human anatomy skeleton
PHOTO: Samuel Zeller

Let’s say you’re trying to deliver an excellent customer experience for a health website or app. You start by truly knowing your audience. For example, let's say you have statistically reliable data that tells you that mental wellbeing, which includes stress reduction, mindfulness and positive thinking, is particularly important to those under 24. That those who care about mental wellbeing also care strongly about harmful habit reduction, quitting (smoking, alcohol, drugs), and diet, food, nutrition (healthy eating, intolerances, weight). That men are less likely than women to state that they care about mental wellbeing. And that plain language and simple straightforward content is of particular importance to those who care about mental wellbeing.

You have developed a useful picture of the people you need to serve by combining three elements of understanding:

  1. Their tasks (mental wellbeing, harmful habit reduction).
  2. Their experience they wish for as they seek to complete these tasks (plain language).
  3. Their profile or category (age, gender).

Why are men less likely than women to state that mental wellbeing is a top task for them? What is the other data saying? In many countries, suicide is the number one killer of young men, and men are many times more likely to commit suicide than women. However, it is also true that women are often more likely than men to attempt suicide.

To build a true picture of your customer, use multiple sources of data. Never depend on one source.

Digital is primarily an interactive medium. There are over 60,000 searches every second on Google. That’s activity initiated by a person. There are many more links clicked on, pages scrolled, forms filled out, content read, listened to, viewed. People are out there on the web doing stuff. What you must first establish is what it is they’re trying to do. They may not be doing what you want them to do, but they’re doing something, and if you don’t understand what they want to do then you have very little chance of delivering them an excellent customer experience.

You now know, for example, that young men are reluctant to acknowledge mental health as a top task, even though other data is showing that they are silently suffering from mental health issues. If they’re not searching for mental health stuff, then what are they searching for? Could it be that young men at risk are searching for help on harmful habit reduction? Can you validate that? Because if you can, then that could be a conversation starter about mental health.

But hold on. You must first answer the question. If they searched about stopping smoking, then it is absolutely essential that you first address how to stop smoking. Only after you have clearly answered the question might you then provide some links such as the following:

  • Feeling stressed? Learn how to reduce stress.
  • Steps you can take now to improve your mental wellbeing and health.

It all begins with understanding the task, the reason the person is online, the purpose of their search. Sure, there may be an underlying purpose to that search. Quitting smoking may not be feasible until that young person can find better ways to manage and reduce stress. But you got to start where people are at if you ever want them to get to someplace else.