felt. I kind of felt like they were blaming me or pushing the blame onto me for something that was their fault. And I did not feel good after that experience with them as a customer, and that’s what I started telling people about. So, you know, you do the math.

J: Yeah, and that’s a great point you’re bringing up here because if you provide bad experiences and especially if you don’t take responsibility for it, that’s going to cost you.

It’s going to cost you a lot in not just losing that one customer- you are going to lose your reputation and any potential customers that are in the network of that person that you just disappointed. 

P: Yeah, so it’s kind of the summary of everything. You know if your product is excellent, but your customer service is crap. People are going to remember that crap feeling if your product is mediocre, but you made people feel really good. Chances are that, you know, they’re actually going to remember how you made them feel, rather than you know, the fact that their product was rather average. So there’s a lot that we can learn from this. And I love that you mentioned that we have to think of every single touch point, because if I’m to relate this back to branding and how a lot of people see branding, it’s ‘oh, it’s the visuals. It’s how things look.’ But it’s not. It’s about how your brand makes people feel, because branding is about emotions and what emotional response that is triggered in your ideal clients’ heads as they interact with your brand. Say, yeah, this is right up my alley.

J: Yeah, and we all want to feel being taken care of. That’s what we want, whether we pay or whether we don’t pay. But it’s in all of our experiences. We are looking for that feeling of, that we matter, that the other person cares. So that goes back to the product, the quality of it, or the quality of the service as well. Yes, those are really important. Of course, you don’t want to be selling a crappy product, but it’s not the whole thing.

It’s not just about that product or the service that you provide. There’s so much more that will add to that experience that we remember and that we share with other people. And that can be either a win for you or a loss. 

P: And it’s all about right from even before someone becomes a customer, how they feel that makes them, then become a customer, and then how you take them through your service or how you present them with your product. And then afterwards as well. How do you deal with things in customer service afterwards?

Or how do you onboard? And how do you off board your clients. How do you provide a wholesome experience throughout all of that? Basically, you know, think, think of Apple, for instance, and the way they package their products. They use the packaging and the ‘unboxing experience’ as part of their customer journey. It’s like it’s something you look forward to opening this kind of expensive looking box, you know, unwrapping layer upon layer of packaging to reveal the diamond. The star of the show. That’s also something that triggers a feeling in people. 

J: Yeah, and it actually shows that they actually were thinking about ‘what the customer is going to go through? What’s their journey gonna be?’  You know, they created the expectation they persuaded you to buy, because whatever you know, you might need it. You might not need it, but you want it. You know, all sorts of things, but you finally made the decision to buy. But that’s not where it ends. That’s where it starts. That’s your chance to start building that relationship and deepening that relationship.

So it’s not just about doing a huge marketing launch campaign, and then that’s it. Once they bought once they bought, that’s it. That’s up to them to do whatever they want to do with the product or the service. No, that’s where it starts. That’s why it’s really important to kind of put yourself into your customer’s shoes and try to imagine, like all the steps they are going to go through with your product or service and what they might need on the journey. You need to guide them on the journey because you know so much more about your product or service. They are not at the same starting point as you. They might need to have a map in their hands that will help them to enjoy it more, to enjoy what they bought. You know, to make the most of it, to really have that amazing experience.

P: Such a valid point. And I think it’s a good reminder to all of us as business owners, we are so familiar with our own brands, our own products, our own services. It’s so easy to forget that not everyone has that same level of knowledge.

Sometimes when we present what we have to offer, it can seem overwhelming. And then we have to kind of break it up for people and tell them what to expect. It’s all about managing expectations as well. Obviously it’s been said before. You should never, ever over promise and under deliver because that could kill your brand, basically, and it’s so true, but it’s all about- you know, there’s nothing wrong in being like a budget option for something, as long as that is what people expect right from the first touch point the first time they meet your brand. They are presented with your brand as well, whatever position it has, and then their expectations are set at a certain level. And so If you present your brand as the budget friendly option, they’re not going to expect a five star experience. They’re going to expect the budget experience and the same the other way around. If you market your  little kind of shabby B & B as a five star boutique hotel, people are going to feel disappointed when they show up because they are expecting something and they’re not getting it 

J: Totally. It’s about managing expectations and just to go back to your point. It is difficult to kind of put yourself into your customer’s shoes because you know, you’ve been living that thing that you’re selling. It’s been living in your head for such a long time that sometimes it’s really difficult to take that step back and look at everything that your customers might be going through. That’s what I help my clients with to get that independent point of view and to almost test the journey that their customers have with their product or service, and to point out the gaps that there might be and fill in those gaps.

You might ask your customers to do that for you. Maybe if you want, or to get an independent person in to help you see it if you’re not able to see. But I think you made a good point in that everyone needs to do it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a budget brand or whether you have, like, really exclusive product that you’re selling.  That journey. You know, in managing those expectations, you need to look at the journey. You need to make sure that what you promise is also what you deliver, and also that your clients perceive it as you delivering on those expectations because there might be a mismatch that you don’t want to keep there.

