With so many brands competing for customer attention, understanding the customer experience is essential to achieving business success. Detailing the customer’s journey provides a shared vision that is ready to scale with your organization, refining your strategy to achieve your goals. Here’s why the customer journey is the end-all-be-all of your business.
What is the Customer Journey?
On the surface, a customer is simply someone you offer a product to, and they buy it. But look more closely, and you’ll see that it’s more complex than just that. The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. The entire customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer that allows you to map out better and achieve customer satisfaction.
Key Stages of Customer Journey
Any customer journey comprises five key stages: Discovery, Consideration, Conversion, Fulfillment, Renewal. These are phases in the sales funnel which your potential customer passes through. Having a keen understanding of these stages guides the customer journey, allowing you to face the challenges of each phase.
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In the Discovery stage, the customer is still unaware of your business. Your responsibility at this stage is to switch potential customers from being unaware to being aware of your business, as well as your product and services.
This early in the customer lifecycle, your priorities should be:
- Main Goals: Attracting customers to your business; Educate Customers
- Sample Metrics: Impressions, Reach, Search Engine Ranking, Click Through Rate, Quality Score
During this Discovery stage, you can engage in information gathering, research phase, and various marketing methods as you pursue initial problem-solving. Your messaging should also reflect this phase that your customers are in.
Once the customer is aware of your business and your products and services, the next step is to prove that you’re worthy of their choice. This stage focuses on factors that include customer behavior and thought processes as they think of their options, consider alternatives, pricing, and weigh features and benefits.
- Main Goal: Convince customers that you are the best option
- Sample Metrics: Search Engine Ranking, Bounce Rate, Engagement, Time Spent On-Site, Customer Satisfaction, Wait Time, Time To Resolution, First Call Resolution
At this stage, your responsibility is to do the best job you can at meeting your customer’s needs. Having positive ratings, great reviews, and good testimonials can provide reliable context. But the best proof is still doing an excellent job at servicing your clients.
Monitor venues of social proof, such as search engines and social media platforms, for negative reviews. This way, you can respond quickly, proactively, and professionally. Optimizing your actions at this stage can prove beneficial to your business and avoid having customers going elsewhere.
At the Conversion stage, the prospective customer becomes an actual customer of your business. In the customer journey, a decision has been made, and the purchase has gone ahead. This deserves your acknowledgment to the customer and must be expressed immediately.
- Main Goals: Convert customer; Increase revenue per customer
- Sample Metrics: Conversion Rate, Average Order Value, Revenue, Retargeting, Cost-Per-Acquisition
To progress the customer journey from here, provide an optimized checkout process well suited to your target audience to start the post-sale experience. Work on having clear Call-To-Actions and focus on things that can add value to your customers. Offer value-added services and upgrades that they will appreciate and benefit from. This also provides a chance to move customers into further phases of the customer journey.
Fulfillment is an integral part of the customer journey that should be given plenty of attention. Providing what your customer demands is essential to have them acknowledge that they’ve gotten what they’ve paid for. In addition, enhanced customer service maintains satisfaction and provides the approval ratings that you strive to maintain. But more so than all that, you want your customers to use your products and services and eventually become reliant on them.
- Main Goals: Ensure customer success; Maintain high customer satisfaction, Promote positive advocacy
- Sample Metrics: Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Testimonial/Reviews
Ensuring that your customers attain their goals using your products and services is the path to your business and your customer’s success. Knowing what these goals are is crucial to forming the means to do so. Consider doing follow-ups, offering tutorials and guides, providing added customer support, and other means to help achieve your customer’s objectives. The more you can get customers to achieve their goals, the better your customer interaction will be.
If all the other key stages are handled correctly, your customers will become loyal patrons to your brand. These loyal customers can provide the best marketing you can ever get. Their influence on others provides an organic and sincere means of facilitating further sales. Happy customers spread the message and benefit from your products and services, allowing your business to boom even further.
- Main Goals: Ensure renewal; Promote positive advocacy, Reduce churn
- Sample Metrics: Referrals, Churn Rate, Testimonials/Reviews
Having a consistent customer renewal rate is an excellent indicator of success. This means that your customers are happy with your product and continue to use them regularly. It’s also easy for them to refer your product and services to others, adding to your customer acquisition.
At this point, recommendations and rewards are significant boosts to improve sales further. In addition, putting up a dependable post-sale system, such as a Customer Experience Program, lets you analyze data for forming better strategies. These, in turn, become valuable actions to help you achieve more fulfilling customer satisfaction.
Why You Need to Consider Customer Journey
Plotting out and understanding the customer journey is an essential aspect of understanding your customer’s experience. It’s a strategic approach to better understand your customer’s expectations. It’s also crucial to determine the means to optimize your customer journey process. Creating a customer journey map is a unique opportunity for businesses to understand customers better and gain valuable insight into how a brand is perceived.
With so many channels for consumers to communicate with businesses, it’s best to utilize these customer touchpoints. This way, you align with the people you aim to serve: your customers. Today, customer experience is more important than ever, with 80% of customers considering their experience with a company to be as important as its products.
Furthermore, creating a unique and personalized experience can have a tremendous impact on business growth. This can also reflect employee satisfaction since 74% of employees consider their jobs meaningful if the company promotes a customer-centric culture. In turn, this significantly provides a workplace environment that fosters loyalty and more happiness.
