It’s 8:00 on a hot summer night, and you have a sudden urge for ice cream. You know what I’m talking about; the awareness that you really, really want a cool treat at that exact moment. So, off you go (spouse, children, or friends in tow) to the nearest shop. Walking in, you are greeted by a variety of flavors, and a (hopefully) helpful teenager behind the counter. You’re the indecisive type, and ask the server for his recommendation. The server offers a rundown of his favorite sundaes, and even gives you a couple samples. You settle on a banana split, a classic you’ve enjoyed before. Taking the first bite, you savor the sweet coolness (and mull over whether the addition of a banana makes this a healthier option). Satisfied with your purchase, you return home a few bucks shorter but considerably happier.
The Customer Journey
As commonplace as this buying process sounds, it is an accurate representation of a process we call the customer journey. In short, the customer journey is a series of interactions (the journey) that people go through when interacting with a brand. Usually, the journey begins with the customer’s awareness of a problem or need, and ends with a decision to engage with a brand or purchase a product. To arrive at this end result, a customer goes through unique stages along the way, depending on several key variables such as motivations, questions, and level of knowledge.
As you might have guessed from our stop at the ice cream shop, customer journeys can be short and relatively simple. However, the same stages a customer goes when choosing a frozen treat can be found in any number of important decisions: think scaling a business, updating a website, choosing an orthodontist, buying a home. With these decisions, individuals move at a slower, more deliberate pace through unique stages of the customer journey.
The different customer journeys
There are two types of customer journey a business can implement. One is the traditional customer journey, and the other is the end-to-end customer journey. It’s still important to understand that different companies can utilize a different customer journey.
Most businesses have taken a traditional touch-point approach when it comes to understanding their customer journey. This means that businesses monitor each key point that happens in every step of their customer journey. The key points are where customers interact with you, and this can be by the marketing materials they’ve received, sales, customer service support, etc. Measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of each key point is essential if you want to identify areas that could be improved. Once you’ve found the problems that negatively affect your customer journey, you can then create and implement positive changes to that key point.
There are some disadvantages to this approach. Touch-points are identified by organizations, this is to focus on their own goals. However, this pushes away the main objective which is the customer. Your touch-points may not be as important to the customer and this can have a negative impact on your customer journey development.
In an end-to-end customer journey, its strengths are that it is capable of recognizing the customer journey as a whole and not just through each point. Customers don’t necessarily judge a brand by the necessary steps they may have taken. It is the cumulative experience they are more interested in and that’s what shapes their opinion. Managing the customer experience is generally the main objective of an end-to-end customer journey.
Mapping the customer journey
Customer journey mapping is important for the end-to-end customer journey. Each stage is mapped and various touch-points within each stage are modified. Once a customer journey map is created, the customer experience and expectations are determined. Understanding this can help locate where touch-points needs improvements with regard to their customer needs, actions, and barriers.
Capturing the experience from your customer’s perspective is important and valuable for your business to grow. You need to understand that their journey through your touch-points is where they interact with your company. You will more likely uncover helpful insights by simply documenting your customer journey.
Using the Customer Journey to Market to Potential Customers
Before being able to use your own customer journey, you must be able to create an effective map. Writing buyer personas can help you capture many details that you want to translate in your customer journey map. Researching your current customers can always help you use this customer journey map for your potential customers. Asking questions and understanding your process can impact them is vital. Before engaging in asking customers questions, be sure that you are engaging customers that are ideal for your brand.
Your customer journey map should be able to answer for who are you mapping your customer journey and why you are doing it. You need to be clear about this journey and capture the entire process while highlighting the main facts. In this way, you can market your customer journey to your potential customers effectively.
Knowing the customer journey exists, how do you effectively market to potential customers at each stage in the journey? At every point, individuals have different questions and evolving needs. Understanding the stages of the customer journey allows you to deliver the right content marketing at the right time – thus converting more leads into customers.
Your existing customers are important, which is why focusing on customer experience is essential in a customer journey. Improving their experience can help you outline the potential impact for your leads. By associating these impacts with business metrics, you can easily identify which changes in your customer journey map should be prioritized. Aligning your customer journey to your business metrics can help you improve your customer focus. If you know which areas guarantee customer satisfaction, this reduces the number of steps you need in your customer journey. In turn, this allows more leads to engage with your content and an increase in conversion rates.
Contact us if you’d like help building your customer journey.