What is the customer journey and why does it matter?

Marketing managers. We know your plate is overflowing. Customer journey mapping might sound like an unnecessary, time-consuming task right now but the rewards will outweigh the pain. We promise!

In fact, it’s something we do at the early stages of working with all our clients. Why? Because without understanding your customer, and how they discover and interact with you, we can’t make the best recommendations on how to talk to them. It’s really important.

And how about this: did you know 80% of customers think their experience with a company is as important as its products?

It doesn’t matter how amazing your products are, if the customer experience lets you down, either no one’s going to buy them or they won’t buy them again. They definitely aren’t inclined to recommend you to a friend. To add more doom and gloom, bad news travels three times as fast…

So, what are you planning to do about it? Oh yes – back to the customer journey mapping!

Going through your customer journey with a fine-toothed comb will reduce cart abandonment, increase customer retention and give you invaluable insights into your customers that will feed into your business strategy and ultimately affect your company’s bottom line.

Sounds like a pay rise to me. You’d better read on…

What is meant by ‘customer journey’?

 

The term ‘customer journey’ is quite self-explanatory really. It’s the journey your customers go on from the minute they realise they have a pain point until the moment of purchase and beyond.

Except that this isn’t always a walk in the park. Yes, sometimes people see a product advertised on Facebook, suddenly realise it’s the one thing that’s been missing from their lives and buy it immediately. In two colours. Just me?

Your customer journey might be a long meander with lots of little stops along the way. Perhaps they’ll even take a rest for a while before starting again where they left off – especially if it’s a big-ticket purchase.

What we need to consider as marketers are all the interactions that they’ll have with your brand along the way. These can potentially be both positive and negative. And often other brands will jump out from behind a tree and try to lure your customers away like those strangers your mum warned you about.

Customer journey map - what’s that then?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of your customer’s journey. And customer journey mapping is the process of putting this together. It’s when you’ll get together with your team and walk through the journeys your customers might take with your brand.

It will highlight your customer’s needs and emotions at each stage of the journey and flag any potential blockers to progress.

It’s often delivered in a massive chart with loads of arrows, and when our Senior Account Manager Franki is ready to present customer journey maps back to our clients, she looks a bit like this:

Why do you need to map your customer journey?

Sometimes, you have to take a step back from your product. You have to really think about how your customers are interacting with your business and how those interactions make them feel.

When’s the last time you called your own call centre and listened to the 10-minute introductory spiel you put them through before they can speak to a human being? Have you tried your checkout process recently? What about the email comms your customers are receiving?

The whole point of customer journey mapping is to get valuable insights into the thoughts of your customers. This will give you actionable takeaways to be able to improve customer experience, increase conversions and boost customer retention. Ooof! Triple whammy.

Where do I start with my customer journey map?

The first step in mapping your customer journey is to define your customers. Your brand might already have customer personas, if so, it’s time to dust them off!

Customer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal buyers based on research. Personally, I like to give them a name with a bit of alliteration, Finance Fiona, for example. They should always be in your mind when you’re coming up with any marketing activities.

Say you’re writing a blog post about the best apps to record expenses (exciting, I know!) you should always target it at Finance Fiona. Would Finance Fiona like this? Would she talk about it with her colleagues over a packet of digestives?

Once you have your personas in mind, work through all the different ways they could interact with your brand on their journey to purchase and becoming a loyal customer. This might go something like this…

  1. Photographer Penelope decides she needs to buy a telephoto lens.
  1. She Googles ‘best Canon telephoto lens’ and finds an article comparing lenses and it links to your online photography store. Get in!
  1. Penelope visits your website and browses the lenses available. She can’t quite decide between a couple so leaves.
  1. Your remarketing tags and pixels do their magic and when Penelope goes on Facebook she sees your ad up front and centre while scrolling.
  1. Not yet ready to commit to buying, Penelope has a look at a few more review sites. She sees your competitors listed – bastards.
  1. The next week, Penelope visits one of your stores because she wants to speak to one of your expert staff members. They recommend a particular brand.
  1. Penelope takes these ideas away and looks on YouTube for reviews of this lens.
  1. Penelope goes back on your website and buys the lens of her dreams, as recommended by your colleague.
  1. She receives an email asking her to leave a Trustpilot review. She leaves a glowing review of your website, store and the lens too.
  1. As part of the checkout process, Penelope signed up for your marketing emails and the next time she needs any photography equipment she’s excited to check your website out first.

Now wouldn’t that be the dream?! Hard to attribute the sale to a particular channel (marketer’s nightmare!) but you’ve got a loyal customer due to a combination of excellent service both on and offline. This made-up example is an illustration of how there can be numerous touchpoints along the buyer journey.

You want to repeat this process for various scenarios. What happens if old Steve in the shop got out of bed on the wrong side this morning and is a bit off with Penelope when she comes in for advice? Or perhaps the lens is cheaper somewhere else? There are loads of factors that come into play that could stop Penelope from buying that new lens.

Use your data!

Dig into your analytics and any survey data you have to understand how your customers come across your business and what they think about it.

If you’re not already collecting qualitative data such as feedback surveys, NPS, etc. then now’s the time to do it. Customers can be really open about where improvements need to be made, and this feedback can help shape your improvement strategy. 

You can do this work without data but it’s just guesswork. It’s much better to back it up with cold, hard statistics.

A vital part of your marketing strategy

Hopefully from this blog post so far, you’ve gathered the importance of customer journey mapping.

Understanding when and how customers interact with your business allows you to make improvements to the customer experience to see increased conversion and boost customer retention.

Taking the time and effort to map your customer journey is better for your brand in the long term, even though it might seem like a lot of effort, to begin with.

It helps to have an outside perspective with things like this. We love customer journey mapping and have held lots of workshops with clients in the past, to identify pain points and opportunities. Get in touch and let’s set something up!

Interested in hearing more tips?

Give us a shout for a no-obligation chat if you’re thinking of tackling your customer journey and need a hand.

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