In the business world, understanding the customers’ mindset used to be less sophisticated in the past. Now things have changed a lot, as customers’ preferences and buying behavior keeps changing as the trends in technology and business change. Therefore, understanding the customer’s mindset is an entirely different ballgame. Furthermore, it is crucial for building marketing strategies and sales campaigns too.
Today, we are going to understand the entire journey of a typical customer step-by-step. From being a prospective buyer to becoming a loyal customer, we are going to analyze every single stage thoroughly. Understanding a customer's journey will help us understand them holistically. The purpose of understanding the customer journey is to get an absolute conviction that whatever we do to engage customers must be impactful.
- Baymard Institute reports that in 2021, a majority of online shoppers (70%) abandoned their shopping carts. This raises questions about why customers put in the effort to add items to their cart, only to ultimately not complete the purchase.
- It suggests that there may be issues with the customer's journey through the buying process, such as a lack of clear understanding of what the customer wants or needs to purchase. It is going to be pretty hard for business if the owners do not have a clear understanding of what customer actually wants.
Our business ecosystem is run on the basis of two philosophies - you either identify a demand or create a demand. Demand is the primary aspect of a business. Spoiler alert - even customers don’t have an idea of what they actually want. For example - online grocery delivery at home did not exist until quarantine forced people to go underground. So, similarly, you must know what your customer wants without having them explain the requirement.
Let us begin with understanding why knowing the customer’s journey is important. Why should you put so much emphasis on evaluating the customer’s journey for understanding them? Let us know why?
Improving the Customer Experience: Understanding the customer's journey allows a business to identify pain points and areas for improvement in the buying process, leading to a better overall experience for the customer. Managers keep a constant check on the customer’s transition from one stage to the next stage of purchase to ensure the customer has a smooth transition. A smoother transition means a hassle-free experience.
Increasing Conversions: By addressing issues that may be causing customers to drop out of the buying process, a business can increase the likelihood of conversion and ultimately boost sales. Customers are specific about the amount of time and money they spend on purchasing so, it is imperative that brands must make the purchasing phase smoother. Customers may feel revolted if they find the purchasing process sophisticated.
Targeted Marketing: Understanding the customer's journey allows a business to identify key decision-making moments and tailor marketing efforts accordingly, leading to more effective and efficient marketing campaigns. Marketing campaigns are based on our understanding of customers. We can evaluate a lot about customers’ preferences and opinions as they tend to share these insights during the purchase of products. Customer input matters a lot.
Personalization: Knowing the customer's journey helps us understand the customer's preferences, needs, and behavior, enabling us to personalize the communication, recommendations, and offers. Furthermore, every customer is slightly different than others. They may have varying preferences. Based on their preferences, we can tailor personalized offers for individual customers and drive more customer engagement.
Identifying New Opportunities: Analyzing the customer's journey can reveal new opportunities for a business to expand its offerings or improve its service. While we try to conduct surveys, request feedback, and make follow-up calls for knowing customers’ experience with our products or services, it takes forever to gather enough insight; analyzing their journey itself could provide more business opportunities.
Reducing Customer Churn: Identifying the reasons why customers are leaving can help to reduce customer churn and retain more customers in the long run. If a customer has made their mind to make a purchase and takes exist in the midst of the purchasing process, it is most likely due to a discrepancy in one of the stages of the purchasing process. Identifying those hiccups can let alone mitigate customer churn rates.
Hence, these were a few simple and straightforward reasons why should you give special importance to customer journey reviews. If the customer has already on the order processing page, it is most likely that they have already made the decision to purchase and if they are changing their mind at the final stage of purchase, it can be hugely disappointing on the company’s end. Therefore, let us dig deeper into the concept of the customer journey.
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Customer Journey Map - What is it? Why Does it Matter?
Customers exhibit their concerns and requirements in many different ways. It is just that businesses need to stay vigilant about their expressions. The customer journey map represents the customer’s experience precisely.
If you genuinely wish to explore the customer needs and concerns, you can take a closer look at the customer journey map. You can simply optimize customer experience and conversion rates just by analyzing the customer journey map.
“Customer Journey Map is a profound representation of a customer’s journey that begins with gaining awareness of your brand via social media or other channels, and ends with a successful purchase transaction.”
You can simply retain most customers just by clearing customers’ pain points and these pain points can only be eradicated by reviewing the customer journey map.
- The customer journey is not your personal perspective about the customer’s persona. It is pretty straightforward because customers express their experiences very clearly.
- Customers’ perspectives and preferences can be highly volatile, so you can never draw factual conclusions from the customers. It would be a poor choice to think that way.
