One of your biggest challenges as a business owner is figuring out how to build customer relationships. Customers take many different paths to a purchase, and delivering positive experiences at the right moments can keep them loyal to your brand. While data shows you how people behave at specific points in the sales funnel, mapping out the entire customer journey tells a in-depth story that lets you know when and how to interact with your audience.
What Is Customer Journey Mapping?
People come in contact with your business through a wide variety of channels. Depending on how you sell and market products, a customer’s first touchpoint might be sales staff, physical or web stores, advertisements, marketing content, social media, or word-of-mouth referrals. Going forward, every connection you make with those customers depends on their individual needs and impressions from prior experiences. Customer journey mapping is the process of charting all client touchpoints to get a complete picture of the customer experience. Sales data is beneficial for finding patterns in purchase activity, but it lacks context. With mapping, the goal is to understand the emotions and frustrations customers experience when engaging with your business. This process helps you visualize the stages of client relationships from first contact through recurring purchases, so you can better understand which factors increase loyalty.
The Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping
Taking an active role in customers’ journeys can make businesses more competitive and help them spend efficiently as they grow. Mapping benefits businesses and clients because:
- Businesses learn to focus resources and staff on touchpoints that produce the best results.
- Customers feel understood and valued, increasing their loyalty.
- Businesses provide better product solutions tailored to customer needs.
- Customers influence future product development and stay engaged with the brand.
Building a Customer-Focused Business
A customer journey map creates a set of performance goals for your business by comparing client expectations to their actual experiences. Imagine a customer who needs help using your product and can’t find relevant answers on your packaging or website. The customer might contact a salesperson and form positive opinions of the company if your staff does a good job of addressing questions and concerns. On the other hand, waiting a long time for service or having the call transferred multiple times can create a negative experience. To put customers at the centre of your business activity, you have to consider how they feel when interacting with all your front-end operations. Once you understand a client’s motivations, you can restructure back-end operations to fix the gaps in the customer experience. In the case of confused customers, you could provide tutorials to walk them through early stages of engagement, so they don’t give up on the product. You could also let customers know a care team is available to assist them if they have questions. Further along the journey, the customer might be open to buying related products or finding new uses for an existing product. By finding the moments when your business has the biggest impact on customer experience, you can actively shape the outcome.
Creating Buyer Personas for Customer Segmentation
Clients have different motivations for using your products, which influences their outlook and decision-making process along the customer journey. Factors such as age, gender, occupation, and income also affect buying behaviour, so grouping customers with similar traits can help you create relevant marketing strategies to target their needs. Sorting your clientele based on shared characteristics and preferences is known as customer segmentation. You can use customer feedback and market research to develop buyer personas, profiles representing the needs, mindset, and behaviour of the most profitable customer segments. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and interviews to find out what these customer groups need from your business and what they like or dislike about your current operations.
Mapping the Customer Life Cycle
Buyer personas add a relatable story to the data you collect about customers, allowing you to predict how a customer segment is likely to think and respond at important touchpoints. Let’s say you sell washing machines. A retired customer over 60 years old might value one-on-one interaction and visit a local store to make a purchase the same day. Working parents in their 30s might prioritize convenience and budget, motivating them to conduct thorough online research, compare prices, and visit a store to finalize the purchase. Start mapping the customer journey by focusing on points of difference and listing the reasons why customer segments move forward, delay, or abandon purchases. Where do customers go to learn about products? What drives customers to choose your business right away, and what positive experiences can you provide to reinforce this loyal behaviour? Think about the obstacles to a purchase as well. What prevents customers from completing a purchase, such as a poor checkout experience? What marketing strategies can you enact to attract customers who shop around? To refine your map, measure the emotional impact of various phases and interactions. A bad experience with sales staff may be more damaging than an out-of-stock product or website glitch.
Getting Internal Stakeholders Invested
For every customer interaction, someone in your organisation is responsible for providing solutions and upholding brand promises. Developing customer journey maps is an effective way to define the roles and impact of your internal stakeholders, from frontline service staff to managers to technical support. Getting your team on the same page also helps them get better at creating value for your clients, ensuring a timely and satisfying response to problems. No matter where the purchase path begins, it’s important to provide a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints. Key players in your business have to feel invested in customer journeys to play a part in building loyal relationships.