Customer Journey planning in the digital age
1 September 2021
Customer Journey planning in the digital age
When we want a certain product or service, we have a way to go that starts with exposure and does not end with acquiring it. As part of the marketing strategy, the ‘customer journey’ relates to way the customer interacts with the organization via points of contact from exposure to purchase. These points of contact exist on different communication channels, from raising awareness to the brand via social networks to receiving a “thank you for your purchase” message following its completion.
Planning and executing the customer journey leads to a better marketing strategy, improves user expectations, and optimizes the UX through the different advertisement channels to generate business value via intuitive, user-friendly business interface. It’s worth to note that the customer journey is usually described as involving an external customer. However, its stages and recommendations regarding planning improvement are just as relevant to customer journeys involving ‘customers’ who happen to be workers, donors, suppliers, partners or any other party with which we’re in contact.
One of the most important aspects of planning and executing the customer journey is personalization. A study conducted by Salesforce in 2019 found that 84% of consumers believe that a business relating to them as people and not a number is a prerequisite for them purchasing its product. In short, customers now demand a personalized experience of all channels, from customer service to marketing as well as sales. A personalized experience speaks more to customers.
Planning a customer journey requires mapping, i.e., creating a map to allow us to navigate and find the experience’s weaknesses providing solution of value that generates a better customer experience. Furthermore, there is a better understanding of customers and how they interact with the brand. Mapping a customer journey takes us to an extended review of all the different ways in which customers interact with the organization.
There are eight important stages to mapping a customer journey to attain a true and sustainable connection between customers and a brand:
Awareness: at this stage of the customer journey, the user has only learned of the brand and is seeking information to understand more about it. They are mainly interested in the value your brand’s solutions provide, which should be clear and accessible immediately.
Interest: when customers advance from awareness to interest, a more active stage, they wish to learn more about the brand and what the product or service can offer them.
Consideration: at this stage, the customer is contemplating the matter and considering the product’s advantages. Therefore, this stage calls for a friendly UX which highlights the brand’s story and conveys its unique message compared to competition.
Evaluation: during the evaluation stage, customers sum up the decision regarding the purchase and must choose whether to go for it. Therefore, the UX interaction should be presented to display the value customers gain from it.
Purchase: the main objective at this stage is purchasing the product or service, thus making the user a customer. The main point here is that the sale is not the end of the deal nor the journey. Following it, the organization will maintain continuous communication with the customer through newsletters, customer management systems, etc.
Service: customer service is an integral part of the customer experience. It involves the relationship between the customer and the business, and emotional influence is critical for generating a positive experience. Customers must know that someone will answer their questions, which is why information and personnel availability are critical for enhancing this relationship, as well as customers’ willingness to return and recommend the service to others.
Loyalty: loyalty is the stage at which the customer returns to the brand due to an excellent customer service. When the product or service are good, the customer will return for another purchase. An important point here is that the customer becomes an ‘ambassador’ for the brand, who will tell others of their positive customer experience, leading them to show interest in the brand and in turn relay the message to others.
Future purchases: a satisfied customer that feels it provided them value will return to the brand. The customer expects to receive the same customer journey, which entails actively conveying them the feeling that they are an integral part of the brand story. The content and marketing are an important part of this setup, especially regarding current customers.
The goal of planning the mapping of customer experiences is to improve the overall customer experience. Customer journey maps allow organizations to retain a thought pattern that focuses on customers, identify bottlenecks, and quickly locate the needs that must be addresses. Furthermore, the customer journey allows them to gain unique insight regarding specific customers.
Some tips on how to improve customer journeys
UX: improving accessibility to customers’ channels of communication with the website, app, software, etc.
Sales and marketing automation: creating automations for new and current customers to draw and retain them.
Content and marketing: deepening the content, transforming it into a personal, unique dialect and developing new and current marketing channels.
Tracking the customer experience: tracking the lifecycle of customer relations and maintaining the brand’s presence.
Customer service: service via a wide variety of communication channels for an excellent customer experience.
A customer journey describes in a more in-depth level of detail, using points of contact, the process users go through and exposes areas to be improved for future workflow. This understanding will stem from the field and lead to a desired development, which is why the various channels of communication are critical for success. Generating a better customer journey will include synchronizing said points of contact so to lead the customer on an enjoyable and satisfying journey with your brand- both benefiting business growth and providing a positive branding experience.