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All You Need to Know About the Customer Journey

It’s no secret: customers buy products from companies they like, and if they continue to like the business after their first purchase, they’re more likely to buy again or even become long-term customers. None of this happens by accident. It’s up to you to provide customers with experiences that keep them coming back for more. Understanding the customer journey can help you to boost sales and retain customers for longer. 

This post looks at what customer journeys are, the elements that go into them, and the critical, make-or-break points that matter to your customers – plus, we’ll offer tips and examples to help you. 

What is the Customer Journey?

The term “customer journey” is very apt. Think about a regular journey you’d undertake, perhaps to a holiday destination. Consider it as a simple customer journey example. 

  • You become aware of a destination
  • You research it to find out if you want to go there
  • You enquire about anything that seems unclear
  • You decide to travel to the destination
  • If all goes well, you arrive
  • You stay for a while
  • Throughout the trip, you will have good, bad, or neutral experiences. This helps you decide whether you’ll go there again in the future. 
  • You had a fabulous time! You tell your friends how great it was! 

Let’s translate this to your customer journey. Just as you went through several phases on your holiday journey, your customers “travel” through several steps during their relationship with you. The combined effect of all these steps represents the customer journey – and your task is to optimise them so that customers not only complete the buyer journey but keep coming back to you. 

So, What are the Customer Journey Stages?

Each stage of the customer journey creates an impression, and you want that impression to be much better than “neutral.” Indeed, you will strive to make it good, or even exceptional. Fail on one stage, and all your other efforts might be overshadowed. Here are the vital touchpoints you need to consider when crafting customer journeys that are memorable for all the right reasons. 

  • Potential customers become aware of your product or service: Your attention-grabbing advertising, or more convincingly, a recommendation from someone they know, makes a prospect aware of what you offer. If this step is positive, they may move to the next step.
  • The consumer considers whether they might want what you offer: A lot goes into this step. Consumers want to know whether your product addresses a problem or provides a benefit they want. They’re searching for information, and they’re probably comparing you to your competitors. Give them useful information. Show them real reasons why they should choose you. Take it easy on the sales talk. Give them good advice, facts and figures.
  • Your prospective customer is ready to make a purchase – but they might still decide to choose your competitors. Improve your chances of winning them over by being at their service. Show them why choosing you is the smart option. If they seem ready to commit but then cool off, follow up. Did they buy your product? You have completed the buyer journey, but not the customer journey.
  • You have a customer. Will you retain them? Too many businesses think that a successful sale is the end of the customer journey. But the real journey has just begun. Before this, you had a prospect. Now you have a customer. It’s up to you to keep them. Show your customers how much you value their support by providing superb service and building relationships.
  • You win! Your customer is now a brand advocate. You stand a chance to lose customers at every step of their journey – even if they already bought your products. But once you’ve gotten this far, the remaining customers are so happy that they chose you, that they tell other people about their great experience. Their recommendations are far more convincing than any marketing message you may craft, so you get new people who are ready to embark on a customer journey. You’ve achieved customer journey marketing. 

Customer Journey Management: A Must for Successful Customer Journey Marketing

As we pointed out earlier on, great customer journeys are purposefully crafted. The work you do to create impressive customer journeys that end in brand advocacy is termed customer journey management. 

It may sound like a lot of work. It’s clear that a great many details need to be taken into account, but the results are compelling. Here’s what you get.

  • Elevated interest in your brand
  • More conversions and better revenue
  • Loyal customers who will support you in the future
  • Brand advocates that “sell” to their friends at no additional cost to you
  • New prospects who heard about you from your customers and who, if handled correctly, become brand advocates themselves

Compare this type of marketing to any other type of marketing you might undertake. For example, let’s think about an advertising campaign. It can help to elevate awareness, but you’ll have to keep reminding people about what you do. You’re spreading your net widely, and only some of the people you reach are interested in your product. Even if they are, you’ll have to work harder to gain trust and convince prospects to convert. 