P: Also, if you’re very clear on that customer journey, you can identify areas where you can actually surprise your clients in a positive way and delight them, so that their experience with your brand is even better.

I did a year long course in service design and one of the really interesting things that we learned there was to map out the customer journey and to get insights from real people so that you are not creating that experience based on your own assumptions. You’re basing it on real data and input and insights from real people so that you’ve actually got something to base your client journey on. 

J: So important! You need to base it on reality, totally.

P: That could be something different to what you’re picturing in your head, and that is almost like a mindset issue. It’s like you need to step out of your own shoes and your own way of ‘this is how I want to do it.’ It’s more about how do my clients want me to do it? How can I make it the best experience possible for my ideal clients? 

J: Yeah, I think the first step, really is that realisation, that this is what you should actually keep in mind with everything that you do. Really kind of thinking about your customer rather than thinking about always perfecting your product because we get so wrapped up in that right?

P: We do, We do.

I love that you’re then that outsider that someone can bring into their business. And they can have someone with a neutral set of eyes to just tell them where things can be improved. I love that. 

J: Yeah, and I loved it, too. I lived in different countries and different cultures and got used to kind of putting myself into or looking at things from different angles, kind of from the different cultural angles as well. So I really enjoy putting myself in other people’s shoes as well and kind of seeing things from their point of view. If I am just stepping into someone else’s creation, it’s also easier because I don’t have all that background noise. You know,  it hasn’t lived in my head.

P: Yeah, it’s not your baby. 

J: It’s not my baby, it’s theirs. They just get it to me to hold it for a while and then I give it back improved. 

P: They’re sending their baby to school and you’re giving it back with a bit more knowledge. 

J: Oh, yeah, that’s a better way of saying it. 

P: Yeah, we spoke about how If you’re too close to your own creation, you know you can’t see the wood for the trees and all of that. So if someone hasn’t got the means to hire someone like you to help them step out of their own head for a while, do you have some tips that people can easily implement something that they can do themselves just to start that journey of their own? 

J:  Yeah, what I usually tell people is to take their customers on a journey with them. So each one of us, or, most of the people have the experience of travelling to a foreign land and not knowing what to expect. Right? So it’s much easier than to relate that customer journey that you want to create with your past experiences that you had when you were preparing for your travels. So, just thinking back to that. So, for example, you’re going to a country that you’ve never visited before. You might know a little bit. You read a little bit online or in a book, in a guidebook. Those were ones, I think. So you are preparing for that experience. But maybe there are other parties travelling with you and they might know either less or more, they might know the language that you don’t know.

They might have been before, once or twice. You have never been. So, that’s the same thing as your customers are going through. Not all of them have the same starting knowledge. Not all of them have the same expectations. Not all of them know the same thing about what they are going to receive. So you need to level all of them. So they have almost the same starting point. So if you think about all the information that they might need, all the preparation that they might need, you basically are putting things on the map and giving the map to them so they can follow it.

So that’s what I usually say. That’s the easy way of going around it or about it. It’s really just thinking about how to make the journey as enjoyable for them as possible. 

P: This is solid advice. I know that you had a story of your own to make it a little bit more relatable that you mentioned as well in our pre-recording document about helping your parents and your aunt when they came to visit you. I think if you wanted to share that with us, I think that could be just a really nice way to illustrate it.

J: Yeah, this is actually happening right now. My parents and my aunt are coming to visit me here in Spain next week. So we are really at that point where they are becoming nervous about what’s coming for them, what to expect, what to pack. What is the situation around covid and the testing and and what’s going to be the situation like at the airport? What do they need in terms of insurance, considering the current environment? So I am in the situation when I’m helping them to plan their journey and to help them prepare for it. But I already have three people who have, like, three different approaches to this. One of them, my mom, is really nervous about everything. My dad is a complete chill out person, so that’s probably not helping the situation in the house.Then my aunt is like,’ whatever you tell me, I’ll just do that.’  So I’m trying to cater to those three personalities, first of all, but also they have different needs. 

So I need to give all of them the information that they need in order to become and to be able to enjoy the journey from the start even before they get here and I can take care of them- as if it would be in a business, you know, they get to you and then you start taking care of them. But there is also that early onboarding part, that sometimes it’s being forgotten, that is so important. 

P: Yeah. I mean, it could.  Like if they have a really bad experience on this journey. I mean, to be honest, I’m kind of nervous about travelling again when we’re allowed to, because I know that so many things have changed. So if they happen now to have a really bad experience, they might feel a bit reluctant about doing it all again at a later point, which is again relatable back to the whole sort of product or service provider and their clients. You know, if they have a bad experience, how are they going to trust you enough to come back and work with you again? 

When you think of customer acquisition and how much energy goes into getting those clients in the first place, that makes it kind of interesting. If you spend a bit of time, invest a little bit either time or money or both into creating that customer experience that makes people want to come back to you, that can actually save you money in the long run because you’re getting those loyal fans. You’re getting those loyal customers, and they’ll come back to you so that you don’t have to constantly be chasing new prospects. 

