If your products or services aren’t performing well, it might not be because of the product itself. Instead, there could be a problem with the customer journey. Your customers’ journey can drastically affect how your customers experience your company—and whether or not they eventually become loyal to your brand. And it’s because of this fact that improving your customer journey is vital to overall business success. Wondering how to get started? We’ll walk you through the first steps to optimizing your customer journey.
What Is the Customer Journey?
The customer journey is the process a customer goes through from awareness to purchasing and beyond. To provide an exceptional customer journey, you need to understand your customers—how they interact with your website and what they’re really looking for. It’s important to point out that the customer journey is different from the customer experience (CX). Customer journeys are what your customers are doing, while the experience is how they’re feeling. A fully optimized customer journey can help improve your customer experience.
While the exact steps in the customer journey can vary, these are the six most important parts of the journey:
First, customers need to realize they have a problem, a need, or a want that must be solved. Once they recognize a problem, they can begin looking for solutions, which should hopefully lead them to your company.
During this stage, the customer is gathering information, researching, and looking for options to solve the problem. Hopefully with your marketing efforts and channels, the customer will come across your company and become aware of your solution to their problem. They’ll still be weighing options and researching what suits them best, but this stage is a great place to use content to showcase your brand.
During this stage, your customer will be considering using your product or service. They may be deciding between you and another option and debating pricing options, prioritizing features, and weighing drawbacks. When a customer is considering, brand recognition is crucial. Having a trusted and well-established brand could be what sways a customer toward your product during this stage.
The customer decides on your product and makes the purchase. Even once they’ve purchased your product, companies benefit from reaching out to customers and acknowledging the purchase.
Once a customer has bought a product or service, it doesn’t mean they will return to your company again. A key part of the customer journey is retaining the customer for future purchases. Providing support is important for retention. You want customers to come back again and again and to look for your product or service when faced with a problem.
Once your customer comes back to you a few times, they’ll start to develop loyalty to your brand. Loyal customers will almost always come to your company if they can because they trust your products, services, and customer experience. Getting to the loyalty stage takes effort, but loyal customers are the goal of every company.
A Customer Journey Example
Let’s walk through what the customer journey could look like. A hypothetical manager at a finance company recognizes an ongoing issue with managing data for customers. She starts looking for a data management solution. Her friend in the industry recommends the data management solution he uses while another networking contact recommends a different one. She also uses internet searches and reviews to find more. Targeted ads on Google and company social media also bring in a few more options. She pulls together a comprehensive list of all of her options for high quality data management solutions.
Using reviews and priorities, she whittles her list down to two companies. Once she has her two favorites, she then uses the companies’ software demos and pricing packages to consider each one. She makes her selection based on which one works best for her company and is the most affordable. Once she purchases the data management software, the company acknowledges and thanks her for her purchase, which helps her feel valued as a customer.
A few months later, this same manager is looking for data architecture solutions that will provide security and big data management. She remembers her experience with the data management company and starts her search on that particular website. When she sees they offer software for her needs, she spends less time in the consideration stage and moves quickly into purchasing. She also begins recommending the company to other people in the industry when they’re looking for similar products. Someday, this manager could be loyal to this company and go to them for all of her data needs.
The Importance of Improving the Customer Journey
Understanding how your customer moves through the customer journey and planning for it is important to gaining and retaining customers. The Aberdeen Group did a study on the use of formal customer journey improvements in companies and discovered some key benefits:
- 18 time faster average sales cycles
- 10 times improvement in customer service costs
- 5 times greater revenue from customer referrals
- 54% greater return of marketing investment
Overall, this study shows that companies that focus on customer journeys can benefit in revenue and profitability. Optimizing the customer journey also helps decision makers at the company to stay focused on customers. It also helps improve the customer experience and your brand. A well-optimized customer journey makes the purchasing process easier and more enjoyable for the customers, which improves their experience.
Optimizing Your Customer Journey
Improving your customer journey is crucial to improving customer experience and benefiting from increased revenue and profitability. These are some of the best ways to improve your customer journey:
Understand Your Customer
To fully understand how to improve your customer experience and journey, you need to know who your customers are. There are many ways to go about understanding your customers: analytic research, informal qualitative research, carefully crafted personas, and more. These methods will help you know what your customers want, what they need, and what your brand can provide.
Identify Touch Points
Anytime a potential customer interacts with your brand, you have a touchpoint. Your touchpoints could be ads, your website homepage, a physical storefront, reviews, newsletters, phone calls with sales, or emails. Once you identify all the touchpoints, you can then find the obstacles that might make the journey difficult or cause potential customers to drop off. A broken website link, no set-up voicemail, or unclear ads could cause unnecessary difficulty and lose you customers. By keeping track of your touchpoints, you can optimize them to keep your customers moving through your customer journey seamlessly.
Create a Customer Journey Map
Customer journey mapping involves visualizing the journey your customer takes through the process of gaining awareness of your product to purchase. This map will illustrate how your customers move through their journey for your company and on your website. Using customer research and touchpoints, you can map out exactly what steps a customer takes and what you can do to make it simple. Creating this map will give you greater insight into where your potential customers are falling away and where your company can fill needs.
Improving your customer journey will help your customers learn about your company, products, and services. It will also help you keep your customers moving seamlessly through to the purchasing stage. But ultimately, your customer journey can help you improve your customer experience. Your customers can enjoy the ease and support your company offers them.
To improve your customers’ journey, you’ll need tools to understand your customers and to utilize your touchpoints. InMoment CX solutions provide feedback and active listening tools to help you understand where to tighten your process and bring more customers to your brand. Improve your customer experience with InMoment.