That’s not to say that advertising doesn’t have its place in your marketing strategies. It does. But once you have a new customer, turning them into an advocate means even more benefits: for example, highly relevant new sales prospects, greater trust from the people happy customers refer to you, and a much better chance of gaining a new advocate. The word “exponential” is no exaggeration when applied to the results of customer experience marketing. 

Getting Started With Customer Journey Marketing

It’s time to walk a mile in your customers’ moccasins. Even if you think you’re already offering great customer experiences, there’s always room for improvement!

1. Identify your ideal customers

Never forget that customer journeys are followed by real people. Who are yours, why do they buy your product, and would they recommend you to people they know? Unless you have a completely new business, you can use your sales histories and existing clients to answer this question. Surveys are a great tool. For example, your Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score will be useful metrics

2. How do people navigate the customer journey?

Each stage of the customer journey is represented by one or more touchpoints. Each of these must be positive or you run the risk of losing them along the way. What would they want to experience? How do you provide for that? Map out all the possible touchpoints and strategise around them. 

Of course, different customers may experience different journeys. Begin by mapping out a typical one. After that, you can expand your customer journey model to cover additional options. 

3. Identify pain points

It’s time to take an honest look at what people experience in their customer journeys – and what puts them off. E-commerce customer journeys can give you very clear indications of where customers fail to move to the next step. Now, you have to figure out why. Ask some hard questions and look for honest answers. 

For example, if people visit your product listings, browse and then leave, they may not be finding what they want easily enough. Consider your marketing messages as well as your website’s architecture and content. Are you sending out relevant signals? Can customers reach out for help, and if so, did they get great service? Abandoned carts? It happens, but why? Is it because your checkout is hard to navigate? Did they hesitate because they were still unsure of your product?

Repeat this process with all the touchpoints you’ve identified. If you uncover a long list of issues, don’t get discouraged. See it as an opportunity. Only think how much your focus on customer journeys can improve customer experiences, and with that, your sales!

4. Decide what you’re going to do to optimise customer journeys

When optimising customer journeys, remember that you’re trying to make them easy and pleasant for your customers. Your aim? A first-class journey in which your customers’ every need is attended to. Your customers feel valued, and they’re frankly impressed. 

Our top tip? Never forget the value of in-person service. Even if your customers rarely take advantage of it, knowing it’s there for them is a big plus. Sure, your help menus or chatbot can field some basic questions, but there will always be times when what customers really want is interaction with real people. If nobody is out there, you just sent them a deal-breaking message about your customer service

5. Customer journey analysis: measure your results and refine

Your focus on customer journeys should begin to bear fruit quite quickly while also having longer-term benefits. In the short term, you should see an increase in conversions. In the long run, you should reduce churn and improve customer lifetime value. Looking good? That doesn’t mean you can’t refine customer journeys still further. Dig deeper with detailed customer journey analyses and smooth the path toward more sales and happier customers. 

Customer Journey Communication Channels

At each of the touchpoints on your customers’ journeys, you’re communicating with them in one way or another. Some communication channels are interactive, and others are not. Some are digital, and others are analogue. For example, an advertisement on a billboard is a communication channel. Your website is an interactive digital communication channel – even if you never “talk” to your customers, your website is doing that for you. 

Identify the channels you’re using to communicate with your customers at every phase of their journeys and at every touchpoint. You’re not only aiming to optimise them, you’re also looking for gaps and eliminating further pain points.  

Remember that you won’t always be the one to initiate communication. Got a social media profile? It shouldn’t be a one-way communication channel. Received an email or a call? Don’t leave your customers waiting for a response. Chatbot not coping with a live chat request? Someone must pick up the pieces fast!

Here’s where RSVP’s customer lifecycle management services can help you. No matter where your customers are on their journeys, which channel they use to reach out, or what time of day or night it is, we’re there to help you build amazing customer journeys through communication. 

Contact our London-based communications company and find out why top brands are trusting us to deal with their clients. Are you ready to create customer journeys that convert and retain customers? Want to know what your customers are saying about their experiences? From providing superb client service to supplying the vital feedback and valuable market intel you need, we’re here to support both you and your clients.

 

Read more about the Customer Lifecycle.

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