7 Important Steps To Understanding Your Customers’ Journey
Before any business can satisfy customers’ needs or exceed their expectations, good knowledge of what the customers truly want is needed. This entails having an end-to-end understanding of the customers’ journey from the awareness to loyalty stage of the buying cycle.
The customer journey can be defined as the total sum of experiences that the customer goes through when interacting with your brand; from the moment he/she becomes aware of your brand, to their post-purchase experience, and ultimately advocacy (or detraction).
All customers will go through a series of steps and have varying experiences at each step before they make the decision to use your product or service. The customers’ experience during this journey determines whether or not the customer buys from a particular brand or its competitor.
Your Customers’ Journey Determines A lot
To improve customer experience significantly, your customer journey must be well understood by the entire organization. If this isn’t happening already, then you’re missing out on opportunities you can leverage on to increase loyalty and profit.
A lot of businesses still believe the customer journey ends at the point where he/she buys a product (or service). This is completely wrong – A customer buying your product is only at one step of a long journey, made possible by all the moments leading up to the purchase.
The customer journey continues well after the point of purchase, and a negative experience at any stage could lead to a lost customer. This makes it important to pay attention to how customers experience your brand every step of the way.
7 Steps To Understanding Your Customer Journey
One of the most popular and effective tools for understanding the customer journey is the Customer Journey Map. A Customer journey map is a strategic tool that follows the journey customers have with an organization and describes all the experiences they have at every touch-point.
Here are 7 keys steps for creating journey maps that unlock valuable insights on your customers journey with your brand.
#1. Profile Your Personas
Knowing your ideal customer is important, hence the need to build personas of your key customer segments. Customer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.
The best customer personas are born from market research (surveys and interviews of your target audience) and insights from actual customers. Some examples of good questions to ask during such research include:
- How did you first hear about us?
- What are the goals you want to achieve with us?
- What was the deciding factor that made you make your first purchase with us?
If you already have such insights regarding your customers check out Hubspot’s free Make My Persona Tool for creating personas.
#4. Identify Potential Obstacles
After you have identified the various touch-points, try to identify what roadblocks could prevent customers from achieving their desired goal.
You might be surprised to discover seemingly trivial things like a lack of detailed product information, slow website, return policy or car park space are pushing your customers and prospects to competition.
Knowing what these obstacles are, is the first step toward eliminating them or mitigating their impact on the customers’ experience during their journey with your brand.
#5. Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes
Put yourself on the customer’s journey, go through it and consider all the touch-points at each stage; from viewing ads to searching online, to filling out registration forms.
Compliment your findings with feedback from customers, ask them to walk you through their experience with your brand to ensure the scenario you’re building aligns with customers’ actual experiences
Walking yourself through the customer’s journey stage-by-stage will give you a new perspective and help you see areas where you can improve the customer’s experience at the various touch-points.
#6. Visualize The Customer Journey
Using data obtained in the steps above, create a visual map of your customer journey outlining the key touch-points, actions and obstacles at each stage of the journey.
The customer journey map should capture all the insights you gathered from your customer research – the steps customers take, their emotional states at each touch-point and areas where you identify opportunities to improve the experience.
Check out UXPressia for free customer journey mapping templates.
#7. Implement Changes
By now you have uncovered a lot of insights and opportunities to improve the customer experience during the course of your typical customer journey.
Now is the time to take action and implement any changes (no matter how big or small) that would make the customer journey faster, easier or more pleasant.
I recommend you check out this in-depth article by Paul Boag on customer journey maps and how you can create them.
Understanding your customer journey helps you identify those areas where you can make improvements that ensure your business is offering customers the best possible experience at each stage of their relationship with your brand.
Founder & Editor-In-Chief at CXService360
Kelechi Okeke is a Customer Experience Manager in a leading Health Maintenance Organization in Nigeria. He has over 5 years of experience working as a data analyst and CX manager across banking and insurance. Kelechi is also a keynote speaker, content writer and data analyst.