- That’s why we seek a customer journey map for extracting the customer’s own word-of-mouth and tailoring marketing campaigns and purchase procedures accordingly.
Hence, The best part of a customer journey map is that it is quite specific. You can’t draw ambiguous conclusions from it because it displays the physical experiences of customers.
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Imperativeness of Customer Journey Map
The process of a customer purchasing a product or service is not as straightforward as it may seem. According to Salesforce, the customer experience is just as important as the product itself. The customer journey includes various touchpoints such as advertisements, interactions with customer service, and the checkout process, all of which can affect the customer's decision. All of these aspects have to be monitored very closely.
- To effectively plan and drive sales, it's important for a business to understand the customer journey and create a visual representation of it through a customer journey map. That is why we term the whole phenomenon as a customer journey map.
- To ensure that we have a discrete understanding of the customer’s journey, we map these things in the way a storyline is processed. It helps us navigate the customer’s journey all the way through the first to the final step of checkout.
- Furthermore, understanding the customer journey from your standpoint won’t suffice. You will need to create a diagram to visualize the entire phenomenon from a broader perspective and it may take some time.
- Also, once you create a concise picture of the customer’s journey, it will be easier for other employees to understand it the way you have understood it. So this way you all will be able to stay on the same page.
Mapping a customer’s journey may require input from people who were a part of it. For example, the agent who spoke to the customer, QA, TL, SME, and the manager who had been supervising and executing the customer strategy all this through. Including every stakeholder in the customer journey will help in improving the conviction rate of the improvement strategy. Thus, leading to better customer experience.
Customer Journey Mapping Process
Creating a customer journey map mainly comprises connecting the dots of every interaction made between customers and a business. It is a visual representation made from the customer’s point of view.
- Before getting into the process, we need to visualize things from the customer’s viewpoint and then experience things. Throughout the journey, the customer processes information within their capacity of perceiving things.
- Customer experience may depend on various factors like time and money constraints, quality requirements, offers, discounts, and ease of following transactional procedures.
- By understanding the customer’s relationship with the business, you can construct your touchpoints for building an effective customer journey map.
- The objective should be clearing the path of customers and helping them complete the journey of purchase.
Creating a visual representation of the customer journey can be challenging as buyers often take a non-linear, multi-channel path. To effectively map the journey, business leaders use various methods such as post-it notes, spreadsheets, and infographics, as long as the map is easily understood by those using it.
However, before creating a map, it is important to gather data from customers and prospects. The process of creating a customer journey map may be extensive, but it is valuable in the long run. Some leaders search for easier alternatives but there is no shortcut to success. A customer journey map can be an extremely useful tool if taken seriously.
Must’ve-Things to Be Included in Customer Journey Map
For mapping customers’ journeys we need to connect all the factors together. Customers may wind up meeting at a single destination but that doesn’t mean they all followed the same path to reaching the destination. There are different factors that determine the entire map structure of a customer’s journey. We are going to discuss these factors so that you can use them as guiding principles for developing a customer journey map in the future.
First, you need to identify the significant milestones of the customer’s journey. These milestones will help you draft the path your business wants for your customer wants. The map must ensure you and your customer remain on the page and their journey ends at the stage where they buy your product or service with a satisfied outlook towards your brand. Contemplating the buying possess of customers typically involves:
- Recognizing a need or want for a product or service
- Researching options to fulfill that need or want
- Comparing the options and considering factors such as price, quality, and brand reputation
- Deciding on a specific product or service to purchase
- Evaluating the decision and potential post-purchase satisfaction
It's important to note that this process can vary greatly from person to person and can also be influenced by external factors such as marketing, social proof, and peer pressure. Additionally, it's also possible that the customer may not end up making a purchase at all. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use your natural instincts for learning the customer’s persona and constructing an accurate customer journey map.
For becoming an effective marketer, potential customers should remain your primary focal point at all times. Similarly, for creating a top-notch customer journey map, you must keep tabs on customers’ each and every move.
- A customer journey map is essentially nothing more than a customer’s action at every stage of the purchase journey. The things customers do before making a purchase, during the purchase, and after finishing the purchase.
- Initially, they become aware of the presence of the required product or service available in the market - through variable channels or resources. Then they speak with their friends and family regarding this, then they make up their minds to buy the product or service.
- Then they will try to authenticate the legitimacy of the product or service quality. Finally, they make the purchase transaction once they are fully convinced of the purchase decision. They make use of any payment method like debit cards, credit cards, or cash for purchases.
Hence, this is the customer objective and companies are required to help customers achieve their goals. That is why we need a customer journey map for obtaining guaranteed conviction a purchase is yet to happen.
