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What is customer journey in four minutes

Once upon a time, there was one blacksmith and one baker for the whole village. And, like it or not, people had to buy their products. At that time, a customer journey was a path to the nearest store. However, the competition was growing, an advertisement appeared, then digital technology. And this path became complicated. Now to attract a customer, you need to understand his preferences. Ways he discovered the brand and how he interact with it need to be considered. Read below what is customer journey, why you need to consider it and how to do it via a special map.

Meaning of customer journey

Customer journey is the way that passes a customer: starting with the need for a product up to the purchase or becoming a brand fan.

Partially it might seem like a sales funnel but customer journey has essential differences:

A customer journey can be illustrated by a new mother who is choosing a pram.

  1. In the park, she is talking to a woman who recommends her a certain brand and model.
  2. She googles to better review a pram online.
  3. Opens a chat for women to consult with them.
  4. Opinions differed, that’s why woman also opens a website with reviews. 
  5. Making sure that the pram is convenient, she searches for the lowest price in the network.
  6. A woman goes to the online store website. But payment and delivery conditions are confusing there. Fortunately, there is a phone number.
  7. She calls but a sales rep doesn’t reply. A new mother is almost about to hang up when she hears the reply. All in all, the request is valid.
  8. A customer received a pram and a discount for the second purchase. Happy end, woman advice the pram to other new mothers.

A customer passes through lots of stages even in such a simplified example. Meanwhile, at some of them, the sale was almost canceled. If brand marketers knew these weak points, they could strengthen them. For example, to foresee positive feedbacks in chats, information on payment and delivery in plain sight, higher response speed. This is one of the basic goals of the customer journey building — to understand which way a person comes to you and to make his experience impeccable. 

Before digital technologies, it seemed that it is enough to “feed up” a potential customer with advertisements, and he will turn to a buyer. However, the Internet appeared and provided additional channels that can help to get acquainted with the brand and choose the appropriate offer. Companies didn’t control all the flow of information that could receive a customer. So they couldn’t control his decision directly.

Over time, marketers decided that there is one more way to fight against competitors except for the price and quality. It is required to know how a customer lives before and after the purchase and then use this knowledge to retain him. 

The customer journey was firstly discussed in the 80s years of the past century. In 1989 Susan Whittle and Morris Foster published a book in the title of which they encourage to “get into your customer’s shoes”. In the same year, Ron Zemke and Chip R. Bell published “Service Wisdom: Creating and Maintaining the Customer Service Edge” where they referred to the concept of “cycle of service mapping”.

 “The goal of customer journey mapping is to create and retain a deep understanding of the customer’s experiences while he or she is traversing the path taken between having a need and getting that need met. Its intent is to ‘get inside the customer’s head’ to ‘see,’ and therefore, understand the customer’s experiences. Armed with that perspective, organizations are better able to craft or recraft processes and encounters to become more customer-centric. It is essentially an evergreen effort since the needs and expectations of customers are constantly changing.”

Dr. Chip Bell,
taken from the interview.

Usually, it is really a fulfilling map, moreover, rather confusing. A customer can discover a brand due to the word-of-mouth, then google it, go to the store to hold a product in hands. But, all in all, make a request online, as it is cheaper. Then, user experience, warranty service and, probably, new purchases.

The customer journey is often complicated because of multiple channels and scenarios. Here, for example, how IKEA customers’ journey looks like. Meanwhile, only part of it processes in-store and other two — out of it and online.

It takes special time-consuming investigations to find out this journey, however, it worth it. According to Kofi Senaya, Director of Product at Clearbridge Mobile: “Mapping out the customer journey is an effective way to understand what turns a viewer into a long-term, loyal customer.”

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Customer journey map

A customer journey map is a visualization of a customer journey. It displays stages that a customer is coming through and the emotions that he feels. Meanwhile, this map describes touchpoints of interaction with a brand and difficulties that don’t let him reach his goals.

Why do you need a customer journey mapping

  1. Understand the customer’s behavior, what’s on his mind, what does he feel. Thus, you will be able to talk to customers on their language, to change the product depending on their needs but not randomly. Develop solutions, design and marketing strategies that are oriented on your consumer.
  2. Discover customers’ issues and stages when they appear. By removing their reasons, you decrease the number of lost deals. And finding out, what causes wow-effect and on which stages, you can enhance it.
  3. Spend less on the attraction of buyers. There is a statistic that new customer’s attraction is from 3 to 30 times more expensive than the retention of an old one.

How to build a customer journey map

Customer journey map creation is a long process that takes a joint effort of the whole brand team. A single algorithm of a building doesn’t exist as all businesses differ. Customer journey map might be extremely detailed as an example below:

Nevertheless, to begin, it is possible to create a more simple variant that will help to understand how a customer moves to the purchase as well as stages where he can quit. We will describe the basic components of a customer journey map.

  1. Customer portrait. That doesn’t enter the map itself, however, it is required for creation. Discover who uses the product: what kind of person is that, where he lives, what is he interested in. Ideally, the target audience needs to be segmented. Then you will be able to create separate maps for each type of customer as their scenarios may differ a lot.
  2. Stages that customers pass during the interaction with a brand. For example, searching for a product in the network, transfer to the website, communication with a sales rep, request, product usage, etc. It is better to set a time frame for each of them. 
  3. Consumers’ goals on every stage. For example, for a research stage — to find a good product at a low price. It is also possible to include here questions that bother customers in each phase. This will help to look from his point at the process of choice and product usage. 
  4. Touchpoints with a brand, channels. It may be an opinion leader blog, a supermarket, search results, the website, conference. The thing here is not to forget something, including independent sources where a user can discover you. For example, thematic forums, feedbacks.
  5. Feelings that people experience on each stage. Thus, it may be a disappointment if it is hard to find a needed product on your website. Or the excitement of the high service quality, additional present.
  6. Blocks. What precludes a customer to reach the next stage of a journey. Uncomfortable showroom placement, unjustifiably high price, lack of the phone number on a website.
  7. Decisions that can solve customers’ difficulties. For example, if a store is placed outside a city, it is possible to make free delivery.

An example of a simple customer journey map: basic stages, questions that come to customers on each of them, touchpoints with a brand and solutions for engagement:

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An in-depth interview method can help to create a customer journey map. Ask buyers to make a detailed description of choice or a product purchase. Wonder on his emotions at different stages. For example, what he felt when a sales rep wasn’t enough polite or he wasn’t given a promised guarantee to a product.

To sum up

  1. The customer journey is the way that passes a customer: starting with the need for a product up to the last interaction with a company. Or the moment when he becomes the brand evangelist.
  2. The customer journey map is a visualization of a customer journey that is creating based on the global investigation. It displays stages that a customer is coming through, his emotions, goals, and touchpoints with a brand.
  3. Knowing your customers’ journey, it is possible to clearly understand how to improve the product, service, what to change in a marketing strategy. As well as, how to strengthen aspects that cause wow-effect. How to exclude negative moments that influence the sales decrease.
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