Defining the customer journey is one of the hardest parts of running a business. It requires you to get into the heads of people who may invest in your products and services and work out what they really want.
What drives them? What excites them? What’s likely to turn them off?
Consider this blog post your digital marketing consultant - it will explain how to map the customer journey and take a walk in their shoes.
Defining the customer journey
You can think of the customer journey as a roadmap which details how a customer first becomes aware of your business and how they interact with it from that point onwards.
It’s the ‘sum of their experiences’, and if you can stay one step ahead of them, you’ll be able to deliver the best possible experience and put your business ahead of the competition in their eyes.
An example of a customer journey
Let’s assume you provide a software-as-a-service platform to marketing professionals. Here’s how a typical customer journey might play out (we’ll call the customer ‘Sarah’):
- Sarah realises a particular task is taking up far too much of her time. She’s aware there are solutions for it, so she heads to Google.
- Sarah types in a phrase that describes her problem. She reads some blogs, watches some YouTube videos and begins to get a feel for the type of solution that she needs to find.
- She speaks to a number of industry friends and they start to recommend products they use.
- Sarah extends her search to specific types of product and shortlists those that appear to offer what’s required.
- She books demos or signs-up for free trials of two or three platforms.
- One of these platforms sticks. It impresses Sarah enough and provides a cost-effective answer for what she needs. The team behind it appear responsive, non-pushy and have her interests at heart.
- Sarah signs up formally and begins to use the software.
What happens beyond stage seven falls into the realm of account management, but what plays out before doesn’t happen by chance - you need to be ready at every step of the way to capture Sarah’s attention.
Mapping out the customer journey
Before reaching the stage of creating a wire frame for a website, smart digital marketing consultants will always suggest mapping the customer journey.
This is what will inform the web design and, at this stage, is far more important than focusing on traditional lead generation techniques.
It’s time to draw a map of the customer journey. This will lay bare every stage of their experience, just as in Sarah’s example above.
Think of each location on the map as a customer touchpoint - i.e. any time they come into contact with your company.
Example touchpoints include:
- your website;
- social media chatter;
- product user review websites and forums;
- your team (sales, marketing, service); and
- follow-up surveys.
When you analyse these touchpoints and think about the journey as we did Sarah’s, it’s important to consider the following:
- Their actions. What is the customer physically doing or thinking at each stage?
- Motivators. What will encourage potential customers to move to the next part of the map? What will discourage them?
- Their questions. At what stage do customers want answers? What are they likely to ask? Can the answers be delivered proactively by the journey you put in front of them?
- Any obstacles. What roadblocks might customers hit along the way? Is delivery an issue? Setup time? What about your return policy? Think about everything that might prompt customers to give up
Remember that few customers will take the exact same journey and some will circumnavigate certain areas of your map entirely. It’s therefore vital that you work on as many scenarios as you see fit.
Look beyond Sarah. What about Paul? Or Emma? How might they interact with your brand, based on their persona?
Have fun mapping this journey - it’s your chance to remain one step ahead of your future customers.