J:  Yes, certainly and that’s what you want. That’s what you want to achieve in your business. It’s not about always and forever acquiring new people, getting new people to enter your world. What is the dream situation for every business owner? It’s that word of mouth publicity that your current or past customers do for you. So if you provide that really good experience, if that’s what they remember about working with you, they are going to be very glad about sharing that experience with other people when they ask them about you or even if they are looking for a service that you have. You don’t even need to ask them to share that experience. 

We naturally want to talk about it. If we had a good experience, we naturally want to tell the whole world about it. You know, whoever wants to listen, I’m gonna tell you that. ‘You know, it was really great to be working with that person, so I think that person could help you as well with what you are going through or with your challenge.’ and that’s what you want!

P: Yeah, that’s where you want to be. And I mean, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about referral programmes like people having, you know, strategic agreements between them to refer people between each other for a cut of the fee.

I’ve been asked if I wanted to be a part of those programmes. I’ve had people approach me and say, ‘Hey, do you want to be mutual referral partners?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, actually, no,’ because I would much, much rather people recommend me without being reimbursed for it. I want them to recommend me because they actually liked working with me and not because I’m going to pay them x amount of euro for that referral, and that goes the other way around as well. I will happily refer someone if I know that, you know, they’re good at what they do, I’ve had a good experience working with them, and I feel like I can kind of stand behind them and what they do, and how they do it. 

So, yeah, that’s kind of my little bee in the bonnet and take on those. ‘Hey, I’ll recommend your business if I get 10% of your profits from that.’ Yeah, What? What’s your feeling about that? 

J: Pretty similar. I’ve signed up for some referral programmes, so I have the links, but I’ve never actually used them unless I actually have the experience with the product or service. Because then I feel like how can I actually tell someone to use it if I don’t even know what the experience is like. 

P: Yeah, I think it’s easier for me to take part in affiliate programmes for software that I use or something like that. But it’s more when it comes to service providers who are kind of in a similar position, but in a different industry. Maybe to me, when they approach me to ask for a mutual referral scheme, that’s when it just starts to feel a bit….

I want people to refer me because they trust me, and they think I’m actually going to be able to do what I say I can do. 

J: Yeah, it’s the people who have never worked with you and don’t have a clue about what you are about. 

P: Yeah so that was a little bit out of the outside of the scope of what the episode is about. But that’s what it’s all about. It’s a conversational, which I absolutely love.

 If we were to sum up this episode for people, what would you say is the key number one takeaway for people? If they only remember one thing from what we’ve been ranting on about. 

J:  Well, if it was just one thing, maybe I would go back to that initial question that you should be asking yourself, ‘What experience would you go for an extraordinary one or a mediocre one?’ And what type of experiences do you actually provide to your clients? Extraordinary ones ,or mediocre ones, or even bad ones? And then kind of align those two answers to what you would expect yourself to provide the same thing for your clients.

P: Awesome.

So I think there’s a lot to digest in this episode for the people who are listening. I hope that we’ve inspired a few people to take a look at customer journey and their client experience as a part of their branding, basically. Now, if people want to connect with you and learn more from you, where can they do that? 

J: They can go to my website and if any of your listeners have really specific challenges, especially with group programmes they might be running, then I would recommend my power hour, which is a really good one hour intensive   where you can discuss those challenges such as slow retention rate or people leaving your programme halfway through and of course, not living testimonials, not engaging with your content or with the community with other members. Things like that we are fixing within that one hour power hour because these results or these challenges can all be fixed by fixing the gaps in your customer journey.

P: And you mentioned you have a freebie as well for people?

J: Yes, and this goes back to what you were saying earlier on that there are opportunities when working with your clients, to surprise them, to delight them, to provide some extra that will surprise them and will kind of remember. And so my freebie is really about how you can turn your new members into raving fans even before they started your group programme. So there are ways to do that.

P: Cool. I will definitely link to that in the show notes for people to grab that as well.

I just want to take the opportunity before we round off, to once again thank you for sharing your expertise with us today.

J: Thank you very much for inviting me. It was a delight to be talking to you and sharing that journey, not just the customer journey, my journey and the journey I help my clients with,  with you and your listeners. 

P: Wow, I don’t know about you, but that conversation with Jana has certainly inspired me to take a step back and go and revisit my own customer journey and see where I can make some improvements to the experience people have when they interact with me and my brand.

And before you go, I have a favour to ask you. I have a group programme inside of my head and I just cannot let this idea go because I am so passionate about helping as many business owners as possible to unlock that secret power that lies in working through their brand strategy and carving out that clear path for where their brand is to go. I’m not entirely sure yet when I will be running this programme. I know that I will at some point. But just for now I would love to invite you to go and join the interest list over at petchy.co/academy

And by doing that, you are absolutely under no obligation to join the programme when I do launch. But you’re going to really boost my confidence, and I will be eternally grateful because maybe you are the person who gives me enough confidence to actually go through and create this thing. I don’t know. It’s going to be epic. So if you could do that for me, please and thank you… I’ll love you forever! Mwah!

Until next time,

Petchy xx

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