Understanding Customer Emotions
Generally, a customer and brand tag along so they can turn over a new leaf. It may be regarding a product or service. Basically, we are trying to find a solution. During the problem-solving process, customers go through a series of emotions because they might be frustrated from the inside due to the long hauling wait time but they are on their best behavior.
- Sometimes, there are cascades of problems associated with a single problem. So, there could be mixed emotions going on such as worry, relief, excitement, disappointment, and irritation.
- There are always trigger points to every emotion. Being at customer support, you must be aware of these trigger points so that you can mitigate negative emotions, every time you are in a conversation with a customer.
- Understanding customers' emotions can be done through various methods such as gathering feedback, conducting surveys, and monitoring social media. It is also important to actively listen to customers during interactions and look for nonverbal cues to gain insight into their emotional state.
Additionally, using sentiment analysis on customer communications can provide a quantitative measure of emotions. It is important to understand customers' emotions as it can help in providing better customer service, improving products and services, and building stronger customer relationships.
While mapping the customer journey, you must enlist the stages when the customer went through intense emotions. It will strongly help in the decision-making process and helps in reducing resentments and disputes from customers.
Acting on Customer Pain Points
Identifying the customer's pain points is important but deliberating on them with appropriate actions is more important. Therefore, make sure you include the stages where customers struggled the most. That is the point where customers grew grudges against the brand for knowingly/unknowingly wasting their time. To act on a customer's pain points, you should first identify and understand what those pain points are.
This can be done by gathering feedback from customers through surveys, interviews, or other forms of communication. Once you have a clear understanding of the pain points, you can then develop solutions or strategies to address them. This could include changes to your product or service, adjustments to your customer service approach, or the implementation of new technologies or processes.
It's also important to continue to gather feedback from customers and monitor their pain points to ensure that your solutions are effectively addressing their needs.
Finding Proper Solution for Customer
As the final step in creating a customer journey map, it's important to focus on identifying and developing solutions to address any pain points that customers may experience during their interaction with your business. This process of solution development should involve brainstorming sessions with your team in order to generate a wide range of potential ideas.
Bottomline: The goal of these solutions should be to improve the overall buying process for customers, reducing any negative experiences they may have, and ensuring that they have a positive overall experience while interacting with your business. The entire objective behind the creation of a customer journey map is to provide a better experience only.
This could include changes to products or services, adjustments to customer service processes, or the implementation of new technologies or strategies. It's also important to continuously gather feedback from customers and monitor their pain points to ensure that the solutions that are implemented are effectively addressing their needs.
Creating a Perfect Customer Journey Map - Know How
The process of creating a customer journey map requires a person to be extremely conscientious and meticulous. A person may have to contemplate from different angles for finding a new perspective. In order to map the customer journey properly, you will need to understand how a customer thinks and acts.
Understanding Customer Deeply
Let us dive into the ways that would help you to understand customers before you understand their path. The following pointers will guide you with useful tips for understanding customers from a broader perspective.
- Surveys and Questionnaires: Gathering information from customers’ own word-of-mouth is one of the most efficient ways to know about customers. Surveys and questionnaires can be very articulately tailored in such a way that we can gather a lot of actionable insights from the customers.
- Customer Interviews and Focus Groups: These methods allow you to directly speak with customers and gather in-depth information about their problems and needs. It is slightly different that taking surveys because we essentially take interviews from a group of people that can most accurately relate themselves to the questions or the aptest people for answering such questions.
- Analytics and Data Mining: By analyzing customer data, such as purchase history and website behavior, you can identify patterns and trends that can indicate customer problems. It plays an essential role in the process of customer journey mapping. Customers’ internet behavior can tell a lot about their personas and interests.
- Social Media Monitoring: By monitoring social media platforms, you can gather information about customer opinions and complaints, which can help you identify problems. Customers spend a lot of time on social media, the whole world does. Therefore, the chances of them sharing their viewpoints and pain points on social media platforms are more.
- NPS (Net Promoter Score): It's a metric that measures customer satisfaction and loyalty. It can be used to identify customer problems and areas for improvement. By leveraging NPS systems we can identify customer concerns and problems quite accurately. The use of NPS is widely adopted all over the world.
- Voice of the Customer (VOC) Program: This program allows customers to provide feedback directly to a company and helps to identify customer problems and needs. As an alternative to long hauling feedback procedures, brands conduct special programs for customers so they can voice their issues and concerns openly.
- User Testing: This method can be used to identify problems with a product or service by observing customers using it in a controlled environment. User testing can increase the conviction about a product or service's success rate, allowing companies to make real-time improvements right after the customer gets first-hand experience of using products or services.
