Customer journey is a hot buzzword, but it's not just an empty concept.
Think about a real journey—a big trip to someplace new and exciting. You'd plan your journey; you'd do research, learn a little of a new language and figure out what you'll need to know to enjoy your journey. Then you take the actual trip, complete with unexpected events, challenges and delightful surprises. And when you return, you reflect on your experiences.
The reason there's so much discussion of the customer journey is because it can be a helpful way to look at how customers interact with your brand. It's a process—building from step-to-step, leading to a sale and culminating in an overall impression, a memory of your company.
You can find lots of strategies for mapping customer journey, but unless you're just geeky for the sake of being geeky, the real value of examining customer journeys is in what you do with them. It isn't enough to take a look; the end game has to be actionable insight.
1. Adopt the customer's perspective.
Your customer journey map isn't an organizational chart for your business. It's not a set of silos that contain your sales department, customer service, IT and billing. When your map is constructed based on customer experience, it may not match up neatly with the divisions inside your company.
For example, if you run a business selling wine both online and in a retail store, you might have a website customer who walks into your store, hoping to reorder a red wine they absolutely loved. The problem: They can't remember exactly which one it was. Maybe it was from California. Or maybe it was French. If your in-store personnel can't access online order history, then the internal divisions of your company are preventing a seamless customer journey.
Making sure your customer journey maps are based on your customer's perspective can help you highlight ways in which your company can improve customer satisfaction…and your bottom line.
2. Focus on customers' emotions.
When you're studying customer journeys, you don't just want to know how many customers progress past initial stages to purchasing and even to repurchasing. You want to know why customers do or don't move forward.
Countless factors influence customers' decisions about whether to actually enter your store, whether it's physical or virtual. Once they enter, customers decide whether they're just going window shopping. They decide whether to place an item in their shopping cart. They decide whether to actually check out.
Emotion can be the primary factor in these decisions. For example, whether customers feel like they're getting a good deal can matter more than whether they actually get a good deal.
Font choice to color, discount codes to shipping charges, knowledgeable assistance to free gift wrap…all of these factors can affect how customers feel about doing business with your company.
These emotions can be integral to customer journeys. Having insight into these emotions can help you make changes that could result in more sales, more repeat sales and more referrals.
3. Address touchpoints throughout the customer journey.
Since we're sales-focused, it can be tempting to focus only on the customer touchpoints that are directly related to sales. But that can be a mistake.
Many customer journeys begin long before the sale is made. It's bumping into a friend who's complaining about the lousy job her plumber just did. Or it's your brother whose new accountant is a rockstar. Maybe customers start out with a quick, curious Google session, looking for insight into what makes your company so great (or so lousy). You should be paying attention to how customers arrive to your business.
And your work doesn't stop there. Consider looking at what customers do after they make a purchase with you. Do they leave reviews online? Are they positive or negative? Do they refer friends? Do they make subsequent purchases from you? From your competitors?
When you spend a little time and energy shaping customer journeys both before and after the sale, you're doing important brand building work.
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