What is Customer Journey?
A customer journey is a diagram of the experiences consumers undergo when interacting with a particular company or brand. The map starts when they identify a need and ends when they continue to purchase and advocate for the product. Converting these insights and expectations into an understandable visual representation is valuable as it improves the company’s engagement with its targeted audience and drives them to deliver high-quality products or services.
There are many ways to market your company’s value to the public, and most of those strategies are effective to a certain extent. However, many marketing experts predict customer experience (CX) will transform the whole business landscape. In fact, it probably has already. Here are some of the benefits with actual figures proving its importance:
- Better understanding of customers – The number one reason why people switch brands is disappointment in how they are badly-treated. That statistic makes perfect sense when 96% of consumers say they are more loyal to brands prioritizing their needs. The only way businesses will understand these needs is to map their journey and provide personalized messages and offers.
- Clearer view of operational and performance gaps – Managers can compare the diagram created with their current processes, see their deficiencies, and make necessary changes. 90% of top executives around the world agree that analyzing these gaps helped them ensure satisfaction in their targeted audience.
- Higher company revenues – Consumer-centric brands earn 5.7 times more than their competitors that dismiss customer service. Businesses lagging in this department have to change their outlook and invest in CX. This also has to start from the top, from CEOs and managers, so that the culture trickles down to the bottom.
Before creating any marketing strategy, companies should have a broad grasp of the different phases in the customer journey. Similar to the stages in a sales funnel, each step is crucial in marketing your goods and in upholding your company’s commitment to high-quality customer experience.
This is when the consumer comes in contact with the brand for the first time. Traditional tri-media advertising, social media posts, and word-of-mouth are possible means of exposure.
Aside from making sure that the advertisement reaches the targeted audience, in-depth research must be made. This includes countless surveys, buyer persona creation, and analysis of the time spent on a webpage, to name a few.
In this stage, targeted individuals realize that they require the product or service and do further research. This is also the part where they make comparisons with competitors.
While businesses can wax poetic about their character and philosophy, most consumers look for the personal experiences of other users and the opinions of their most trusted peers. In this phase, genuine content from real people matters.
The customers determine that the advertised product or service fits their needs and purchase or sign up for it.
Numerous factors could affect the final decision to purchase or abandon the item in the cart. Being transparent about costs and simplifying the checkout process help ensure profitable outcomes.
Here, the consumer tries the commodity and sees if it works. Sometimes, the customer would ask the provider questions about it or request for support.
With that in mind, companies need to make sure they have people ready to provide answers and assistance when requested. Frustration with the brand usually stems from lack of front-line staff that can deliver these.
The final stage is when the individual raises awareness about the product or service. Nowadays, spreading the word in virtual communities and networks is much easier. And this could either be a blessing or a burden to businesses.
Whether the brand gets a raving review or negative feedback, management must assess the situation well, react positively, and figure out ways to resolve the issue immediately.
Following Best Practices for Better Strategies
Now that you have a basic understanding of the customer journey, here are some practical measures that will help your company manage customer relations and build better customer experience.
- Do intensive research – Know your customers’ needs and wants, why they gush about your offers, or turn them down. Understanding these behaviors through voice of the customer (VoC) research will improve your engagement with them.
- Map the customer journey – There is no one-size-fits-all journey map for all companies. In fact, it can be confusing to go over the different templates offered online and pick out one that might apply to your brand. Businesses have to start with the basics: creating a buyer persona and seeing how this potential customer goes through the different phases of the journey.
- Identify touch and pain points – Touchpoint is defined as the point where the consumer meets and interacts with the brand, for instance a TV advertisement or a social media page. Pain points are the reasons potential customers may have for choosing not to meet their needs (e.g., buying your product). Understanding these help businesses see what and where the gaps are and resolve them effectively.
- Use personalized experiences – Perceptions affect actions, so the best way to understand your target audience is to hear from them. Doing surveys that allow customers to verbalize their needs and issues instead of choosing from a set of options can help steer companies to the right direction.
- Evaluate your success – Measure the effectiveness of your actions based on the map you created through key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer complaints, cart abandonment, and referrals. You can make better adjustments when the data gathered is accurate.
FAQs about Customer Journey
The buyer persona is a company’s embodiment of its targeted audience. When creating this, businesses should gather information about customers (e.g., age, gender, location, work), their motivation, and their goals, to name a few.
Mapping your customers’ journey is an ongoing process so this should be done quarterly or bi-annually. However, certain situations warrant new mapping like expansions or plans to target a new demographic.
This greatly depends on the depth of research the company wants to undertake. If your company wants to do a comprehensive survey, this could take up to 12 weeks inclusive of data analysis and KPI evaluations. When companies aim to solve a single problem based on an existing map, they can opt for a quick-fire approach that lasts an hour or two.
Everyone involved in the daily operations (e.g., marketing, sales, and customer service departments) should be part of this task. Senior management should also join in for two reasons: they are authorized to make changes and they will benefit from understanding their customers.