Setting a Clear Objective for the Map
Before embarking on the task of creating a map, it is important to take a step back and consider the purpose and goals of the map. What is the main objective of the map? Who is the map specifically targeting? What experiences or information is the map based on? These are all important questions to consider before beginning to create the map.
Additionally, it may be beneficial to create a "buyer persona". A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, including their demographics and psychographics. By creating a clear persona, you can ensure that every aspect of the customer journey map is tailored to this specific individual, helping to ensure that the map is effective in reaching its intended audience and achieving its goals.
Create Customer Persona and Profiles
After considering the purpose and goals of the map, it is essential to conduct research in order to gather valuable customer feedback. Some effective methods for gaining this feedback include conducting questionnaires and user testing. It is important to ensure that the feedback is coming from actual customers or potential customers who have an interest in purchasing your products and services, and who have had previous interactions with your company or plan to do so.
When conducting research, it is important to ask relevant questions to gather the information you need. Some examples of good questions to ask include: How did you first learn about our company? What drew you to our website? What are your objectives, difficulty areas, deadline, and deciding factors? Any experience making an online purchase from a website? These questions can help you understand how customers are finding your business and what is attracting them to it, which can inform the development of your map.
Highlight the Target Customer Personas
After conducting research and identifying the different customer personas that interact with your business, it is important to narrow your focus to one or two specific personas. It is important to remember that a customer journey map is meant to track the experience of one customer, following a specific path with your company. If you try to include too many personas in one journey map, it may not accurately reflect the experience of your customers. Therefore, only pinpoint the personas that match with each other the most.
If you are creating your first customer journey map, it may be best to start with your most common customer persona and consider the route they would typically take when first engaging with your business. You can use a marketing dashboard to compare and evaluate different personas to determine which one would be the best fit for your journey map. It is important not to worry about the personas that are not included in the first map as you can always create additional maps that are specific to these customer types in the future.
Enlist the Touchpoints
Touchpoints are all the interactions and points of contact that customers have with your business, typically on your website. Based on your research, you should create a list of all the touchpoints that your customers and prospects are currently using and also the ones that you believe should be used if there is no overlap.
- This is an important step in creating a customer journey map because it gives you insight into what actions your customers are taking.
- If customers are using fewer touchpoints than expected, it may indicate that they are quickly losing interest and leaving your site early.
- On the other hand, if they are using more touchpoints than expected, it may mean that your website is complicated and requires multiple steps to reach the end goal.
Understanding these touchpoints can help you identify areas where the customer journey can be improved, making it easier for customers to achieve their objectives.
Evaluate Your Existing and Required Resources
Your customer journey map will have a wide-reaching impact on your business, and it will highlight all of the resources that are required to create a positive customer experience. Therefore, it is important to take inventory of the resources that you currently have, as well as those that will be needed to improve the customer journey.
- For example, if your map identifies weaknesses in your customer service offering, and you discover that your team does not have the necessary tools to effectively follow up with customers after a service interaction.
- You can use the information from your map to advise management to invest in customer service tools that can help your team better manage customer demand.
- By including these new tools in your map, you can predict how they will impact your business and drive value, making it easier to convince decision-makers and gatekeepers to invest in your proposals.
This way, your map can be used as a tool to identify areas for improvement and make recommendations for investment in resources that will enhance the customer experience.
Journey Yourself as a Customer
Creating a customer journey map is not the final step in the process, analyzing the results is the most important part. Once the map is completed, it should be used to answer questions such as: How many people are visiting your website but leaving before making a purchase? How can you better support customers?
- These are the kind of insights that can be gained from analyzing the results of your map. This analysis will reveal areas where customer needs are not being met, and this information can be used to improve the customer experience.
- It is important to test the map by following the journey of each persona through their social media activity, email interactions, and online searches.
- By analyzing the results, you can ensure that you are providing a valuable experience to your customers and that they can find solutions to their problems with your company's help.
The exercise of mapping the customer journey remains hypothetical until it is tested in reality. If you really want to gain full conviction whether you have created a failproof customer journey map, the best way of confirming it would be to lead the journey yourself and contemplate whether the points you scaled out are good to be true.
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Keep your customer journey map as a continuous work-in-progress, and review it regularly (monthly or quarterly) to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. Use data analytics and customer feedback to check for any roadblocks.
It's useful to involve all stakeholders in this process and keep the map visualized on a shared platform like Google Sheets. Have regular meetings (quarterly or yearly) to analyze how new products or offerings might have changed the customer journey.