How well do you know your typical customer’s purchasing journey? Successful businesses work hard to understand this journey, from initial awareness of a need for your product, the subsequent discovery of your business as a source for that product, and all the touchpoints that follow—culminating either in the purchase of your products or services, or the decision to find that product or service elsewhere.
Journey mapping is an increasingly popular tool for businesses seeking to gain an in-depth understanding of their customers. “A customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s experience with your brand,” notes Lucid, a computer software firm. The best journey map “should include touchpoints and moments of truth, but also potential customer feelings, such as frustration or confusion, and any actions you want the customer to take.”
The benefits of effective journey mapping include:
- A potential boost in customer engagement
- An opportunity to get rid of bureaucratic obstacles to buying
- A greater understanding of your customers’ needs
- The ability to target segmented demographics
Here are tips on creating the right journey map for your business:
Get everyone involved.
Denise O’Neill, Owner at TAB-Baltimore Washington Corridor, suggests the following actions for creating an effective journey map:
- Solicit input on the customer experience from sales, onboarding, product development, customer service, delivery teams, invoicing, and account managers.
- Color-code each segment of the journey—red for unhappy, yellow for lukewarm/somewhat satisfied, and green for happy/extremely satisfied.
- Rewrite the journey, focusing on improvements that make customers extremely satisfied with their experience.
- Identify the changes needed to turn the map green.
In many cases, journey mapping originates on Excel sheets outlining the extent of a customer’s experience, including where things are working and where there’s potential problems.
Examine every customer touchpoint.
Keep in mind that the customer’s journey usually starts before your business comes into play. They have a need, pain point, or goal they wish to achieve. After that, as PriceSpider, a retail data technology company, notes, “What touchpoints are [customers] most likely to first encounter your brand? If someone is comparing products in your category, where will they find you?” And, if they are a repeat customer, “what are the touchpoints where they’re most likely to interact with you again?”
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In other words, examine every customer touchpoint from beginning to end, including your website and social media platforms, product review sites, key influencers in your industry, and retailers’ product pages.
Talk to your customers.
Obviously, customers themselves are the key resource for customer mapping. Use every opportunity to engage with your target audience, through surveys, focus groups, and other means of soliciting customer feedback.
Ask open-ended questions and listen closely to what they tell you about (a) how they first became aware of your business; (b) those product or service qualities that matter most to them; and (c) whether their experience with your organization was seamless, somewhat uneven, or riddled with unpleasant interactions.
Renew your companywide commitment to peak customer service.
You’ll see better results when your team makes “each customer their priority every time they interact with them,” says Carol Elassad, Owner at TAB Kansas City, Missouri. And when customers “take the time to report excellent customer service, make sure you acknowledge the employee personally and during the next staff meeting.” Employees love “to be recognized for doing a great job, and this reinforces the desired customer service performance.”
With a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s journey, you can more efficiently focus your energies on areas that require improvement. The process can also help you identify customers who may be about to “jump ship,” but who might remain loyal if they feel their concerns are being addressed and if their subsequent buyer experience improves over past times.
Find out more about excelling at the customer experience. Check out “5 Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Customers in 2021.”