When done correctly, mapping out a customer journey helps to:
Visualize customer motivations, drivers, and pain points
Utilizing charts, graphs, and trends about customers may be helpful. However, having one map that indicates what customers are thinking, wanting, and doing is a more efficient means of planning what to do. Having a map of the customer journey helps you bring insight into specific emotions that customers may experience.
By identifying what could be happy moments for your customers, it allows you to expand those ideas. Moreover, knowing which pain points your customers may go through gives you the focus to address them.
Create cross-team alignment
One goal for preparing customer journey maps is to improve the understanding of the customers across the company. This provides the perspective of the entire process that clients go through to every employee. Customer journey maps aren’t made for the solo user experience, nor is it merely a tool for the marketing team.
Instead, the customer journey is a powerful way to help everyone in your business understand how things work from a customers’ perspective. This makes it easier to identify what your customers truly need, which is the main objective to create a better experience for them.
Operationalize internal processes
As your company grows in size, it also increases in complexity. And when things get out of hand, customers might get bounced around different departments trying to get what they want. This isn’t exactly a great way to provide the seamless customer experience we aim to give.
Having a customer journey plan is a centralized reference point that everyone can refer to for clarification regarding responsibilities and hand-over points. In addition, while your company grows, your team needs to operate internal processes more cohesively, which can be done through a customer journey map.
Initiate improvements and better conversions
A customer journey map is one tool that businesses use to align everyone regardless of job designation. If utilized correctly, it can help identify points of improvement that you need to address throughout your customer’s experience.
Then, being able to execute the necessary changes can positively impact customer satisfaction almost immediately. In turn, this reflects better visitor conversions since you could identify and address the issues that pushed interest away in the different earlier stages.
How to Map a Customer Journey
As a visual representation of a customer’s experience with your brand, customer journey mapping details how a customer moves through each interaction phase. These customer journey maps should include key touchpoints and moments of truth and reveal a potential customer’s feelings.
Identifying these feelings, such as frustration or confusion, allows you to decide on the action you need to initiate and want the customer to take.
Here are five Steps to creating your customer journey map:
1. Profile your customer persona
Your journey to understanding your buyer starts with identifying with your customer. Having a surface-level understanding of your customer base is essential to creating an effective customer journey. To do this, you can:
- Acquire data and metrics from traditional analytics tools such as Google Analytics to obtain demographic and psychographic data on your average customer. This can give you insight into what’s happening over and across the stages of your customer journey map.
- Look into behavioral analytics data from feedback tools such as Hotjar. Heatmaps and recordings can show how people interact with your websites or pages.
- Surveys and interviews are also a great way to gather helpful insight. Data collected directly from customers also provide more reference points, such as how they came to know your brand and what difficulties they’ve experienced in dealing with you so far.
Once you have all the required data, you can now create a fictitious customer profile to represent your average customer. This can represent multiple personas and diverse customer bases. However, keep in mind that each customer journey is different, so try to have one map per persona.
2. Identify the behavioral stage and know your customers’ goals
Using the Key Stages of Customer Journey, identify the customer’s viewpoint from the beginning of how they came to know of you. These are the five distinct stages that each customer passes through, with a different set of goals that you have planned. Identify where a customer’s behavior stands according to these stages:
Most customers pass through all these stages, but it doesn’t mean that everyone has a linear journey. Some customers may take a back-and-forth, mix-up, cyclical, or even multi-channel means to get to the endpoint. Therefore, it’s essential to map the behavior distinctly and assign a goal for each stage.
3. Define customer touchpoints
Customer touchpoints are all the places that your customers can interact with you. This refers to any time a customer comes into contact with your company and makes up most of your customer journey map.
As you plot out these touchpoints, make sure to identify elements of action, emotion, and potential challenges that both you and your customers experienced. Defining customer touchpoints allows you to analyze how efficient goals are being met and how you can optimize to perform even better.
4. Identify pain points
Customer pain points are a specific problem that customers may experience along the customer journey. For example, every touchpoint can become a pain point if it’s not handled correctly. Creating a customer journey map allows you to identify these critical points and resolve these issues to improve customer experience.
Customer journey maps enable you to be prepared, taking in your customers’ motivations, needs, and areas of friction so you can plan accordingly. It’s vital to keep this in mind to resolve pain points that may be hard to acknowledge. However, this shouldn’t keep you from your ultimate goal of a seamless customer experience while keeping track of where you’re doing right.
5. Determine your course of action
An effective customer journey map helps businesses plot out lasting solutions to attain higher customer retention. Now that the customer journey has been broken down into stages with identifiable goals for each one, you can now restructure touchpoints to reach the goals even faster.
Businesses should be able to constantly refine products and services for the benefit of customer success. Each plan and action you intend to make is backed up by keen analysis and real customer experiences, offering only further improvement.
When done correctly, customer journey maps further efficiency within a company and serves the main goal of achieving customer satisfaction. Utilizing this tool can be a long-term asset for a company and can be used to foresee customer behaviors to gain brand success today and in the future.
For a comprehensive understanding of scaling a business that includes the customer journey process, read the 5E Scale Engine playbook.