What is Customer Journey & Why You Need One

What is a customer journey?

For most businesses, the idea of a “customer journey” is a simple one. You present your products or services. Customers like what they see and buy. You deliver. But it is more than that. A customer journey includes every interaction they have with your business. There are more steps involved that require businesses to develop relationships to ensure that customers not only select your product or service but that they also continue to do so as long as they want or require the products or services you offer.

In today’s expanding global marketplace, you may find yourself competing with a greater number of similar companies. And consumers know this and are expecting more. According to a recent Salesforce survey, the customers’ experience is just as important as products when making a purchase. So much so that over 90% of the people surveyed said that a good customer experience, including convenience and personalization (at around 75%) plays important roles in buying again from a brand.

So how do you stand out, acquire, and maintain your position in a customer journey?

Table of Contents

What are the phases of a customer journey?

There is no single customer journey. Every customer is distinctive, based on that person’s character and goals. But customer journeys can be broken down into stages so that you can identify their progress and target and prioritize the phases relevant for your brand. Most journeys can be broken down as follows:

Awareness or discovery

A consumer decides they need something. It could be from an organic cause, such as perhaps moving to a new city or needing an outfit for a special event. Or, they could have read or heard about something that now interests them, such as a friend posting about an experience or an article about a new trend.

Comparison and evaluation

Once they know they want or need something, a customer will evaluate their individual requirements as they compare offerings. What choices do I have? What products are of the best quality? Which offerings have the best value adds? What is my budget? And even, do I really need this right now?

Purchase

This would seem pretty straightforward. The consumer decides on your brand, becomes a customer, and buys your product or service.

Use and support

While some may think that the purchase is the main part of the journey, others may argue that it is this point that is key. Here, the customer uses your product or service. Depending on how the experience goes will determine your relationship’s future. It could be the product or service itself, packaging, or delivery, or it could be your company’s response to the customer’s feedback or need for additional support.

Loyalty and sharing

Here is also another pivotal point for your brand in the customer journey. If they are happy with your product or service, then they are not only likely to go back for more, but they may also actively participate, such as through loyalty programs and social media sharing. By ensuring a positive customer experience, you may inspire them to recommend or refer your product or service to their colleagues, friends, and family.

customer journey

Where do customer journey touchpoints take place?

Throughout every phase of a customer journey are touchpoints. Touchpoints are moments or opportunities for your brand to interact with a customer or potential customer. While in the past this would just be through traditional advertising and in-store interactions, digital technology has increased touchpoints exponentially.

Direct and indirect touchpoints now extend from face-to-face dealings on location and communications with call centers to websites, email, social media, apps, and more. These can be through your brand’s channels, which you have control over, as well as indirect channels, such as review sites and casual word-of-mouth communications.

However, it would be difficult to identify one specific touchpoint as the most important. This is because, just as with customer journey phases, each touchpoint is as unique as each consumer’s experience with that touchpoint. Also, consumers often don’t put much emphasis on a single touchpoint – they evaluate their journey based on the entire experience.

Why is customer journey mapping important?

So how can a brand know if their business and marketing models are attractive enough for a customer journey? With customer journey mapping. Customer journey mapping allows businesses to trace the various stages through customer expectations. Much of these expectations revolve around personalization.

No matter the business size, multi-national or sole proprietorship, consumers want offers, access, and interactions based on their preferences. In this omni-channel world, this can be overwhelming for a brand. But with customer journey mapping, you can better strategize in optimizing customer onboarding, manage customer expectations, and track customer behaviors from consumer to customer. Basically, this mapping allows you to understand your customers better so that you can adapt your business to enhance their customer experience.

How to setup customer journey mapping

To look at it simply, a customer journey map is an aggregation of data tracking customer behavior and preferences along touchpoints. But it can be much more complex than that. You may want to be with a map specific to your brand, laying out what actually happens now in relation to various touchpoints and phases. Then you may want to evaluate the journey based on customer types. Millennials usually behave differently than Gen X and so on. You don’t need to cover them all at first, just the ones who are your target demographic. Then, when you compare those maps to your actual map, you can identify the positives and negatives which will then allow you to adjust and strategize with better focus. The main steps for mapping customer journeys include

  • Audience identification. As mentioned above, you need to understand your ideal customers, perhaps by analyzing your current customer base. What demographics are they – age, education, occupation, etc.
  • Journey phases. We outlined the main phases in a previous section. Here, you should break down the phases even further and identify specific phases unique to your product or services. This may include installation or upgrades.
  • Brand touchpoints. Where do you interact with your customers and potential customer? Is it through a website only? Do you use Google Ads or social media? List every possible touchpoint as they are a data source that can help you improve customer journey and experience.
  • Data, data, data. Once you’ve identified the touchpoints, it’s time to collect and analyze the data. You probably have a lot already. Marketing lists, customer information, sales data, social media analytics. You’ll need to decide what you want to track and how to evaluate the data. From there, you will start seeing a picture of how customers see you.

From there, you can see what works and what doesn’t. What interactions seem to work the best? How do customers respond at various touchpoints? When do your communications make the deepest impact? These are just a few questions that a customer journey map can help you with so that you can improve your business for your customers.

However, you need to remember that these maps are not static. As trends and technology change, so do consumer behaviors as well as your business. You need to maintain and update your customer journey maps as situations and circumstances change.

Let IBEX Media Group help you improve customer journey

Do you want to make the most of customer journey mapping? Not sure how best to begin? Contact IBEX Media Group. We are digital marketing specialists who understand the importance of customer journey mapping and can help you identify and map your customer journey so that you can attract and retain more customers.

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